Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee

Yep, I said Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee.  Coffee Toffee…  Say that 10 times fast!  This sweet almond-roca-ish treat is easy to make, and more importantly – easy on the teeth!  (We all know, not all toffees can make that claim!)

Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee | Sweet Anna's

All you need is a good pot, a cheap candy thermometer, and a whisk.  Easy, peasy!

Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee | Sweet Anna's

If you really want to spoil someone you love this holiday season, this is the treat to make.  The hint of coffee and maple syrup are just out of this world in the sweet/salty toffee base, and chocolate and toasted almonds round out the topping!

You all know my love of Starbucks VIA instant coffee packets for baking (you remember this ice cream recipe from this summer, right?) and this toffee recipe is no disappointment.  Even if you don’t use them for anything else (I don’t drink them!) grab a box at the store and keep them on hand for baking.  Add them to brownie batter, cookie dough, ice cream, etc. and you will learn to love their versatility as much as I do!

Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee | Sweet Anna's

I am a big fan of homemade Christmas gifts.  Now, if I was handy enough, I would probably do all homemade gifts.  But all I do is bake, so my usual MO is to add baked goods, treats, homemade vanilla, etc. to the Christmas presents we give.  A little homemade love + a little store-bought token = a perfectly well-rounded gift, in my opinion!

(Hint: It’s not too late to make Homemade Vanilla Extract for your friends/family this Christmas.  It’s such a fun, unique gift…  And about the easiest thing in the world to make!)

Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee | Sweet Anna's

Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pouch Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled**

Instructions

  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  2. In a medium-large heavy pot with a candy thermometer clipped to the side, dump in the butter, sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt and instant coffee*. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer registers 250ºF.
  3. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel reaches 290-300ºF.
  4. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the vanilla extract and then the baking soda. Pour onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the top evenly with the chocolate chips.
  5. Let the chocolate chips sit for about 3-4 minutes, until they are all soft and shiny, and then spread the melted chocolate gently with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top with the toasted almonds. Let cool completely (in the fridge if your kitchen is too warm!) before breaking into bite-sized pieces and storing in an airtight container!
  6. *If you don't have any Starbucks VIA pouches, you can use regular instant espresso. I just hate buying that little jar and knowing how stale it was every time I wanted to use it!
http://sweetannas.com/2015/11/salted-caramel-coffee-toffee.html

Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee | Sweet Anna's

recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen!

Gluten Free Chewy Molasses Cookies

Chewy, moist, lightly-spiced, gluten free molasses cookies…  These cookies have all the comfort of your favorite family recipe with a fun secret ingredient and without the gluten (but you’d never know!).

Gluten Free Chewy Molasses Cookies | Sweet Anna's

Here we go again!  Another gluten-free recipe conversion.  Now, I am definitely not going to be an exclusively gluten-free blog, but for now I have a child who can’t have gluten and that means you will be seeing several new recipes here and there.

Gluten Free Chewy Molasses Cookies | Sweet Anna's

Sometimes I get so down about this whole gluten free thing.  I hate seeing Bjørn’s hurt and longing for things he used to have (we have yet to find a decent gluten free bagel or donut – tips appreciated!), and the extra brain-power involved is just plain exhausting.

I long for the days of easy food choices and grabbing anything handy to feed my kids, but that is just not our life anymore, and it’s time for me to to put on my big girl pants and get over myself!

Yes, this is hard.  But my love for him is huge, and every gluten free thing I make is a physical act of love for him.  And my goodness, you should see his joy when I can answer “Yes!” to his never ending “Is this gluten free?” question!

Gluten Free Chewy Molasses Cookies | Sweet Anna's

These cookies were a no-brainer to put on top of the list of recipes to convert, because it’s a family favorite around here.  My grandma’s original Molasses Crinkles Cookie recipe (which is in my cookbook – releasing in June!) is one of our must-haves in the fall, especially on the Christmas table.  (And every time I get a craving during the holiday season!)

Gluten Free Chewy Molasses Cookies | Sweet Anna's

The blackstrap molasses in these cookies makes them a bit healthier than the originals, and a few delicious essential oils are the perfect compliment to the warm richness of the dough.

Trust me, you won’t notice anything is missing, and you will love these as much as our family does!

 

Gluten Free Chewy Molasses Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3 drops clove Young Living essential oil**
  • 2 drops ginger Young Living essential oil**
  • 1 drop cinnamon bark Young Living essential oil**
  • 4 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. *I use Namaste brand Gluten Free Organic Perfect Flour Blend. As with all gluten-free recipes, your recipe may turn out differently with a different brand of gf flour!
  2. **PLEASE don't use just any brand of essential oils. Not all brands are safe for internal consumption, Young Living is the only brand I trust for my family! (Email me if you want to chat!) And of course, if you don't have essential oils right now, feel free to use 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in place of the oils!
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, coconut oil and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in the egg, molasses and essential oils until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, salt and baking soda and then add the mixture carefully into the mixing bowl and mix until just well combined.
  4. Cover and place the dough into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes, or overnight. When you are ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper and scoop the dough out (with a small scoop) about 2-3 inches apart.
  5. Press the dough down gently with a fork dipped in cold water, and then sprinkle each pressed cookie with sugar. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until just set and no longer wet looking in the middle.
  6. Let cool on the baking sheets and then transfer to an airtight container to store in the freezer!
http://sweetannas.com/2015/11/gluten-free-chewy-molasses-cookies.html

Gluten Free Chewy Molasses Cookies | Sweet Anna's

Fresh Strawberry Pie with Cardamom Shortbread Crust

Fresh Strawberry Pie with an Easy Cardamom Shortbread Crust & Fresh Cardamom Whipped Cream!

I just can hardly contain my excitement when it comes to our local strawberry season.  I become obsessed for the entire duration.  I wake up dreaming of berries and I go to bed with stained fingers.  No joke!

Maybe it’s the long-time city kid in me, but I just can’t believe that I get to drive 5 minutes to the most gorgeous berry farm and grab freshly picked berries all summer long.  You guys!  It is just bliss!

Fresh Strawberry Pie with a Cardamom Shortbread Crust  | Sweet Anna's

We can pick our own berries if we are feeling fiesty, but usually I just grab a couple of already picked flats and enjoy the fruits of my non-labor.  With 3 little kids always in tow, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Now, we all love berries, so we usually don’t get much farther than eating the berries as fast as we can, with a few batches of freezer jam thrown in for good measure.  But this morning I was hit with a bit of nostalgia and I just couldn’t resist whipping up a fresh strawberry pie.

Fresh Strawberry Pie with a Cardamom Shortbread Crust  | Sweet Anna's

Does anyone else remember the days of Marie Callender’s restaurants?  (Are they still around at all?!)  I don’t remember much about the food, but I do remember that I lived for their fresh strawberry pie when it came into season and I would just dream of the chance to go eat there and have a slice.  I was never disappointed with that slice of amazing strawberry goodness, and this morning I couldn’t figure out why I had never made one myself?!

I threw together a quick press-in-the-pan shortbread crust, and an easy glaze made out of my homemade strawberry freezer jam.  Adding a touch of cardamom was a given, as my norwegian blood can never get enough, but if you are not a cardamom fan, feel free to leave it out.

Fresh Strawberry Pie with a Cardamom Shortbread Crust  | Sweet Anna's

This pie is best served the day it’s made.  I can’t tell you how it is on day two, it will never last that long around this house!

(My pie philosophy is: “If you’re going to make a pie, you might as well make two!” which is why this recipe makes two deep-dish pies.  You could even make this in one big 9×13″ pan if you’d like!  As I’m sure you can guess, fresh strawberry pie is not the easiest thing to slice and serve, but even with a mess of a plate, I can promise that your tastebuds and your loved ones will be happy!)

Fresh Strawberry Pie with a Cardamom Shortbread Crust  | Sweet Anna's

Also, the amount of strawberries needed is just an estimate.  Use enough to fill your pie crust.  That’s what matters!

Fresh Strawberry Pie with Easy Shortbread Crust and Cardamom Whipped Cream

Yield: 2 deep-dish pies, or one 9x13" 'slab' pie

Ingredients

    for the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • for the pie:
  • 4 lbs fresh ripe strawberries, washed & stems removed
  • 1 cup strawberry freezer jam
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. In a large mixer bowl, mix together the butter, flour and powdered sugar for the crust until just combined. Divide the mixture in half and press each half into the bottom and up the sides of a deep-dish pie plate. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes while the oven preheats.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the crusts for 12-18 minutes, until golden, and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
  3. When the crusts are cool, in a large bowl, whisk together the strawberry jam and water until smooth. Dump in the strawberries and toss very gently (use your hands!) to coat all the berries. Arrange them evenly into the two cooled pie crusts.
  4. Chill in the fridge while you make the whipped cream, and up to several hours, before serving!
  5. To whip the cream, whisk together the heavy cream, powdered sugar and cardamom in a cold bowl until very light and fluffy. Chill until you are ready to serve!
http://sweetannas.com/2015/06/fresh-strawberry-pie-with-a-cardamom-shortbread-crust.html