Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread & A Holly Wreath

Today was a beautiful day; sunny, blue skies and 28 degrees! I am so lucky to have a gorgeous holly tree in my backyard so today I trimmed some holly branches and used some of our remaining Christmas fir tree trimmings to make a wreath for our front door. Wreaths are an easy DIY that people often overlook. Here are the materials you need to make a wreath: 18" double wire wreath frame, green floral wire, pruning sheers, wire cutters and 6" holly & evergreen boughs.
 Our holly tree...

The frost was so beautiful, it looks like snow.


I like to trim the leaves off some of the holly branches.

 First I attach the fir boughs to the wreath frame to give the wreath a solid and full base.

 Then begin attaching the holly around the wreath equally, for a balanced look.

And here it is!

I ran out of thick ribbon so I used a small piece to hang the wreath on my front door. There are also very nice metal wreath hangers at craft stores that are very nice too!

I love making wreaths and recommend you try it too! Nothing says welcome more than a wreath hanging on the front door (especially a candy apple red door!).

Cookie Of The Day: Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

Recipe courtesy of Annie's Eats.
For the shortbread layer:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar

For the caramel layer:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate layer:
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Fleur de sel or sea salt, for sprinkling 
Yield: about 5 dozen small bars

  • To make the shortbread layer, preheat the oven to 325° F.  
  • Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork to blend, and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden.  (If the crust puffs up a bit while baking, just gently press it down while it is cooling.)  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.  
  • To make the caramel layer, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly.  Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly.  Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set.  (I chilled at this stage to ensure that the caramel layer would not melt when the warm chocolate was added.)
  • To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.  Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with fleur de sel.  Chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve.  

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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