I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding (and variations)

Decandent Chocolate Bread Pudding

I’ve been making this bread pudding for years, when I really want to pull out the stops for a decadent, but homey, dessert. It’s another of those recipes written on card, transferred to a notebook, moved to a file folder – the victim of my many attempts to organize a lifetimes worth of shared and saved recipes. The chocolate custard soaks through the bread and the chocolate morsels add little surprises of molten chocolate. This is not a dessert for the faint of heart.

When I was making this again to test and photograph it, I was suddenly struck with great indecision. Should I make a peppermint version? Add a new sauce? I finally decided the most helpful thing to do would be to stick with the basics and share this template recipe, which is utterly delicious and perfect as it is. But I offer some seasonal variations and additional trimmings from the archives.

Decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding (and variations)
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound loaf challah bread or soft Italian bread
  2. 3 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  3. 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  4. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  6. 5 large eggs
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. ½ cup whole milk
  9. 11.5 ounce bag milk chocolate morsels
Instructions
  1. Cut the bread into roughly 1-inch chunks and set aside.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and drop it in a food processor. Heat 1 cup of the heavy cream in the microwave (about 45 seconds) or in a saucepan until just steaming. Do not boil or bubble. Process the chocolate for a few seconds to break it up, then pour over the warm cream and process until smooth. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, the melted butter and the vanilla to the chocolate mixture and process until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, processing until smooth between each addition. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a capacious bowl –one that will fit the bread too. Stir in the remaining 2 cups cream and ½ cup milk and stir until smooth. Add the bread cubes and the chocolate morsels to the bowl and gently stir until the bread is well coated, the morsels are evenly distributed and everything is well combined. Scrape the mixture into a greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, but up to six.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°. Take the baking dish out of the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes to get the chill off. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. You can serve this with ice cream, plain vanilla, salted caramel or peppermint or with whipped cream, or try it drizzled with Toffee Sauce or Bourbon Sauce.
  2. Give an autumn twist by adding 2 cups of dried cranberries, soaked in a little brandy to plump and ½ cup chopped walnuts, using just 1 cup of chocolate morsels.
  3. As the holidays approach, mix this up to make a Mint Chocolate Bread Pudding. Swap the vanilla for ½ teaspoon peppermint extract and use white chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. Sprinkle the top with crushed peppermint candies before serving.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting

Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting

I’m sticking to my simple comfort food theme here.  This recipe is no innovative or new, just simple delicious.  You’ll find similar versions in all sorts of community cookbooks I am sure.  It’s the type of 9 by 13 dessert you might take to a church social or a big family gathering.  The cake is delightfully moist and hearty with a nice caramel undertone.  The topping adds sweetness and crunch, but I promise is not overwhelmingly coconutty.  Cut this in small pieces to serve a big crowd or big slabs with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a comforting, filling dessert. I bet someone you serve it too will have a memory of something similar in from his or her childhood.

Caramel Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting
Serves 10
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Cake
  1. 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  2. 1 ½ cups boiling water
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  10. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  11. ½ teaspoon salt
  12. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Broiled frosting
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  2. ¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  3. 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
  4. 1 cup shredded coconut
  5. 1 cup finely chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. For the Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray (I like Baker’s Joy for baking).
  3. Put the oats in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Leave the oats to soak for 20 minutes.
  4. Cream the butter and both sugars together in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Slowly beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until completely incorporated, scrapiing down the bowl as needed. Beat in the soaked oats until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, until the top is just beginning firm.
  5. For the Frosting
  6. Make the frosting while the cake is baking, put the butter, brown sugar and cream in a medium saucepan and heat over medium, just until the butter melts. Remove from the heat. A gew minutes before the cake timer goes off, bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and boil for 1 minutes. Stir in the coconut and pecans until well combined. Take the cake out of the oven and pour and spread the frosting over the top. The frosting will be thick, just do you best to spread it out. Don’t worry about evenly covering the cake, or if some of the cake seems to pull up and mix with the frosting. The end result is a fabulous concoction of cake and gooey frosting.
  7. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Notes
  1. I particularly like the cake served slightly warm, but it is equally delicious at room temperature, and leftovers make a delicious breakfast, room temperature or lightly warmed.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Peach Bourbon Cake with Sweet Tea Peaches

Peach Bourbon Cake with Sweet Tea Peaches

Here I go again.  Peaches and bourbon.  They just go so well together, and when I am standing in the kitchen with some marvelous summer peaches, I just want to add a little splash.  The peaches have been so amazing this year – I’ve jammed, spiced, ketchuped and canned a huge amount.  But I went a little overboard on the buying.  I created this recipe for a family dinner when I found myself with an overabundance of peaches, and added a touch of bourbon at the end.  But I still had more peaches, so I upped the Southern factor by making a sweet tea infused compote, which adds another layer of flavor.  You could add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, but it is rich enough as is.  The cake would also be delicious with Peach Butterbourbon Sauce and the compote would be delicious on its own or stirred into some yogurt for breakfast.

Peach Bourbon Cake with Sweet Tea Peaches
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. Peach Bourbon Cake
  2. 4 medium sized peaches
  3. 3 cups flour, divided
  4. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  9. ½ teaspoon salt
  10. ½ cup buttermilk
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  12. 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  13. Sweet Tea Peaches
  14. 1 cup water
  15. 1 cup granulated sugar
  16. 2 black tea bag
  17. 8 medium peaches
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan thoroughly.
  2. Peel and pit the peaches and cut into small chunks. Toss with ¼ cup of the flour and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugars together in the bowl of a stand mixer for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. Add the remaining 2 ¾ cups flour, baking powder and salt alternately with the buttermilk, scraping down the bowl, until completely mixed. Beat in the vanilla and bourbon.
  4. Gently fold the floured peaches through the batter distributing the chunks evenly. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Peaches
  1. Stir the water and sugar together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is syrup. Remove from the heat and add the tea bag. Leave to steep for about 5 minutes.
  2. Peel and pit the peaches and cut into small chunks. Remove the tea bag from the syrup and add the peaches. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced and the peaches are coated in a light syrup, about 15 minutes.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Blackberry Cobbler with Bourbon Sauce

Blackberry Cobbler with Bourbon Sauce

I call this dish a cobbler, but I know that description can be controversial. I served this dish to my family, and as the spoons scraped the plates, a discussion came up about what is a cobbler exactly. We each described different types of dishes, and went through all the other names for similar dishes – grunt, buckle, crumble, slump, betty…When the plates were clean and the remnants of sauce being eaten by the spoonful, I asked if they thought I should give the dish a different name. The general consensus was, when it’s as good as this, who cares what it’s called.

This sauce is rich and delicious, but you could add a scope of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

 

Blackberry Cobbler with Bourbon Sauce
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Blackberry Cobbler
  2. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup granulated sugar
  4. 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  5. ¼ teaspoon salt
  6. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  7. ½ cup butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
  8. ¾ cups whole milk
  9. 2 cups blackberries
  10. Bourbon Sauce
  11. ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  12. 1 cup light brown sugar
  13. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  14. 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  15. ¼ cup bourbon
For the Cobbler
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract and milk and stir until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the blackberries over the surface.
  3. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until puffed and golden around the edges and a tester inserted in the center of the batter comes out clean.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.
For the Sauce
  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is cohesive. Pull the pan off the heat and and cool slightly. Slowly whisk the egg yolks into the mixture and whisk until the sauce is combined and slightly thickened. Whisk in the bourbon and return to the heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens slightly. The sauce should be the consistency of thick syrup.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Seriously Fresh Blueberry Pie

Seriously Fresh Blueberry PieWhen the summer blueberries are so abundant, I love to feature them in a way that doesn’t mask their sweet-tart and tender beauty.  And this pie is chockfull of blueberries.  A pile of fresh berries is bound together with sweetened berries and just a hint of cornstarch to thicken things up.  I prefer this to the sometimes gelatinous pie fillings you often find.  And it is so easy to make, its perfect for lazy summer weekends. Because I am not going to fault you for using a pre-made rolled pie crust. 

Nutmeg is a wonderful complement to blueberries. The first time I served this pie, I go that wonderful response “what is that flavor – it is so good”.  Nutmeg is mysterious and elusive, but adds such a unique twist to a blueberry dessert.  You can absolutely serve this pie with lightly sweetened whipped cream (try tangy buttermilk whipped cream) or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Seriously Fresh Blueberry Pie
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Pastry for a 9-inch pie, fully baked and cooled
  2. 4 cups blueberries
  3. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  4. zest and juice of one lemon
  5. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  6. 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  7. 1 Tablespoon butter
Instructions
  1. Place 1 cup blueberries and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Zest the lemon into the blueberries and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. Add water to make ½ cup liquid and add to the blueberries. Stir in the nutmeg and cook over medium-high heat until the berries begin to burst. With an immersion blender, or very carefully in a blender, puree the blueberries until smooth. Mix the cornstarch with just enough water to make a smooth paste, then stir it into the blueberry mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in the butter until melted. Leave to cool.
  2. When the mixture is cool, stir in the remaining 3 cups of blueberries and stir to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared pie crust and chill for several hours.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Sugar Cake with Blueberry Basil Compote

Sugar Cake with Blueberry Basil Compote

I was first drawn to this recipe, because, well, who could resist something called sugar cake. It reminds me of the great classic song “Tea for Two”, the Ella Fitzgerald version is on my kitchen playlist. “Day will break and I will wake, and start to bake a sugar cake, for you to take for all the boys to see.” Recipes for Sugar Cake are scattered through community cookbooks, mostly a version called Moravian Sugar Cake, which involves yeast. But I came across this simple version and had to try it. It is dense and tender and beautifully yellow, with that thick, chewy crust so perfect on a moist loaf cake. I sprinkle the top with sugar to create a crackly sweet bite.

Simple cakes like this are the perfect vehicle for summer’s fresh berries. A simple tumble of blueberries with some lightly sweet whipped cream would be lovely, but I love pulling together the fruit and herbs of summer. This basil-scented blueberry compote is not too sweet, and lets the flavor of the berries really shine.

Sugar Cake with Blueberry Basil Compote
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. Sugar Cake
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. 1 ½ cups white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  4. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  5. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. ¾ teaspoon salt
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. Blueberry Basil Compote
  10. 1 pint of blueberries, washed and stemmed
  11. 2 Tablespoons honey
  12. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  13. 5 – 6 basil leaves (attached to the stem is easiest)
For the Sugar Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan generously.
  2. Beat the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer until lemon yellow, then add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour, baking powder and salt alternately with the cream, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla until you have a smooth, thick batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon sugar evenly over the top of the batter.
  3. Bake the cake for 50 minutes to an hour, until a tester inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Cover the top loosely with foil when it starts to brown. Cool the cake in the pan.
For the Compote
  1. Place the blueberries, honey and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well, and cook until the berries are soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Mash the berries with a fork and cook until the compote is thickened and reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil leaves. Leave to cool, then remove the basil leaves. Refrigerate the compote until ready to use. It will keep for 3 days in the fridge.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Strawberry Curd and Almond Cookies

Strawberry Curd and Almond Cookies Strawberry season was a bit slow to come this year, but I am now gorging myself on the in-season fruit and finding all sorts of ways to incorporate the ruby gems in my cooking.  And this is a new favorite.  It combines the flavor of beautiful local fruits and memories of England, and anything that can do that makes me happy. Lemon curd has always felt like a luxury food to me.  It was a fancy British import, sold in little jars and not readily available in Memphis.  In fact, when I first started travelling to England, I probably brought jars back for my mother and grandmother as little gifts.  Eventually I learned that lemon curd is pretty easy to make at home, and so much fresher and better, which led to the obvious experimentation with curds of other flavors.  And I think strawberry may be my favorite.  It’s a lovely pink color and bursts with strawberry flavor. Strawberry curd is wonderful spread on toast or good English muffins.  Or the full English, on a tender scone.  It makes a wonderful filling for a cake. I decided to pair it here with these delicate little almond cookies because it makes a lovely and interesting dessert.  I’ve scooped the curd into little 4 ounce Mason jars and placed it on a plate surrounded by cookies as a nifty little individual sweet.  It also works as a dip for a spring shower or brunch.  

Strawberry Curd and Almond Cookies
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Ingredients
  1. Strawberry Curd
  2. 8 ¼ ounces strawberries, hulled
  3. 1 ¼ cup sugar
  4. zest and juice of one small orange
  5. zest and juice of one medium lemon
  6. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cubed and at room temperature
  7. 4 eggs
  8. Almond Cookies
  9. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  10. ½ cup granulated sugar
  11. 1 large egg
  12. ½ cup almond meal (or very finely ground almonds)
  13. 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  14. 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Strawberry Curd
  2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set aside close to the stovetop. Puree the strawberries in a blender until very smooth.
  3. Pour the strawberry puree into a medium sauce pan and add the sugar, citrus zest and juice (about ¼ cup juice). Whisk to blend and add the butter pieces. Beat the eggs well in a small bowl, then whisk them into the strawberry mixture until combined. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until the butter is melted. (it’s best to switch to a heatproof spatula here to be able to scrape the sides and reach the edges of the pan). Continue cooking until the curd is thickened, about 6- 8 minutes., stirring constantly. Scrape the curd immediately into the strainer set over the bowl. Push the curd through the strainer to remove any cooked egg or lumps. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cold, at least two hours. Transfer to an airtight container. The curd will keep refrigerated up to a week.
  4. Makes 2 ½ cups
  5. Almond Cookies
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Beat in the almond meal and almond extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently, until the dough comes together.
  8. Roll the dough into small balls, about the size of a pecan, and place about ½ inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Lightly dampen your fingers and slightly flatten the cookies. Bake for 6 – 8 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are golden and the tops are firm. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Makes about 3 dozen
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Buttermilk Bacon Cookies with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

Buttermilk Bacon Cookies with Caramel Frosting

Two of my very favorite Southern ingredients are creamy buttermilk and pig.  So, I just couldn’t resist adding the salty crunch of bacon to a classic, tender buttermilk cookie.  Swirling on a bourbon-y version of classic caramel icing makes this a real Southern overload cookie.

I created this recipe several years ago for a party.  I wanted to combine my favorite flavors for a snazzy, different sweet. And at the time, bacon in dessert was unusual. Since then, bacon has turned up everywhere – in donuts, chocolate, cocktails, potato chips.  I understand there is even an alarm app for your phone and a small attachment that wakes you with the wafting smell of bacon.  Then you can put on some bacon lip balm, grab your bacon – painted purse and meet the world.  So I have had this recipe in my files, thinking maybe I didn’t want to get mixed up with the bacon insanity.  But I had a request and made these again and they are worth sharing.

Buttermilk Bacon Cookies with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

8 strips bacon

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

3 Tablespoons butter

¼ cup heavy cream

½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 Tablespoons bourbon

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cook the bacon on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet until very crispy.  Pat dry with paper towels and leave to cool.  Chop 6 strips of the bacon finely with a sturdy knife and set aside. Reserve the remaining bacon for garnish.

Beat the butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, a good three minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined.  Add the flour, baking soda and salt alternately with buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl and ending with a buttermilk addition.  Add the chopped bacon and beat until combined.

Line two rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop mounds of dough an inch apart onto the paper. I use a 1 Tablespoon cookie scoop.  Bake the cookies for 8 – 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top shelf to bottom once, until the cookies are golden around the edges, puffed and firm.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:

Combine the butter, cream, brown sugar and bourbon in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring, and cook for 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool, then beat in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and spreadable.  Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies.  Break the remaining slices of bacon into small pieces and embed them into the frosting if you’d like.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Baked Pudding

 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Baked PuddingAt the beginning of my path to being a serious cook, when I was a teenager, I used to make a Black Forest Cake, which seemed to me like the most sophisticated type of dessert. It was a chocolate layer cake with cherry filling and a rich frosting. I’d seen lots of pictures in which it was served on elegant cake stands with elaborate backgrounds.  Very much the vogue in food magazines at the time. It was a complicated recipe and I felt like a true gourmand when I made it.

The combination of chocolate and cherries still seems very sophisticated to me, though I haven’t the time or the patience to reconstruct the complicated version.  But this recipe creates that chic taste in a simple dish with as many layers of dimension as a layered cake.  The top is cakey, the center is soft and pudding-like and the bottom has a syrupy cherry sauce.  Serve it warm and you get all the gooey center, but the longer you let it cool, the more it firms up to a brownie-like texture.  This has the deep, rich taste of dark chocolate without a cloying sweetness.  The juicy cherries add a luscious contrast.  You could serve this with a little whipped cream or ice cream, but I don’t find that necessary.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Baked Pudding

16 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries

7 ounces dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup granulated sugar

Pour the cherries in a colander and thaw completely.  You don’t want the juice in the dish, but you can reserve it for another use (like a smoothie, or a cocktail).

When the cherries are thawed, preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the cherries in the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish.

Melt the chocolate and butter together.  You can do this by placing it in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water and stirring until melted, or microwaving it in 15-second bursts, stirring after each, until the mixture is smooth.  Leave to cool.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a small bowl.  Beat the yolks and stir into the cooled chocolate.  Stir in the vanilla.

Beat the egg whites in the mixer until frothy.  Slowly drizzle in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Stir a big spoonful of whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it up, then gently fold in the remaining whites a bit at a time.  Pull all the chocolate from the bottom of the bowl and make sure there are no streaks of white in the mixture.  Spread the chocolate mixture over cherries in the baking dish, spreading it out to the edges, completely covering the cherries.

Bake the pudding for 25 minutes until the top is firm and does not jiggle.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 – 15 minutes.  Scoop into bowls and serve.

This is equally delicious served warm, when it will be soft and saucy or at room temperature when it will firm up a bit.

Serves 4

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Double Caramel Bars

Double Caramel Brownies

Sweet and rich and decadent – and a wonderful treat in the midst of the dark winter months. These caramel frosted brown sugar bars are a favorite of mine. I tend toward caramel. I love chocolate, of course, but if given the choice I’d choose caramel. So these are a nice deviation from a traditional chocolate brownie, packed with sweet caramel flavor. Share these with friends if you want to earn some brownie points, but make sure you save one or two for your ownself.

Double Caramel Bars

For the Brownies:

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

2 cups light brown sugar

2 eggs

¾ cup flour

1 Teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

For the Frosting:

¼ cup butter

½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

For the Brownies:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 8 by 8 inch square pan with non-stick foil or parchment, or spray with cooking spray.

Beat the butter in an electric mixer until light. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the flour, baking powder, vanilla and salt until well combined and smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, just until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the Frosting:

The brownies must be completely cool, or the frosting won’t set.

Cut the butter into cubes and place in a saucepan with the brown sugar, cream and salt. After everything melts together, bring to a full, rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. When it reaches that boil, count to 60 Mississippi, then pull it off the heat. Leave the pan to cool for about 5 minutes, then vigorously beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.

Spread the glaze over the brownies. Leave the glaze to set, then slice and enjoy. Covered tightly, this cake will last a few days.

Makes 16 bars

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