Thursday, February 13, 2014

cinnamon valentine caramels

Here is the direct link for: Cinnamon Valentine Caramels.

This recipe comes from the blog, A Farmgirl's dabbles. The blog's author, Brenda, shares her caramel recipe, a adaptation of her Grandma Klein's Chocolate Caramels. I will definitely be trying that recipe as well!

It took me two tries, but in the end the caramels turned out beautifully. The first batch I didn't heat them long enough, I think. I used an old candy thermometer and it wasn't registering correctly. I went on the internet and learned about how to test for caramel stage by dropping a dollop of mixture into a bowl of ice water and if it holds its shape it's done. The combination of a candy thermometer and the ice water test was a sure thing.

The caramel's red color comes from Wilton's red no taste icing gel, an intense red that blends beautifully, such a perfect Valentine red. The spicy flavor comes from a little vile of cinnamon oil which I purchased at Michael's in their baking section. The blog's author suggests using cinnamon extract if you want a milder taste. The caramels using the cinnamon oil taste like a chewy, but slightly mild red hot candy. YUMMY! As you can see, the recipe makes quite a few caramels. I cut them into thin slices and bagged them up in little cello bags tied with red ribbons. A perfect gift for my teenage Valentines!

FYI, I purchased the caramel wrappers from an Etsy shop, SweetCO1. The shop sells a variety of wrappers, so I stocked up. I prefer the store bought wrappers rather than cutting my own wax paper into pieces. The store bought wrappers are thicker and don't tear when twisting them tightly around the caramels. I also bought some clear wrappers for when I make the chocolate caramels.

The red pin award for a great Valentine gift treat! I will definitely make these again. Next time I might try adding a licorice oil, doesn't that sound good?

Happy pinning!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

chocolate heart peanut butter cookies

Here is the direct link for: Chocolate Heart Peanut Butter Cookies.

This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker's home page. The cookie is described as "chocolate and peanut butter marry in a favorite cookie combo." I love this combination in a cookie!

The recipe uses one pouch of Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix. I have never used this cookie mix before, so I was curious to try it. Plus I wanted a quick and easy cookie as a Valentine's gift to send off to my son away at college. In the end, it was quick and easy to mix up but the cookies lacked that 'real' peanuty-taste. I prefer traditional home-made peanut butter cookies.

The recipe calls for chocolate hearts so I used Hersey's Chocolate Hearts Assortment, a combination of chocolate hearts in milk chocolate, peanut butter filled and dark chocolate. I personally don't like the size of these hearts, they seem a bit too big. I usually like my cookies on the smallish-size. The cookies in the photo above measure about 3-inches after baking. The cookies on the Betty Crocker site look more delicate than mine. They must of used a smaller chocolate heart. But of course, they don't tell you where they got their hearts.

NOTE: I just noticed in the reviews on Betty Crocker's site that one reviewer recommended using Dove milk chocolate hearts for their size and creaminess. Boy, it is amazing what you can find if you dig deep enough in these blogs!

I found another blog, The Baker Chick, that creates a similar cookie but she makes her cookies from scratch, Peanut Butter Sweetheart Cookies. I will try this recipe next time. She also made a great suggestion which I found very helpful. She said she likes "to put the hot cookies into the freezer for a few minutes so the cookie doesn't melt the chocolate too much. Otherwise it can take quite a long time for the chocolate to solidify again and the cookies won't stack easily." This idea worked slick!

This Valentine cookie needs a little work, a bit of tweeking to find the right size chocolate heart and a better tasting peanut butter cookie recipe, but I am getting close, I can taste it.

I give this cookie idea the red pin award cause its different from the traditional Valentine's cookies! I will definitely try this idea again and keep you posted of my results.

Happy pinning!