Lots and lots and lots of caramels:

Chocolate-covered caramels

Chocolate-covered caramels

Mostly apple cider, but you can see some fleur-de-sel peeking out in the rear.

Here’s a closer shot:

Fleur de Sel Caramel

Fleur de Sel Caramel

Mmmmm.

Oh, the recipe, you say?

Essentially, I use the Fleur de Sel Caramel recipe from Epicurious.  I kick the fleur de sel up to a Tablespoon, plus sprinkle some on the caramel after pouring it out, plus some on the finished chocolates, because, well, FLEUR DE SEL AND CHOCOLATE. yummy.  For notes on technique, and all the lessons I’ve learned, check out the post on Apple Cider Caramels.

Also, there were pralines:

Pecan Pralines

Pecan Pralines

And Buckeyes (apparantly, I forgot to snap a picture when I’d covered them in chocolate.  So, here you have it: NAKED BUCKEYES.  Hide the children, not for the sensitive or delicate, etc.):

Nekkid Buckeyes (definitely up to no good)

Nekkid Buckeyes (definitely up to no good)

What are Buckeyes, you say?  (What are you, Southern?)

Buckeyes are a tasty, crunchy peanut-butter and rice krispie treat dipped in a combination of milk and dark chocolate.  They are addictive.  You cannot eat just one.  They are fluffy and crunchy and sweet and chocolatey, and it’s a darned good thing I took all of the leftovers to the office holiday party, let me tell you. The recipe came from a good friend, and is dead simple.  There’s something similar here, but they don’t use the Rice Krispies, which I think really make it something awesomely special (my version calls for equivalent measurements of rice krispies and peanut butter, i.e. 3 cups).

So, that’s what’s been happening! Don’t forget, you have until Sunday the 13th to place your holiday orders from SugarPunk (so I have enough time to bake and ship/deliver before we leave on the 19th for lovely Arkansas and then Chicago).

Or, you could wait until the last minute and sign up for the Dessert of the Month club (details forthcoming)…

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Been doing some of this, some of that.  After the great Pie-xtravaganza (20 pies in two days), I didn’t feel like doing much of substance, but ended up taking too many desserts to Thanksgiving anyways (five people don’t really need a full 8″ bourbon pumpkin cheesecake, 6″ x 6″ carrot cake, and 6 mini-chocolate peanut butter mousse tarts).

First up, the carrot cake.  I decided to go with a recipe found on Epicurious, the Triple Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.  I’d had an order for a carrot cake, promised four layers, so I figured that if I made two full-sized layers and split them, I’d be good.  But I had batter left over!  So I made another 6″ layer, figuring I’d get to try it.

Well, none of the layers rose much at all in this cake (it is incredibly moist and sort of dense, almost like a fruitcake, and I mean that as someone who loves good fruitcake), so I ended up having to make another batch (should’ve just stuck with 3 layers originally), and ended up with two lovely carrot cakes as a result.  Here’s the little one:

Festive Carrot Cake

Festive Carrot Cake

The raisins in this came out tasting as though I’d soaked them in Grand Marnier for a month.  But I hadn’t!  Straight up out of the bag.  This is a tasty, tasty cake and makes an excellent breakfast (ahem) as well as dessert.  Oh, I spiced the frosting up with a little orange extract, it seemed to want it.

(And a shout-out to KnittingHarpy‘s light box and notions!  I’ll have you know that I’ve acquired my own large cardboard box – fabulous pictures are only a few steps away!)

Next up, a picture of the mini versions of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart:

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tartlets.

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tartlets.

Tasty, as always.

I’ve also made some Pecan Pralines recently – no great pictures of those yet, but here you get an idea:

Pecan Pralines

Pecan Pralines

Nothing there but sugar, water, butter, cream, and pecans (and a little corn syrup).  Swoony yummy.  The recipe I use for these came from Greweling’s chocolate confections, a book I cannot recommend highly enough if you ever intend to take making confections seriously.  It’s amazing.

Hmm, what else is lurking about….

Oh, I tried making some chocolate tartlets a while back, but although they were tasty, they were very dark, and I think most people would find them too dark for enjoyment.

Chocolate Oblivious Tartlette

Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte-let

This recipe came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible, another must-have.

I had an extra tartlette shell or two when I made this, and some apple-cider caramels, so I ended up throwing together a little Caramel Apple Tart:

Caramel Apple Tart

Caramel Apple Tart

Recipe:

1 blind-baked tartlet (normal pie crust dough)
1 baking apple, sliced (I used one of the fabulous winesap apples we got from the same orchard as the apple cider)
2 apple-cider caramels, sliced

Place sliced caramels in crust.  Place sliced apples over it.  Bake at 350F until done (apples are softish and caramel is bubbly), about 20 minutes?  Tasty as all get-out.

And that’s what I’ve been up to – oh, other than trying some gingerbread cookies using my old springerle molds (although I didn’t find that they kept the impressions after they baked – any ideas?), but I didn’t get pictures of that.  Tasty, though!

What are all of you up to?