Salted Caramel Bark

Salted Caramel Bark | Once Upon a Recipe

Bonjour friends!

The Christmas Countdown is on! Only two more days to go until the big day is here.

Salted Caramel Bark | Once Upon a Recipe

Are you ready? Is your house all decorated nice? Have all of your presents been wrapped and placed under the tree with care? Do you have your Christmas menu planned? Is your holiday baking finished? Are you sitting by the fire relaxing with a rum and ‘nog, basking in relaxation? Or are you scrambling around trying to buy and wrap and bake all the things?

Never fear, I’m here to help! I’ve got a last minute gift idea for you. And it can be made and wrapped up in less than an hour.

Salted Caramel Bark | Once Upon a Recipe

Salted Caramel Bark | Once Upon a Recipe   Salted Caramel Bark | Once Upon a Recipe

Three ingredients. Chocolate. Caramel. Sea salt. Boom! Delicious.

Chocolate gets melted and spread on a cookie sheet. Caramel gets drizzled on top. A little sea salt sprinkle, 15 minutes in the freezer to set, and salted caramel bark is born! Break it up, tie it up with ribbon in little gift bags and it’s ready for gifting! Or you can totes just eat it yourself. It will be extremely difficult not to.

Salted Caramel Bark | Once Upon a Recipe

Salted Caramel Bark

You can use the chocolate of your choice in this recipe. I used chocolate wafers found in the bulk section of my local grocery store. Feel free to use higher quality chocolate; however, it tastes pretty darn good when you use the cheap stuff. 

12 oz. (~2 heaping cups) dark chocolate

12 oz. (~2 heaping cups) milk chocolate

12 oz. Kraft caramels

Coarse ground sea salt (~2 tsp.)

Cover a 9 x 13″ baking sheet with wax paper. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Place the caramels in a microwave safe bowl with 2 TBSP. water. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, then microwave in 30-second intervals until fully melted and smooth. Spread the chocolate onto the baking sheet evenly. Drop spoonfuls of the caramel over the chocolate and then swirl with a knife. Sprinkle liberally with the coarse ground sea salt. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes, or until set. Break up into pieces.

Salted Caramel Bark | Once Upon a Recipe

If you’re looking for other easy homemade gift ideas, look no further! Check out Christmas Crack, Lemon Butter, or this long-ago post with other last-minute holiday gift ideas.

Ginger Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ginger Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches | Once Upon a Recipe

Oh heyyyyyyyyyy. I’m…sorry.

Yes, consider this your advance apology for the recipe I am about to share with you.

Ginger Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches | Once Upon a Recipe

I’m sorry for ruining your diet. I’m sorry for kiboshing your plans to start eating healthier after a summer full of patio beer-drinking and ice cream-eating. I’m sorry for giving you a cold recipe just when the weather is starting to turn cooler (much cooler, if you live in my part of the world) and you’re craving all things warm and toasty. But mostly, I’m sorry for not appreciating the amazingness that is salted caramel a hell of a lot sooner.

Ginger Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches | Once Upon a Recipe

I realize that salted caramel everything has been rather trendy for the past while, but in all honesty it didn’t really appeal to me. Sure, I like caramel. And yes, I am a big fan of the salty/sweet combination. But as my wise mama said, “if all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” And so while everyone else was choosing salted caramel ice cream, I was sticking to ye old faithful – chocolate chip cookie dough. Or mint chip. I would not be sucked in by this new salted caramel kid on the block.

Ginger Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches | Once Upon a Recipe

But then I came across a recipe for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream by David Lebovitz. (The word “butter” may or may not have been mostly responsible for capturing my attention). One look at photos of the creamy, deep caramel-colored ice cream dotted with little rivers of gooey caramel was enough to change my tune. It was time to see what all the fuss was about.

And dangggggggg. You trendy foodies know your stuff. (Not that I ever questioned your expertise). I’m tempted to say that this is some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted. Like, ever. My words will not do this ice cream justice. You simply must try it for yourself.

But I couldn’t stop there. Chewy ginger cookies are one of my favorites in the Fall and Winter months due to their spicy flavor profile. I had the sense that ginger cookies with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream smashed between them would be rather epic and I was right. But again, don’t take my word for it.

Ginger Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches | Once Upon a Recipe

A couple of notes about these two recipes: First of all, be warned – the ice cream recipe is a bit involved and will take you some time. However, I can promise you that it is worth the effort. Please be careful though, as the salted caramel is as hot as Hades and will hurt (a lot) if you splatter yourself with it. I have a rather sizable war wound from a stray droplet that found its way onto my hand while I was scraping the caramel praline mixture onto the cookie sheet. Ouch! Secondly, both the ice cream and the cookies are lovely on their own. The ice cream tastes magnificent scooped into a sugar cone or a plain ol’ bowl, and the cookies are wonderful with a cup of coffee or tea. In fact, this is my new favorite ginger cookie recipe – the raw cane sugar adds an incredible texture and crunch to the outside of the chewy cookie. So if making the ice cream sandwiches seems like too much all at once, pick one part and have fun with it!

Ginger Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches 

For the Salted Caramel Ice Cream (from David Lebovitz)

Makes 1 generous quart.

For the caramel praline (mix-in):

½ cup sugar

¾ tsp. good quality sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the ice cream:

2 cups whole milk, divided

1½ cups sugar

4 TBSP. salted butter

½ tsp. sea salt

1 cup heavy cream

5 large egg yolks

¾ tsp. vanilla

To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized heavy duty saucepan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil. Heat the sugar over medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, until all the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook, stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn (this doesn’t take long). Working quickly, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon of salt without stirring, then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.

To make the ice cream, prepare an ice bath (fill a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and add a cup or so of water to cause the ice cubes to float). Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it. Spread 1½ cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described for the caramel praline. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go. The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. This happened to me, but be patient! It will become smooth with time. Stir in the second cup of milk.

Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and stir constantly to cook the custard (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170°F.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Cover and refrigerate the mixture overnight. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into small pieces. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then spread into a container to chill in the freezer until firm. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the plastic wrap to touch the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming.

For the Ginger Cookies (adapted from A Couple Cooks)

Makes about 24 cookies.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup raw cane sugar (plus extra, for rolling)

1 egg

1/2 cup molasses

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour through to salt) and mix well. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and 3/4 cup raw cane sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and molasses and mix well. Stir in the dry ingredients. Refrigerate the cookie dough for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll the dough into small balls (about  1 1/2-inch), then roll the balls in the raw cane sugar to coat. Arrange on a prepared baking sheet (with a Silpat or parchment paper). Bake until set and crinkled on top, about 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble the ice cream sandwiches: Place a small scoop of ice cream between two cookies and press together gently. Carefully wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and place in freezer for a couple of hours.

Ginger Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches | Once Upon a Recipe

Enjoy the rest of your week, friends!

Run Forrest Run! | Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream













Sleep. Eat. Work. Run. Eat. Sleep.

Eat. Work. Run. Eat. Sleep.

Work. Eat. Yoga. Eat. Run. Sleep.













That was the jist of my life over the past week. Half-marathon training started with a bang and I’m pushing myself to establish a steady running schedule. It feels so good to be running again. Runner’s high, indeed!

The only problem is the weather. The last few days have brought temperatures as low as minus 44 degrees (celsius!) with the wind chill. Hello Winter!













I’m committed to this training. I really am. But a girl’s gotta draw the line somewhere, and for me the line gets drawn at about minus 25 degrees. Following a 7.5km run last weekend in minus 30 degree temperatures, I had a chill that I couldn’t shake for several days. Days. Thank goodness for a couple of local indoor tracks – I was able to keep up with the training schedule and get in a couple of indoor runs this week. Running indoors is a bit mundane, but it’s reassuring to know that I’ll still have all of my fingers and toes by the end of the run! I appreciate my extremities. 🙂













Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), all this running has kicked my metabolism into overdrive. I am hungry all. the. time. And whether it’s wrong or right, I feel that eating cupcakes (I’m thinking right) and drinking red wine (yep, definitely right) is totally 100% justified by all of this exercise. It’s probably wrong…but if eating rich chocolate cupcakes topped with a swirl of salted caramel buttercream and then drizzled with more salted caramel is wrong, I don’t give a rough one about being right. Ever.

Plus, becoming a better cupcake decorator was one of my new year’s goals, and to become better at something, one must practice, practice, practice. I’m quite certain that taste-testing is mandatory.













Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

24 chocolate cupcakes – I used this, my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. It’s vegan too!

Salted Caramel Buttercream (from Good Thymes and Good Food)

1 cup butter, softened

2 1/4 cups icing sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla

3 TBSP. salted caramel sauce + more for drizzling (I used store-bought, but you could make your own!)

2 TBSP. heavy cream

In a standing mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add in the icing sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is combined, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until the mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape down the bowl and add the vanilla, caramel sauce, and heavy cream. Beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. Frost the cupcakes however you wish (I used a pastry bag with a star attachment), and then drizzle with more salted caramel sauce. Filling a small Ziploc bag with the caramel and cutting a teeny, tiny hole in one of the corners worked beautifully for me. Devour!












I’m starving. What’s for lunch?

Please tell me it’s cupcakes.

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