What do you think of when you hear the word moderation in relation to diet and exercise? Well I think of a meal and exercise plan – green smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch, and lean protein and steamed vegetables for dinner with a cup of green tea and a chunk of chocolate for dessert + structured exercise for 5 days a week. This actually sounds like a diet to me – not a realistic approach to food and exercise. I’m realizing that I was framing moderation as a restrictive diet rather than a reasonable approach to food and exercise.
Two nights in a row this week I’ve eaten desserts for dinner. And I haven’t felt too good about that. When I hear discussions of moderation on instagram or magazines or television, I usually hear someone say something about how they eat a cookie every now and then. So I must be the weird crazy one and I beat myself up because I didn’t just eat one cookie, I ate a whole lot of cookies. FOR. DINNER.
But guess what?! IT’S OK. And honestly when you ask yourself what’s really wrong with eating cookies for dinner, what comes up? My mind will start chugging away about how I don’t take care of myself and I’m a terrible person. But when I’m truthful with myself, I realize there is nothing wrong with this. I chose cookies for dinner and I accept that.
We are too hard on ourselves. I guess how I’ve been living my life is in terms of moderation but I was just beating myself up about it because of the stuff I see on Instagram and everywhere else. We are HUMAN. We are not machines that eat broccoli and chicken breast for every meal. Sometimes we eat cookies for dinner. Or this salted caramel and chocolate pretzel tart.
This is another recipe inspired by the stock in my pantry – namely pretzels. I adapted Smitten Kitchen’s Pretzel Caramel Linzer cookies to make a tart and some mini tarts. I also had a whole bunch of leftover caramels from an impromptu caramel making date with my friend Laura. The caramels are melted on top of the baked pretzel crust and then topped with a chocolate ganache sprinkled with sea salt. The caramels have a secret ingredient – coconut aminos! I know it sounds weird, but it’s actually genius. You could also use soy sauce which I have tried before with similar results. The addition of the coconut aminos or soy sauce adds a beautiful darkness and depth to the caramel. The recipe is adapted from an Alton Brown recipe.
Secret Ingredient Caramels and Pretzel Tart
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon coconut aminos
- 1 3/4 cups pretzels
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.
- Combine sugar, water, cream of tartar, and corn syrup in medium sauce pan. Set over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Combine cream and coconut aminos or soy sauce and butter. And set aside.
- Bring sugar mixture to 350 degrees F. Remove from heat and cool about 2 minutes.
- Add cream, coconut aminos, and butter. Stir to combine. Return to heat and heat up to 255 degrees F.
- Remove from heat and pour into prepared pan.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse pretzels in food processor or blender until a fine powder forms. Add flour, salt, baking powder and pulse till combined.
- Add butter and sugars to blender and pulse. Then add egg yolk.
- Dump out the dough and press into tart pans. Bake small tarts for about 8 minutes and large tart for about 15 minutes.
- After removing the tarts from the oven, cut up chunks of caramel and place on top of hot crust. The caramel will melt and form a nice layer.
For the chocolate ganache
- In small saucepan over low heat combine chocolate and cream. Melt chocolate and mix with cream. Then pour over top of caramel. Sprinkle with sea salt.