I have a passionate love affair with caramel. Delicious, sweet caramel with it's rich, sticky goody-goodness.
Honestly, I was unaware of this love for awhile. (Blasphemy!) I enjoyed caramel, but rarely ate it. Chocolate always seemed to be my one-and-only. (Hot fudge sauce and I
Give me a spoon. Let me dunk it into a bowl of freshly made, warmed caramel and spread it concave-down on my tongue, reveling in taste-filled bliss.
Here are some of my favorite caramel delights:
I. Caramel Lindt Truffles
|Lindt truffles are the epitome of what chocolate should be. |
Delicious, savory and melt-in-your mouth delicious - this truffle had
me at first bite.
You know the saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder? Perhaps love and fond memory made this truffle taste sweeter. A dear friend had been away on a trip. On her way home she and her family stopped at a Lindt store. Aside from being totally shocked there was such a thing (and appalled that I'd never taken it upon myself to go investigate the scrumptious wonders not far from my home state), I was elated that my friend had thought of me. Truffles, she knew, were among my favorite of chocolates. Lindt truffles are especially my favorite, their creamy center melts perfectly in one's mouth so that each bit is a little bit of heaven.
And, well...you can never go wrong with caramel.
Caramel is like pie - neither are ever wrong.
II. Caramel hot cocoa.
This winter Trader Joe's Organic Hot Cocoa Mix was my favorite cocoa. The cocoa I had originally been buying - also organic - was okay, but it was more sugary than chocolatey. When I want a cup of cocoa, I want a cup of cocoa. Mixing Trader Joe's packets with almond milk gave a thick, chocolate-rich decadent hot chocolate experience. It tasted as if it came from an expensive coffee shop. Nothing could make it better!
Nothing. Except for caramel.
This little treat is my dad's creation. During one busy study night he decided to combine my two loves - cocoa and caramel - for the optimal study elixir. He stirred in Whole Foods in-store made caramel (which we keep stocked in the fridge) and drizzled more across the whipped cream top. Ah, heaven.
III. Vanilla Caramel Whoopie Pie by Cape Whoopies: Maine's Gourmet Whoopie Pies.
Another delicious Whole Foods find! While not gluten free, this little whoopie pie is among my favorites I have ever tasted. Potential new favorite whoopie pie? I think so! For a vanilla and caramel whoopie pie, I was impressed that it was not sickly sweet. It was just sweet enough! What you tasted was the flavor of the whoopie pie, rather than the sweetness of it. The flavors melded together perfectly. (I'd originally planned to eat only half and leave the other for later, but, uh, about that....Party in my tummy?)
IV. Chocolate Brownie, Caramel Delight.
|Fittingly, this delicious dessert is sitting atop a favorite book of mine: a children's book adaptation of Robert Frost's poem "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening."|
Rich, nut-filled, gluten-free, homemade chocolate brownies
V. Caramel Cup (no picture)
Peanut butter cups sans the peanut butter, add in the caramel. I make these once a year with the caramel from Whole Foods and a blend of various dark chocolates.
VI. Caramel butter
|My new favorite butter! Hands down, no competition!|
Say, what? Gourmet butter is a foodie's delight. Prior to my induction into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society this week, two alumni of my alma mater, who were also initiated into the society that evening, gave a talk on their life post-college. Seeing their success, hearing how they used the skills and ingenuity they acquired through their time at this university, both in the classroom and extracurricular, was inspiring. You can find Casco Bay Butter's story (and their diverse selection of flavors) on their website. Two non-culinary majors transitioned from their careers into a gourmet butter business, focusing on local, organic produce. It was a slow, hard process requiring a lot of work. Both admitted it was incredibly rewarding. Eat local, eat well, support sustainable agriculture and support mom & pop agriculture -mottos that I find myself aiming to live by were the building blocks of their small company.
Samples were given out at the event. We took home this delicious salted caramel butter. The cream is from local organic farmers and the caramel is homemade. It is heaven in your mouth! The butter is the creamiest, most flavorful butter I have ever tasted. The caramel is not strong or overpowering. It is only a small hint of caramel, enough to let you know 'this is something special.' They've got several other flavors they make; I now look forward to trying them all! We tried another one, an garlic and herb blend - oh my potato fries! So tasty! (This salted caramel will always hold a special place in my heart, though.)
I never imagined that butter would be a dessert. But here I sit... salted caramel butter on a piece of toast in hand, savoring every bite. No regrets. Screw calories - eat the butter!
(...Hm. Looking back through this list, I realize that chocolate-caramel combination is a theme. Apparently the flavors were meant to be wedded on top of my tongue.)
So...(future) doctor's orders: drop what you're doing, go to the store...Get yourself some caramel. Eat all the caramel. Put caramel on everything that is chocolate. Buy it in butter! It's not exactly healthy, but it is fantastic. And you are so worth fantastic.
Stay tuned: coming up soon - Liebster Award nominations!