Return to Normal (Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart)

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My last post was in August. August, people. I knew it would be hard for me to blog while I was student teaching, but I had no idea I’d all but abandon the blog during that time. It was next to impossible for me to find any time to cook for myself, let alone take photos, write posts, and publish them for you. My apologies for my absence. I’m back now. And so glad to be here.

Student teaching went well; who knew I’d grow so attached to 121 different 8th graders? I remember myself at that age and I recall it being a really tough time in my life. I’m sure it’s the same for most people, but to be in it every day for three solid months was a wake-up call, for sure. I had some tough days…days when I thought I just wasn’t cut out for teaching, but then those days would wind down and quickly be replaced by really great days in which I felt completely at ease and comfortable in front of the class. Student teaching ended just before Christmas, as well as my graduation. After all this time in school, it’s suddenly over. I feel a bit lost, to be honest, but I’m sure I’ll find my new normal routine again soon.

There are only two short days left in 2014, a year that had some really wonderful ups and some devastating downs for me. What better way to ring in 2015 than with chocolate and caramel, right? This dessert is SWEET. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that my sweet tooth is quite small, but for those of you who love rich and sweet desserts, this one is for you! I used some buttermilk to replace a little of the heavy cream in the caramel, so it has a bit of a sweet and tangy flavor. I quite like it, but if you are not as partial to buttermilk as I am, go ahead and use all heavy cream.
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As Norwegian As Apple Pie

This Nebraska girl is going to Norway in May.  As much as I love to travel, for whatever reason, I never considered Scandinavia as someplace I had to see.  However, when the opportunity presented itself in the form of a study abroad situation, I had to jump at what seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

For the last month or so, the small group of six students have been meeting at the professor’s house to discuss the trip, complete assigned projects, and learn a little bit more about the country we will explore in May.  For our last meeting, we were all allowed to choose a certain aspect of Norwegian culture to present to the group, and naturally, I chose food. 

I spent a good ten minutes in my professor’s living room, surrounded by my future travel mates, educating them about whale meat, lutefisk, cloudberries, and reindeer steaks.  I made sure they understood the meaning of the word pølser (which is nothing more than a simple hot dog), as well as made sure they felt comfortable with the notion of brown cheese known as Brunost.  It’s delicious, by the way.

I arrived at the meeting with a Norwegian version of apple pie called eplepai.  Essentially, it’s a simple apple cake with cinnamon, cardamom, and almonds.  And it was delicious, not to mention dead simple to make.

When I served it up, I was told by my professor (who is of Norwegian descent, I should mention) that it was authentic in its flavor and appearance.  I was pleased to know that I could represent his heritage as well as the country I’ll soon be visiting.

Eplepai
adapted from Rosa’s Yummy Yums

Ingredients:

1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
3 medium tart apples (I used Braeburn)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350ºF, line a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

In a large bowl, gently whisk together all of the dry ingredients, as well as the slivered almonds.

Peel, core, and dice apples, and add them to the flour mixture and toss. 

Add the beaten egg, milk, and vanilla extract to the apple mixture and mix well.  The batter will seem dry, but keep mixing until what you have looks like a super thick, and super chunky muffin batter.

Add mixture to prepared pan and spread gently.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

After about a minute, run a small knife along the side of the cake to loosen, then remove the sides of the springform pan.

Place a cooling rack upside down over the cake.  Turn rack and cake over, remove the bottom, as well as the parchment paper.  Place cake back on cooling rack. 

Cool completely before serving.

Note:  I only have a 9-inch springform pan, so when I baked mine, it was thinner than it would be if I’d used a 7-inch pan.