Logic would say that I should just use the massage for myself and not even worry about it, except I DO NOT like massages. I'd like to repeat that for all of the people who missed it the first time. I do not like massages. Not even a little bit. I might like a brief rub on the neck, but even that isn't really what I like because what I want more than anything is simply this, NOT to be touched.
From the moment I wake up, to the moment I manage to corral the kids into bed, I am being touched. They want to hug me, touch me, ask for hugs and kisses, sit on me, rub their feet on me, wipe their sticky hands on my pants and for the most part, can't keep their HANDS off of ME! Add Husband and his desire to hold me, touch me and have physical contact with me (of the non-dirty kind...ahem) means that in a day, there are just too many people on my body.
What I'd like in reality, more than a massage, is a room, where I can sit, read a book and NOT be touched. Not once. I'd like there to be no human contact for an hour, and that, I am sure would be more relaxing than a massage. As it is, I have to use this gift certificate up and I tried to get my friend to take it and she refused. I'm still working on another friend to take it, and hopefully I'll manage to convince SOMEONE to take this massage...someone who enjoys being touched.
Sometimes, I do find that making something in the kitchen is a way to afford a few touch-free moments for myself, especially when making caramel. It isn't hard, this caramel making, but it does require a bit of diligence and precision and the result is this fantastically beautiful glaze to pour over your cake and just enjoy. I'll defer to this great post about caramel that I found on Dave Lebovitz's site. (He has beautiful photographs to take you through the process and I couldn't capture the same quality of photos.) The most important thing about making caramel is making sure that you don't burn the sugar when you melt it, and if you are successful in that, really the rest is very very easy. And the results are very very delicious. And it's so good, you won't mind the sticky hands trying to massage more stress into your life.
Toffee Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Caramel Sauce and Sea Salt
Makes 10-inch bundt cake, serving 12 to 14
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1¾ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed (empty vanilla bean used for the syrup)
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup toffee chips (like Heath or Skor)
1 cup sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (½ stick of butter)
Sea salt (I used fleur de sel)
Place rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour inside of 10 inch bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using either a stand mixer (paddle attachment) or a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat at medium-high speed until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for 30 to 40 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla bean. At low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream. (Add a bit of flour, a bit of sour cream, a bit of flour, a bit of sour cream, a bit of flour.)
Scoop half of batter in pan. Sprinkle ¼ cup of toffee chips over the surface of the batter. Scoop remaining batter on top and smooth out.
Bake cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto another rack. Place the cake, on the rack, over a baking sheet.
While cake is baking, make caramel. Have both butter and cream, measured and ready to go. In a heavy bottom sauce pan (bigger is better - go for a 2 or 3 quart saucepan) add sugar and heat over medium high heat. The sugar will begin to melt and caramelize. As this happens, slowly drag sugar to the center of the pan and swirl the pan around so as to not burn the sugar. Allow all the sugar crystals to melt, using patience and diligence to watch and check the caramel. As soon as the sugar is all melted and is dark amber in color (Dave Leibovitz says like the color of a dirty copper penny) add butter all at once and whisk vigorously incorporating it into the sugar syrup. After butter is all melted remove from heat. Add cream and whisk until the caramel is a delicious mixture, all uniform in texture. Transfer caramel to a jar.
Once cake has cooled for an hour, pour caramel over the entire surface of the cake. Using a spoon, spoon caramel over hard to “pour” areas, covering as much of the surface of the cake as possible. (I used up about ½ of my caramel sauce.) Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Serve and watch for sticky fingers.
Let me be alone with this cake
The bundt pan I love
The vanilla bean I love