Flavor Pairing Ideas: Butterscotch and what?

Butterscotch is a cousin to caramel since it features the same flavor overtones. The butterscotch flavor features brown sugar and butter to create a flavor-rich delicacy that is versatile with vanilla, dark rums, coconut and even sea salt. The caramel and sea salt concoctions have been a staple ingredient to many households and restaurants, but Image compared to caramel, many have not considered pairing butterscotch with the likes of sea salt. Here are a few ideas to help you experiment with butterscotch flavors in any sweet dish.

  1. Butterscotch, sea salt and chocolate coffee. I just ordered a custom coffee brimming with sweet buttery notes of butterscotch coffee syrup, rich chocolate syrup, a mild sweetener and a dash of sea salt. This flavor combo created a well-balanced tone of rich, buttery sweet butterscotch, and a mouth watering salty swallow. The barista also commented of the innovation of the flavors, since it’s a less commonly requested order.
  2. Butterscotch and sea salt blondies. I searched the web for a recipe featuring this pairing, and came across this one here. Adapted from the domestic rebel this recipe features a moist blondie cake with butterscotch chips and sea salt. The sea salt additives can be exchanged or combined with a rum and caramel glaze, a vanilla and sea salt glaze, or a maple or pecans infusion to give the blondies more texture. Don’t forget to try smoked almonds with a dash of sea salt to compliment the butterscotch notes.
  3. Whiskey-Brown Butterscotch Pudding with a Ganache and Sea Salt. This creative  recipe stems from hungry girl por vida’s blog and combines chocolate, dark rum butterscotch and sea salt in a pudding. Genius.
  4. A Butterscotch Milkshake with whipped cream and a sea salt garnish. This doesn’t come from any site in particular, however, you can create an easy butterscotch  milkshake by making a butterscotch syrup, adding it to milk, sugar, a dash of sea salt and vanilla, then topping it with whipped cream and sea salt to taste. Not too much–you want the sea salt to be a light topping to shave off some sweetness.

Since butterscotch is a warm flavor that pairs well with other fall flavors (cinnamon, clove, vanilla, dark rum, apples and waffles) you can use any flavor combo (including a maple bacon flavor)  to taper off the sweetness of butterscotch tones.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer butterscotch over caramel? Do you know of any dish that features these flavors I should discuss? Don’t forget to rate, comment and subscribe.

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Follow That Food Truck!

monstaToday I ventured into the lot of food trucks. Food trucks have become popular for practical reasons:  low overhead costs, and the ability to serve people a variety of meals on wheels. I decided to explore “Food Tuck Fridays” in Maitland, Florida at Maitland RDV Sportsplex. The crowd was minimal–a perfect amount of people to draw interest to the car-studded parking lot, but not too much to overpower the senses. Later, crowds of hungry people came to explore the world of food trucks, advertising an array of sandwiches, cupcakes, soups and entrees for hungry patrons.

I mulled over a few options, and wandered to a food truck, Monsta Lobsta, that sold lobster and crab sandwiches. The truck was decorated in a minimalist style, but smelled of fresh seafood. I ordered the $10, 4 oz. half-lobster, half-blue crab roll. What bliss. The crispy, buttery roll added a nice crunch to the lobster; the seafood was light and refreshing. You are given chunky, well-sized portions of crab meat and lobster bathed in green onions, salt and pepper and fresh, tart lemon. The amount was quite filing and made a great lunch. They also offer interesting options, such as bisque soaked lobster rolls, as well as spicy lobster rolls. You can purchase 7 oz. rolls for $12 as well.

I also had a gluten-free cupcake from the YumYum cupcake truck. A cupcake–about$2.75 was juicy and packed with a pleasant peach flavor. The bits of fruit make their appearances in between bites of moist cake. The vanilla bean icing was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but everyone has a different taste. This options is perfect for those with specified dietary needs. The truck also offered non-gluten cupcakes in vanilla, pineapple and orange cream.

Food Truck Fridays offers its patrons fresh, open air, meals ranging from baked Jamaican patties to cupcakes to exotic soups to Mediterranean wraps. Patrons have variety and most importantly, the power to give into  food wishes.

Maitland RDV Sportsplex 

Food Truck Fridays (click link) 

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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Local Eats! Cafe Tutu Tango: Aligator Meat& An Upside-down Pineapple Martini? Is This Safe? (With recipe)

A few months ago, I had the pleasure at dining at Cafe Tutu Tango, a restaurant that offers eccentric, globally inspired tapas, bohemian elements such as paintings drenched in vivid splashes of rich textures, and sometimes, live music and dancers. This has always been a special place for me, because I enjoy being surrounded by artists, poets and the like. The energy of Cafe Tutu Tango is unparalleled to most restaurants. I’ve had my fortune told to me one time (for a low low cost of $5) but it offers a fun and enthusiastic ambiance that is sure to please. This location happened to be on International Drive in Orlando, Fl. Now, for those of you who have not had the pleasure of traveling to Orlando, International Drive is home of many tourist attractions such as restaurants, bowling alleys,  museums. This area of town offers exciting and diverse opportunities to try good food and have fun.

Cafe Tutu Tango not only offers a vibrant atmosphere, but you’ll find interesting items on their menus. Offered are classic appetizers like spinach dip and hummus, but you’ll also find unique items like Alfonrno roasted pears with arugula and bleu cheese, and Goat cheese timbale- goat cheese with green apples, seasonal fruit, and toasted baguette. Pizzas are offered, as well as  dishes that include aligator meat, Grilled guava BBQ grilled pork ribs (I’ll discuss this shortly), and seasonal items, like Cajun chicken egg rolls, fish tacos, and  other interesting bites. (Check out their website:  http://www.cafetututango.com/ )

I was feeling adventurous, so I decided to try something different. Something I knew would be unique to Cafe Tut Tangos. Before I even ordered my entree, I visited the crowded bar, and looked over a drink menu that offered fun  featured drinks, like “Matisse Margarita” , “Picasso Punch”, “Munch’s

Not my original photo, but this gives you an idea of how pretty the drink is 🙂

Screaming Jalapeno Margarita” and “Upside Down Pineapple” made with Van Gogh Vodka. The Upside down pineapple martini caught my eye specifically because it was a unique drink made with vanilla bean infused vodka pineapple and caramel. I’d have to  say this drink, (only $7.25) was one of the most memorable martinis I’ve ever sipped. After tasting a layer of caramel that isn’t too thick or rich, you get to the smooth, tropical pineapple splash of flavor that is mixed in with vodka. This was a bliss I hadn’t even imagined, and I have since then dreamed about this drink. I have actually obtained a recipe for this drink as well which sill be included at the end of this post.

Now, the aligator jambalaya. I had eaten gator meat once, and found it reminded me of a mix of chicken and fish- more with a pronounced fish taste, but not overwhelmingly so. The consistency of this meat in this dish made me think of duck- lean, but a little fattening. Perhaps it was the sauce. The portion size was not the biggest for the $8, but it was still fun to try. Seasoned with poblano peppers and incorporated with chorizo, this fun dish was spicy and enjoyable to eat. The meat itself was tasty, just a little lean, and offered a light texture that filled me up without the itis. Although I wouldn’t recommend sharing unless you have others sharing with you, this dish is worth a try.

Cafe Tutu Tango is a fun, lively entertaining atmosphere that is family friendly, usually busy, and colorful as life itself. With local artists providing fascinating surrealist portraits, or funky beaded jewelry, this restaurant is sure to please eccentric crowds, foodies, children, or yuppies looking for good food, and great drinks.

Upside down Pineapple martini Yumfactor– 5 tongues! (5 out of 5 start) Smooth, decadent, and unique, this drink is sweet, and the vodka flavor comes through nicely. $7.25

Aligator Jambalaya Yumfactor– 3 tongues and a tastebud. (3.5 out of 5) This is a fun, unique dish, worth a try, but may not be a favorite for everyone. I enjoyed it, but it could be better. How specifically? That’s a great question.

Now, here is the recipe for the fabolous martini I reviewed: http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink12303.html

Have you ever tried this drink? What do you think of gator meat?

Don’t forget to rate, comment and subscribe!

Vanilla Bean Coolatta? I think yes!

I went to Dunkin Donuts  today to get my usual croissant, egg and cheese, when I ordered a Vanilla Bean Coolatta. At first, I was apprehensive, bc I don’t drink these type of slushy drinks unless they are fruity, and figured if this had too much milk in it, it may alter the texture a bit too much.

Vanilla Bean Coolatta with no Vanilla Beans

Well, I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was. In describing this, I’d summarize that it’s much like a vanilla popsicle, but has the texture of a slushy. Not too hard to imagine, right? 🙂  I suppose when you think about it, that may be the image you conjure up.  What I really liked was the strong vanilla flavor.  Granted, I saw no vanilla beans, but whatever vanilla based syrup they used has a strong, creamy, almost custard taste, but NOT a heavy texture. It’s perfect for hot day, because you’re indulging in a creamy, and  ice cream like experience, without the heaviness of ice cream.  I had done some research on this product and found that it has been consistently popular, but has been discontinued for a bit.  That caused many fans to be enraged because this item is indulgent and has a richness that is understandably unique.  Here is a post on the product, along with fans responses to it: http://www.slashfood.com/2009/06/03/exclusive-dunkin-donuts-brings-back-vanilla-bean-coolatta-toda/

Drawbacks?- the calorie and sugar content, which should not be surprising because *drum roll please* this is a *sweet item* Therefore, if you are watching your weight, or have a special diet, or have diabetes,please don’t drink this.

Tangent warning: I had to emphasize this, because I get comments from time to time from people who say how unhealthy an item is because they are on a special diet,which is great, but let’s be real, folks- that’s up to you to supervise what goes in your stomach. I’m NOT recommending you drink this if you are trying to live a certain lifestyle, so be aware of this for the future and please don’t send me comments of this nature. (i.e. “How do you expect me to drink this if I’m a diabetic?” Hmm, that’s easy. I don’t. ) Thank you for your cooperation 🙂

Back to the topic at hand;According to Dunkin’s website, a small size (16oz ) has 67g of sugar, and 440 calories. So let’s just say too much of this is not a good thing. 😉 What I did was drank 3/4 of the product, because I do watch my sugar from time to time. I’d recommend maybe drinking a half size, and sharing it with someone else if those numbers scare you, or if not, that’s fine, also. See more here: http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-dunkin-donuts-vanilla-bean-coolatta-i119136

I paid about $2.99 for it, and felt it’s a great indulgent treat from time to time. I even heard that mixing this flavor with the strawberry flavor is blissful. I wanted to keep it simple, so I didn’t, but if you try it, please, let me know what it was like for you.

Vanilla Bean Coolatta Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a tastebud. (4.5 start out of 5)  All around yummy, light, yet creamy and rich. Not as weird as it may sound IF you think it sounds weird. No vanilla beans are in it, so be prepared to be deceived by the name. 😦

The copycat recipe will be posed on another blog post. Stay tuned!

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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!