Caramel Cake

Nirvana, Heaven, Sublime…  I’m not going to lie (again, because lying is bad for karma).  This is an amazing slice of supremeness (real word?) to put in your cake-hole.  I saw this recipe in Food & Wine and knew that I had to bake it.  Correction:  Had. To. Eat. It.

It is a little time-consuming.  I suggest making the three cake layers the day before and making the caramel icing the next day.  The reasons are that it does take a while to get the caramel made and it seriously takes time for the caramel to set up.  I was icing that cake for a long time.  Next time I will let the caramel set up for way longer than 15 minutes.  The caramel between the layers set up fine, but I will not frost the top and sides next time until I know it’s really thick and will set.

Please, do yourself a big cake-love favor and make this cake.  This is one of those cakes that I would pay serious money to just have a slice.  It’s that good.

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Savory Pumpkin Crackers

Need crisp. . . and Fall is obviously NOT around the corner, so I must take matters into my own hands.

I went shopping with a dear friend yesterday and, not to veer off the subject at hand, but check out the good karma she is spreading with her homemade elderberry jelly–does that not look divine?!  I’m the super lucky recipient of a prized jar; I so love my Barbie-doll friend!

Back to shopping:  I picked up, among other items, dry-roasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower oil.  I’ve been craving pumpkin bread, but not the typical quick bread; something yeasty that would make scrumptious french toast with a dusting of powdered sugar, and. . . snap, I digress again.  This morning, while trying to decide why Mother Nature is tormenting me with yet another hot and steamy day, I decided to make crackers.  Oh sure, there are lots of cracker recipes floating around, but pumpkin crackers?  Off to the lab kitchen I go!

If I do say so, this are quite yummy and healthful.  I realize there are a couple fancy-pants ingredients listed, but don’t let that sway you.  I just used fancy because I either just bought fancy, or had the realization that rye flour cannot stay in the freezer another three years without me at least trying it!

These are good and they sure beat expensive gourmet crackers; at least in my little nugget of a brain.  You don’t bite into them thinking you are eating pumpkin pie; it’s just the color is crackery (new word) and the smell is yum.  They’re savory, not sweet at all.  I’m thinking a spread of goat cheese with pumpkin butter on top.  Heavens, light the wood stove–I’m experiencing Fall!

Savory Pumpkin Crackers

1½ cups all-purpose flour (prefer unbleached)
½ cup rye flour (or whole wheat flour)
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sunflower oil (or light olive oil)
⅓ cup water

Topping (opt.): 3 tablespoons dry-roasted pumpkin seeds, few pinches kosher salt

Pre-heat over to 450°.  In food processor, pulse until combined the flours, pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Add sunflower oil and water, pulsing until mixture turns into a ball of dough.  Divide dough in half and set aside.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your largest cookie or jelly roll sheet.  Set cookie sheet aside.  Place parchment paper on work surface and place one of the dough halves on paper.  Lightly sprinkle top with flour and using rolling-pin, roll the dough (using tad more flour if needed to prevent stickiness) until it is as thin (preferably 1/8″) as possible and covers parchment paper.  Using pizza cutter, cut dough into preferred bite-sized shape.  Transfer dough (still on parchment paper) to cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with ½ topping mixture and bake 10-12 minutes.

Let crackers cool completely on wire rack and re-use the parchment paper for your next batch.  (For the record, after both batches were done, I mixed them together and popped into my turned-off oven for a few more minutes; helped make them really crisp up).  Store crackers in airtight container.

Blackberrry Liqueur/Cordial

I might hate summer, but I love berries.  I also love blackberry liqueur.  I have six beautiful blackberry bushes growing in one of our raised gardens.  One can only eat so many blackberry cobblers (as I typed that I realized how stupid that sounds!), so hence this luscious, garnet-colored liqueur.  It’s delicious with a glug (yes, that’s a word) poured into homemade bubbly champagne: á votre santé!  Or, as we say down here:  cheers, y’all!

Blackberry Liqueur/Cordial

3 cups fresh blackberries
1-1/2 cups vodka
1-1/2 cups brandy
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 long zest/peel from orange

In a glass container (must have lid) combine water and sugar.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Once sugar syrup has cooled, add vodka, brandy, blackberries, and orange peel, stirring gently.  Cover and place in a dark cabinet.  Every few days gently swirl the container and place back in cabinet.  After a month, strain liqueur (cheesecloth or metal strainer) and bottle.  Age liqueur in a dark cabinet for another month or two.

P.S. Notice the word “HOPE” on the cork-it came from yummy wine made to support breast cancer research!  Thank you to a certain tennis player who gave me the wine with that cork!

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