Thursday, December 22, 2011

salted caramels and coffee

homemade salted caramel

sprinkled with a little fleur de sel

Blue Bottle and Caramels

a perfect morning

a gift for friends

I've come to the conclusion that salted caramels go incredibly well with dark, black coffee ... preferably Blue Bottle. Two evenings ago ... I had a late night baking session and made 50 pieces of salted caramel. For some reason, I have always been intimidated when it comes to baking caramels but ... being that I wanted to gift caramels this year ... I knew I had to get over my fear. Luckily, I found a great recipe, purchased my ingredients, and conquered my fear. But, my success was not a walk in the park. My first attempt was one big fat fail. I made what tasted and felt like caramel brittle, however, I knew I could not give up. So, I boiled my cream and butter with a teaspoon of fleur de sel, started boiling my sugar, water, and corn starch, and realized that in my first attempt I added my cream way too late. 
With a vengeance I was determined to succeed and this time around I did.
 I made the softest, sweetest caramel that I have ever sank my teeth into. 

The very next morning I cut my squares of parchment, brewed some Blue Bottle Coffee, and happily wrapped my buttery caramels. I swear for every four caramels I wrapped, one was enjoyed. I packaged the caramels in a clear glass jar, tied white and red raffia around the jar, and gifted the caramels to our close friends. I have to say my favorite moment was watching my friends unwrap each caramel, pop them into their mouths, and smile ... for me that is the sole reason why I love to bake.

Wishing all of you the happiest of holidays filled with love, laughter, good food, good times, and lots of cheer.  I will be taking a holiday break from Coeur de La, so, I will be back at it next week.
Happy Baking, Eating, and Season's Greetings!
Bisous,
Caroline

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

candy canes and hot chocolate






It's that time of year when all I want to do is drink sweet holiday beverages. And, they often cost a pretty penny so, I splurged on my favorite hot cocoa mix ... Silly Cow Farms ... picked up all natural vanilla bean marshmallows, a couple of candy canes, and decided to make my very own peppermint hot chocolate. I happened to run 10 miles the other morning and decided that my peppermint hot chocolate could absolutely be justified ... now drinking one of these every morning ... I am not so sure about that. I used a candy cane to stir my hot cocoa and could not help but feel like Buddy the Elf!!

If you like holiday bark and want a not so traditional recipe, head on over to Cake where I shared a little gift idea for that foodie family member or friend. Nothing beats dark chocolate, sea salt and pistachios, unless of course it's a home made peppermint hot chocolate. Happy Holidays!! Bisous.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- use your favorite mug
- two vanilla bean marshmallows
(my favorite are the homemade ones from Whole Foods)
- two scoops of your favorite cocoa mix
(Silly Cow Farms Chocolate Chocolate is so delicious)
- a cup of your choice of milk
- one candy cane (for stirring)

1. Bring milk to a boil ... I do this over the stove as warming in a microwave works but does not stay warm for that long
2. Put two scoops of your favorite cocoa in your mug
3. Pour milk into your mug and mix cocoa and milk with a spoon
4. Give your hot cocoa another stir with a candy cane to flavor your hot chocolate
5. Top with two vanilla bean marshmallows
6. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

An Outerlands kind of day

hot cider and salted caramels

a cappuccino with Sightglass espresso

nothing beats a perfectly made sandwich

Outerlands 

my kind of day


My kind of day: Saturday was the kind of day that makes me absolutely love San Francisco in December. Dressed in my favorite sweater, scarf, and riding boots ... Marc and I headed to San Francisco for a little day trip. The weather was perfect ... the sun was shining but in that crisp cool winter way. I had been wanting to try Outerlands for awhile as the restaurant seemed like my perfect cup of tea ... open faced sandwiches, fresh salads, fun beverages, and the type of meal that has you saying ... I can't wait to come back.

Outerlands: We were the last ones to be put on the waiting list as the restaurant was bustling with people. The wait was worth it as the food was full of flavor and completely delicious. I had a smoked turkey sandwich with pickled onions, carrots, green peppers, and a chipotle aioli. Marc ordered an open faced sandwich with caramelized apples, chicories and chevre. We sat outside and while we waited for our meals we sipped on hot beverages that had me savoring each and every last sip. Marc ordered a hot apple cider with ginger and lemon (our new obsession) and I had my usual ... a cappuccino. And ... we happened to buy a bag of house made salted caramels that we were suppose to eat after lunch but ... in true fashion ... they did not make it to dessert. However, we did manage to save a few for the car ride home. If you are visiting San Francisco or live there do try Outerlands .... the food is simple, no fuss, and incredibly tasty.

This week on Coeur de La stay tuned for some homemade gifts and a recipe or two of some of my favorite holiday beverages. Happy Monday! Bisous.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

how do you ... fondue?


For me ... when I think of holiday traditions fondue comes immediately to mind. Usually, in the month of December we enjoy fondue at least three times. Each time, we patiently grate the cheese, drink wine as we stir, and anxiously await a dinner that involves two of my favorites .... cheese and bread. One of my first nights on the family farm in France I was served fondue and I can still remember it like yesterday. Fondue for Marc and I is more than just a fad that came and went in the 70's ... it is a tradition that we share with our close friends and family. So, it is only natural that when I think of my favorite holiday meal that fondue is the only thing that comes to mind. After a hectic couple of weeks, tonight I am looking forward to a meal with friends that involves fondue. Happy Thursday and Bisous!

Fondue
our fondue pot: a gift from our family in France for our wedding
another fondue pot: I bought Marc a fondue pot one Christmas before we were married ... that pot is now in the hands of one of our closest friends
do not: drink water with fondue ... believe it or not in France I was told it will give you a stomach ache so of course the only thing to drink is naturally ... wine
do: fondue!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

cake pops and inspiration



Some daily inspiration just for you: One of our good friends started making cake pops for fun and now it has turned into an all out business. Each time I see one of Kim's new creations my mouth waters and I wonder ... how could I possibly eat something that cute?? From snowmen, to Minnie Mouse, cake pops with polka dots to glitter, I am pretty sure Kim has no limits as to what she will make next.

For those of you who are contemplating starting your own business, following your dreams, or just want to get extra crafty ... my motto is ... you never know until you've tried.  Kim started making cake pops about 8 months ago when her kids would continually ask for them at Starbucks .... she knew she could make them and for less of a price. So ... she went home and got to baking ... and she found out that she happened to be great at making them. She was then given a cake pop book called Bakerella and after that ... could not stop creating them. It makes me incredibly happy to see a friend following her passion ... keep on baking Kim!!!  You can visit Kim's website at kimpops.com!!

Bisous.

Cake Pops and such
wanting: to make them
if I ordered a batch: I would order little coffee cups (can this be done?)
flavor of choice: of course red velvet
believe it or not: I have never had one ... I am waiting to try Kim's but of course
inspired by: there are people who say and others that do ... I am inspired by the doers
what am I making right now: a not so typical holiday bark

Happy Holidays!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

coffee. pumpkin bread. weekends.




Over the weekend Marc and I snapped family photos for our good friends and the weather could not have been better. We took them to one of our favorite running trails as the setting makes for gorgeous photos. Before our shoot, Marc and I had breakfast at our favorite coffee shop. We sipped cappuccinos, indulged in pumpkin bread, and ate yogurt and granola out of the cutest jam jars.

I love weekends that involve ... photography (and lots of it), time with friends, and long runs. Yesterday we ran 8 miles and it felt amazing. The first couple steps out the door were the most difficult but around miles 6, 7, and 8 I could not have been happier. What makes a good weekend for you?? What were you up to??

Also, the winner of the holiday giveaway is Bryton from in morse code ... CONGRATULATIONS! Email me so I can send you your earrings!!

Happy Holidays and Bisous.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

red velvet cupcakes



Just a quick hello as I am still without internet. So, I am writing this post from naturally ... my favorite coffee shop. I am over at Cake today sharing my tips for making the perfect cupcake ... head on over and take a look.

Don't forget to enter the Holiday Giveaway here.

Bisous. Bisous.