Rhubarb Rose Petal Caramel Syrup + 4 Variations

Fresh Rhubarb Roundup: Rhubarb Rose Petal Caramel Syrup

One of the easiest and most effective ways to elevate a simple dessert to epicurean heights is to add a brightly colored, brightly flavored dessert syrup. You can serve a dessert syrup over ice cream or gelato, alongside panna cotta or baked custard, with tea cakes, or as the key flavoring of an Italian soda, lemonade, or limeade (recipe below).

Lemon Gingerbread Caramel Bars

Lemon Gingerbread Caramel Bars

The idea for this cookie popped into my head after seeing a picture of that classic combination, gingerbread with lemon icing. Could I get those flavors into a cookie?

On the first attempt, I under baked the shortbread and put too much molasses in the caramel. It wasn’t that the caramel was bad per se, but it definitely overwhelmed the more delicate flavor of the shortbread. So I cut the molasses by half, but then for some ungodly reason decided to double the ginger. Wrong move; way too much ginger.

Peanut Butter Caramel

Peanut Butter Caramel Ice Cream Sundae with Caramelized Banana & Espresso Beans

A couple of weeks ago, in the post titled, Oh You Great Big Beautiful Blondie, I included a recipe for Caramel Blondies with a Peanut Butter Caramel Blondie variation. The post shows a layer of Blondie batter with dollops of Peanut Butter Caramel over the top and a second layer of batter being spread over the caramel. The lead photo also features the Peanut Butter Caramel Blondie variation.

Oh You Great Big Beautiful Blondie

Three Chewy Gooey Blondies on a Plate

If you are not yet familiar with that chewy, caramel goodness of a bar cookie known as a Blondie, you are in for a WOW taste experience. I can’t imagine how you missed it, however, considering it’s preeminence on the web. To see what I mean, check out the amazing collection of Blondies (with stunning photos) at TasteSpotting, FoodGawker, and DessertStalking. Holy cow!

Caramelized Ancho Chile & Cinnamon Almonds

Caramelized Ancho Chile & Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds Closeup

Are you ready for one of the most spectacular desserts I have ever made? How about Fried Banana Split with Mexican Bittersweet Chocolate Chile Sauce, Strawberry Mint Salsa, and Caramelized Ancho Chile Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds?

I flipped on my first bite of this dessert and on each subsequent bite, until I was left with only an empty plate and a serious thought of licking it. I think this is one dessert that you are going to LOVE!

LunaCafe’s Burnt Caramel & Lemon Chevre Brownies

LunaCafe's Caramel  & Lemon Chevre Brownies

Folks sometimes ask what inspires my recipes. Such a hard question. Anything and everything is my truthful response. I am almost always thinking about food.

This brownie recipe, for instance, was inspired by the following nearly concurrent events:

•Sampling goat’s milk cajita in a Mexican grocery store in Portland.
•Making cajita myself.
•The All Chocolate! All Month! celebration at LunaCafe.
•Plan to work cajita into a brownie recipe for the celebration.
•A Brownie Throw Down on The Food Network, which the Vermont Brownie Company won with their chevre brownie.

Toasted Hazelnut, Honey & Garam Masala Brittle

Toasted Hazelnut, Honey & Garam Masala Brittle

But as I perused further, I saw one resolution that I could easily accomplish TODAY. It said: “Make peanut brittle. No peanuts. Must be exceptional.” Aha! (Did I mention that I have never made peanut brittle or any kind of brittle?)

So I began researching all of my dessert cookbooks this morning. Then I hit the web and looked around there. That took hours and more than 2 cups of coffee. Everyone makes it slightly differently and naming conventions are all over the place. Some cooks make toffee and call it brittle. Some cooks make hard caramel (which I call praline) and call it brittle. One noted cook calls melted white chocolate painted thinly and embellished with raspberry puree, chocolate brittle. EEYIYI!

Panforte di LunaCafe: Tis the Season

Panforte di LunaCafe, Small Cake

A dried fruit and nut laden Christmas specialty of Siena, Italy, panforte (pronounced pan-FOHR-teh; variously called Panpepeto, Siena Cake, Panforte di Siena, Panforte Nero, and Panforte Margherita) is often described as a type of fruitcake. To call it a cake of any type, however, is, well, misleading. It doesn’t fit my definition of a cake.

It also reminds me nothing of Lebkuchen, a German gingerbread-type cookie, which it is also said to resemble, probably due to the inclusion of honey and warm winter spices in both. But no, it’s not a cookie.

Pumpkin Sour Cream Pie with Caramel Walnut Topping

Pumpkin Sour Cream Pie with Caramel Walnut Topping

Every year I develop a new pumpkin pie recipe and add it with a pretend drum roll to the Thanksgiving dessert table. I do this even though no one in the Bradley family, except me and our son Joshua, actually likes pumpkin pie.

So you can imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when we were invited to a Thanksgiving potluck and asked to bring ONLY the pumpkin pie. (How could they know that was my favorite part of the meal?) I used the opportunity to create SIX new pumpkin pies that year and of course brought them all to the potluck, each with a little description alongside. Some folks in that appreciative gathering actually ate a tiny slice from each of the six pies. I was delighted.

To tell you that this pie is beyond delicious is not to do it justice. But perhaps you will get some inkling of how good it is when I reveal that MauiJim ate an ENTIRE LARGE PIECE. Oh sure, he tried to avoid the pumpkin custard while focusing on the caramel, but in the end that effort proved futile, so he ate the whole darned thing. And then he raved about it and asked how long he had to wait to have another slice.

Burnt Sugar & Rosemary Chocolate Tarts

Burnt Sugar and Rosemary Chocolate Tart

I want to wrap up LunaCafe’s February 2009 Love Rules! All Chocolate! All Month! celebration with a really special dessert. If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been covered in cocoa powder and melted chocolate all month. I discovered and perfected the world’s most delectable cookie, Bittersweet Chocolate & Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta […]

Hazelnut Honey Toffee Tart with Cranberry Variation

Hazelnut Honey Toffee Tart

Every year when fresh cranberries hit the markets, I immediately stock up, and then almost as immediately, make this delectable tart. OK, to tell the truth, I am in the markets a few weeks early, whining to whoever will listen, or muttering to myself even, about the absence of cranberries. “Shouldn’t they be in by […]

Spiced Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

Spiced Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

This sauce is absolutely delicious. Imagine a dark caramel sauce with the additional flavor and acidity of tart green apples. I love it on everything in the Fall season–over vanilla bean or sweet corn gelato, with warm-spiced roasted apples, alongside pumpkin bread pudding, with beignet or ebelskiver, over delicate cottage cheese pancakes or Swedish flespannkaka (small, crepe-like pancakes with bits of rendered salt pork) , and most especially with Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Cake with Caramelized Cranberry Hazelnut Topping and Orange Cream.

Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Coffee Cake

Spiced Pumpkin Sour cream Upside Down Cake with Caramelized Cranberry Hazelnut Topping and Orange Cream

After several testing sessions and a review of dessert cookbooks par excellence, SMS Bradley’s recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Coffee Cake with Caramelized Cranberry Hazelnut Topping is now perfection. An absolutely luscious Fall cake.