Archive | food g33kery

Brown Butter Caramel with Maple Syrup Fro-Yo

I thought this post would never published, or if it would it would just be the photo with a sorry note attached to it.  For a couple of days I could not find (or remember) where I wrote the recipe for this magnificent (ok, I’m completely biased) frozen yogurt my brain spit out (glamorously said…). I made this two nights before the party when I began the flurry of cooking, and I put everything away during the clean up. Oops. That’s why it’s always a good idea to create a draft in WordPress of the recipe right after making something in the kitchen. I’ve lost many recipes  just because I didn’t write them down immediately or worse, lost them. Does that happen to you?

I made two flavors of frozen yogurt for my birthday: the raspberry one for something light and summer-y, and this for something sweet and creamy. It was interesting to see how our guests reacted to them. Some found the raspberry too tart for their taste, others find it welcoming on that hot summer evening. I also found out that one friend has an aversion to maple syrup because of a cleanse we both did. Go head, name that cleanse!

I love feeding a lot of people and hearing their feedback in one evening. The truth is–but I hope this won’t tarnish my “street cred” (haha!)–I don’t think my family or close set of friends have ever used any of the my recipes. Not a lot of them cook, and some just zone out when I start to talk about how to cook something. So really, cooking for friends and family is the best, if not only, way I will get to hear what they think about the dishes I make. Sadly. Thank god really, for my “online support group” called Twitter and this blog. Then again, I’m thankful for this spice of life! It wouldn’t be an adventure if you can find everything you need in one store, right? ;-) Always the positive thinker….and my glass is always half full–of something good:

Brown Butter Caramel with Maple Syrup Frozen Yogurt

Oh, yeah. A soft and smooth–no, SILKY–frozen yogurt that tastes and smells like caramel popcorn. Hello lovah! It goes really well with OR in coffee, between two pieces of Oreos, with rooibos tea, with hot chocolate or chocolate syrup, but I haven’t tried it with caramel popcorn. Hah.

People started calling it the Butterscotch ice cream at the party, and then later asked what exactly is in the butterscotch. Or if I put scotch in it. And caramel, too? Oh god, such a fun night of friends and family coming together to eat and laugh…

On a food geeky note: What is the difference between butterscotch and caramel? I wanted to know after being stumped at and after the party. According to, the difference is in the sugar used:

The flavor of butterscotch is a blend of butter and brown sugar.

Caramel is a mixture produced when granulated sugar has been cooked (caramelized) until it melts and becomes a thick, clear liquid that can range in color from golden to deep brown. A soft caramel is a candy made with a caramelized sugar, butter, and milk.

Basically the difference is the type of sugar used.

According to, the difference is in the cooking temperatures:

Q: What’s the difference between caramel and butterscotch ?

A: Caramel is produced when sugar has been cooked (caramelized) until it melts and becomes a thick, clear liquid that can range in color from golden to deep brown (from 320° to 356°F on a candy thermometer).

The flavor of butterscotch is a blend of butter and brown sugar. It is popular for cookies, ice-cream toppings, frostings and candies. (Soft Crack Stage 270 to 288 degrees F)

Now, if you really want to complicate things (ah, research), here are the differences between caramels, butterscotch AND toffee from

* Butterscotch and toffee are made by combining sugar, butter and water.
* Classic English toffee has no other ingredients than those—no vanilla, no chocolate, no nuts.
Toffee, made in a slab and broken up. Commercial toffee is made in a mold.
* Butter toffee is a redundant term: Toffee is made with butter, except in situations where mass marketers substitute cheaper fats.
* Butterscotch and American-style toffee, as opposed to English toffee, can add vanilla and other flavorings. Butterscotch is then boiled to the soft-crack stage (270°F to 290°F on a candy thermometer), toffee to a hard-crack (295°F to 310°F).
* Caramels add milk or cream (and sometimes, flavors) and are cooked at a lower heat, to the firm-ball stage (248°F). Both of these factors make them softer and chewier.
* If it’s soft, it’s caramel. There are numerous candies on the market called “toffee” that are actually caramel. More than a few caramel apples are erroneously called “toffee apples.” Feel free to point out to the vendor that if, in fact, there were toffee on the apples, you wouldn’t be able to bite into them.

Why did I even start to look these up? After talking to people, I wasn’t sure what to call this baby. Is Brown Butter Caramel correct? I’d hate to call it Brown Butter Butterscotch (tongue twister!). Why do I even insist on using “brown butter”? The brown butter makes this fro-yo The Fro-Yo. I eventually stuck with the first name that came to mind while I was making it, because it reminds me of caramel popcorn, with lots of brown butter. It tastes AND smells delicious! Yummy!

Finally, recipe time!

Brown Butter Caramel with Maple Syrup Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients:Download print-ready PDF file

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk (cold)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (cold)
  • 500 grams of Fage 2% greek yogurt (it’s the big/tub container) (cold)
  • pinch of salt


1. In a small saucepan, cook butter in medium heat until it’s fully melted, the solids turn golden brown and the scent you can smell from it is not milky-buttery, but nutty — then you have brown butter. Immediately add the brown sugar and a pinch of salt, and wait for it to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set it aside on a trivet to cool, about 20 minutes.

2. In a blender (I used a Magic Bullet because of the small volume), blend the brown butter mixture with milk, until the sugar is fully dissolved and you get a homogeneous mixture. You will notice at the beginning that the sugar settled down at the bottom of your saucepan. You don’t want to taste solid sugar crystals in your frozen yogurt, so blending might take a few minutes to dissolve the sugar but it will be worth it. Cool it in the fridge or freezer afterward, depending on how patient you are, and just before mixing in the next step, pulse it.

3. In a large bowl, blend all the butter and milk mixture, yogurt, and maple syrup with a beater until well-combined. Transfer the mixture your ice cream maker according to its instructions and churn for 20-30 minutes, until thick. Mine thickened quite a bit faster than my fruit frozen yogurt, so just keep an eye on it.

4. As always, I recommend letting it rest for 24 hours before serving. However, you can always lick the ice cream maker, paddle, and spatula clean! ;-)

Posted in coffee buddy, dessert, experiments, food g33kery, frozen treats, original Gourmeted recipe, snacks16 Comments

Better Than Ultimate Brownies

** You may also want to check out the Easy Fudge Brownie recipe **

Every now and then, an idea will spark for me from even the smallest triggers in life. This in particular was the result of a discussion about surprises. Mine was to be about dessert. The person that this surprise was for is someone special, so one cannot simply buy something from the store. I wanted to know what would make the best of the best. A kind of channeling of Tyler Florence, if you will.

I gave it a thought and I knew exactly what to do. Since my brother does not like cake, and my nieces and nephews tend to be picky, and my sister will eat generally anything with a sweet tooth, the only thing that made sense for me to prepare were brownies.

A quick google search led me here, The Ultimate Brownie Recipe. And I thought I had all the ingredients listed.

The result is this:

Ultimate Brownie

What was I missing? 3 unsweetened cocoa squares. Over 25% of the ingredient I needed was already used from what I thought was a full box of unsweetened cocoa.  What did I do? I dug up some semi-sweet chocolate chips and measured out on the scale 3 oz of the sweetened stuff.  I also reduced the amount of sugar by 1/4th cup to compensate for the sweetness coming from the chocolate chips.

Another thing I did differently was the choice of flour. I didn’t know the immediate impact on brownies but I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. I am also not a fan of nuts in my brownies, so I omitted the walnuts.

The result is this adapted recipe:

Better Than Ultimate Brownies Download the recipe


  • 5 1-oz squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 9 x 13 pan.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate squares and chips, and butter; set aside.

3. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. [I definitely recommend a stand mixer for this.] Add melted chocolate mixture, salt and bread flour and mix until just blended. Let the batter sit on the counter for 20 minutes before pouring into the greased pan. Let air bubbles escape by tapping the pan.

4.Bake for 30 minutes and test with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, take the brownies out to cool before serving.

I believe my substitutions made these brownies above and beyond that of the original Ultimate Brownies! Each square is dense and chocolate-y, and has a nice chewiness to it. It’s better than store-bought or just-put-in-the-oven brownies. If you happen to be lucky enough to have some left over after a few days, you’ll be fighting over the the last few bites of super-moist and ultimately soft and chewy brownies. A little sacrifice of instant gratification truly pays off for these. ;-)

Give them a try in your kitchen and let us know how they turn out!

Posted in baking, cakes, chocolate, dailies, dessert, food g33kery, healthier choices, reviews, snacks, sweets42 Comments

Portillo’s and the Chicago Style Hot Dog Review

Portillo's Hot Dogs

(Pictures taken with a LG9400 camera-phone)

Last week, my parents had a guest from Chicago who brought with him a care package of Portillo’s food. This has turned into a tradition for the past few years for us in Phoenix. I recently introduced Joy to the pleasure of this food as well and she is hooked now. I have always wanted to return to Chicago to do the simple things and in this post, I hope to hit on the big ones. Being born and raised in Chicago, there are a few things I need to require a vistor to do:

1) Visit a Cubs game (even if you are not a fan)

2) Visit downtown for the museums and Sears Tower

3) Eat a Deep Dish pizza (Either Lou Malnati’s or Pizzeria Uno’s, NOT the chain places outside of Chicago.)

4) Eat an Italian Beef. This one is a little tricky to some because it is essentially served like a French Dip sandwich but do not get it confused. The difference being an Italian beef is rubbed with spices, peppers, and you heat the beef in the au jus that you serve with it.

And last but not least, 5) Eat a Vienna Beef hot dog.

Oh, sure, the last one is probably common in your area by now, but have you noticed that is expensive? You are paying for the shipping from Chicago, really. Another thing to note. Do not read the nutritional label. You are getting this hot dog on a need-to-have basis. Besides, you are not in a diet if you do not allow yourself to cheat. You’re in the Second City, enjoy the flavor!

I have recently learned there are a few rules about eating a Chicago style hot dog:

  1. -When making the dog in “The Works” fashion, the order and selection of your toppings is extremely important.
    Taken from Chicago
    -Yellow Mustard
    -Bright Green Relish
    -Fresh Chopped Onions
    -Two Tomato Wedges
    -A Pickle Spear or Slice
    -Two Sport Peppers
    -A Dash of Celery Salt
  2. Your bun will have poppy seeds and is steamed. Not fried, grilled, or cold. Steamed. So it is soft. If you can get it, I recommend S. Rosen’s for your hot dog holder. A quick Google search will have several outfits selling the packages online.
  3. Any stand will do. Do not be afraid if the place you pick is a little ratty. It is supposed to be that way. I would at least recommend getting your dog at a restaurant and not a street vendor so you can pick up some fries and a drink as a combo.
  4. While the above website says microwaving your hot dog is okay, I will add this to the rules of NOT doing. The optimal way would be a steam bath (Not boiling water!), followed by a good grilling. Leave the microwave for those Oscar Myer hot dogs.
  5. This one is i m p o r t a n t! Did I stress that enough? good.
    In this image, I have performed a cardinal sin of the Chicago dog:Portillo's Hot DogsYes. There is not supposed to be ketchup (catsup, tomato paste, etc.) on your Chicago dog.

If you follow these simple rules, you will have enjoyed the finest hot dog in the US. The Chicago dog is often imitated but never replicated. I hope that this has enticed you to travel abroad and experience the joy that is the Vienna Beef Hot Dog.

Posted in beef, dailies, dining, food g33kery, fun, reviews8 Comments

The State of Food Network

A recent article appeared in the LA Times that caught my eye. You may read it here. It brings an interesting light on what Joy and I have been noticing as well, but never really wanted to talk about it. Please indulge me with your thoughts with my post:

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Posted in food g33kery, fun, reviews, shows1 Comment

Between the Sheets: A Silpat Experiment

Dan and I love Alton Brown, a Food Network chef who gets into the scientific side of food and cooking/baking, and explaining how everything works and comes together. It brings me back to those endless experiments in all my science subjects from grade school to college. I’ve learned to embrace them. I love testing and experimenting with stuff, and one of the things I’ve been curious about (for the past 2…3 years) was whether there is a real benefit to getting oneself a Silpat for baking. So I did my own home experiment.

To honor my science instructors and professors, I’m presenting this old-school style — following The Scientific Method. Haha.

Disclaimer: Joy is not responsible and/or liable for an purchases you make as a direct or indirect result of the experiment. [Sign Here.]


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Posted in bakeware, cookies, experiments, food g33kery0 Comments