I think technically to review a cookbook, you need to have a fancy (profitable) blog that strangers (people other than obligated family members) read and the writers of the cookbook send you an advanced copy before it's publicly released. But I think for those of you who actually do read my blog (I love you, guys. I really, really do), I think you'll enjoy the latest edition to the Baked cookbook collection, too: Baked Elements.
This cookbook is the third in a spectacular collection from the owners of Baked in Brooklyn. Its entire focus is the 10 basic ingredients around which the Baked duo create many of their favorite desserts . . . and nearly every recipe looks completely scrumptious. These guys have a way of describing food that any food blogger or cookbook writer would be envious of. Each recipe is written like a blog post, with an entire paragraph devoted to its creation, or a detailed description, or a cute anecdote about how and why it is so well-loved. Seriously, you will even be drooling over the recipes that don't include pictures--and this is coming from the girl who chooses cookbooks based on how many pictures they have (Oh, Alice . . .)
Even though I love every well-chosen ingredient on which an entire chapter is based (there is a whole chapter on peanut butter!!) , I particularly love the chapter on booze . . . You see, like me, Matt and Renato live by the philosophy that nearly every recipe can improved by adding alcohol. I can't even describe to you the amount of times I've been baking and have asked myself the question, "you know what would make this better? Bourbon." Hence these bourbon-spiked caramels I made.
This recipe doesn't come from my new cookbook (though the second Baked cookbook, Baked Explorations, has a fantastic caramel recipe), in fact, I made these before receiving my new book book, but it only seemed right to include a recipe involving an ingredient which the Baked duo dubbed as worthy of its own chapter. I hope you get to experience both--the cookbook and the caramels--they are both truly fantastic.
Makes about 3 dozen
adapted from Ina Garten's recipe here
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 cups heavy cream
10 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup bourbon
4 oz good-quality dark chocolate (I used Valrhona)
Fleur de Sel or other high-quality salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
Line a 9x13" baking pan with parchment paper and grease with oil.
In a large saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water. Boil the mixture until it's golden brown. You can swirl the pan occasionally but don't allow the caramel to splash up the sides (avoid stirring).
In the meantime, heat the heavy cream, butter, and salt over medium heat, just until it simmers. Remove from heat.
Slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and swirl occasionally until mixture reaches 248 degrees F (be patient, it may take awhile). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and bourbon. Be careful, the mixture will bubble.
Carefully (Seriously, it's hot) pour the mixture into prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm. Invert the caramel-filled parchment onto a clean surface and cut the caramel into squares. Before you separate the caramels, melt chocolate (I just put chocolate into a sandwich or plastic pastry bag and microwave at 15 second intervals until it's melted) and, cutting off the corn of the bag, drizzle in a diagonal over the cut caramels. Sprinkle with salt. Allow chocolate to cool before separating caramels.
Keep in the refrigerator and allow to sit out at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving, preferably alongside a small glass of bourbon.