Hi, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column. You know, even though I like to eat chocolate and I bake with chocolate all the time for others, I rarely eat chocolate desserts. However caramel is a completely different story. I just love it! So today I’m bringing you a recipe for walnut cookies sandwiched with caramel.
These cookies were supposed to be pecan dulce de leche sandwich cookies. When I checked my cupboard, the bag of pecans I thought were there were in fact walnuts left over from last month’s Plum Crumble Cake. The weather in Sydney last weekend was just awful and I couldn’t face walking back to the shops in the wind and rain just to get pecans, so I used what I had. I think toasted almonds or macadamias would also work really well in this recipe if that’s what you have lurking in your pantry.
The cookie dough is quick to make but it’s really soft so don’t be tempted to skip the fridge time as it will make slicing the cookie dough impossible. If you don’t feel like making sandwich cookies, you can roll the still warm cookies in icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) soon after they come out of the oven to make Mexican wedding cakes.
Dulce de leche is hard to find in Sydney so I made some myself at home using a tin of sweetened condensed milk. Dulce de leche is really easy to make so I’ve included the instructions for you. I’m warning you it’s really delicious and a bit addictive. I think I ate more licking the spoon than made its way into the jar.
Here are the recipes for you.
Walnut Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 40 filled cookies
250 g (8 oz) unsalted butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
300 g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted
125 g (4 oz) finely chopped toasted walnuts
Additional ¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup dulce de leche
In large bowl, beat together the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy. In separate bowl, stir together flour, the 125 gm of finely chopped walnuts and stir into butter mixture to make a smooth dough. Divide the dough in half; form each into 1½ inch (4 cm) wide log. Roll each log in the additional finely chopped walnuts, pressing so they stick to the cookie dough. Wrap each log in kitchen paper and refrigerate for 1 hour or you can freeze the logs at this stage to use later.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Line 2 trays with baking paper. Cut the logs into ¼ inch (5 mm) thick slices and arrange 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on the prepared baking trays. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the cookies to a wire rack; let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Just before serving, spread the bases of half the cookies with about 1/2 tsp of dulce de leche for each cookie. I used a piping bag but a knife or teaspoon will do fine. Top with remaining cookies to make sandwiches.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
1 x 395 gm tin condensed milk
Preheat the oven to 220° C (425° F).
Pour the tin of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking dish. Set the baking dish into a larger pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the baking dish. Tightly cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Add more water to the roasting pan as necessary. Once the condensed milk is nicely browned, remove the dish from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk the caramel until smooth before spooning into a sterilized jar. Store the dulce de leche in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I hope you like the cookies. I’ll be back again next month with another recipe for you, so see you all then – Jillian
(text/images: jillian leiboff)
While it is still cold and gray, I’m thinking ahead of warm days, picnics, outdoor parties and day trippin’ in our new car. These two photos from Southern Weddings just about sums up what I’m ready for – color, fun and warm weather! Whenever I need inspiration for Spring and Summer, which is right about now, I peek at wedding blogs and websites. They put me in such a great mood. Feminine, fresh, bright, romantic, great ideas…
Southern Weddings is a GREAT source of inspiration to me. Plus, I’m a southern girl from South Carolina originally so naturally, there’s a heart connection too. I grew up a town over from Pawleys Island and went to many weddings at Litchfield Plantation over the years, so I love southern weddings.
Another great site to check out is called Lover.ly. Have you heard of it? It’s like a Pinterest for wedding enthusiasts, brides, wedding party members, etc. I go there for inspiration frequently now too. I’ve learned that you really need to branch out from Pinterest because if everyone is always being inspired by the same things then it can really have a negative impact on imagination. Try to branch out a little when you feel overwhelmed or are in a Pinterest coma, okay? A site like Lover.ly is a great escape.
(images: southern weddings)
Let’s talk about a big rug trend, aside from the ever popular Beni Ouarains from Morocco and the over-dyed vintage or patchwork rugs from Turkey. The current craze that has the blog world rockin’ are the Boucherouite rugs. You may have seen this photograph below from The Apartment (where you can buy them online) on some of your favorite blogs or over on Pinterest. It seems to be a popular room at the moment and it shows two stand out rugs, a Beni Ouarain (front) and a Boucherouite (back). Boucherouites are usually one-of-a-kind vintage recycled fabric rugs made in North Africa by Berber women who weave recycled wool and textiles together to create ribbon-like rugs.
I first spotted these bad boys in 2010 in Australian design magazines since I subscribe to a few and they always seem to pop up in Aussie homes. They started to appear in Europe in 2011 but only here and there… And I saw them when I was in Morocco then, too. In early 2012 when I was decorating my apartment for my book, one of the founders of HKLiving tried to entice me with a special offer to buy one from his lovely company but I wasn’t feeling the deep reds, blues and yellows in his selection so I held back.
I was holding back for awhile because lots of the Boucherouite rugs were in palettes way to deep for my taste which was part of my resistance to their ever growing popularity. Lately though, I’ve been seeing them in remarkable colorways that definitely fit my palette in pink, melon, turquoise, black, mint and orange and I really love them. I imagine we’ll see more and more in the months to come, especially since they look so fresh and summery. What do you think?
I found two gorgeous rugs on Rachel Ashwell’s online shop. Wow, totally stunning. I’d own them both. I love seeing them on a polished concrete floor, I like the mix of industrial with soft and fluffy femininity. I also imagine these rugs on white wooden floors or ok, on my hardwood floors in my apartment (smile).
Here are some (above) from Beldi Rugs.
What do you think? I had rag rugs in my teens and twenties – my mother liked them – but once I moved out on my own I got rid of them and went more with the flat weave variety or cotton throws. Since moving to Germany though, I’ve been buying Turkish rugs – I have 4 currently – because we have some great Turkish rug dealers here but also I went to Istanbul in 2011 and was a changed woman – I loved what I saw in shops there. I also went to Morocco in 2010 to some gorgeous rug shops with Maryam Montague (see her home where I stayed here and read about my trip here) and that trip brought in a whole new level of appreciation for rugs that are handmade, vintage and colorful.
You can even buy these rugs on Etsy, Amber from BYOB carries tons of them.
For more inspiration, here is my Boucherouite pinboard that I made for you to drool over, enjoy!
What do you think of these rugs anyway? Love? Hate? Somewhere in between? Do you own one? Let’s talk!
(images linked to their sources above)
I’ve been thinking a lot about redecorating lately. Pinterest doesn’t help and neither do my bloggy friends (Ahem ladies Steffi, Bri, Victoria). With so much inspiration around me, the dominos are leaning in my direction and I’m about to fall into the whole redecorating trend too. In fact, it started this morning when I ordered this minty green desk lamp. Now I’m thinking to host a big yard sale in early May so if I do, I’ll let you know so you can come help remove things so I can add things again. Ya know, a decorating support buddy system.
My home (sitting area shown above, shot by my husband for Decorate Workshop) is in my own book now, and has appeared in magazines and around the web, which gives me that added boost to redecorate again so I can show some new ideas. I love to inspire people and I LOVE to decorate so why not. Plus, I want to paint and wallpaper and buy a new rug and experiment with a new palette and and and AND. Always and.
When I think about changing up everything, I can’t help but think back to my childhood and teen years as I ran from home store to garden shop to flea market with my mom picking out things for our home, yard, garden and patio. I remember being in my twenties decorating my apartments in Boston. I constantly moved around trying out new apartments, new roommates, new arrangements of things… I loved the thrill of moving and setting up all over again. It was somehow a kooky hobby of mine. I think I lived in 10 different apartments in 10 years. Each new place held promise of a new decor. A clean slate. And now, several years later, here I am with my husband in northern Germany with a full schedule and very little time to decorate and “play” in my home. I guess when you get older you kinda realize you’re a little nuts to move so frequently because it’s expensive and a little draining after awhile… though since I got married, I’ve lived in 5 different addresses so I guess I’m still unsettled. I live in this super gorgeous rental apartment and I still dream of moving to another one and starting all over again.
But today something happened that scared me a little. I wonder what you will think.
This morning my husband woke me up with a one year plan. He always does this to me… ‘heavy talk’ first thing in the morning. By this time next year he wants to buy a home or a big city apartment with space for work studios. I sat in my bed thinking, “Honey, can I first shower and get a cup of coffee?”. Seriously. A one year plan with my eyes half shut. Yippee.
Then I thought in the shower, OMG. Now that I have saved up and thought about this moment for years I’m anxious. “Do I WANT to buy a home?”.
What if I move and find that I just can’t stay in the same house for the rest of my life? I worry about this. I moved around a lot as a child and as a young woman – and the pattern seems to work for me. It’s not like the real estate market is the same in Germany as it is in America – house flipping and people moving in and out just doesn’t work the same here. Plus, my husband would never buy a home only to move out – he’d want that home to be ours for life.
OK so the decorating queen here needs you to help me out this time. Do you guys understand when I talk about settling into a home and the feelings of OMG that accompany that? How many of you are homeowners? Or do you rent? I wonder if you think about moving as much as I do? Does anyone have the redecorating bug right now?
Loads of love to you today – hope to hear from you in my comments section, I’d love to connect.
(image: top Thorsten Becker, bottom Holly Becker)
With the news that Google Reader will be killed off, I’ve reactivated my Bloglovin account so if you’d like to follow my blog with Bloglovin please do! I’ve also set up an account with Feedly – have you tried it yet? I really like the clean, well-designed minimalistic interface – I can breath there and actually enjoy reading my favorite blogs again! Here is a screenshot of Feedly below…
Much nicer to look at than the eye sore that is Google+!