Sweet and Salty: Salted Caramel Concoctions &The Craze

From the website “Created by Diane.” Diane’s salted caramel frosting. Link to her site below.

Unless you don’t leave your home much,  you’ve heard about the magic of salted caramel. It’s received much exposure and publicity as the salted caramel craze has been everywhere-on t.v, drizzled on cupcake icing, nestled in brownies, combined in ice creams, and coffees. According to the New York Times, this trendy flavor has seen its fair share of followers since 1990.  French baker Pierre Herme created the salted caramel macaroon, being the first to fuse the ingredients together. (Here is the recipe!) He experimented with flavors by adding a salty undercurrent to the sweet caramel flavor that allowed consumers to embark on a unique flavor combination. These two flavors complimented each other whimsically, as the caramel’s decadence became enhanced by a subtle, yet sizable salted influence. Since then, salted caramel is a trend that’s gaining staying power, as it’s not at all difficult to find it anywhere. I have also explored this flavor, initially wary of the salty nuances but I have come to appreciate it.

Private Selection Sea Salt Caramel Truffle Ice Cream.

My first experience was trying a “Sea Salt Caramel Truffle” ice cream introduced by Kroger in their Private Selection brand. The caramel ice cream has caramel ribbons, and salted caramel filled chocolates. I found this ice cream richly decadent and the caramel sweetness toned down by a subtle sea salt that was divine. This ice cream will be available in limited stores as Kroger supermarkets are not a national chain. It was so good, I still had to blog about it! 🙂 I’d give this 4 tongues. This ice cream was not overly sweet, and I craved it on a regular basis.

Starbucks has also capitalized on the salted caramel trend. Their release of a salted caramel mocha was popular. The caramel was the stronger flavor I tasted, along with a rich chocolate undertone, but I didn’t taste the saltness until near after I finished each sip. I couldn’t taste any traces of sea salt, until I sipped a few times and found it somewhere in there. The caramel didn’t have the traditional “less sweetened” element it usually does when mixed with sea salt. On the yumfactor scale-a strong 3 tongues and a tastebud. The salted caramel could only be detected in the drizzle on top of the whipped cream, and according to the site, the mocha base is mixed with a toffee nut syrup. The salted caramel is drizzled on the top. If that is the case, why market it as a salted caramel mocha if there isn’t a lot to begin with? This is a rhetorical question.

My other experience was eating a salted caramel salt water taffy.The fun, chewyness of the taffy naturally complimented the caramel, and the salted flavor kicked in at the end of the chew.Not overbearing, and an even balance of flavors.  This is your typical salted caramel experience, and worth a try. For $.25 I indulged in a salted caramel taffy, a mango jalapeno taffy, a cupcake flavored taffy, and a maple bacon taffy- the latter was surprisingly tasty!

I love this coffee!

I recently bought salted caramel flavored coffee by A.M- “Coffee for tired people.” This has by far been my favorite flavor to get creative with, and I usually combine a coconut and chocolate flavoring to it, or a Madagascar vanilla to the salted caramel. Both have been exceedingly good as the salt tones down the possible sweetness such flavors can have in this mixture. This has been my ultimate favorite aspect about the salt. It gives a light depth to a caramel flavoring, making baking and creativity less predictable.  This coffee flavor needs to be in everyone’s pantry. Granted, it will be slightly plain if you do not add anything else to it, but if you like caramel on its own-let alone salted caramel, you’ll enjoy this. On the yumfacor scale, it gets 4 tongues. (4/5 stars) because of its versatility and taste.

Now, for the grand finale.

T.G.I. Friday’s Salted Caramel Cake.

I have saved the best for last. My favorite salted caramel experience is T.G.I.Friday’s salted caramel cake. Firstly, this cake has heaps of flavor. This is a moist vanilla cake with a decadent vanilla bean whipped pudding/filling in the center of a slice. Then there is more. The moist and drizzle dance with the crunchy caramel bits decorated with pieces of sea salt. When you thought you couldn’t indulge anymore, there is a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream and more caramel drizzle. Yes, it’s rich. Yes, it’s full of calories, but this has been one of the best desserts I have ever tried. 5 tongues (5/5)on the yumfactor. Yes, I think it’s perfect, but everyone is different. What I like about this dessert (which is part of the 2 for $10, or 3 for $16? don’t quote me on that) is the variety of sizes- standard and individual. I need a copycat recipe for this, then all will be well in my world! 😀

Here is the link for Created By Diane, who gives a recipe for the fabulous vanilla bean and sated caramel frosting cupcake.

What are your thoughts on Salted Caramel? Overrated? Unappreciated?

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Money-Saving Tip: Half Off on Frappuccinos! (Starbucks Happy Hour)

Mocha Coconut, Double Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Creme Frappuccinos.

From May 6 to the 15 between the hours of 3 to 5 pm, Starbucks is offering their “Happy Hour” special which includes getting your favorite fraps at half price!! me and a friend bought 2 frappuccinos at $1.87 each!!! that is incredible!

Choose From The following flavored syrups: Caramel, Mocha, Coconut, Vanilla Bean, Strawberry, White Chocolate Mocha, Raspberry, Hazelnut, Cinnamon Dolce, Green Tea, Peppermint, Toffee Nut (also yummy), Double Chocolate Chip, and Coffee. Add soy milk, low fat, or regular milk, and add extra portions of coffee, topping it off with whipped cream, or flavored drizzles!

Money Saving Tips: Managing Your Latte Love

Thanks, Ben!

According to www.Feedthepig.org, many Americans spend nearly $5 each day on the fluffed up lattes, adding up to $20-$30 weekly.  Now mind you, there is nothing wrong with spending that amount of money to get your eyes to stay open for a few hours, but in actuality, spending that amount on name brand coffee is not the only option out there.  To save yourself some cash, you can follow one of these easy tips and have you coffee as well.

1) If you must drink that certain name brand coffee daily, try opting for their coffee of the day versus that $4 and change espresso with syrup, too much sugar and whatnot.  I know, I know.. you want that special Cinnamon Dolce flavor that makes your tongue sing whenever you take a sip. Well, simply ask for that syrup. Usually, coffee of the day can range from $1.50 to $2 and change, saving you bucks right there; the syrup may be an additional $.20-$.30, and also you can add as much sugar and cream as you want, having your say in how you want you coffee made.

2) Buy your own coffee and make it yourself.  That’s right! You can go to either a farmer’s market that will have worldly coffees available at wonderful prices, or you can even go to Marshall’s retail stores where you can get a pound of flavored coffee for less than the price of one of those little pretentious espresso, fluffy drinks.  I went to Marshall’s recently, and came across dozens and dozens of assorted flavored coffees from your traditional vanilla and hazelnuts to the more exotic Hawaiian coconut, chocolate raspberry, butter pecan, butterscotch and creme brulee flavors.

Assorted Coffee Syrups. Pictured are Davinci and Monin brands. Also, Torani is also a popular brand.

 The prices ranged anywhere from $2.99 to $4.99, which is slightly the price of one cup you’d spend elsewhere. Simply add sugar, milk/cream and you’ve got flavor, coffee and savings! Boo yaw! Also, if you like Folger’s and Maxwell House brands, they offer coupons for additional money-saving in you weekly paper.

*If you like for example, Starbuck’s coffee syrup flavors, they are often times available for purchase at Target stores (Usually $6.99, but on the website it’s $10.99!). Other coffee syrups can be purchased at www.baristaproshop.com.

3) Why stick with coffee when it’s just the caffeine you need? Try teas that have caffeine (like green teas, white teas, red teas and black teas).  Studies show that these teas are full of anti oxidants which contribute to healthy aging, memory strength, higher metabolism and cancer prevention to name a few benefits. Teas are a healthy way to get caffeine without the jitters or guilt of high calories. While some flavors are an acquired taste, they do not have as much caffeine as espresso drinks, nor do they have the calories. Often, some teas are prices at $2.00-$3.25 depending on the brand, with 20-30 bags. Also, green teas are offered in new and exciting variety like Green Tea and Orange, Green Tea and Pomegranate, ect.

4) Try 5 hour energy drink.  One of these little bottles contain vitamin b and niacin with a little caffeine to keep you going for 5 hours and cost less than the $4 coffees you’d get elsewhere with a longer “keep you up and active” factor coffee does not have.  Yes, I said it.  While coffee is great, it usually stops working after say 3 hours, later accompanied by the ever so fun “crash”. My experience with this drink was total refreshment, as if waking up after a power nap. Mind you, I drank about 3/4 of the container, scared at first and expecting my tongue to fall off, but the beverage was not too sweet, had a refreshing berry taste.  It did not make me feel the jitteriness I have felt when partaking in the ritual of drinking some espresso drinks. Also,  for me, there was no crash afterwards. ( I will be doing a review on this drink in the near future, so stay tuned).

5) If none of those tips work, simply purchase coffee from your local convenience stores.  I frequent Quik Trip, where they have fabulous coffee flavors and good coffee, for roughly $1.17 for a 16oz size.  This again is cheaper than buying an espresso drink for $4. Their coffee does the trick and you are given more options without paying extra for adding syrup.  also, they get festive and creative around the holidays, offering Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee and Chocolate Cinnamon. (My fave currently, is the Vanilla Cupcake Cappuccino.)

So there it is guys and gals- options to save you money each day that are not hard to try an meet your needs. Cha-ching!