Yes, you read that right. I said smoked caramel. Not salted, which is somewhat ubiquitous when it comes to caramel these days. You can’t swing a spatula without hitting a few dozen salted caramel recipes. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I enjoy all manner of caramel, salted or otherwise. It just got me to thinking that there must be something else that can be done with it, some other subtle flavour enhancer that could be added. But how does one improve upon perfection?
It was while enjoying a backyard BBQ with the fam that it came to me. Someone made the innocent comment ‘I wish everything was smoked’. I had already been ogling this recipe from I wish I was Martha (oh honey, don’t we all!) for Millionaire Squares and was trying to decide how to put my own twist on them. Caramel Slice is what they’re called in the UK and Australia, as I’d discovered when I’d found another recipe in one of my cookbooks, The Primrose Bakery Book. And in Caramel – I do love to do my research – I found another recipe for this delicious concoction. They all shared the same basic formula: a shortcrust-style bottom pressed into the bottom of the pan and baked which, once cooled, was layered with caramel and finally topped with a layer of chocolate. Regardless of what you called it, Millionaire Squares or Caramel Slice, they are seriously habit-forming.
And once I’d added in a dash or two of liquid smoke, they became heart-stoppingly good. As in, your mouth begins to water and tastebuds start to tingle even before the caramel hits your lips. If you happen to be a fan of barbecue, of course. If not, then obviously these would not do anything for you. But that’s fine, to each their own. If you do love the smoked stuff then do yourself a favour: give it a shot in your next caramel recipe. Just start with a teaspoon, then go from there. The danger with liquid smoke is that it can overwhelm the food it’s meant to enhance rather quickly, so you have to go easy with it. The only way I can think of to make this better would be if I could figure out how to cold-smoke the actual caramel so to get an authentic smokey taste as opposed to relying on a smoke flavouring.
In regard to my absence, it’s not that I’ve not been baking and therefore had nothing to write about. I baked up some black bean brownies and a cornmeal peach cobbler last week that I fully intended to post on but when the results were just meh I decided not to. And then there’s the exciting macaron post which will likely be the subject of my next post. But in the time in between, I’ve been trying to decide what direction to take in my future.
Do I try the apprentice route, attempt to get into a local bakery to learn from the ground up? I love baking, but would I still feel the same if it were my actual job? My husband has a friend who used to be a pastry chef – his whole world revolved around baking and he loved it. Until a couple years later when he couldn’t stand the thought of it anymore. It took him five years to pick up a whisk again. That’s kind of how I feel about makeup, and I already know how much it sucks to despise something you formally loved with such passion. I would hate for that to happen to me again with the baking, especially since it’s such a source of comfort to me. So I’ve been thinking of other things that I may be able to do, things that relate to baking but not to the point where I could burn out on it myself.
I can’t go into too much detail at the moment, but believe me – you’ll be among the first to know when I can!