Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

My latest Connect Savannah food feature on The Topiary Cake Design (I will post the article this week) reminded me just how much I love to bake. So this week I told myself I would get back into the kitchen and practice what I love.

I am not going to sugar coat it–I have been slacking in the blog/baking/cooking department. The holidays drained me, especially considering how much of an introvert I tend to be. I truly have no excuse considering my Christmas decorations and house have been cleaned since the day after Christmas. Truly, I have just been lazy.

Going back into the kitchen needed to start with a bang. I have been baking since I was young, so an intermediate pastry recipe would be a great challenge.

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For those who do not know the difference in pastries verses regular baked goods let me explain. Unlike cakes, breads, or other common baked goods, making a pastry refers to a very specific type of dough or baked item that is created using a sweet dough. For example, when you make a pie crust for a pie, you are making a pastry. Other common pastries include croissants, eclairs, macarons, profiteroles, tart shells, and Kouign Amann. The dough for making a pastry is commonly made with flour, fat, sugar, and water, which you can see is very different than the dough for making a bread. The tricky part in making a proper pastry comes with the type of pastry for which you opt—for example croissants require a process called lamination. Lamination is the folding in of cold butter to create layers. It takes many hours and proper technique to succeed.

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You may be asking, what the heck is a Kougin Amann? By far it is one of the most delicious pastries put on this earth. Originating in France, the time consuming bite sized croissant and brioche cross is made with a ton of butter, which is to be expected with a French pastry. The end result of folding cold butter into your dough (laminating), then slicing it, coating it in coarse sugar, and smashing it into muffin tins creates a sweet crunchy flaky palm sized treat. The best part, the technique of using a muffin pan leaves a large hole in the center of the pastry, perfect for filling your Kougin Amann with anything you desire.

My selection was salted caramel. The butter used to create the layers of your Kougin Amann bring saltiness to the pastry, so why not complement the overall flavor of the baked good by amplifying its qualities with a salty-sweet filling.

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I will warn you, this recipe is not for a beginner. It takes patience and love to get through the process. I do not want to discourage anyone from trying the recipe, I truly hope you are inspired, even beginners, to try this recipe out. The only way to learn is to try. I could probably fill a dumpster with the amount of baked goods I have thrown out due to trying. You have to start somewhere.

 

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

Ingredients

  • For the Salted Caramel:
  • 1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
  • ½ Cup of Heavy Cream, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • For the Pastry:
  • 2½ Tablespoons of Dry Yeast
  • 1⅓ Cups of Warm Water, do not exceed 105°F
  • 4 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1¾ Cups Of Salted Butter, cold
  • 1 Cups of Granulated Sugar

Instructions

  1. First make your salted caramel.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine your sugar and water then stir to combine.
  3. Heat mixture over medium heat, do not stir anymore. Cook it until the mixture has turned a deep amber, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooked, turn of the heat of the stove and whisk in your butter, cream, and salt. Stir until the mixture is smooth and fully combined, then remove it from the stove.
  5. Set the caramel aside, covered, to cool while you make your pastry.
  6. In your stand mixer, combine your yeast and warm water. Allow yeast to bloom for approximately five minutes.
  7. Attach your dough hook, then add in your flour and salt. Mix on low until combined and a dough begins to form.
  8. Turn the stand mixer speed to medium, and mix for five minutes or until dough shapes into a smooth elastic ball.
  9. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for twenty minutes.
  10. While the dough rises, prepare your butter block.
  11. Shape your butter into one mound, then shape and flatten the butter until it is a rectangle approximately 10x8 inches.
  12. Cover your butter in plastic wrap and place it back in the fridge to cool until you are ready to use it.
  13. Turn you risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  14. Roll out your dough into a 16x10 rectangle. Place your butter block in the center of your dough.
  15. Fold the exposed edges over your butter as to completely enclose your block of butter. Next, roll the dough into a 18x8 rectangle.
  16. Fold your dough by thirds, like a letter, to start creating layers.
  17. Plastic wrap your dough, then place it in the fridge to allow the butter to get cold again. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
  18. After the hour, place your dough back onto your floured surface and roll out into an 18x8 rectangle. Fold the dough again like a letter. Place the dough back in the fridge to let it rest for an 1 hour.
  19. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by coating it in butter. Set aside the pan aside.
  20. Roll your chilled dough to a 17x13 rectangle, then slice off 1/2 inch from each end of the rectangle.
  21. Generously coat both sides of your dough with your 1 cup of granulated sugar. This will create the crunchy outside.
  22. Slice dough into equal 4x4 inch squares.
  23. Place each square into the center of each muffin cup.
  24. Fill each cup with approximately 1 tablespoon of your cooled salted caramel. Fold in the four corners of each square to meet in the center.
  25. Loosely cover the muffin pan and allow the dough to rise for another 20 minutes.
  26. Bake your dough for 25-30 minutes on the center rack.
  27. Once golden brown, remove from the oven to allow them to cool.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
https://epicuropedia.com/2019/01/09/salted-caramel-filled-kouign-amann/

 

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Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Just as fast as they went last year, the holidays are upon us again. Although my waistline hates it, my heart gets excited to bake and cook as much as humanly possible over then next few months.

Which means this week, I have been testing recipes so I can bring the perfect dessert to our Thanksgiving feast. When coming up with recipes I like to take classics and add a slight twist, so a macadamia nut pie, instead of pecan, was on my list to try out. I will post the recipe soon.

This past weekend we had some friends over for a laid back night (but also so I could test out my pie recipe on them). Filet, truffle mashed potatoes, rosemary focaccia, and a few stout beers later, we were almost – almost – too full to eat pie. We still ate it though. And I am happy to report that the pie only needs one or two tweaks.

The next morning, waking up full and happy, I realized I had a bit of my stout beer left over. I do not like to waste food, so it was the perfect opportunity to throw a second dessert contestant into the mix. For some reason I could not get the idea of a stout bundt cake out of my head, so I began baking.

An upclose picture of the salted caramle glaze

I used a Dutch process cocoa powder, which is darker than the normal stuff, because I had it leftover from a previous recipe that I tested. Also, the use of cake flour would be perfect to lighten the dense texture of a chocolate bundt cake.

The only issue was deciding on what to top the cake with. Flavor contenders included espresso, caramel, and more chocolate. My husband does not love chocolate cake, so I landed on caramel to ensure that he would like this cake. The last touch, a little salt in the caramel to cut through the very decedent flavors.

This recipe turned out better than I could have imagined, and I didn’t have to change a single thing in the recipe. This may be one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever baked, and I will definitely proudly take it to our festivities on Thursday.

Confession: As soon as the cake was cooled and I snapped a few pictures, I ate a slice for lunch. That is the reason there are so few pictures in this post.

…I ate a second slice after dinner that night.

A slice of chocolate cake with salted caramel on top

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup of Good Stout Beer
  • 3/4 Cup of Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups of Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup of Sour Cream
  • For the Salted Caramel Glaze
  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1/2 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Stout Beer
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare your bundt cake pan by greasing it then coating it in cocoa powder. Be sure to shake out any excess cocoa powder. Set the pan aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt your butter.
  4. Once the butter is melted, remove your butter from the heat and whisky in your stout beer, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder. Set the mixture aside to cool.
  5. In another bowl, sift together your sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda.
  6. Starting with your dry mixture, whisk in 1/3 of the mixture into your cooled butter mixture. Whisk until fully combined.
  7. Next whisk in one egg, followed by the next 1/3 of your dry mixture. Mixing until combined. Whisk in your sour cream, then the last portion of your dry mixture, and finally your last egg. Mix until well combined.
  8. Pour your batter into your prepared cake pan.
  9. Bake the cake on middle rack for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Let the cake cool on the counter for at least one hour before glazing.
  11. While cake cools, prepare your glaze.
  12. In a small sauce pan, combine your brown sugar, butter, cream, and salt.
  13. Cook mixture over medium heat until it reaches a boil.
  14. Once at a boil cook the mixture for an additional 3 minutes, stirring constantly. You want to make sure all of the brown sugar cooks into the butter, so you do not have a grainy caramel.
  15. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes.
  16. Once cooled, sift in your powdered sugar then whisk in your stout beer. You want the mixture to be thick yet pourable. You can add more powdered sugar if needed.
  17. Once the cake is completely cooled and removed from the pan, pour your glaze over the top of the cake.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2018/11/19/chocolate-stout-bundt-cake/

Triple Layer Cookie Cake with Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Triple Layer Cookie Cake with Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Gooey salty sweet homemade caramel buttercream stuffed between three distinct layers of thick, soft, chewy cookie cake layers: rich chocolate chip, buttery white chocolate blondie, and a classic crumbly snicker doodle. This may be the best birthday cake ever imagined.

With my husband’s birthday sneaking up last week, I knew I had to bake him a cake since I do every year. And this year I wanted to top last year’s Chicken and Waffle Cake.

I am not going to lie; I did not get this one perfect by any means. Just by looking at the pictures you can see how messy the butter cream is in its application, and the slight lean this cake had.

In baking this cake, my day started with three failed attempts at making a caramel (even though I did not stir the sugar), and it continued its path downhill. Between running out of eggs and flour, forgetting to add half of my butter to the snicker doodle layer, under cooking each layer (because I underestimated just how thick each cookie would be), a broken butter cream that had to be re-whipped, and finally, rushing to finish stacking the cake before serving it that night.

Being an experienced baker there are many days you forget just how challenging baking really is, and this cake was a harsh reminder. Luckily, after a practice round I have improved the recipe so it does not have to be as challenging for you.

Due to my failed attempt, you will notice that your layers are not as thick as the ones pictured. I have adapted the recipe to actually make it work, which means slightly thinner layers.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 3/4 Cups of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Flour Flour
  • 8 Ounces of Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then grease and flour and 8 inch cake pan.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add in vanilla, baking.., salt, and then eggs one at a time
  4. Mix in flour one cup at at time.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into pan, bake in over for at least one hour.
  7. If after an hour the cake is not done, cook until toothpick comes clean from center.

Snicker Doodle Cookie Cake Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 1 1/3 of Sugar
  • 2Eggs
  • 1/2 TablespoonVanilla Extract
  • 2  3/4Cups of AP Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 3/4Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • Mixture of 1/4 Cup of Sugar and 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Grease and flour and 8 inch cake pan, set aside.
  2. In your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add in vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. Mix in eggs and flour, alternating between the two.
  5. Pour into cake pan, top with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

White Chocolate Blondie Layer

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups of AP Flour
  • 8 Ounces of White Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan, set aside.
  2. In your stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter.
  3. Add in salt, eggs, baking powder, and vanilla
  4. Add eggs and flour, alternating between the two.
  5. Mix in white chocolate.
  6. Pour into prepared cake pan, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Salted Caramel Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 Cups of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Of Water
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 9 Egg Whites
  • 6 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat water and 1 and 1/4 cup of sugar over medium heat, do not stir.
  2. Once the mixture is boiling, stir to dissolve sugar. Do not stir again after this.
  3. Bring mixture to a light amber color, remove from heat, add in cream then salt. Be sure to whisk until fully combined. Set aside.
  4. In a double boiler, heat egg whites and remaining sugar. Whisking until sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are warm.
  5. Pour whites into stand mixer and whip on high for 10 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  6. Add butter, a little at a time, whisking on high until fully incorporated.
  7. Next add in the vanilla, then slowly pour in caramel. Mix until shiny and smooth, for a minute it may look broken.

Assemble the cake, layering the cookie cake layers with buttercream then topping the final layer with buttercream in any decorative manner you like.

Part 2: Revamping Leftover Caramel Popcorn

Part 2: Revamping Leftover Caramel Popcorn

For those who know me, know I am an ATL-ien at heart. I moved to the low country a few short years ago, but still take pride in my first home that was burned by Sherman. So, for part two of my last post, revamping your leftover Christmas popcorn, I am taking inspiration from my first home.

Those of you that know me also know that my favorite restaurant in the “A” is JCT Kitchen, a Ford Fry creation. JCT has everything that is right with the south: soul food that is fresh and modern. Although it is hard to order something besides JCT’s signature fried chicken, there are a ton of worthy adversaries on the menu. One worthy dish is the Cracker Jack Salad. Yes Cracker Jack, as in the childhood treat with a surprise at the bottom the box. By no means is this a healthy salad, but what truly southern cuisine is. Unfortunately JCT no longer carries the salad on their menu, but now with the recipe below you can recreate it at home.

This salad has everything you can imagine, and each element contributes to a balanced bite. The arugula base adds the right amount of bite to combat the sweet hit of caramel popcorn. Sharp red onions work with the tangy yet sweet apple vinegarette. Salt comes from the thinly shaved prosciutto. And to ensure you are actually reminded of a box of Cracker Jacks, the salad features spiced peanuts.

Although it is a salad, this is not one that will work for your resolute diet but the taste is worth the splurge!

Apple Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 apple (of any variety), peeled, cored, and sliced
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar

Directions:

Purée the apple in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add all of the remaining ingredients listed above into the food processor. Blend until fully incorporated, 10-20 seconds. Place in sealed container and in fridge until ready to use. Note: this dressing will stay fresh for about one day.

Spiced Peanuts

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of raw shelled peanuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all of the above ingredients into a tupperware bowl. Place lid on the bowl and shake vigorously until the peanuts are evenly coated. Spread onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake 5-10 minutes until the peanuts become fragrant.

Cracker Jack Salad

Ingredients for large salad that feeds at least four:

  • 5 ounces (by weight) of Arugula
  • 1 cup of leftover caramel popcorn
  • 1/2 cup of Spiced Peanuts (recipe above)
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • 1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles
  • 7 ounces (by weight) of Prosciutto
  • 1/4 of a cup Apple Vinaigrette to start

Directions:

Cut an onion in half down the middle and remove skin from one half, store the other half for later. Cut tip of the onion bulb off before slicing the remaining onion in half to create two half circles. Thinly slice your halves of red onion.

In a large bowl for serving, place your arugula in the bowl. Top with your onion, prosciutto, spiced peanuts, and blue cheese.

Pour over dressing to taste or enough to fully coat the salad. I started with 1/4 of a cup, and added more until the salad was as covered as desired. Toss to coat. Add more dressing if needed, and toss again. Finish by topping the salad with the popcorn. Serve immediately.