My most favorite coffee drink is a caramel latte from Avelino. As you watch them prepare the cup you begin to wonder if they are over doing it with the caramel. Trust me, they're not. I got away with some of my favorite fellow moms back in early March, where I brought caramel sauce to make said latte for them. Talia looking at the cup as I spooned the gooey sauce in said, "Uh, maybe a little less for me." I said with all courtesy & politeness (maybe a little blunt) to a pregnant lady, "No, trust me--you don't want less." As I handed it to her, she said, "You're right Kamille--this is perfect!"
I often dream of getting away in a cabin far away on days like this. Caramel latte in one hand, good book in the other, and peace & quiet. It could be that I'm anxiously awaiting my anniversary getaway this weekend with Ben and without the kids. But, I think it's a little deeper. I've been very short, sarcastic, rolling the eyes due to kid annoyances, and feeling like life should stand still for me. My tolerance level is at an all time low and my connecting with my girls seems to have fallen off the radar. When I've been told about the importance of having a "daily quiet time" with God or somehow that is equated with spiritual depth--I begin to wonder how true it is. My friend read a book recently where the author (and I paraphrase) said, "maybe we shouldn't gauge spiritual life with daily devotion/quiet time. Instead, when we find ourselves becoming angry, bitter, impatient, lacking grace & forgiveness--maybe those should be the signs of spiritual decay."
My pastor mentioned something along these lines on Sunday. How he's definitely a proponent of reading the Bible, but we've met many people who read their Bible daily, yet their life lacks any evidence of it. I'm in need of a cleanse. My soul is stagnant waters in a cesspool right now. It's on days like today that I'm reminded the most important job I could do is give my girls as many hugs & speak life-giving words to them. It's not about the laundry getting done, the ratio of carbs & proteins on their lunch plates, or hurrying them off to bed to be partly done with the day. And I need more than myself to do that job. Yes a break this weekend is nice, but I'm running on empty right now. So how are you? How do you refuel, in order to do better than "just make it" to the weekend? I'm grateful to you, who allow me to open up my heart & mind on days like this.
Caramel Sauce & Latte (printable recipe)
This recipe is from Fine Cooking Winter 2004 issue. I cook mine in my dutch oven to ensure it doesn't burn. Making caramel is more about color and temperature than about time. The original recipe says it takes "about" 28 minutes to get to the right color. But, what you need to do is stay right by the stove while it cooks, because it can go from just ready to burnt in no time. Make this when you have peace & quiet without disturbances--you'll feel better when you're licking the spoon and no one is watching.
1 cup water, plus more for brushing down sugar crystals
4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tb light corn syrup
4 cups (1 quart) heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1/2-1 tsp sea salt
Directions: Have your cream & butter ready. Pour some water into a small bowl and a pastry brush to set aside the stove for brushing down sugar crystals. Pour 1 cup water into a heavy-bottom pot (8 quart or dutch oven). Add sugar & corn syrup. Cook over high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is boiling. If you see any sugar crystals forming on the sides of the pot, just above the sugar mixture, wipe down with wet pastry brush.
Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil; it shouldn't be sputtering. DO NOT STIR it any longer. Simply allow the sugar to cook. You will need to gently swirl the pan to disperse the sugars & even out the color. Continuing wiping down the sides if sugar crystals form and allowing the sugar to reach a light honey color, this should take roughly 20 minutes. Continue with the swirling & wiping of the pastry brush, and the sugar should become a rich, red-brown color, roughly an additional 8 minutes. The best way to tell what color the sugar is is to spoon a bit on a white dish.
Remove pot from heat and slowly pour in the cream, but be careful while pouring as it will splatter. Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure any solidified caramel on the bottom or sides melts. If it's not melting, you can set it over medium heat again & gently stir until it is completely smooth.
Stir in the butter and salt. Let cool to room temperature. If you want flavored caramel sauce, look below.
Put in a jar and refrigerate. Will keep about 3-4 weeks in the fridge--perfect to give some away.
To make a double tall caramel latte, steam 8 ounces milk, two shots espresso & about 3 Tb of caramel sauce. Put caramel in bottom of mug. Add hot shots and stir to thoroughly combine. Add your frothy & creamy steamed milk and you have yourself "paradise in a cup."
Orange-Cardamom Caramel Sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juices with 2 Tb plus 2 tsp finely grated orange zest, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Pour through a fine sieve, pressing against the zest to release all the liquid. Stir the strained, reduced orange juice and 4 tsp ground cardamom into the cooled caramel sauce.