Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

Salted caramel… Chocolate… Shortbread… Need I say more??? These tasty morsels pretty much speak for themselves.

Soft, buttery shortbread, topped with a thick layer of caramel made from condensed milk (I could just eat it out of a can, not that I would :0), finished with a layer of decadent dark chocolate, and sprinkled with smoked sea salt. Oh my. My mouth is watering, wishing I had some in the kitchen now. But these are super dangerous in my kitchen. I have no will power when these are around.

The one caution I have for you is to make sure you aren’t doing anything else while making the caramel layer. You must stir constantly so the bottom doesn’t brown faster than the rest of the pot of caramel. Trust me.

A Technique and A Life Lesson

I made this cake for my daugther’s best friend. She turned 13 a few weeks ago. This little girl, yes I am in denial about her being a teenager, is as much like my child as my biological children are.
This is not what I had in mind for this cake to look like. But… I was having one of those days. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where it seems like the kitchen gods are out to destroy you, where you make silly mistakes that almost ruin your frosting, where nothing you want to do works out how you envisioned. Please tell me I’m not the only one that has days like this.

In the end, I really liked how the cake turned out. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a learning experience. I even managed to talk myself into realizing that it was more than a learning experience; it was a life lesson. Yes, I get life lessons while baking cakes.

The technique I used to decorate the top layer of the cake really couldn’t have been easier. Actually, I found it quite fun and much less frustrating than trying to frost it smooth using a frosting that was more on the runny side than it should have been. I used an open star tip, like Wilton 17, and made s curves and c shapes to fill in any open spaces. I didn’t work hard at lining anything up, just making it all kind of random.

I frosted the bottom layer as smooth as I could, given my frosting was less than ideal for that application. Then, I added blue mini M&Ms for fun.
Are you wondering what life lesson I learned that day? No, well I’m gonna tell ya anyway. I have to say this is a lesson that I’ve learned before. I find that even adults have to be taught a lesson more than once before they fully ‘get it’ sometimes. I tend to live my life as a perfectionist. But it’s ok for me to let go of that perfectionism sometimes. And in doing so I free myself up to try new things. Even if things don’t turn out the way I planned, the end result might be even better than what I thought. So give it a try next time something isn’t going as planned; let go of the perfectionism, and try something new. You might like it!

Funfetti Cupcakes

I need to start with a confession today. Sprinkles make me happy. Ok? I said it. It’s true. And I’m not ashamed. I have a rather large assortment of sprinkles. Hoarding them may be an issue for me. Well, I guess it’s not technically hoarding because I do use sprinkles frequently. I just keep buying more because I’m afraid I might run out one day. What a sad day that would be! Sprinkles are so colorful and fun. I am a lover of color and of fun, so they are a perfect match for me. Ok, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about my obsession with these tiny little ‘sprinkles’ of happiness…

Did you have Funfetti cake mix cakes growing up? I have to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had a cake made with it. Gasp. I’ve seen the boxes at the grocery store plenty of times. The box looks like fun. So, when I saw this recipe for homemade Funfetti cupcakes I knew I couldn’t go wrong.

 And what better pairing for sprinkle-enhanced cupcakes than a luscious, dark chocolate frosting? Fun and decadent…You are very welcome.

I do not generally like recipes that include vegetable shortening, but it works very well in this recipe.

Clean water…do you have it?

Today I’m not sharing a recipe. Today I’m sharing something so much more important. Today is World Water Day. Today I’m sharing with you the opportunity to not just give to a charity, but to teach people how to be self-sustaining. Today, I’m sharing with you The Adventure Project.

Of all water wells that have been drilled in India in the last 20 years, 1/3 are now broken. Sad. Not having clean water, super sad. Dying from unclean water, absolutely tragic!

The Adventure Project is all about helping people. It’s not just about helping people to get clean water, though. It’s about training people to be able to get clean water for themselves. It’s about helping people to become self-sustaining. It’s about helping people earn a living. It’s about helping people help others.

The goal of The Adventure Project is to train well mechanics. It takes only $550 to train one well mechanic. In the process of training that one mechanic, 50 wells can be maintained and cared for. This, in turn, will get clean water to 5,000 people. That is amazing!!! For $550, a well mechanic will receive training, tools and spare parts, and a one year stipend to help launch a new business. For $550 we can get clean water to 5,000 people and keep 50 wells up and running. Wow!

I love the thought of helping someone to get something they need, like clean water. I know I totally take my clean water for granted… But what I really love about The Adventure Project is that not only does it help provide clean water, but it trains people to help themselves. It changes lives.

So, how about helping me help The Adventure Project to help train well mechanics in rural India to help themselves get clean water to 5,000 other people? Today, all donations will be matched, up to $25,000. Can you spare $5, $10, or more? Maybe that Starbucks coffee you are drinking right now (with clean water, I might add) can be your last one for a few days, and you can put that money into helping train well mechanics? Can we raise $550 today and train one well mechanic? I’m up for the challenge. Are you? I’m up for changing lives. Are you? Go here to donate.

PI-rate Cake Pops

Today is Pi Day (3.14), yea! My daughter’s school celebrates Pi Day every year by doing all sorts of fun activities revolving around circles. At the end of the day, they have a “Circle Feast” that includes only circle foods. Cake pops weren’t on the list of foods to bring, but my daughter asked if I would make them anyway. Well sure, sweetie, I can make cake pops. PI-rate cake pops… Arrggg…

To make Pirate cake pops, begin by making a cake and icing. Mix the two together to make the cake pop mixture. I use a Tbls scoop to get uniform amounts of cake for each cake pop. Let those get firm in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Roll each cake pop into a round ball. Dip a lollipop stick into chocolate, and insert into bottom of cake pop. Let those get firm for about 15 minutes. Dip in white chocolate or white almond bark. After that is firm, dip the top portion into red candy melts. Add dots of white chocolate dots. Use an edible marker to make the face. Voila, PI-rate cake pops.

We will be celebrating Pi Day at home tomorrow by having Cheeseburger Pie for dinner and mini apple pies for dessert. So, hop to it and plan a pie feast for dinner tonight.

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