“Free Tomatoes”. That’s what the sign said. We’re walking down the sidewalk to the bakery (when we stil lived in Kirkland) and there it is, hand written on cardboard, sitting on the sidewalk, propped against a tree and in front of an old milk crate full of tomatoes. Jake and I scratched our heads. There was a moment of quiet. ”Hmmm…why doesn’t that look right?”(Jake). ”I’m not sure…it seems like it reminds me of some’…oh wait! I’ve got it! Wiley E. Coyote!” (Me). Long Pause. ”Exsqueeze my tomato?”(Jake). ”Have you NEVER watched Bugs Bunny cartoons? Were you NEVER a child? This is a classic Wiley E. Coyote trap. The minute you step up to eat one of those tomatoes, an ACME anvil, or safe or piano or whatever, is coming straight for your melon..guaranteed”(Me). Longer pause. ”You really think someone’s expected to eat the tomatoes…. right here?” (Jake). ”Well, the ideas always fail. He never actually gets the Roadrunner, so yeah, the idea’s not 100%….agreed”(Me).
We sat in silence a few seconds more, waiting, I think, for the other one to chirp out “Meep-Meep!”, but neither one of us ever goes for the obvious joke.
Yields: About 2 Cups of caramel sauce for basting between cake layers, drizzling over warm pastries, mixing into buttercream frosting our just eating from a spoon, which I know I probably shouldn’t do…but seriously, taste this stuff. It’s scary good. Time: Less than 15 minutes.
Soundtrack: I’m kitchen crushin’ on The Black Keys-El Camino About 5 years ago, I was in New York and invited to a taping of the Letterman show, which yes, was very cool. One of the Late Night Band members invited me to the show and even let me hang out in the green room (where the guests wait until they go on air). I sat there with three of the nicest Midwestern kids I’d ever met, wondering who the hairy, flannel clad, but super polite teens belonged too. They talked about home, their moms, we reminisced about our favorite late night doughnut shops in Ohio and we, of course, talked about guitars. When I took my seat in the audience a little while later, those same three kids walked out and proceeded to stun the studio audience with an honest, gritty and rockin’ performance of brilliantly crafted songs, the likes of which I’m pretty sure I had just told them “they just don’t make any more”. That’s me, Wiley E. Coyote…Super Genius.
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
3/4 Cups water
2 Cups organic, granulated sugar
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Put the cream in a small sauce pan over low heat to warm. You don’t want it hot so make sure your burner is adjusted to low. Combine the sugar and water in a large, heavy sauce pan over medium heat. This will be the pan that the sauce ends up in and you’ll have to have enough room in it for the when the cream bubbles pretty furiously (when it’s added to the hot syrup). My point is, make sure you’re using a large sauce pan for the sugar and water. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Keep the lid on to prevent sugar from sticking to the sides of your pan. If you see some build up, take a wet pastry brush and brush the sugar back down into the mixture.
After 5 minutes, uncover and increase the heat to medium-high, bringing the mixture to a boil. Boil until the mixture turns a dark amber, about 10 minutes. As soon as you see the syrup turning to the proper color (see photo above. Not the photo of shadows having coffee..but that one’s pretty cool, right?) remove it from the heat. While stirring with a with a wooden spoon, very slowly add the warm cream to the syrup. It will bubble over furiously at first. This is normal but be careful to keep the rising mixture from burning your hand (keep your hand high on the spoon while mixing). Once the cream and syrup are completely combined and smooth, stir in the salt and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Set the sauce aside at room temperature until it cools completely and is thick enough to cling to the cake (about 1 1/2 hours).