Chocolate Toffee Caramel Cake

Hello all–  We’re still in Wisconsin here.  And still waiting for snow.  I checked the weather report today and it’s suppose to snow later in the week, the day after we leave!!  Meanwhile it’s sunny with a cold wind that will take your breath away!  OK, that’s all for the weather report– will send along more Wisconsin news (and photos!) in a couple days…

So now here’s the cake– crunchy toffee bits, tiny his of chocolate and caramel sauce and wrapped in and around a moist tender cake.  With a scoop of ice cream, just grand!  I think you’d like it!

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1  1/2 cups canola oil
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
8 oz. bag toffee bits
1  1/4 cup mini chocolate chips*
1 cup caramel sauce

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the brown sugar, white sugar, oil land eggs.  Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and keep beating.  Beat in the milk.  And finally, fold in the  mini chocolate chips (save out 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top the finished cake)  and toffee bits (save a handful to sprinkle on the cake later).

Spoon the batter into a large bundt pan or tube pan that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 325 degree over for 80 or 90 minute (!!) until the cake is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for at least an hour.

Remove the cake to a large plate and Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top and sprinkle on the reserved mini chocolate chips and toffee bits.

* I like mini chocolate chips more than the standard size, because they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake and spread the chocolate more uniformly.


Caramel Pear Cake


Hello there– It’s that time of year when dinner can shift from leaning in around the family room table, to catching cool evening breezes under the maple trees in the back yard.   So last week friends came over the share an outdoor “pot luck salad supper” — perfect summer kick off!

And for dessert we had Miriam’s tart, Glenda’s legendary lemon bars, Joanne’s super strawberry cake and this caramel pear cake.  Sweet ending to time around the table with friends.

P.S. The best thing about this cake is that there is more pears, nuts mixed in than batter– so it’s fruity sweet crunchy sweet.

2 large pears, peeled, seeded & cut in bits
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1  1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
garnish:  powdered sugar,  1/4 cup salted caramel*

Prepare the pears and walnuts.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the egg, oil and vanilla (batter will be very stiff!)  Fold in the pears and walnuts until it’s thoroughly combined.

Spoon the batter into a 8″ or 9″ cake pan** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until a thin knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for an hour or so.  Then dust on a little powdered sugar through a sieve.  Drizzle the salted caramel over the top.

If you serve it with ice cream, be sure to have a little pitcher of warm caramel to top it all!

*You can make your own caramel– I used Smuckers salted caramel from a jar!
**I like a springform pan because it’s easier to extract the cake and set it on a pretty plate.

Chocolate Samoa Cake



Hey friends– This cake gets it’s name from those Girl Scout cookies– the ones with the coconut & caramel & chocolate.  Know what I mean??  Delish!

I made it for our young adults group that comes in on Thursdays.  And I liked it so much, that I made it again on Saturday for dinner with friends!  (so I’ve been nibbling on leftovers all week…)   I think you would like it too…


1 chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
3 eggs

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup caramel sauce*

2  1/2 cups coconut
1/2 cup caramel sauce*
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon canola oil



Mix the cake mix up according to the instructions on the package.  Mine called for water, 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs.  Pour the batter into a 3″ x13″ baking dish –or a large 10″ cake pan.**  Bake the cake 25 to 30 minutes until it is firm to the touch.

While the cake is cooking, line a baking sheet with foil (for easier clean up) and sprinkle the 2 1/2 cups coconut evenly over the foil.  Put it in the oven with the cake and let it cook for 10 to 12 minutes, taking it out and stirring the coconut every 3 or 4 minutes so it does not burn.  (be careful, this coconut can burn easily!) When half of the coconut is still white, but crispy and the other half is light brown, it’s ready.

Let the cake cool and then with the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the cake.

Mix together the frosting ingredients– the melted butter, 1/4 cup milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and 1/4 cup caramel sauce.  Pour them carefully over the cake, smoothing it with a spatula to get the frosting partially down into the holes in the cake.

Then spread the coconut over the top of the frosting.  Put the chocolate chips and oil in a glass bowl and microwave them about 120 seconds, until the chocolate chips are soft enough to stir into a smooth melty mess.  Alternately drizzle the chocolate and 1/2 cup caramel sauce over the coconut layer.  Done.

*You can make your own caramel sauce, but I use store bought
**I like to use my largest spring form pan -about 10  1/2″- because it’s easy to get the cake out onto a pretty plate to serve it.


Caramel Apple Bundt Cake


Hello all– Spent last weekend up in the mountains at Big Bear, 18 of us from the young adult group (We’re the old folks involved!), –for a couple days of talking, laughing, planning and praying.  The weather was glorious, snowy and crisp and the cabin was cozy.  A few of us were the cooks, mixing salads and turning breakfast bacon for a crowd.   And this was dessert on Saturday night…

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped to small bits
2 cups sugar
1  1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup walnuts chopped
garnish: caramel sauce* & chopped walnuts



Prepare the apples bits and set aside.

With an electric mixer beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs for 2 or 3 minutes until they are creamy and fluffy.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

With a spoon mix in the chopped apple and cup of walnuts.  The batter will be stiff so mix them in well.

Spoon the batter into a bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and set it into a 350 degree oven for 75 to 80 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan and then remove it to a platter.  When you are ready to eat it, drizzle on the caramel and then sprinkle on the chopped pecans or walnuts.  Pretty and ready to serve!

*You can make your own caramel sauce, but I just picked up Smuckers salted caramel sauce at the market with the ice cream toppings.

Down on Boulder Bay by the lake–sunshine and snow…


Caramel Toffee Pecan Cake



Hi all– Thanksgiving gone– was yours a good one?  We had the day with our daughter and all her husband’s dear family up here in San Francisco.  Good times talking around the table, passing babies from lap to lap and sampling Brian’s mom’s incredible pecan pie.  It was a sweet day all around.

And here is another pecan dessert– a little simpler than pie and large enough to feed a crowd.  There’s all those nutty pecans and sweet bits of toffee to give a little texture to this tender cake.  I think it would finish out a Christmas dinner ahead just fine.

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
5 eggs
3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
8 oz. bag toffee bits
1  1/2 cups pecans, chopped (save out a few to top the cake)
1 cup caramel sauce*

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the oil, sugars, and eggs with an electric mixer.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally use the mixer to blend in the milk and continue to blend on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Stir in the toffee bits (save out a couple spoonfuls to sprinkle on top the cake) and the chopped pecans (save a few of those for on top too).

Spoon the mixture into a bundt pan or tube pan and bake at 325 degrees for 80 to 90 minutes (long time!)– until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

When you’re ready to serve the cake, drizzle on the caramel sauce and sprinkle toffee bits and pecans on top.

*The recipe I worked from told how to make your own caramel sauce from scratch.  You can mix up your own favorite1 — but I’m happy with store bought caramel- just easier!


Caramel Pecan Oatmeal Bars

Hello Baking Buddies– This year for my birthday, my father-in-law wrapped up those hugs bags of walnuts and pecans from Costco for much appreciated birthday gift!  I feel rich with all those nuts sitting in the cupboard, just waiting to be baked into something yummy.

So last week it was Chocolate Pecan Bars– and today I’m trying out these Caramel Pecan Oatmeal Bars.  I’m heading over to my in-laws house for a little lunch in a bit, so I’ll take Stu a little plateful to show him how I’m putting his pecans to good use!


3/4 cup butter (1  1/2 stick), room temperature*
1  1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2  1/2 cups oatmeal
1  1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup caramel sauce**
1 cup pecans, chopped

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Then mix in the oatmeal flour, baking powder and salt.

Take 1 cup of the mixture out and set aside for the topping.  With your fingers spread the rest of the oatmeal mixture into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray to completely cover the bottom.  Pop this into a 350 degree oven for just 12 minutes.

When the bottom layer comes out of the oven, drizzle on 1 cup of caramel sauce.  Crumble up the one cup of oat mixture that you set aside into coarse crumbs over the top of the caramel.  Sprinkle on the pecans.

Put the whole thing back into the 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until it’s lightly golden on top.  Let the bars cool completely before cutting them into little squares.

*If you’re taking the butter from the fridge (like me), put it into the microwave for 10 seconds to soften it up.
**The recipe I worked from gave instructions for making your own caramel sauce from scratch, but I love Hershey’s caramel sauce and also saving a little time, so that’s what I used.  But if you’re a caramel making whiz, you can stir up your own caramel!


Pumpkin Oatmeal Cake with Cream Cheese Caramel Frosting

FullSizeRenderHi friends– have you noticed the uptick of pumpkin recipes on Pinterest?  Well, I’m joining right in.  Picked up a few cans of pumpkin at the market this week to see me trough til Thanksgiving and it’s been fun to pour over the possibilities.

Here’s a homey little cake that just seems right with a mug of tea on a cool fall day.   It’s pretty and hearty and has that sweet caramel to set it all off.  Happy fall to you!!


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2  cup white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup whole oats
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tab. whole milk or half & half
2 tab. caramel sauce (I like Hershey’s)

Stir together the brown and white sugar.  Then mix in the oil, vanilla, pumpkin and egg.  Add in the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice and stir just until it’s all blended.

Scoop the batter into a 9″ cake pan* and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until it’s firm to the touch.  Set the cake aside to cool.

For the frosting, mix together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer.  Then beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk

Spread the frosting over the top of the cake.  Then drizzle on the caramel and swirl it with the pointed end of a knife to make it pretty!  Real autumn food!

*I use a springform pan, so it’s easier to remove the cake from the pan for serving.


Caramel Almond Bread Pudding

IMG_2615Hello all– Every summer our group of young moms come on over for breakfast and then we’re off for a morning of thrift store shopping.  It’s some good laughs to compare the bargains we come up with!  Who doesn’t love a teddy beat shaped mug? Or an ashtray with a California map imprinted?  (ashtray??!) Love those girls!

So last Saturday, we were catching up around the table over this bread pudding and mugs of coffee. It was just sweet enough with custard-y filling and crunchy almonds–topped with caramel.  Just fine for breakfast with friends.


Almond Butter:
1 cup unsalted toasted almonds
2 tab. butter
1 tsp. amaretto
(or almond extract or vanilla)*
2 tab. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Bread Pudding:
3 cups half & half (or whole milk)
1 tab. amaretto*
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 soft-ish baguette**
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tab. sugar
Powdered sugar for dusting to serve
Caramel sauce for serving***
optional– Whipped cream if you’re serving this for dessert (or breakfast– if you’re up for whipped cream for breakfast!)


To make the almond butter, put the 1 cup toasted almonds, butter, 1 tsp. amaretto, 2 tab. sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt into a blender and blend into a paste (I used my trusty rusty sick blender since I don’t have a real honest blender).

Then in a large bowl, whisk the eggs until thoroughly mixed.  And stir in the half & half, 1 tab. amaretto, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Set aside.

Slice the baguette into neat slices (about 3/4″ thick)– and arrange them overlapping in a 10″ square or round baking dish.****  Pour the egg mixture over the bread and let it sit for an hour (or refrigerate and let sit overnight).

Sprinkle the 1/4 cup sliced almonds and then the 1 tab. sugar over the top.  Cover the dish with foil, tenting it up so it doesn’t touch the bread.

Bake the bread pudding for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.  Then remove the foil.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more until the top is golden brown.

To serve it up, dust the top with a little powdered sugar shaken through a sieve and have a little pot warmed caramel on the side to pour on top if you like.

*I use amaretto in place of almond flavoring because it’s so much less expensive and a big bottle will last about forever.  Vanilla would do just fine if that’s what you have on hand.
**I used a softer store brand baguette.  The nice thin ones with the super hard crust wouldn’t soak up the egg custard as well.  The original recipe I worked from called for brioche bread.  I think you could use most any loaf really.
*** I used Hershey’s caramel sauce warmed in the microwave since I was making several other dishes for this meal.  You could make your own lovely homemade sauce if you want!!
****A 7″x11″ would work as well.  I have a large-ish tart pan that was OK.



Salted Caramel Chocolate Rum Cake

DSC00517Hello there– Had an evening with my group of young moms on Tuesday.  We talk and laugh and tell our stories and eat, always eat.  Usually something that involves whipped cream.  So this week we sat down with places of chocolate caramel, rum cake– with splashes of whipped cream.  Love those girls…


1  1/2 cup brewed coffee
1 cup butter
1/2 cup rum
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. flake salt for topping (such as Maldon)

DSC00492To make the cake, pout the coffee, 1 cup butter, rum and cocoa powder in a sauce pan.  Put it on medium heat and stir until the butter has melted.  Then add the 2 cups sugar and whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Set off the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour baking powder and salt.  Then fold in the chocolate /coffee/sugar mixture.  Last whisk in the eggs and vanilla.  The batter will be thin, the consistency of soup.

Pour the batter into a bundt pan** or an oversized 11″ cake pan and put it into a 325 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick poked in, comes out clean.   Let the cake cool for an hour before you invert it onto a pretty plate.

Caramel Sauce:
Put the 1 cup sugar and water into a heavy sauce pan.  Simmer the mixture until the sugar dissolves completely.  Then raise the heat to medium low and let the sugar-water come to a low boil for no more than 5 minutes. When it turns a lovely golden color take it off of the heat. BE CAREFUL– it’s easy to burn the caramel, don’t let it get to dark before you take it off of the heat.  (can you tell I’ve burned it myself??)

Immediately whisk in the heavy cream and then stir in the butter, salt and vanilla until the butter is melted.  Pour it into a heat proof bowl to cool a while before you pour it over the cake.

When you’re ready to serve the cake, douse it with the caramel and sprinkle the flake salt over the cake.  Voila!

*I love the Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa
**The recipe I worked from called for a bundt pan, but since I am one of the 6 bakers in America who still don’t own a bundt pan, I used this pretty one my mom gave me for my birthday– But a bundt pan would be grand.


Caramel Pecan Apple Cobbler


Hello there–  I wish I were my friend Janet.  I’ve had apple cobbler at her table– It’s delish!  And she just walks out in the backyard and picks the apples off her old apple tree just like a farmer!! And whips them up into a dessert.   I have to trudge to the market for mine.  But in the end, we both have a sweet plates of cobbler– and all the better with caramel and pecans.  Wherever you get your apples, I’m hoping you get a few heaping servings of apple cobbler this fall…

4 cups tart apples
1/2 cup caramel sauce*
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
dash salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup pecans

ice cream & a little extra caramel sauce to top your cobbler

In a mixing bowl stir together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Then cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or a food processor) until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the pecans.  Set aside.

Peel and core the apples.  Then cut them into small chunks and spread them into a 9″ or 10″ pie dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Drizzle the 1/2 cup caramel evenly over the apples.

Spoon the flour-pecan mixture over the apples and pop them into the oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Most luscious served warm with ice cream and little more caramel sauce…

*If you’re more ambitious than I am, you can make your own caramel sauce– I really like the Hershey’s caramel in the jar.  Thin enough to pour and buttery good.


Caramel Pear Bread Pudding

IMG_2101Hello there–  I know, I know it’s not really fall yet.  It felt like the depths of summer when we were out walking the trails yesterday with our kids.  whew!!  But school starts today and I’m just ready to be back to all that fall baking.  And this cinnamon and pear dish pretty clearly tastes like fall.  So I’ll just pretend it’s October and  dig in to a fruity, spicy plate full…

6 cups 1″ white firm bread cubes
2 tab. melted butter
2 red pears, cored & cut in small bits
1/4 cup dried currants*
3 eggs, beaten slightly
2 cups milk
1 cup caramel ice cream syrup, divided
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

IMG_2119Put the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and toss them with the melted butter to coat the bread.  Then mix in the pears and currants.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup caramel syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.

Spread the bread cubes and pears evenly over a 9″x13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Then pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes.  Smoosh the bread down into the egg mixture to be sure it is all moistened.

Bake the bread pudding in a 350 degree over for 50 to 60 minutes– until the top of the bread cubes are toasty and the custard (egg mixture) is set.

When you take the dish out of the oven.  Sprinkle the pecans over the top of the bread pudding and drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup of caramel syrup over it all.

Let it sit about 30 minutes to cool a bit and then serve it up with a happy serving of ice cream or whipped cream alongside.

*The recipe I worked from called for 1/4 cup dried cranberries, but I used currants — they’re a little more subtle.  Raisins or other dried fruits would work as well…

Caramel Apple Cake

IMG_7550Hi there all you cake lovers– There’s nothing more homespun than this little cake.  It’s the kind of cake you’d take to your grandma, if you were dropping in for a mug of tea with her– and seeing as Mothers’ Day is just around the corner, that might be a fine idea.  What grandma doesn’t love cake (and you too).

3 apples, peeled, cored, cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)**
1/2 cup caramel ice cream sauce*

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the apples, sugar, old, egg and vanilla.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  –plus walnuts, if you like.

Spoon the batter into a 9″ or 10″ cake pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is browned and a knife inserted comes out clean.

While the cake is still hot and in the pan, poke the top with a fork to leave small holes all around for the caramel to seep into.  Pour the caramel over the hot cake and let it cool in the pan.  It’ best served up with a scoop of ice cream, of course.

IMG_7560*You can make your own yummy caramel sauce of course, but I think Hershey’s caramel sauce is just fine.
**I always toss in extra walnuts because I love their solid crunch– unless my Laurel is coming to eat and then no walnuts!  I leave them out altogether…

Caramel Pecan Banana Cake

IMG_7071Hello there– I just don’t know what to say about this cake.  It’s sort of an up-side-down cake –or maybe kind of Banana’s Foster-ish.  It could be a brunch worthy coffee cake or with enough whipped cream a lovely dessert at the end of a dinner with friends.  It’s best warm from the oven, but yummy cold as well.  I think the best thing would be for you to try it out and decide for yourself what kind of cake we have on our hands.

I will say it’s sweet and delicious.  You can take if from there…

3 tab. butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans*
2 bananas, sliced
4 very ripe bananas, smashed
1/2 cup canola oil
1  1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt


Melt the butter in a skillet and cook just until it starts to sizzle.  Stir in the brown sugar and take off the heat.  Carefully drop in the banana slices turning them to coat with the sauce.  Set aside.

In in mixing bowl, smash the remaining 4 ripe bananas.  Stir in the oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly and then stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a 3X13″ baking dish or a 12″ round dish, coat it with cooking spray.  Then sprinkle the pecans over the bottom, carefully nestle the caramel-ly bananas evenly over the bottom of the dish with tongs.  Scrape the remaining butter/brown sugar out of the pan over the bananas and pecans.

Spoon the banana cake batter over the bananas in the baking dish and pop it all into the oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes– until the cake is lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for just 5 minutes.  Then invert the cake onto a dish so the sliced bananas come out on top.  Scrape any extra gooey stuff out of the baking dish onto the cake.  Serve it warm with ice cream and maybe a little caramel sauce.  Mellow and delicious.

Caramel Cream Cheese Brownies

IMG_3621Hello everyone–  I always try to have a chocolate cake on the counter when Ani and Brian drive down from San Francisco.  Ani is a real “cake face.”  And who doesn’t love a good old chocolate cake?  But this trip we were traveling on for a weekend in Big Bear.  So I decided to bake up something more portable– a pan of brownies.  These have a cream cheese layer on top with a bit of caramel swirled in.  Sweet and gooey.

1 family size brownie mix (makes a 9″x13″ pan of brownies)
4 eggs
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
5 tab. butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 tab. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup caramel sauce*

IMG_3481Mix up the brownie mix according the directions on the box, using 2 of the eggs.  Spread the batter into a 9″ x 13″ baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Then with an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, flour, vanilla and the last 2 eggs.  Beat on high until the batter is smooth and creamy.  Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture over the brownie batter.  Then spoon the caramel sauce over the cream cheese layer.  Use the tip of a sharp knife to swirl the caramel and cream cheese together.

Bake up the brownies at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until they are firm to the touch and just starting to brown around the edges.  Insert a sharp tip knife to be sure they are cooked all the way through!  Let them cool a while before you cut them into squares (unless you can wait!)

*If you’re a better cook than I, you can whip up your very own caramel sauce.  I use Hershey’s caramel sauce from the jar. It’s a favorite staple in my cupboard.

Caramel Coconut Brownies

IMG_1278Hello there–  We had friends for dinner last night out under the maple trees out in the yard.  Seemed like the first night of summer talking through the evening.  But when they all finally wandered home, I still needed to bake up something for “goodie day” at my school.  (Teachers are notorious goodie aficionados).  This recipe takes 10 minutes to drop in the oven (thanks to a box brownie mix*),  but looks like it took you a good long while.  Perfect for late night, want to get in bed baking…

1 large brownie mix (size for a 9″x 13″ pan)
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup water
1 more egg
1 cup caramel ice cream topping
2 cups coconut
1 cup slices toasted almonds**

Make up the brownies according to the directions on the box (this particular box called for 2 eggs and 1/3 cup oil & 1/3 cup water).  Scrape the batter into a 9″x 13″ pan sprayed with cooking spray.  In another bowl, whisk the egg til it’s fluffy.  Then stir in the caramel, coconut and almonds.  Carefully spoon it over the brownie batter.  Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Let it cool a bit before you cut into it– so the brownies and topping will set up.  Yummm.

*Brownie mixes, I love them.  I do make a couple favorite brownies that are better made from scratch, but for your “I just need that rich chocolate layer and am in a hurry kind of brownie,” I think mixes are the best.

**sliced toasted almonds bagged up and ready to go at Trader Joe’s

Sally’s Super Brownie Bars

IMG_8064Hi all–  I’ve eaten a lot of good food at my friend Sally’s table– the best St. Louis ribs, her succulent honey coated pork loin, and don’t get me started on her crazy good “nutty bars.”  So when all the Monday night friends poured in last night for our Christmas dinner, I knew Sally would carry in something delectable.  These super chewy, crunchy, caramely cookie bars are the best.  Thanks Sally for letting me steal your recipe right on to the blog!


Brownie Layer:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Let it cool a few minutes.  Then stir in the sugar, eggs. vanilla.  And finally mix in the flour and baking powder. Line a 9″x13″ pan with foil, coming up over the edges and then pour in the brownie mixture.  Bake it at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes.  Cool this on a wire rack.

Caramel Layer:
1 1/2  14 oz.package of vanilla caramels (about 68)
2 tab. evaporated milk
1 tab. water
1 1/2 cups rice cereal

Unwrap the caramels and drop them in a large microwave safe bowl.  Add in the evaporated milk and water and microwave for 3 minutes, or until the caramel is melted, stirring every 30 seconds.  Then stir in the rice cereal.  Spread this mixture over the cooled brownie layer and stick it in the freezer while you make the next layer.

Nougat Layer:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
1/4 cup peanut butter

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and butter.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce heat to medium.  Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.  Mix in the marshmallow cream and peanut butter.  Spread it all over the caramel layer and pop it back in the freezer.

Chocolate on Top Layer:
2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream

In a small saucepan, heat and stir the 3 ingredients over medium heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Pour chocolate over the nougat layer, spreading out to the edges.  Cover the pan with foil and chill for 2 hours.  Cut into small, delicious squares.  Makes 64 brownies.

These brownies may sound like a lot of work.  But all the steps are pretty simple and the super duper brownies are the pay-off!   Hugs to you Sal–thanks again for all the good food over a whole lot of years.

Caramel Pumpkin Cake

Hello friends– I’m sitting here smelling this cake in the oven.  My young moms group is coming in this evening and they (like me) are fond of gooey, whip-creamy desserts.  So I’m trying out this creamy, caramely, spicy, pumpkiny, nutty cake and I have high hopes!   Here it is:

1 yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 jar caramel ice cream topping
1 pint whipping cream
2 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup sugar

With an electric mixer, beat up the cake mix, eggs, oil, water, pumpkin and spice.  Pour it into a large springform pan or a 9″x13″ baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Let me tell you the batter is the most beautiful color!!  Pop it into the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until it comes out firm to the touch.  When it’s cooling poke holes in the top with the handle of a wooden spoon and pour over the caramel sauce into those holes (save a couple teaspoons of sauce to garnish the top of the cake).

Beat the whipping cream with the powdered sugar and pudding mix (for stabilizer).  Mix the pecans and sugar together in a nonstick pan over medium hear stirring until the sugar melts and the pecans are coated with a brown glaze.  Spread them on a sheet of foil to cool.

When the cake is completely cooled pile on the whipped cream and top it with the pecans and little bit of caramel topping you reserved.  Viola!  It’s beautiful– to your eyes and your mouth.

P.S.– Well, the cake came out just fine.  When Christy asked if it would be on the blog, everyone started suggesting names for it– “Super Pumpkin Cake” or “Really Scrumptious Pumpkin Cake.”  I think I’ll stick with the original.  But we ate our cake and shared our stories and asked God for his help.  I love those dear girls.

Chocolate, Caramel, Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Squares

Hello there– Back in the 50’s when I was a trick or treater, my Mom and Dad would drum up the best neighborhood Halloween parties.  Dad would put on this Fred Flintstone Costume and plan the craziest games and my mom would have piles of Rice Krispie Squares for all the kids on the block.  So when October rolls around, I do wish I  had a pan of those Rice Krispie treats.  So I made these last week:

3 tab. butter
10 oz. marshmallows
1 tab. vanilla
7 cups Rice Krispies
14 oz. bag of wrapped caramels
2 tab. water
1 1/2 cups peanut butter, divided
2 cups chocolate chips

Layer #1:  Melt the butter and marshmallows in a large heavy pan, stirring all the while.  When they are completely melted, stir in the vanilla and then the Rice Krispies.  Spray a 9″x13″ pan with cooking spray and pat the Rice Krispie mixture firmly into the pan and refrigerate it.

Layer #2:  Unwrap all those caramels (this is the hardest part of this recipe) and add them to the water in a saucepan.  Stir until they are all melted together and  then mix in just 1 cup of the peanut butter.  Next spread this over the pan of Rice Krispies.  Pop it back into the fridge.

Layer#3:  Melt 1 1/2 1 cups chocolate chips in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.  They won’t come out looking melted, but add in the other 1/2 cup of solid chips and stir them til it looks like a melty mess.  Then mix in the last half cup of peanut butter.  Top the Rice Krispie Squares with this chocolate mixture and leave them in the fridge for an hour before cutting them into squares.

I have to add– Yes these are as delicious as they look.  I ate way too many of these guys!