A Salty and Sweet 2009

2009 was a big year for me. I bought my first home, I traveled to Italy with a great friend and I made some fantastic new friends that I'm sure will carry over into 2010 and years to come. 
2009 was also the year that I fell in love with the rich and decadent flavor: salted caramel. Salted Caramel was the "it" flavor of 2009. My favorite cupcakery, Cupcake Royale does it best in the cupcake department while Molly Moon's nails it with ice cream. (In fact, I think that is where I first encountered the flavor.)
So to send 2009 out in sweet and savory style (and to serve as a New Year's Day treat!) I decided to tackle the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for Fleur De Sel Caramels. 
Thankfully my dear friend Chris continues to replenish my Reflets de France's Fleur De Sel supply because this was the perfect ingredient for these tasty morsels. The recipe was easy to follow and at the end I was amazed - I just made my own caramels! (Pat on the back me!) The only hitch I came into was that when removing the chilled caramel from the pan, the parchment paper did not come off easily. I was picking it in little shreds for some time. (Not fun.) I would advise using a touch more oil when initially coating the paper. 
These caramels are super impressive but surprisingly easy! If only all things followed that same mantra!
So with that I say goodbye to 2009. It was a sweet one, with hints of salt mixed in. Just like my favorite flavor. 



Grab your knife and fork - these cupcakes are worth doing the dishes!

Allow me to set the stage. It's an office-mate's birthday and you decide to present them with a treat inspired by their favorite doughnut, a Top Pot "Feathered Boa."

The typical reaction? A muffle of sounds (their mouths filled with golden cake) and then "What makes these so good?!"

Simple answer? 6 sticks of butter, 5 eggs, 2 packages of cream cheese, confectioners sugar...and on and on. 

She's no Paula Dean but Ina Garten has mastered the art of taking butter and transforming it into heaven. 

Dense, moist, rich...hefty. These cupcakes are best enjoyed with a fork and knife. 

The Barefoot Contessa's Baking Line carries the mixes but I recommend trying them from scratch. They're fairly simple and are far more flavorful! Try it for yourself!