Before I get any further into this, I want to stop and acknowledge that today is Hammy's 5-year adoptionversary! I can't believe he's been part of our family for five years already, and I also can't imagine our life without him. So as we sit here juggling trick or treaters, we're enormously happy to have our little fur baby along for the ride. Perhaps tomorrow or over the weekend I'll do an October wrap-up. I have fall decorating and costumes to write about! Even Hammy got in on the action, though he was rather unwilling.
So this week I have tackled three baking adventures, and will round it all out with a quick batch of shortbreads on Sunday. I had planned on making a sea-salted caramel cheesecake today as a test-drive for my 2013 Friendsgiving contribution. My mom is visiting tomorrow, so I figured a perfect test audience! It was the second cheesecake I've made from scratch, but also the first I've made in this oven. I'm still figuring out its little ticks, so I was a bit nervous about making something as delicate and sensitive as a cheesecake. But what's wonderful about this oven is that it has a window in the door and a light that I can use to check on my precious little lovelies! At the apartment, the only way to see what was going on was to crack open the door--a huge no no in cheesecake land!
Thankfully, that went off without a hitch. The new trick was homemade caramel. I found an easy recipe over on Joy the Baker that was simply add ingredients, boil til amber, chill. I can totally do that! I of course snuck a lick of the spoon when it was finished, and oh my...sooo delish! All I had to do was let it chill while the cheesecake was sitting in the oven for 6 hours (it was just as nerve-racking as waiting for the first one!). Then I stirred up the caramel, plopped it on top of the cheesecake (conveniently covering the shallow cracks that had formed), and admired my work. I can't wait to dig into a slice for dessert with John in a bit, and then to share it with Mommy tomorrow!
Since I had to buy light corn syrup for the caramel, it was perhaps kismet that I stumbled across a recipe in Food and Wine for chocolate shortbread pecan bars, which also called for the syrup. This is the beauty of baking as often as I do--I have 90% of what I would need for just about any recipe. ShopRite was also giving away free dozens of eggs with a special coupon, so that sealed the deal: this staycation was destined to become a bakecation!
And now that you've read all my words, here is the eye candy...my baking toils.
Chocolate Shortbread Pecan Bars
|Shortbread crust, all packed in.|
|Lots of chopped chocolate and pecans.|
|Mmm, getting a little melty up in here!|
|Chocolate and pecans poured over the crust.|
|Lovely little bars. Mmm!|
|Amber bubbles means time to kill the heat!|
|Unwrapping the chilled caramel topping.|
|Oh. My. Goodness. Jealousy is the appropriate response.|
|Went all out with bakery box, twine, and labels.|
Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to stop writing about this cheesecake and EAT it.
Wishing you a festive Halloween!