Tag Archives: Giada De Laurentiis

Drunken Turtles

The sweet & salty trend swept across the U.S some time ago but it’s still alive and well and I am perfectly okay with that obsession which I’ve fallen victim to. It seemed to have started with the illustrious sweet & salty brownie from Baked. And if you haven’t gotten on board with that brownie yet, get on it. It’s insane. Now there’s salted caramel everything and I’m surprised whenever I don’t see at least one dessert with bacon and caramel on a menu somewhere.

A few years ago during the holidays, I made these awesome smoked almond turtles—a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. With their crunchy texture and smokiness from the almonds, they (in my opinion) far surpass your standard turtle. Then, I was exposed to the “Slurtle,” an endearingly clever treat concocted by the darling Brooklyn candy-maker duo, Liddabit Sweets. I decided to come up with some fun, sweet and salty snacks to make and sell for my soon to be brother-in law’s Chapel Hill Bar, The Dead Mule Club. This is a new business endeavor so I decided to start off simple, by making some spicy cheese straws or “Mule Tails,” and hybrid of the smoked almond turtles and the slurtles, which I call “Drunken Turtles.” They’re the perfect accompaniment to a glass of bourbon or a foamy glass of porter or stout. They’re also perfect eaten entirely on their own, while you’re hunched over your kitchen counter, trying to just eat half of one and get other things done. *Disclaimer: It’s almost impossible to just eat half of one.

drunken turtles

Similar to Giada’s recipe, I grease a muffin tin, but instead of putting the almonds at the bottom like she does, I pour about a half an inch of beer caramel into each one, then cover the caramel in chopped smoked almonds, cover the almonds with more caramel (so the bottom is smooth and covered). I then finish with a pool of melted bittersweet chocolate and top with a salted pretzel. I love the saltiness from both the almonds and the pretzel and the beer in the caramel provides a nice bitterness that offshoots the sweetness from the caramel and chocolate. I recommend using a stout or porter for the beer and my beer of choice for this is their People’s Porter (a Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter). And although it’s trickier to find, their seasonal Sexual Chocolate Stout would probably be even more amazing.

There’s also a great layering of crunchiness with the almonds at the bottom and the pretzel at the top. They’re very simple to make but do take some time. It’s really important to give the muffin tin a good thorough greasing so these suckers don’t require much prying to un-mold. The other crucial component is the caramel. Make sure you use a thermometer because if the caramel doesn’t reach 240 degrees (or very close to it), it won’t solidify or harden the way it needs to and it will become goopy. You also want to shake (not stir) the pan periodically to prevent the caramel from burning. This step takes a good 20 minutes or so but be patient and don’t leave the caramel unwatched!

Drunken Turtles adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Liddabit Sweets and the Beeroness

makes 12 (in a standard muffin tin)

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 22 oz bottle of beer (use a Porter or Stout)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp beer syrup
  • generous pinch of fleur de sel (or sea salt)
  • 1 cup chopped smoked almonds
  • 1 heaping cup bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghiradelli bittersweet chips)
  • Salted Pretzels (bow shaped)
  • Cooking spray & a candy thermometer

To make the Beer Syrup:

Reserve 1 cup of the beer (for the caramel) and set aside. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the remaining amount of beer to a boil (stirring periodically). Cook until it has reduced to 2 tsp of a thick syrup. Set aside.

To make the Beer Caramel:

In a large saucepan, combine the heavy cream, butter, brown sugar and cup of beer. Place a candy thermometer in the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning. Keep a good eye on this especially early on, so it doesn’t boil over. Once the thermometer climbs up to 240 degrees, remove from heat. Stir in the beer syrup and the salt.

To assemble the turtles:

Pour about 1/2 inch of caramel into each vessel of the greased muffin tin. Cover with chopped smoked almonds. Cover with the remainder of the caramel. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Pour the chocolate over each of the turtles. Place a pretzel on top. Cool in the refrigerator for about an hour before you un-mold the turtles. To un-mold, take a sharp, small knife and run it alongside the turtle, to pull it away from the tin. Use the knife to gently coax the turtle out. These are best at room temperature but if you’re house is pretty warm, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator and take them out about 30 minutes before eating.



Filed under Candy

Plum Tired

Things I am loving right now…

The fact that it’s cool (finally) and rainy, which makes me very cozy and lethargic and in the mood to bake, apparently.   (Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies the other night and Marian Burros’ famous plum torte – today)

How not only I am in bed in a room that smells like beautiful fall air combined with the way my bed smells but I am also wearing a sweatshirt and dunking oreos in milk.

Giada De Laurentiis’ chicken milanese with fennel and tomato sauce

This blog, because I just stumbled across it this morning and Stephanie’s photos are stunning, because I love the name of her blog and because I am dying to make that ooey gooey caramel apple blackout cake as soon as humanly possible.

The idea of having (and making) soup.  Preferably something with a lot of beans like cannelloni and lentil, with sausage or kielbasa of some kind and lot’s of vegetables and probably kale.

This coat because I’m pretty much in love with it and feel as though it is essential that I have it.

“The Bagman’s Gambit,” by The Decemberists, off the Picaresque album.  Listening to this album during rainy weather is somehow very satisfying.  Over the past couple days, I’ve become increasingly infatuated with this song, since for the first time, I actually stopped to listen to the lyrics.  Colin Meloy is such an oddball lyricist and I can’t think of anyone like him.  I love how his songs (and this one in particular) tell stories.  I guess that’s just the old actress in me…guess she’s still in there somewhere.

So this morning I braved the rain to attain some eggs so I could make the plum torte and see what all the fuss was about.  I’ve never been one to gravitate toward plums – in fact, I rarely ever pay them any mind and sort of feel indifferent about them.   Lately though, I’ve been curious to try the unknown in the kitchen.  There’s a laundry list of new and different things I want to make.

I used red plums instead of Italian and I was skeptical at first because there didn’t seem to be much batter.  But I situated the plum halves overtop the batter and much to my surprise, they sunk down and cozied into the blanket of batter, which then rose up to meet them.  In turn, the house smelled of cinnamon and sugar, which is ever so comforting on a rainy day and the plums bled into the cake with their vibrant rosy shade of purple.  The cake yielded a crumb and a taste very similar to that of a sour cream coffee cake (although there was no sour cream in it).  It was light and simple and the cinnamon sugar helped tame the slightly sour tang of the plums.  I don’t quite understand all the hype, despite the cake’s gorgeousness, but it will make for a fine breakfast with a glass of cold milk tomorrow morning.

In other news, my pie didn’t make the contest but it was one out of six that got made and was chosen as an “editor’s pick!”  Not only that but Merrill Stubbs actually made my pie and had this to say about it:

The crust is like the best cheese straw you’ve ever had—my whole apartment smelled incredible while the pie was baking. The pear and apple combo is great and I also loved the spice and vanilla in the filling. This pie is a savory-tangy-sweet flavor explosion. – Merrill

Needless to say, I was elated.  Tomorrow, I will enter the contest “Best Bag Lunch” but I will not tell you the recipe until after!  I’m having a lot of fun with this and love how the concept Merrill and Amanda have successfully executed is so inspiring.  For the first time, I’m undertaking the challenge of developing my own recipes and it’s not an easy task but I’m finding myself growing more and more creative and fixated on the process of drawing from all different sorts of inspiration, altering and adding and tweaking and subtracting so I can create something to call mine.  And it’s fun.

Good Rain Songs:

  • “Raincoat Song” – The Decemberists
  • “Record Year” – The Decemberists
  • “Raining in Baltimore” – The Counting Crows
  • “Buckets of Rain” – (M. Ward and Beth Orton’s cover)
  • “Row” – Jon Brion

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Filed under Cakes & Breads