Thursday, November 1, 2007

October Celebrations, a trip to Seattle, & delicious Peanut Butter Caramel!

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Oh Fall! I’m not sure I’m ready for you, but here you are! It’s odd, in San Francisco the temperature seems to rise in October giving us 70 degree days, then they drop off to the consistent 55 degrees we’ll see for the next few months. I’m in New York City right now & it’s definitely Fall. We started with some rain & now the temperature has dropped to the mid-40s. I would almost say the heated subways feel good!

Another installation of the brunch cartel occurred awhile back & once again there was no shortage of amazing food! I utilized the apples I picked & made an apple crumble with a toasted hazelnut topping. I made sure to include all the varieties, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, & Fuji. The crumble was great & with the toasted hazelnuts, I was very happy with the outcome! In fact, I wish I had some right now for this cool fall day! I also used the apples to make a vinegar-based slaw with apples cut into matchsticks, plus cabbage & other vegetables. The rest of the crew spoiled us with Vegan McMuffins, Pumpkin Waffles, a Frittata, Home Fries, Biscuits & Gravy, Blueberry Mousse, & Poha, an Indian puffed rice snack. Needless to say, my plate & belly were quite full!

Ryan & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary at the beginning of October. We kicked off the celebration with a night at Millennium Restaurant for the Aphrodisiac Dinner, which was fabulous! We shared a butterscotch pecan tartlette that seriously rocked my world. On our anniversary, Ryan had to take a business trip, but he was able to get home late that night, so I made a Chicago-style deep dish pizza, inspired by Bazu. For dessert, I made Isa’s Smlove Pie, a rich bittersweet chocolate pie, layered with peanut butter caramel, candied pecans, & drizzled with chocolate. While we loved the whole thing, the peanut butter caramel was the stand out in the dish! It was excellent on the pie, but would also be excellent on ice cream or anything you’d use a caramel sauce for. Additionally, it’s easy to make & you should do so, right away.

Peanut Butter Caramel
1/3 cup peanut butter at room temperature, preferably natural.
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup

Add all of the ingredients to a small sauce pan.

Gently heat everything over low heat, stirring constantly, just smooth & heated through.

The consistency should be somewhat thick, but fluid & will fall from a fork in ribbons. If it's too stiff, turn the heat off & add a bit more brown rice syrup. Different peanut butters have different moisture content, so adjust accordingly.

As I mentioned, we loved the peanut butter caramel & men love peanut butter, so I used it in birthday cupcakes for Ryan’s brother. I’m always trying to think of new cupcake combinations & settled on rich chocolate cupcakes filled with peanut butter caramel & topped with chocolate ganache! They turned out quite well & were quickly devoured by all I offered them to.

That being said, I’m a perfectionist with my baked goods, so I’m still trying to find my favorite chocolate cake recipe. I think I’m quite close, but I’d love suggestions from others as to their favorites. I’m looking for something with deep chocolate flavor, but not too dense in texture, even a bit fluffy. So far, the cocoa based cakes I’ve made & sampled have been a bit bland, but maybe I haven’t had the right recipe. Bring on the recommendations, please!

October also brought on a job in Seattle, a great Vegan friendly city. I made sure to squeeze in some extra time there, so I could eat my way across town. I went to my favorite spot, Sidecar for Pigs Peace to pick up some groceries for workdays. I also went to Carmelita, Araya Thai, & seriously enjoyed a snickerdoodle cookie at Cinnamon Works in Pike Place Market. I was thrilled to see I had food options, even when the crew stopped at Bainbridge Island on the way to Olympic National Park, although Elise & I were content with lovin' on some broccoli!
Of course, no trip to Seattle is complete without going to donut mecca, Mighty O! I couldn’t resist the many types, so I bought a large assortment & brought them home to enjoy in bed with Ryan on a cold Saturday morning. Does it get any better than that?!

Well, I’m back to my insane food fest in NYC. I’ve sampled goods all over town & I’m preparing to bring you the low down on the best eats & treats of NYC in a future post. Until then..


Bianca said...

Yey - I hope you're having fun in the city. At least it's not raining :)

Kati said...

Peanut butter caramel...I'm in love! I'll have to give that pie a try. Hope you're enjoying NYC!

Ashasarala said...

The peanut butter caramel and apple crumble look awesome. I could go for some right about now.

I really have to get my butt to Seattle and try these Mighty O Donuts. I've heard so much about them through everyone's blogs.

Happy Belated Anniversary!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Wow, you have been busy!! From brunch to anniversary, to Seattle, lots of good food! I must say though that smlove pie sounds awesome, and perfect for an anniversay! Hope you two had fun eating donuts in bed!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

yes, I live just a few states over from New York, and it's bitter cold here - definitely autumn!! enjoy NYC, despite the frigid weather!! I love it there :0)

wow, peanut butter caramel??? my goodness!!! delish!!! is there any way you could send me some??? please??? ;0)

you certainly have been busy, between all the traveling, celebrating (happy belated anniversary!), and eating delicious food!! how fun!!

SaraJane said...

ooooohhh... peanut butter caramel. I'm thinking that might be a nice drizzle on that apple crumble of yours.

I'm going to Seattle this weekend also and looking forward to going to Carmelita's for the first time and Might-O yet again. I wonder if I can buy a bunch and freeze them when I get back to Vancouver...

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Girl, this is delicious insanity.

First off, I'm going to Seattle next weekend so I'm inspired on that front. Second, I'm going to NY next month so bring on the NY post!

Teresa said...

Have a great time in NYC! I'm with you on not being ready for fall weather- SF weather has been so erratic lately.

I bet your apple crumble was delicious. MMMMM if only I could get my hands on it.

Lori- the Pleasantly Plump Vegan said...

peanut butter AND caramel. YUM!

Becka Robinson said...

This sounds wonderous! I can't wait to try it!

Could you use agave nectar instead or is brown rice syrup the best?

Jess said...

best chocolate cake (and easy to make too!) = Bryanna Clark Grogan's Triple Layer chocolate cake. It's on her blog...
I made it for my non-vegan boyfriend for his birthday a week ago and oh man...he LOVED it!

sarchan said...

Lovely post. I'm convinced I need to make it to Seattle, if only for Mighty-O Donuts. As for chocolate cake recipes: I really the ingredient minimalism of Kittee's chocolate cake recipe over at It is cocoa powder-flavored, but I never had less than stellar results with it. I always make it (and pretty much anything calling for cocoa powder) with dutch-processed cocoa; Droste is my favorite. I don't know if you've already tried this, but I hope that is of some help.

Cakespy said...

I was attracted to this post by the Peanut butter caramel, but stayed for the Seattle comments! :-) You were in Seattle during what the Mighty-O folks tell me is national donut month! Yeah! Did you try the pumpkin ones?

Anonymous said...

wow Melisser! What a fun post.

That Peanut Butter Caramel sounds amazing. I will have to find a reason to make it!

I used to live in Seattle, but there was only Cafe Flora then. About a year before I left, Carmelita opened near my house & that was pretty great. I haven't been back in years though, and now there's so much vegan goodness - I hope to go back sometime to check it all out.

ps. The vegan frozen yogurt is at a little spot called Fraiche in downtown Palo Alto. They make it themselves. It's really good.

Also, send me your mailing address & I'll send you a jar of grape jelly!

:) Amey

bazu said...

This post is so jam-packed with good stuff, it's going to take me a few reads just to absorb it all. I'm envious of all your fabulous travels.

By the way, it was so good meeting you on Friday! That dinner was ridiculously fun. Enjoy the rest of your time in NYC! =)

SaraJane said...

It all comes full circle. Did you notice that Carmelita uses peanut butter caramel in some of their desserts?! I got the banana split that had some on the side. Yummy!

Anna said...

Loved this MUST TRY that pie. Good to know (tho' dangerous! :)) that the pb caramel would be suited to ice cream too.

shaun.marie said...

i seriously considered staying on the west coast, if only for proximity to mighty o.

that pie is ridiculous!

the little one said...

Chocolate cake recipe? This weekend I made the Mexican Chocolate Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Have you made them? I'm not sure they're fluffly enough for what you want, but I think they've been the best chocolate cake recipe I made. Super rich and delicious.

Ashley Barrineau said...

Loving this blog...I think I am going to have to be a new reader

TB said...

Congrats on your anniversary! I love Millennium! My husband and I go there for every anniversary we can. It became a tradition when we lived in the Bay Area, but even now that we're in SoCal, we still try to keep it up. It's the perfect anniversary dinner spot, no doubt. And all the other treats you made look fantastic, but especially that crazy decadent pie--whew!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

porcalina- I dealt with some rain, but luckily not too much!

kati- The pie is cool, but the PB caramel is by far the best part!

ashasarala- Get thee to Seattle! Thanks for the well wishes!

ms. noodle- It's true! It feels like it's been ages since I've been home. Donuts in bed is the best EVER.

veggiegirl- Thank you! NYC was great, even with the cold. Make the PB caramel! so easy! so good!

sarajane- That would be an AWESOME drizzle for the crumble- good call!! I hope you had fun in Seattle!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

jess- I hope you had fun in Seattle! I have sooo much info on NYC, I hope I can get some of it posted before you go! Email me with questions.

maybepigscanfly- SF weather is already being crazy & I've only been back for 3 days! sheesh.

PPV vegan- I know, right?!

Miss Mrs- I'm not sure agave would work for this, it may be a bit too thin & too sweet.

Jess- Do you mean the Triple Chocolate cake by Dreena Burton in the Everyday Vegan?? I just got the book & thought about trying it!

sarchan- Yes, go to Mighty Mighty! yum yum. I'll check out Kittee's cake, I know she makes great things. I should look for a fancier cocoa as well.

Cakespy- Yes! I had the pumpkin & it was GREAT! Nicely spiced & glazed. Mmmm!

amey- I think you just made the P caramel for the apple pb bars, right? Definitely check out Seattle again, it's fun! Maybe we need to have a Fraiche field trip! I would love some grape jelly, you are too kind!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

bazu- It was SO awesome meeting you! I hope we have a chance to hang again in the near future. xo!

SaraJane- I totally didn't see the PB caramel at Carmelita. I had a dessert there that was sadly dense & inedible.

Veganista- I almost think it would be better on ice cream than the pie!

shaun.marie- I only wish I was closer to Mighty O!

the little one- I haven't made them, but I'll try them out!

Ashley-meow- Thanks!

textual- Isn't Millennium a great spot?! I must say, Candle 79 in NYC gives it a run for its money though!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Sorry, I don't feel like reading through all 24 comments to see if someone already gave you this suggestion for a good chocolate cake. The recipe for Hershey's perfectly chocolate cake on is delicious. Its really like much like the texture of a box mix cake. I make it with Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder. I don't know about "veganizing" the recipe though...

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

*it's really "light"! (not "like", haha oops)

Sjs said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Thanks HowToEataCupcake.. I'll check it out!

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