top chef just desserts elimination challenge …. challenge!

I’m putting aside my wordless wednesday entries for the next little while… because I’ve decided to participate in an online challenge :0)

As you all well know – I heart Top Chef as well as it’s sister series, Top Chef Just Desserts (are we surprised I’d heart the desserts version of the series?).  So when Kelly @ evilshenanigans decided to start her own version of the show’s elimination challenge, I jumped at the chance to participate.

The basis is this… I get to make at home whatever the theme of the previous weeks elimination challenge is.  From the comfort of my home… no tears, no fits, no drama… just me, my kitchenaid stand mixer, oven and whatever the challenge requires me to do.  AWESOME.

Last week the challenge was all about creating something for a bake sale.  That’s right… I have to bake something that would sell at a high school bake sale.  I hope that I followed the rules… I seem to be having a problem downloading last week’s episode (not having a television or cable might actually affect my participation in this challenge) – therefore… as of today, I still haven’t seen the episode!

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to contribute to the challenge.  I kept thinking squares or bars or brownies or cookies… Cupcakes were definitely out.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks elbow deep in flour and powdered sugar, making dozens of cupcakes and frosting them, first for a birthday celebration, and then for a wedding (although… honestly, if you are making cupcakes for a bake sale – you should check out these babies… they are AWESOME) – no more cupcakes!

Then I remembered that I had an open can of sweetened condensed milk in the fridge (thanks to said cupcakes) and wanted to use that.  I could make some sort of square?  Yeah… that could work.  Or something else… something that is super sweet and salty at the same time.  Maybe I should make those peanut butter and bacon cookies I’ve been dreaming about?  I do have lots of bacon in my fridge… but I didn’t want to make cookies.

And than it hit me.  Salted caramel. Holy heck!  That would be amazing!

1.  It’s a recipe that doesn’t include peanuts – so no allergy alerts.

2.  It’s not a cookie, or a square, or brownies… all things you would expect at a bake sale (at least that’s what I’ve always made).

And 3.  I’ve been meaning to make salted caramel for quite some time.  Perfect.

What you’ll need:

1 loaf pan.   Some brown sugar, condensed milk, honey, butter, chocolate chips and coarse sea salt.  Not bad eh?  I bet you have most of that in your pantry.  And whatever you don’t have – easy to find – even at the corner store.

Let’s get started.

salted caramel (thank you the happy baker chick for the inspiration).


1/2 c. salted butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk

2 tbsp honey

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp coarse sea salt

Grab your loaf pan and spray it with non-stick spray.  I also lined it with some parchment paper and then sprayed that (I really didn’t want the caramel to stick to the pan).  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, honey and condensed milk.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue to stir it for another 5 minutes.

the ingredients before i dumped them all in a saucepan

just before i cooked everything over medium heat

Remove from heat, and continue to beat for another 2 minutes.

Pour the caramel into your loaf pan.  Set aside and allow it to cool. (I left mine for an hour).

this is when i should have realized that the caramel was overcooked

Once cooled, melt the chocolate.  I melted mine in a double boiler.  Once melted, pour the chocolate over the caramel – spread it around evenly.

Sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the chocolate.

Allow to cool.  Once ready – pull the salted caramel out of the loaf pan (see… using the parchment paper is handy) and cut into small pieces… almost like cutting a loaf of bread.

This recipe is super simple… or so I thought.  Except for one thing… DON’T BURN THE CARAMEL! I did.  Sigh.  And yet… the lead up to the final result looks right.  But I cooked the caramel probably 2 minutes too long… and so now when I go to cut into it, it’s hard… not the chewy deliciousness that I envisioned.  Hard caramel… like the kind you need to suck on… because quite frankly, you’d break your teeth if you tried to bite into it.  BOO.

there you have it… hard salted caramel.  boo.

However… I’m not giving up.  I’m going to try this again tonight.  My goal is to post new pictures tomorrow.  Pictures showing a chewy, lovely, gooey salted caramel… so stay tuned.

As for this challenge… well I think I would have been in the bottom 3 – and quite possibly eliminated if Gail Simmons and Johnny Iuzzini (host and judge of the show) had anything to say about what I made.  Good thing this is just an online thing… and there is no drama, tears or fits… just some fun trying new recipes ;0)

Can’t wait for next weeks challenge.  This is the beginning of a really fun project.  Thank you evilshenanigans for organizing this.  Amazing.


6 thoughts on “top chef just desserts elimination challenge …. challenge!

  1. Sorry that the salted caramel was overdone. Happy to hear that you are continuing on with the challenge however and look forward to the next installment.

  2. Pingback: Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting (Just Desserts Challenge) | Evil Shenanigans - Baking & Cooking Blog

  3. Yeah, that sucks that it burned but I’ve also had a few (a lot) of kitchen fails. Despite that I love how the ingredients were so simple and classic. I think that those could be packaged up really pretty for a bake sale.

  4. Pingback: and then… it kinda, sorta worked… « the twisted chef

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