By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: February 16, 2019 | 3:45 p.m.
Today, in honor of Valentines Day – and especially for anyone out there who, like me might sometimes put off things until the last minute, I’m sharing – ideas! Yep, I’m also sharing a delicious Salted Caramel Sauce that makes a perfect Valentine, but the pictures you’ll see don’t in the recipe at all! I mean… while it tastes wonderfully different, it still looks like, well, caramel sauce! So first I’ll share some of those suggestions I mentioned for making other last minute Valentines and then we’ll get to the recipe.
First – and easiest – is a great way to sweep your Valentine off their feet. You know those gorgeous chocolate-covered strawberries that cost up to $5 EACH? Well, you can make a dozen or more for not much more than that, and all in about fifteen minutes! Just pick up a little microwaveable container of “Dipping Sauce” and some pretty berries at the grocery store, follow the simple directions on the side and presto! You’ve got a really nice Valentine all ready to impress! Is this really “cooking”? Well, probably not. But boy oh boy are they delicious! And you can jazz them up by sprinkling on a bit of sparkly novelty sugar or drizzling a little melted white chocolate over the dipped berries. Or dip the chocolate coated berries while the coating is still warm in crushed nuts or coconut. And if your Valentine’s watching calories, get the dark chocolate. Then you can be a real hero!
Dust any shape chocolate bundt cake with powdered sugar for an instant Valentine treat!
Another last-minute idea starts with ready-made refrigerated sugar cookie dough. Did you know it even comes in little individual cookie-sized pieces now? Just drop those on your cookie sheet – I’d line it with parchment paper to save on clean-up time – sprinkle on some red sugar, and in about 15 minutes you can go from refrigerator to beautiful, sparkly red cookies! If you have a little more time you can smash those individual cookie pieces down a bit and cut out heart shapes before baking. Or teach little ones (or teens!) to fold a sheet of paper and cut out a heart-shaped stencil. Then place that over your round cookies before baking and sprinkle your colored sugar – or sprinkles – inside the heart for very festive Valentine treats.
With inexpensive heart-shaped pans you can pick up at any kitchen or grocery store – or even sometimes in the Dollar Tree – you can turn anything from Grandma’s famous pound cake recipe to a box of brownie mix into really cute mini cakes! Sprinkle those – or a bundt cake – with powdered sugar and it will look like you spent days coming up with the finished product.
And if you really want to knock their sox off, whip up a cake and surround or top it with some of those chocolate covered strawberries. Any of these time-savers can be really tasty and let your Valentine know that you care without your ending up completely stressed out.
Surrounded by chocolate dipped strawberries, this cake would be perfect on any party table.
Now for today’s “not pictured recipe” – which is really special to me, and incredibly delicious. Here’s how this came about. This year, my sister decided to make something different for our traditional “all the adults exchange homemade gifts” tradition. She put together a big batch of Salted Caramel Sauce, packed it in cute little mini jars, and presented it in a whimsical bag with an ice cream scoop – all of which would make a perfect Valentine! WELL, let me say that it is so delicious I hardly got to try any of it on ice cream at all! True story. I took mine home and put it in the fridge until I could pick up some ice-cream. About 3 days after Christmas I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to try this concoction. So I opened that cute little jar, dipped out about half a spoonful, tasted it… and I’m pretty sure my eyes rolled back in my head. That was some BODACIOUSLY good stuff. And over the next two days, still with no ice cream in the house, I’d slip over to the fridge every now and then with a clean spoon and dip “just one more taste” until it was nearly all gone! I’m glad I saved enough finally to try on ice cream because that’s even better. And you can pop it in the microwave and heat it up in just a few seconds for a fantastic hot-cold, multi-textured taste treat.
Just one word of warning: Be EXTREMELY careful when you add the salt. Because, whereas hers was literally some of the best stuff I’ve ever tasted, mine? Not so much. Because I got impatient when adding the salt and ended up with something that was so salty that I just could not eat it. So yeah, add slowly and in tiny increments. But – if you do that, I promise you’ll end up with something special and different that really will show that you care. And the little jars wrapped in paper or fabric or bows? Adorable! You can even present it like she did with an ice-cream scoop!
So, herewith, my adorable baby sister’s bodacious recipe – as she shared it – complete with her notes. Hope you like it as much as I did. And whether you go for the sauce or opt for one of the short cuts, just remember, when your Valentine starts raving about whatever you make, just smile modestly and enjoy their joy. After all, it is made with love, and isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about? Enjoy!
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 boxes brown sugar (I used light brown)
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 4 TBS Vanilla (Queenie Note: I think mine must’ve been strong; next time I may back off a little on this)
- 4 tsp kosher salt
YOU MUST USE A WOODEN SPOON. Melt butter on med heat. Add sugar. It will look like thick, wet sand. Heat 3-5 minutes, stirring until it looks more like liquid. Add cream. Whisk until completely combined. Cook for about 10 min on medium. Remove from eye (burner) and allow to cool to room temp. Once it is cool, add vanilla and salt HALF TEASPOON AT THE TIME…and taste after each addition. (Do not reuse spoon, of course). This is the yummy buttery/sweet contrast time. Add until it tastes good to you and you are done.
Some would argue that it is butterscotch sauce because it is made with brown sugar. I don’t care what you call it. I just like it.
Look for Queenie Cooks every week online and in the Sussex Surry Dispatch and other local papers for food-related recipes, stories, information, and fun. You never know what Queenie may be cooking up, but you can always count on at least one great recipe to try at home, generally for something you can prepare quickly, easily, and with just a few, common ingredients. Hey! We all have to eat. Let’s have some FUN with it!