A Summer Beach Picnic + Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust!

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust.

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect dessert recipe for any beach picnic, BBQ or fancy dinner party!
Photo: Meg Sorel

As someone who left a sufficiently cushy job in the corporate world to become self-employed, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Do you ever miss being in an office with coworkers?” And my answer is always, “Honestly, no.” Sure, the self-employed world can be lonely at times, but I consider myself AMAZINGLY lucky to have found a solid group of like-minded ladies (and yes, even some men) who have also set out on their own and forged a path for themselves in the world of entrepreneurship, specifically in the food, beverage and entertaining bizzes.

Recently, a few of us got together to kick off summer with a beautifully styled beach picnic featuring some incredibly delicious food and wine. Since I’ve been itching to refine my pie-making skills, I offered to bring one showcasing some of my favorite fruits of the season thus, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was born.

A fun and fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a flaky amaretto crust. The perfect summer dessert!
Photo: Meg Sorel

Here’s what everyone else brought/contributed (with live links to their posts/websites!)

Le Petit Chef

Denisse is a private chef and food photographer based here in Santa Barbara and brought the most refreshing Poached Lobster Salad with Peaches, Shaved Fennel and White Corn and delectable Crab Toasts with Heirloom Tomato & Charred Scallion Aioli.

The Oyster Tin

Jamie (also a private chef) just started this “micro-shuckery” here in SB and, let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted these oysters. She brought both raw and BBQ oysters to our little picnic and the BBQ sauce on the cooked ones was just insane!

FOLD

Not only does Viktoriya make some of the most beautiful table linens, she’s also a pro at food and prop styling, She made our entire picnic set-up look like a dream…I only wish I could bring her (and her beautiful napkins and tablecloths) along with me for every picnic I go on!

Wander & Wine

If you plan to serve wine at any get-together you’re hosting, you’ll want to invite Hana-Lee. She chose the perfect wines to pair with each of our dishes. I couldn’t believe what a perfect match the Riverbench Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine was for my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Meg Sorel Photography

Even though she stepped in for another photographer at the last minute, Meg was an absolute dream to work with and captured all of the beautiful images you see here and on the others’ posts.

Seafood, pie, wine and friends. What more can you ask for with a summer beach picnic?
Photo: Meg Sorel

Okay, now back to this pie. First, raise your hand if you (like me) are totally intimidated by pie-making because of the difficulty of making pie dough, rolling it out and then not only getting it to fit just right in your pie plate but also baking it to a beautiful golden brown in perfect synchronization to whatever filling you put inside.

Well, I’m here to tell you good news and bad news:

First, the bad news – it is hard. And it’s most likely not going to be perfect on your first attempt. You will most likely need to refine your practice in order to get it “just right.”

Next, the good news – it gets easier! Practice makes perfect. Once you find a recipe you like and practice it a time or two, you start to get a better feel for how it should look, feel, etc. I’m happy to say that, now that I have a basic pie crust recipe that I feel totally confident in, I’ll be making so many more pies and, after trying this recipe, I hope you will, too!

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect finish to any 4th of July picnic or summer BBQ!
Photo: Meg Sorel
A picture perfect summer beach picnic with seafood, pie, wine and great friends!
Photo: Meg Sorel

There are just a couple of little secrets I want to let you in on that make this “not-your-average” Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe:

  1. It’s a fairly popular notion that adding chilled vodka to your pie dough (instead of water) will make it extra tender and flaky due to the alcohol dissolving during the cooking process. You know I’m all about using booze when needed, but for this recipe you’ll find me subbing in amaretto for the vodka, adding that slight nuttiness that goes perfectly with the rest of the components of the pie. For all other aspects of the dough, I turned to my favorite Model Bakery (affiliate link) recipe as a guide – I knew they wouldn’t let me down!
  2. Although the ingredients for the filling are all pretty typical, there is one ingredient that may look a little odd – balsamic vinegar. I added this to bring depth and a slight tang to the filling that pair perfectly with all the almond notes tied in throughout.

I have to say, for being such a novice in this particular aspect of baking, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was a pretty huge hit.

A perfect piece of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is just what you need to cap off a summer meal.
Photo: Meg Sorel

It’s also perfectly portable which makes it a great dish to contribute to any 4th of July celebrations you may be attending this week.

Read on for the recipe!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Chilling time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
 

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced dessert that's perfect for any warm weather get-together.

Course: Dessert
Keyword: pie, rhubarb, strawberry, summer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter-flavored shortening, cut into cubes (Can use regular shortening too)
  • 1/4 cup amaretto, chilled
For the filling:
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
  • 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
For the streusel:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Begin making the dough at least an hour or two before you plan on baking your pie. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. 

  2. Next, using a pastry blender, cut in both the butter and shortening until dough is blended but crumbly with some pea-sized pieces. 

  3. Slowly mix in the amaretto using a fork until a loose dough begins to form.

  4. Using your hands, shape the dough into a thick disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even overnight.

  5. To make the filling, combine strawberries, rhubarb, balsamic vinegar, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the sugar, flour and vinegar. Refrigerate until you’re ready to bake your pie.

  6. Finally, assemble the streusel topping. Mix together all streusel ingredients in a medium bowl, using your fingers as needed to break up the butter pieces and make the mixture even and crumbly.

  7. Pull out your refrigerated pie dough about 15 minutes before you’re ready to start baking. This will allow it to come back down to room temperature a bit and make it easier to roll out. Once your dough is at a “roll-able” temperature, roll it into an approximately 13-inch circle and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. You may need to trim some edges and work the dough a bit once it’s in the pan to get the crust as uniform as possible. Crimp the ends as desired and then freeze for 15-30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove your crust from the freezer and pour in the filling, then top with the streusel. 

  9. Bake pie in your 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also at this point I recommend putting on a pie shield or covering the edges of your crust with foil to prevent it from burning. Bake pie at this new reduced temperature for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool before serving (preferably with vanilla ice cream!)

 

The Best of CaliGirl Cooking: Top 15 Holiday Baked Goods

Wow, what a week it has been!

Chocolate Panettone | CaliGirl Cooking

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you probably already know that I am currently up at my parents’ house in Santa Cruz with Baby Raia avoiding the smoke and fires that have descended on our poor little city of Santa Barbara since last Monday evening. We stuck it out until last Thursday, but when the air got so bad that I could see and smell the smoke seeping into our house I knew it was time to take baby girl and her precious new lungs and hit the road.

As of right now our home is not in an evacuation zone, although many of our friends’ and family’s homes, including my brother’s have been under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders for going on five days now. Santa Barbara has turned into a virtual ghost town and looks alarmingly apocalyptic. Who knows how long we’ll be up north breathing in as much fresh air as we can (a bit of the smoke has even made its way up here, but nowhere near as bad as it is further south), but in the meantime we’re trying to pass the time with getting as ready for Christmas as we can, which includes baking up a ton of delicious holiday goodies!

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

That being said, since my normal schedule has been thrown for a bit of a loop, I thought it would be fun to spend this week rounding up some of my top holiday recipes in different categories. Today I’ll be sharing my most popular holiday baked goods, Friday we’re talking all things cocktails (and mocktails!) and on Monday we’ll go for appetizers. I had a ton of fun looking through my archives to put these lists together, and I know you’ll find at least one thing you’ll want to add to you holiday cooking and baking list in the next two weeks!

So, without further ado, I bring you The Best of CaliGirl Cooking: Top 15 Holiday Baked Goods.

These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are a holiday favorite and are so easy to make!

1. CHOCOLATE, BUTTERSCOTCH AND COCONUT GRUTCH BARS
2. CHOCOLATE PANETTONE
3. CHOCOLATE DIPPED CRANBERRY WALNUT BISCOTTI

Homemade Caramel Covered Scotch Kisses are the perfect holiday gift.

4. HOMEMADE CARAMEL COVERED MARSHMALLOW KISSES
5. PEPPERMINT BARK BROWNIES
6. SAVORY PROSCIUTTO-SAGE-GRUYERE BREAD PUDDING
7. CHUNKY MONKEY CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CHOCOLATE GLAZE
8. CHOCOLATE BRIE DESSERT PIZZA WITH ALMOND ORANGE SHORTBREAD CRUST

Chocolate Brie Dessert Pizza with Almond-Orange Shortbread Crust | CaliGirl Cooking

9. PEPPERMINT CHOCOHOLIC COOKIES
10. WEEKEND HAZELNUT STICKY BUNS WITH DATE CARAMEL
11. BUTTERSCOTCH APPLE OATMEAL COOKIES WITH BOURBON GLAZE
12. PUMPKIN POPOVERS

A batch of easy Pumpkin Popovers fresh out of the oven and ready to be eaten!

13. SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE BABKA
14. CREAM CHEESE-Y PUMPKIN PIE
15. CRANBERRY CHOCOLATE CHUNK MUFFINS WITH CHOCOLATE STREUSEL

What are your favorite baked good recipes for the holidays? I’d love to give some a try while we’re on our #evacuationvacation so leave the links or recipes below!

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti

Continuing on with the sweet holiday treats today!

These Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti are fantastic dipped in coffee or a hot toddy!

And these Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti live up to every expectation you may have about what a holiday cookie should be. The flavors meld together perfectly to form a delightful cookie that tastes just as good with your morning coffee as it does with an evening hot toddy in front of the fire. It’s a real crowd-pleaser, that’s for sure, and should make it on to your holiday baking list ASAP.

To be completely honest, this version of Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti was my own attempt at copying a similar biscotti recipe from back in my Hawaii days. When I was living there and working for an event production company, my boss’ wife would make THE most insanely delicious biscotti every Christmas. I distinctly remember how all of us in the office would impatiently await that first day sometime around Thanksgiving when my boss would bring in the first batch of the season, which would subsequently get devoured before the workday was through.

I don’t remember the exact ingredients (and the specific recipe was a highly coveted family secret), but they were something along the line of chocolate, dried cranberries and either walnuts or almonds. What I do remember is that, after the initial crunch, they just melted in your mouth and were the perfect accompaniment to any warm beverage that was suitable for dunking.

These Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti are the perfect holiday cookie to add to your baking repertoire.

So this year, I decided I needed to make my best attempt at making my own version, and let me just say that although they’re not exactly the same as my boss’ wife’s version, they’re pretty darn close and just as tasty.

If you’ve never made biscotti before, there’s no need to be intimidated. The biggest difference from other cookies is the baking technique, since you bake them off twice – once as a log (almost in the shape of a loaf of bread) and then again after you slice the log into the appropriate biscotti-sized pieces. Being the chocolate-lover that I am, of course I had to go ahead and dip the biscotti in it, but if you’re not such a big fan you could easily omit that step. Or, if you still want some chocolate but don’t feel like tackling the dipping process, go ahead and throw some mini chocolate chips into the dough! Tons of possibilities.

Set out a plate of Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti at your holiday get-together and guaranteed they'll be gone in an instant!

The other thing I love about these Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti is that the recipe yields quite a few, which makes it perfect for all of your holiday cookie plate gifting needs. Since I was making all my holiday recipes back in September before baby, I threw Ziplocs of these into the freezer and am just now getting into the stash. They’ve held up beautifully (and we’ll see if there are any left for me to gift people 😉

Whether or not you decide to make Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti for your friends or you decide to keep them all to yourself, you definitely need to give them a shot. Because who doesn’t need a delicious cookie they can pull out of the freezer and enjoy at a moment’s notice during this crazy holiday season?

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti are the perfect holiday cookie to bake up this season.

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

This classic cookie gets fancied up for the holiday season with tart cranberries, toasted walnuts, and a generous coating of chocolate. 

Course: Dessert
Servings: 2 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts
  • 14 ounces dried cranberries
  • 20 ounces chopped semisweet or dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low until combined.

  5. Add the nuts and cranberries.

  6. Roll the dough into six 10-by-1 ½-inch logs. Arrange the logs on the prepared baking sheets and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. 

  7. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes. With a serrated knife, slice the logs on the diagonal, about 2/3-inch thick.

  8. Bake the slices, cut side up, for an additional 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool.

  9. Melt chocolate and coconut oil together in the top of a double boiler until smooth. One at a time, dip one end of the biscotti into the chocolate mixture.

  10. Place dipped biscotti on a baking rack over a large piece of parchment paper (to catch drips.) Let chocolate set and transfer biscotti to a resealable container or bag. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. 

Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars

Sharing a holiday family favorite today!

These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are a holiday favorite and are so easy to make!

We’ve officially entered the month of December, which means it’s officially okay for me to start sharing all of the cookie and bar recipes I’m loving this year, and these Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars are no exception.

I mean, these bars have so many layers of goodness, packing tons of indulgent, delicious flavor into every bite. They are incredibly rich (which is why they are dubbed “grutch” bars in our household) so a little serving goes a long way, but they are just too decadent to pass up. There’s a reason these are my mom’s most requested baked good from us kids once Christmas rolls around!

These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are insanely delicious and bound to be an instant hit over the holidays.

So here’s what all goes into said Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars (since I couldn’t reasonably fit every ingredient in the recipe title):

A layer of OG graham cracker crust
Flaked coconut
Chopped walnuts or pecans (you choose your fave! I love both.)
Butterscotch chips
Chocolate chips
And, finally, a hefty drizzle of condensed milk

Now, if that doesn’t make you just start drooling already, I don’t know what will!

Seriously though, this combination is deadly and I’m thinking I need to find multiple other ways to combine all these flavors in different types of baked goods to whip up throughout the year. Once every 12 months is not enough. What do you think? Any ideas?

So many layers of goodness in these Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars!

The other thing I love about this recipe (besides how insanely tasty it is) is how easy it is to make. I mean, you don’t even need a mixing bowl, people!! That’s right, we layer everything right into the baking dish and pop it into the oven. And seeing as I have a newborn attached to me prettttty much 24/7, this is just the kind of recipe I need if I have any hope of baking up any sweet treats this year.

One little bit of advice: As tempting as it may be, practice all your will power not to cut into these bad boys before they are completely cool. In fact, you may want to pop them into the refrigerator for a little bit to reset after they are done baking and before you slice. Otherwise, you may have a bit of a crumbly mess on your hands (although if this ever happens to me I use it as an excuse to “taste test” and proceed to probably eat the equivalent of one or two entire bars in crumbs.)

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love all of the sweets and treats recipes that show up on blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. this time of year. I find that I’m always super ambitious at the beginning of the month and bookmark tons of recipes to try, only to fall back on a few favorites once I realize how little free time I actually have. This year, I’m already being forced to slow down a bit with the baby and all, and I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself as far as getting in the kitchen. I try to cook or bake a little something every day, but if it happens, great and if it doesn’t, I’ve got a beautiful baby girl to spend this special time with.

Give the gift of these indulgent Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars this holiday season!

The good news is, I know mom will be making plenty of Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars to keep us satisfied, at least until the New Year when it will really be time for me to get my butt back into pre-pregnancy shape!

Until then, do you have any favorite family recipes to share with me for the holiday season? I’d love to see them or Pin them for future, so please leave ‘em in the comments below! Xx

5 from 2 votes
These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are a holiday favorite and are so easy to make!
Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These decadent bars are full of so many layers of goodness they're bound to be a hit with your friends and family this holiday season.

Course: Dessert
Servings: 24 bars
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (325 degrees Fahrenheit if using a glass pan.) 

  2. Melt butter in a 9-by-13 inch baking dish and sprinkle on graham cracker crumbs. Press down lightly to form a crust.

  3. Sprinkle, in layers, the coconut, nuts, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips.

  4. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over the top, trying your best to avoid getting any on the inside of the pan.

  5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. 

  6. Cool completely before cutting into bars. You may want to refrigerate the bars once they have cooled slightly to speed the process along and prevent the bars from becoming too crumbly. 

  7. Keep in a resealable container either at room temperature (if it’s not too warm wherever you are) or in the refrigerator. 

Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses

The perfect holiday treat!

Homemade Caramel Covered Scotch Kisses are the perfect holiday gift.
This post is sponsored by Sonoma Syrup Co.

And I can guarantee you won’t be able to eat just one. If you’re at all familiar with a certain popular candy store’s holiday offerings, these little nuggets of heaven I’ve dubbed “Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses” likely look like something you’ve seen before gracing their shelves before. If not, then prepare to be wowed by a delicious homemade holiday goodie that will put your standard cookie and fudge platters to shame. You’ve been warned.

I generally claim to have no preference between cooking and baking (yes, I’m one of those rare birds), but when the holidays roll around, all I want to do is bake up tasty treats and goodies. I’m a sucker for everything from cookies to coffee cakes, and would happily give up candy bars in exchange for baked goods any day of the week.

Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are a great addition to any holiday cookie trays you plan on handing out to friends this year.

That’s why I’m so lucky to have partnered with Sonoma Syrup Co. this holiday season to create some super tasty treats using their syrups, extracts, etc. I kicked off the fall season with these Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats, then took advantage of my pumpkin obsession by whipping up this Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake with Amaretti Crumble. For the month of December, I wanted to showcase their super-fragrant and fresh Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush,” and what better way to do so than with some Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses?

To be honest, this was also somewhat of a self-challenge on my part. You see, homemade marshmallows (and heck, even homemade caramel) have been on my list of “Things That Intimidate Me” for quite some time now. But heck, that’s one of the reasons I started this blog, to not only challenge myself with new projects in the kitchen but also encourage you, my dear readers, to challenge YOURSELVES with cooking adventures that may have previously been holding you back.

Sure, homemade marshmallows require some special ingredients like silver gelatin sheets and acetate (thank goodness for Amazon Prime!) and a careful eye on the stovetop, but when you break things down they’re really not that complicated…and so much tastier than the store-bought stuff! And who better to turn to than the man Thomas Keller for guidance? I referred to his Bouchon Bakery marshmallow recipe for this first little foray into the ‘mallow world, and as usual was thankful for his overly detailed instructions and step-by-step guide.

These Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are a fun and festive treat for the holidays.

To give the marshmallows an extra-special hit of flavor, I turned to the aforementioned Sonoma Syrup Co. Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush”. I tell ya, it’s amazing what just a little dash of this stuff brings to the table when dressing up a holiday goodie! I’m not even exaggerating when I say you can easily tell that they use only the highest quality Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla as the ingredients. It puts any other mass-produced vanilla extract to shame!

So, after we have the marshmallows made and chilled (carefully following the instructions – I promise it’s not too hard!) we make our super-simple caramel coating. And when I say super simple, I mean super simple – we’re talking just two ingredients and a saucepan away from having a huge batch of Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses ready for all your holiday gift-giving needs. Simply melt together some store-bought caramels with a little bit of heavy cream, let it cool slightly, and you’re ready to dip!

It’s important that you start with the marshmallows frozen so that they don’t melt into a gloppy puddle as soon as you dip them into the warm caramel. It’s equally as important to use parchment paper rather than wax paper when letting your caramel-dipped marshmallows set in the refrigerator and for wrapping them once they are ready to go (I learned this the hard way!)

I know this may all sound intimidating and time-consuming, but I promise, promise, PROMISE these Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are well worth the little extra TLC they require. I also pinky promise that throwing a handful of these on any cookie or treat platter you happen to be bringing over to a friend or neighbor this season will be very well-received. Don’t be surprised if you leave them asking for more!

Change up your usual cookie platter this holiday season by adding some of these Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses!

You can find the recipe below, and head on over to Sonoma Syrup Co. to order their Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” ASAP for all of your holiday baking needs!

This post contains affiliate links.

Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Vanilla-laced homemade marshmallows are covered in a soft yet chewy caramel to make the perfect sweet treat for the holidays and beyond!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 2 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the vanilla marshmallows*:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 4 sheets Silver Leaf gelatin
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon Sonoma Syrup Co. Pure Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush" (or other vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Special equipment for marshmallows:
  • 8 inch square baking dish
  • 8 inch square piece of acetate
  • Candy thermometer
For the caramel coating:
  • 22 ounces individually packaged caramels
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. First, make the marshmallows. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl.

  2. Line 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap and sprinkle the wrap generously with the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Set the rest of the powdered sugar mixture aside.

  3. Place the gelatin in an ice bath to soften.

  4. Spray one side of the acetate with nonstick cooking spray, set aside (sprayed side up.)

  5. Prepare a bain marie by placing a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan filled with just two inches of water over medium high heat. 

  6. Remove the gelatin from the ice bath and squeeze dry, place in prepared bain marie. Cook until the gelatin is melted, the reduce heat and keep warm. 

  7. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

  8. Combine sugar, water, corn syrup and vanilla extract in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then simmer an additional 5 minutes or so, or until the temperature reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  9. Let the syrup continue to cook and turn the stand mixer on medium speed to start whipping the egg whites. The goal is for the egg whites to be forming medium peaks around the same time the syrup in the saucepan reaches 281-284 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the syrup reaches this temperature, remove it from the heat. If your egg whites start forming medium peaks before the syrup is done, lower the speed on the mixer slightly.

  10. Add the syrup to the egg whites by slowly pouring it down the side as you have the mixer on low. 

  11. Pour in the prepared gelatin and increase the mixer speed to medium-high, about 5 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and glossy, warm but not hot. 

  12. Spray a spatula with nonstick cooking spray and use it to spread the marshmallow mixture into the prepared baking pan that has been lined with plastic wrap. 

  13. Top the spread out mixture with the prepared piece of acetate, sprayed side down, and gently press it down. 

  14. Let mixture stand at room temperature for a few hours to set. 

  15. Once mixture is cooled and set, remove the acetate and coat the top with the reserved powdered sugar mixture as necessary. 

  16. Spray a chef’s knife with nonstick cooking spray and cut the marshmallows into squares, cleaning and re-spraying the knife between each cut. 

  17. Coat the marshmallows with more of the powdered sugar mixture as needed so they are not too sticky. 

  18. Place marshmallows on a cookie sheet or two lined with parchment paper and freeze for at least one hour before dipping in caramel.

  19. Once marshmallows are sufficiently frozen (this will help ensure they don’t melt into nothing as soon as you dip them in the caramel), start preparing the caramel.

  20. Remove the wrappers from the caramels and add them to a small saucepan with the heavy cream over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the caramels melt. 

  21. Once the caramels and heavy cream have melted together and combined to form a creamy caramel, turn off the heat. Using two forks (or spoons, or a combo of both) dunk the marshmallows in so they are sufficiently coated. Place dipped caramels back on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and refrigerate until caramel is hardened even to remove the kisses from the parchment paper.

  22. Individually wrap the caramels in small pieces of parchment paper and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. (They can stand a short period of time at room temperature, but for longer periods be sure to keep them cool.)

Recipe Notes

*Recipe for vanilla marshmallows adapted from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.