Baked Salted Caramel Chocolate Doughnuts

I think by now you’re already well aware about my love—some might call it an obsession and maybe they’re right—with doughnuts. In case you didn’t already know, maybe these Baked Blueberry Crumb Doughnuts will convince you. Or these Baked Peanut Butter Chocolate Doughnuts topped with chopped peanuts and lots of chocolate. Finally, perhaps these Bourbon Blueberry Basil Doughnuts will do the trick. They’re perfectly boozy and sweet. It’s safe to say I’m addicted, but nothing to worry about because I have a number to a group on hand, just in case it ever gets to that point. Not that it ever would because I don’t see a problem with eating doughnuts by the dozen until you can’t eat anymore. That’s totally normal, right? Yeah, it’s normal. Doughnuts are meant to be eaten two at a time and frequently, at that. You can quote me on that. 

My love for doughnuts is so big that I actually created a special day for them. National Doughnut Day, which is on June 6th by the way (just around the corner), is a holiday that I created to celebrate the best dessert/treat/breakfast item ever invented. You’re welcome. Okay, so maybe I personally didn’t create the day itself (I totally should have though). I actually don’t know who did, but whoever declared June 6th National Doughnut Day, is a hero in my eyes. I’ll never forget you. Thank you random person I don’t know for making this special day possible. A monument should be built in your honor. National Doughnut Day? More like National Jonathan’s Favorite Holiday Let’s Celebrate by Eating Tons of Doughnuts Day. Or something like that. I’m still working on the name. 

So in honor of this special day, I decided to make doughnuts for the blog. Also, I began realizing that I hadn’t posted a doughnut recipe in a while. We can’t have that. That’s a really big problem. So I thought since I don’t have any chocolate doughnuts on here yet, I just needed to make a chocolate doughnut recipe. And what goes better with chocolate than salted caramel? Well, maybe crushed up salty pretzels because it’s the way it always should be. I baked these because I was too lazy to go through the entire process of making the dough, letting it rest, rolling out the dough and cutting them and then frying them. My head was hurting just thinking about it. I also didn’t fry them because I figured if I slapped on the work “Baked” right to the front of this recipe, it would instantly become healthy. So here I am with my healthy doughnuts, taunting you to make them and eat them. You can thank me later, right now, just go out and celebrate National Doughnut Day. 

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Fluffernutter Cookie Sandwiches

Fluffernutters are my childhood. Literally, my entire childhood. If I had to choose one thing I loved as a kid, it would be fluffernutters. (Well that would be my sweet pick, if I had to choose a savory it would be tater tots. Tater tots all the way). If you’re not familiar with fluffernutters, allow me to explain this marvelous invention to you. They are sandwiches made with white bread, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Delicious right? I think I’ve mentioned on several occasions that my mamma isn’t much of a baker. Somewhere out there, at this very moment, my mamma is saying, “Yes, Jonathan. You’ve already mentioned that I didn’t bake anything for you and your sisters when you were little, on several occasions. Any chance you get. Stop telling the whole world I can’t bake!” I’m sorry mamma, but it’s true, and if it makes you feel any better, it’s not really the whole world. It’s like a few people here and there. Anyhow, my mamma didn’t really bake when my sisters and I were kids. Have I told you that? She didn’t at all. Cut and bake cookies, do those count? Anyhow, she did however, make us a few treats here and there, like jell-o (hmmmm), Rice Krispies treats (yummm) and lastly, flutternutters (coma inducing deliciousness).

The fluffernutters that my mamma would make my sisters and I, however, weren’t the traditional kind I described earlier. Unfortunately she didn’t make us whole sandwiches because I think she knew it would basically be a sugar rush and we’d be jumping off the walls for hours if she had. Whomp whomp. She’s a smart woman. She knew what she was doing. Instead, she’d take two ritz crackers, spread creamy peanut butter on one, and marshmallow fluff on the other, and then sandwich them together. It was the best thing on the planet. I could eat like fifty of them. I even think one time I challenged myself to see if I could actually eat fifty in one sitting. I only got to like eight, but needless to say, I’m still trying to challenge myself. I’m up to like nine now. It’s going to take me a while. 

This past week, I wanted to bring back a bit of my childhood, so I came up with these cookie sandwiches. Mostly I just wanted an excuse to eat marshmallow fluff and peanut butter straight out of the jar without getting caught. I did that for a while before I realized I needed to save some for the cookies. Darn you cookies (but not really because you’re super delicious and I just want to keep you all to myself). I’m trying to devise a plan that would allow me to eat all these cookie sandwiches without giving my mom or doctor a coronary. So far, I got nothing. Until then, if you need me, I’ll be tucked away in a corner sneaking a cookie sandwich here and there, trying my best to outdo my record for most fluffernutters eaten in one sitting. 

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Pistachio Eclairs

For me, growing up, Valentine’s Day was something special. Not because of all the valentines I would receive from my many admirers—that goes without saying. I was pret-ty popular as a kid. I’m totally kidding. You caught me. I didn’t have any admirers, and what’s more, I’d get just the same amount of cards as any other boring Joe at school. The bare minimum. It was sad and depressing. I don’t want to talk about it. No, it was a special day because of the crafts we’d do at home. The coloring of cards and cutting of construction paper and gluing of pipe cleaners. My hearts were always cut lopsided, unlike my sisters’, but that’s okay. I think we all know which were better (mine). The youngest child can practically make a pile of crap and it would still be considered cute. The best part of the day, however, was when we’d get to decorate cookies, and then eat them, of course. Mamma would make a batch of heart-shaped sugar cookies for us. Then we’d proceed to dump globs of pink, red and white colored icing on them, and make it rain nothing but sprinkles. I’d make it rain sprinkles—in my mouth. It was awesome! Sure there would be a gigantic mess at the end of it all, not even worth the cookies that came out of it, but the memories were totally worth it. Now don’t get me wrong. Mamma, bless her soul, isn’t a baker at all. She didn’t spend hours in the kitchen making said Valentine’s Day cookies. Nope. Instead, she would take a few minutes to open up a package of store-bought dough and plop them on a baking sheet and call it a day. We never complained. I mean after all, a cookie is a cookie.

There are only a few things in life, when it  comes to food, that I really enjoy. Okay, who am I kidding? I don’t even believe that myself. There are a lot of food things in life I can’t get enough of, like Valentine’s Day cookies for instance. Also, doughnuts are definitely on the top of that can’t-get-enough list. Come to think of it, I don’t think there is a list out there where doughnuts don’t make an appearance. Freshly popped popcorn doused in a generous amount of questionable white cheddar cheese powder, add that to my “food I really enjoy” list also. Powdered popcorn cheese? Yes, please! 100% yes. I don’t even give it a second thought, yes. Of course there are more reasonable foods I absolutely go nuts for like, french fries, tater tots, hash browns (I promise you it’s not all potatoes, but really it is), potato tacos, and garlic mashed potatoes. I was a potato in my past life, remember? Dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets—you’ll forever have my heart. Croutons on an iceberg salad. Hard boiled eggs in the evening. Whipped ricotta on crusty bread with a drizzle of good olive oil. Pistachios in pretty much ANYTHING (especially ice cream). Yeah, I could go on and on but you catch my drift, I love food. Especially themed food.

I think the best part of any holiday is the themed food, snacks and desserts you can make and eat. What makes Valentine’s Day so special? Is it all the love that is going around? Sure that’s nice, but no that’s not it. Is it the fact that you can spend the day with your loved ones? Uh I don’t think so. That can happen any day of the week, if you think about it. Perhaps it’s all the heart shaped chocolate, brownies, cookies, love-inspired desserts and meals out there? Yeah that’s definitely it. Think about it, what other day of the year is it perfectly acceptable to dive, mouth first, into a heart-shaped box of chocolate and not even feel guilty about it? What other day can you pretend to make something decadent like pistachio eclairs for your “significant other,” when in reality, we all know it’s really just for you? There is no other day. This is the only chance we get. So let’s stop fighting it and do nothing but eat chocolate and candy and pistachio eclairs on this day of love. That’s what February 14th is all about, right? Well that, and chubby naked babies flying around, flinging arrows at people.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Shortbread

Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and all the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about…me eating all these bars because I’m addicted and I just can’t get enough, baby. I started singing a song there for you, but then quickly realized it was inappropriate for the internets so I had to change it up a tiny bit. I mean, this is a family blog after all. What kind of site do you think I’m running?!?! There are children on here, probably. But maybe not, I don’t actually know that for a fact. Who’s to say, really? Just in case there are kids on here though; eat your vegetables and fruits. Stay in school. Say no to drugs and alcohol and all that sort of stuff (This message has been brought to you by the responsible Jonathan Melendez).

Sometimes peanut butter and chocolate just need to mash together to make a dessert that’ll blow your mind, you know? Sometimes the only way to survive is by combining pretzels, chocolate, roasted peanuts, caramel, peanut butter and chocolate into one dessert. And in that order too. It’s an explosion of flavor that can solve any and all problems. When those moments occur it’s best to just go with the flow. Don’t fight it because fighting will only result in frustrated denial. You’ll eventually come around and when you do you’ll find yourself eating every last bit of this dessert. Maybe even licking the pan—I’m guessing. Well, when I put it that way, those consequences don’t sound all that bad. So go ahead and say no now, I dare you to. Say no to dark chocolate topped with salty pretzels. Say no to peanut butter caramel mixed with roasted peanuts. Say no to a buttery shortbread crust. I double dog dare you to. Really I’m just  daring you to say no so that I can have it all to myself. There, now that it’s all out in the open, I feel much better.

The best way to go about this is to just dive in, head first, without regret. The sooner you come to the realization that you absolutely need these bars, the faster you’ll be able to devour them. Also you’ll be able to sleep better knowing that you had just about the best dessert known to man. Or for the time being. At the moment, this dessert is everything. Who know’s what it will be in a month, a week or even tomorrow? Just enjoy today and make these bars.

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Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies

This morning I woke up with chocolate all over my face and caramel in my hair, and I don’t even know why. It’s the spookiest thing if you think about it, because I know I didn’t go to bed in that state. Or at least I don’t think I did. To be perfectly honest, I can’t really remember. Maybe I was attacked by some kind of jumbo chocolatey-caramel Easter bunny while I was sound asleep (let’s not talk about those dreams) or maybe I just woke up in the middle of the night and dragged myself into the kitchen and scarfed down a few cookies when no one was looking. That could be it. Then I just lazily walked back to my room and slipped into bed without bothering to wipe off my indiscretions. That’s what they call sleep eating right? I hear it’s a thing, or maybe I’m just making it up. Either of those explanations are plausible really. You’re right though, my bets are totally on the chocolate bunny. It makes complete sense. Although I did go to bed craving said cookies and they were on the counter last night before I knocked out, and by some weird coincidence, it just so happens that the cookies are now nowhere to be found. Where are those cookies? Where did they go?! Yeah, that chocolate bunny must have eaten them right before going into my room to attack me. Damn that chocolate bunny. It’s the only logical explanation. I’m glad we figured that out together. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep tonight, wondering what on earth happened to me, but more importantly what in the world happened to my cookies. Thanks for solving that mystery with me, I really appreciate it. So, chocolate bunnies love dark chocolate cookies with salted caramel drizzled on top just like me. Who would have thought? Not me, friends. Not me.

It takes a certain kind of cookie to really flip my world upside down and get me to forget about my love of doughnuts. It also takes a certain type of cookie to wake me up in the middle of the night and fight off a chocolate bunny for them. You might ask what kind of cookie could ever do that? What kind of cookie has that kind of power over me?! If you weren’t going to ask, let’s pretend you were, just for the sake of this post. Okay so you asked me the important question, oh thanks for asking! I’m glad you did. I’ll tell you, it would have to be the kind of cookie that is chocolate upon chocolate upon chocolate. And not just any chocolate, but dark chocolate. With dark chocolate chunks all throughout, melted, all gooey and warm. Said cookie would also have to have salted caramel drizzled all over the top of each and sprinkled with coarse sea salt because salty and sweet is the way to do it, in my book. It would have to be the type of cookie that would be easy to make and even easier to eat all of them without ever realizing you just ate all of them. It just so happens that I’m going to share that type of cookie with you now. That way you can make some for yourself, just be careful though. These cookies come with a warning. You’ll wake up in the morning with chocolate all over your face and caramel in your hair, but don’t fret about it because we all know how it got there.

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Baked Peanut Butter Chocolate Doughnuts

I’ve been in a funk lately. An unexplainable funk. I was recently on a mini vacation, visiting a friend in Michigan and I had the best time ever. Of course the company I shared, definitely helped with that. Can I just take a moment to tell you how beautiful Michigan is during this time of year?! I mean seriously, it really is. It was my first time there and I was blown away by everything. It’s the type of beauty that takes your breath away. The kind you only see in movies and certainly not the type you see in Los Angeles. I mean sure LA is awesome in it’s own right. We have the beaches and sun and pretty consistent perfect weather. A few palm trees here and there. Just a few. It’s a different kind of beauty all together. I was born and raised here and I’ll forever consider this place my home, even if life takes me somewhere else. However, to experience a real autumn where there are actually colors on trees and leaves on the ground with a chilly air clinging to everything, now that’s something everyone should experience at least once in their life. How do people do it in the East Coast? I wouldn’t get any work done at all. I’d find any excuse to go outside. Anyhow, needless to say it’s been hard getting back into the groove of things. I was so sad when I had to leave, even threatened to stay. I haven’t been able to shake off the good times I had there and jump back into the mindset of doing the things I have to do. Does that happen to anyone else when you’ve come to the realization that the good times have come to an end? How do you go back to work and your daily routine when all you want to do is go apple picking, wine tasting, nature-seeing, antique shopping and cuddle up in a warm place with someone special? That’s been my dilemma lately, which is why I’ve been slacking on my work on here. I apologize. I’m back though (slowly but surely) trying to remind myself I’m not on vacation anymore and daydreaming about the possibility of going back. I snapped a few pictures here and there with my phone and those are definitely helping with my blues. I thought I’d share a few with you here. You can also see more on my instagram. Are we friends on instagram? If we’re not, we should be. What are you waiting for?

I started thinking to myself, wondering what would be the best way to get back into work. This is my 100th post after all (no big deal) and so I wanted it to be special. Or at least special to me. I began to brainstorm all of my favorite things. That wasn’t easy because when it comes to food, it’s all my favorite. In the end it sort of made sense to make this big one hundred a doughnut recipe because doughnuts are my life. I mean seriously, I can’t get enough of them. Remind me to tell you about the one year my family didn’t give me a birthday cake and instead a tower of doughnuts with candles. Best birthday ever? Yes. It’s really a short story that involved me eating them all. I also thought a doughnut recipe would be perfect to share because it was super cold in Michigan—like freezing cold although everyone there thought I was crazy all bundled up while the locals are in shorts, tees and flip flops—and doughnuts are perfect on cold days with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee or tea.

Now, I’ve already professed my love—some might call it an obsession but let’s not go there okay?—for doughnuts on this blog before. Yeah it was a good celebration in honor of my favorite snack/breakfast/dessert/treat. If you recall, that recipe involved blueberries, bourbon and basil. What?! Crazy I know, but boy oh boy were they delicious. This time around I thought I’d honor my most favoritest (totally a word) of favorite doughnuts. It’s common knowledge from anyone who knows me so well that I always make an instant jump for any and all cake doughnuts more than the yeasted ones. Not that I don’t care for yeasted doughnuts because I do, I don’t discriminate. I just happen to really love cake doughnuts. Especially the kind with the chocolate glaze and chopped nuts on top. Forgive me for a second while I drool over the thought of those. Okay, I’m done drooling. Normally those doughnuts are just plain ol’ vanilla. I wanted to switch things up a bit by making my doughnuts with a peanut butter cake base because we all know that peanut butter and chocolate were meant to be together until the end of time. Old friends that go way back. And we all now know that I need those doughnuts in my mouth.

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