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What's for Dessert?

What's for dessert? That's the most important question I have always. Some people have a sweet tooth; I have sweet teeth.

Claire Saffitz is also a big dessert person. So much so that she literally wrote the book on it. She writes dessert cookbooks for the dessert afficionado without being condescending or high falutin.


Even though I love all things dessert, I often feel intimidated by making it. Flambé, lamination, proofing, etc...The technicalities that go into making a sweet treat are intense and often high maintenance (maybe that's why I like desserts because I can relate?). Making a Great British Bake Off-caliber dessert can seem daunting, but Saffitz makes it attainable. So with her new cookbook, What's for Dessert, I decided to answer that question myself with my very limited kitchen skills.

Each recipe in What's for Dessert has labels based on difficulty (very easy, easy, moderate) and there is even a chart at the beginning that will lay out just how much time and effort goes into each recipe (score!). Now, me being totally obtuse, I usually skip this info and just dive right in based on what sounds good to me at the moment. Luckily, when I decided on Caramel Popcorn Peanut Bars, the difficulty level was dubbed as "easy." Phew!

The reason this recipe isn't labeled as "very easy" is because you make your own caramel. I know you must be thinking what went through my mind: how does making your own caramel from scratch still qualify as "easy"? But fear not, dear reader! You can do it!

Making your own caramel is basically just boiling sugar and butter and hoping it doesn't burn. And if I can do it, I promise you can too. I will say that making your caramel in a Dutch oven instead of a metal pot makes a WORLD of difference, so if you have one of those, I highly recommend using it.

The recipe itself doesn't take too long to make; it's really just the caramel that takes the longest. Assembly is easy, and you're left with a salty, sweet, and crunchy treat!

Full disclosure, though: I didn't make bars. I overdid it on the popcorn and didn't have enough caramel to coat everything, so what I ended up with was more like a caramel popcorn and peanut party mix. But, hey, I'm totally okay with that!

That's what I enjoy about simple and accessible books such as What's for Dessert--if your recipe doesn't look like the photo, it's no big deal. The treat was still delicious! Most importantly, I now get to brag about how I make my own caramel.

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