Candy bark cookie mess

Chocolate Candy Icebox Bars

Is candy/cookie gravel a thing?  Because I think that's what I made

Is candy/cookie gravel a thing? Because I think that’s what I made

All of these “use up candy” recipes start with a false premise, namely, leftover Halloween candy is something that you need to do something with.  Like something other than just put it in your face or give it away.  I mean, it’s a fun idea, but these are difficult recipes to justify.  Also, this recipe specifically calls for Kit Kat, Snickers, and Crunch.  What if you gave away something else?  I actually wound up buying Halloween candy so that I could have these particular leftovers.  That’s kind of the tail wagging the dog, right?

All musing aside, these are amazing.  They are actually worth buying the stuff for.  They are rich and sweet and delicious.  They are a little like muddy buddies and oreos and a bowl of candy had a baby.  If that sounds good, then welcome aboard.

But I must get a few pointers out of the way.  1) chocolate wafer cookies don’t exist outside of the east coast.  Stop it, B, they don’t.  I put oreos in the food processor instead.  Because that meant that I pulverized both cookies and filling, I omitted the powdered sugar from the recipe.  Side note: if you have extra cookie dust, you can mix it into vanilla ice cream and make your own cookies and cream.  2) Do not let this chill overnight before cutting into it.  Just don’t.  I used melted chocolate chips with M & M’s on top because I didn’t have Crunch bars, but I did have M & M’s and those are crunchy…  I wound up with a rock hard topping that could not be cut, which turned cookie bars into a sort of candy bark.  Let’s have an illustration to explain where this went wrong:

I did the first step with all of the cookie crumbs and peanut butter and candy bars, and I followed those instructions to the letter.  Then it was getting late, so I decided to melt the chocolate chips, sprinkle on the M & M’s…then I went to bed.  The recipe calls for you to let it set for 30 minutes.  I woke up to this:

Um, and there were parchment paper pieces in it...that wound up in my sister's mouth.  oops.

Um, and there were parchment paper pieces in it…that wound up in my sister’s mouth. oops.

Cutting it with my biggest, sharpest, nastiest knife left me with this:

Clean little bars, these are not...

Clean little bars, these are not…

It went downhill from there:

I literally took this picture and thought, "Well, you caption this one 'the moment I gave up.'"

I literally took this picture and thought, “Well, you caption this one ‘the moment I gave up.'”

The top kept busting off of the bottom, the M & M’s were coming apart.  This is what I wound up with:

*shrugs

*shrugs

I brought the pretty pieces (the ones that kind of stayed together) to my family’s party.  The rest of it hung out in my fridge.  And was eaten by me.  Pretty?  No.  Delicious?  My word, yes.

So save yourself the heartache and follow the directions on this one.

 

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Obsession: brownie ice cream sandwich

Brownie ice cream sandwich

You were just here!

You were just here!

I think I can hear your thoughts.  You’re thinking, “Yeah.  Of course it’s good.  It’s ice cream and brownies.  We’ve all had a brownie sundae before.”  Stop right there.  You are wrong.  This is not like an ice cream sundae.  Well, at least not the way that I made it.  Take a look at that picture.  See how thin the actual brownie is?  Now take a look at the picture that Martha uses on her website:

I've got to figure out these jaunty angles...

I’ve got to figure out these jaunty angles…

Notice how thick the brownie is?  Kind of like an actual brownie, right?  Mine was more like a super crispy and thin brownie-flavored cookie, at least on the first day that I ate it.  Every day the brownie kept getting softer and softer and the sandwich kept getting better and better.  I believe mine wound up thin because I had to get creative with my pan.  I only have 18×13 quarter sheet pans/whatever you want to call them.  Cookie sheet with the lip on all sides.  How’s that?  This recipe calls for a 10×15 jelly roll pan.  Well, in order to make the surface area smaller, I created a dam of sorts with a glass loaf pan upside down on one side and a sheet of foil bumping up where loaf pan met brownie batter.  It was not perfect.  The loaf pan wasn’t as long as the sheet pan, so I kinda scooted it back and forth every time I opened the oven to check.  That helped make the brownie a little more rectangular.  Anyway, I have no regrets and I will not be rushing out to buy a new pan.  The thin brownie was great.

So here’s another question that haunts me and D: what other ice cream flavors would be good?  Mint chocolate chip was pretty perfect.  We were thinking moose tracks, but we don’t want it to get too rich.  Cookies and cream, surely.  Plain vanilla would probably be nice.  Coffee ice cream, maybe?  I think anything but plain chocolate (too weird) would be excellent.

On a related note, these ice cream sandwiches ruled my world for the one week that they were in our freezer.  Everything that happened all day long revolved around making it home to have another ice cream sandwich.  They are that good.

 

Chocolate Popcorn…yes, you read that right.

Cocoa Popcorn

Look away before it hypnotizes you!

Look away before it hypnotizes you!

You know those foods that taste so good that you just can’t stop eating them even though they are super rich and they kind of make you feel sick?  This is one of those.  I was literally moaning in pain as I continued to jam this popcorn into my face. It is so good.  It tastes like hot chocolate and popcorn together. It’s salty.  It’s sweet.  It’s chocolate.  It’s really easy to make.  It’s much harder to make yourself stop eating. I recommend making this for a party or making a much smaller batch if you plan to split it with a friend on the couch.

Ok, full disclosure… I made a poor choice of cocktail pairing.  I had Kahlua and coke with it.  Kahlua and coke is good, by the way.  It tastes like chocolate coke.  What it also is is very rich and sickly sweet.  Kinda like the popcorn.  Perhaps something more bitter or savory like a stout would be in order.  Or, again, learn self-control.  ….  beer it is.

Enjoy in moderation, as they say.

Fudgy skillet brownies

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I’ve been craving sweets a lot lately (probably because I can’t drink alcohol for a few more months), but starting two weeks ago I am really trying to reduce the amount of sugar I am eating. I’ve been told my fair-freckly skin puts me at higher risk for gestational diabetes. Something I don’t want to experience for several reasons….Anyways the fudgy skillet brownies looked too good to pass up!

This was a simple brownie recipe with the average brownie ingredients, which are staple in most pantries. Unfortunately, I found out the evening I was going to make the brownies that the bittersweet chocolate wasn’t a staple in my pantry anymore. So, I strayed from the recipe a little bit. I used semi-sweet chocolate and removed the ¼ cup of sugar. Other than that I stuck to the recipe, baked the brownies for about 45 minutes and let them sit for about 15 before I dug in.

The warm fudgy skillet brownies were a hit! P and I had them warm that evening and they were delicious. They came out of the cast iron skillet like perfect pie wedges and completely satisfied my sweet craving. The brownies sweetened perfectly, so using the semi-sweet chocolate and removing the sugar, worked out just fine.

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Later that night I cut the rest of the brownies into ‘squares’, to store them in an airtight container. The brownies didn’t come out of the skillet quite as nicely as they did earlier. Maybe these brownies are made to be ate in one sitting by a group of people!

The next day I couldn’t wait to get home and have a brownie for my afternoon snack before I walked the dog. The snack may have turned into two brownies (I have no self-control when it comes to food). The fudgy texture was very apparent the following day. I hadn’t noticed the dense texture the night before. The day old brownies had something new to bring to the table. Nothing beats a warm brownie, but a cold fudgy brownie comes pretty close.

Fancy Schmancy Post-Valentine’s Day Celebration Dinner

Sometimes, when you live with a bear, that bear has to work late.  One such occurrence happened on Valentine’s Day, so our Valentine’s Day feast was postponed a week.  But then we went all out.  Oh yes we did.

For the first course, I made the Caesar Salad for Two.

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Now, if you are like me, you have probably never made Caesar dressing at home.  Maybe the anchovies scared you off.  Maybe it was the raw egg.  Either way, it’s a daunting proposition.  I decided to give it a try anyhow (because someone had to) and let me just say, you should ignore all of your fears and hesitations regarding this and just make it for heaven’s sake!  It’s so good!!  The bear was so thrilled with it that he literally made me make it three more times in the following week.  It tastes neither fishy, nor eggy.  It tastes like what comes out of a bottle only 100 times more flavorful and delicious.  Do it!  The good thing about this recipe is that it is a small batch too, just enough to make a decent size bowl of salad for two maybe three people.  I’m not sure how well homemade caesar would store in the fridge so this recipe is ideal.

We followed our salad with Steak and Shrimp with Parsley Potatoes.

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Well really, the steak was for the Bear, and the shrimp were for me.  I did try the steak (the first steak I ever cooked) and I thought it was quite tasty.  It wasn’t too beefy just tasted nice and seared and salty.  (I tried to replicate it with a different cut of meat and again it was too beefy).  The shrimp were cooked perfectly.  They were sweet and buttery.  I think scallops would also be good in this recipe.  The potatoes were also quite tasty.  They were buttery and the perfect little side for the decadent shrimp and steak.

And finally… oh yes, the Fresh Orange and Yogurt Tart.

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Navel oranges are for chumps so I used blood oranges.  This was an awesome desert folks.  Just spectacular.  After such a decadent meal this wasn’t so over the top sweet that we would instantly fall into a food coma.  Nope it was light and satisfying.  It was an amazing texture and I will absolutely make some variation of this again.  I think it might be pretty awesome to make the yogurt part and then top it with a curd, maybe like that incredible orange curd I made for the pavlova.

So there you have it, a feast to end all feasts.  A feast to end the Jan/Feb 2010 issue.  Next up, March 2009!!

Lemon Icebox Cookies

Lemon Icebox Cookies 

All packed up to go to Book Club.

All packed up to go to Book Club.

This recipe is super simple. I just tossed everything into the food processor and I had my dough within seconds.  Literally.  However, this recipe made me realize two things.  Number one, I need to upgrade to a new zester, rasp, whatever you want to call it.  The one I have was sent to me as a gift for renewing my Everyday Food subscription many years ago.  It probably wasn’t great to begin with.  Now, it just needs to go.  Time to upgrade to a microplane.  Second, I need to upgrade my baking sheets.  I’ve had them for close to a decade and used them continually.  It’s time.  It’s also time because for some reason one of the pans I was using made the bottom of these cookies super dark, despite rotating the pans in the oven.

The cookies themselves were delicious.  They were like a lightly lemony shortbread. Yum!  They went over well with my new book club (I took them to the first ever meeting I attended.) and I’m sure they aided my acceptance into the group.  And so, I’ve decided to rename them Lemon IceBreaker Cookies!

 

 

 

 

 

Citrus desserts: better together

Mint-grapefruit granita

Candied Citrus peel

BFF's

BFF’s

This was a truly inspired, but possibly obvious pairing.  The granita calls for juice from three grapefruits.  The candied peel calls for two grapefruits.  Well, heck, might as well take the peel from a couple of the grapefruits, right?  Why would you buy two more grapefruits just to candy the peel or buy more grapefruits just for the juice? The two recipes are also quite tasty together.  The candied peel adds a little more sweetness to the sour granita.  I had a few servings of the granita, and I always liked it better with the candied peel as a topping.

How are they on their own?  Ok.  I thought the candied peel was tasty, but a whole lot of work for very few pieces of actual candy.  B is nodding her head vigorously right now.  She and her bear usually make fruitcakes every Christmas.  That sends them spiraling down into the depths of citrus peel candy madness.  She has told me tales of sore fingernails from peeling citrus for hours.  It does not sound glamorous.  The end product is tasty.  The recipe said you could save it in an air-tight container, but that didn’t quite work for me.  The little bit of humidity in the February air got to the peel and it got kind of gloppy.  It was never quite so chewy after the first day.  The sugar also soaked into the actual peel.  It was still tasty on the granita, though.

How was the granita?  Again, ok.  Needs peel.  I did not follow the directions on this one.  I make another granita recipe that has you stir the mixture with a fork periodically while it freezes.  I thought that sounded easier than taking a frozen hunk of juice out of a glass container, chipping it into a food processor, and having to clean all the food processor parts.  I would guess that the texture is better if you use a food processor, but I wasn’t feeling it.  The taste is nice.  It’s bright, citrussy, a little minty.  There’s nothing offensive about it.  D and I tried adding tequila to it.  It didn’t really help.  The peel seemed the best way to have this.  We would up throwing out a lot of granita.  I don’t think it helps that a dessert like this is not at all appealing in the middle of a cold snap.  C’mon Everyday Food!  Where’s the salute to warm brownies?

In the end, honestly, I’m not sure why the editors of Everyday Food didn’t suggest making these together.  Maybe they did in some introductory essay that I didn’t read.  Oh well.

Baking Sunday morning before any coffee…Recipe for disaster??

Lemon-lime Tea Cakes, January/February 2010, pg. 98

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The lemon-lime tea cakes was the last recipe on my list to bake for EF’s 69th issue.  I woke up bright and early (7 am) Sunday morning ready to bake! Got the coffee brewing and then started mixing the ingredients for the tea cakes.

Using my lovely Kitchen Aid, I combined all the ingredients, put the batter into 20 mini-muffin reservoirs, and popped them in the oven.  Poured myself a cup of coffee, took a sip, and started gathering my thoughts for the lemon syrup I was about to make.  Dang…I completely forgot to put the salt in the tea cakes.  I probably should have waited to start baking after I had some coffee, to let my brain wake up.  Oh well, the damage has already been done…Back to making the lemon syrup and finishing my cup of coffee.

The syrup took less than 15 minutes to make, so it was perfect timing.  I was able to pour the hot syrup over the hot tea cakes.  The smaller tea cakes soaked up the syrup better, because the syrup that didn’t soak into the toothpick holes, seeped between the cake and pan.

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P and I snacked on the lemon-lime tea cakes while watching ‘Meet the Press’ and drinking coffee.  The tea cakes were amazing!  They were like baby pound cakes with a nice burst of citrus flavor.  We didn’t miss the salt one bit!

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I would definitely make these again and would love to try orange peel and juice.  Although the lemon-lime tea cakes will be hard to beat!

Baking Sunday morning before drinking coffee was NOT a disaster!

Sunday dinner for four.

Dinner!

Dinner!

Dessert!

Dessert!

Beet and Carrot Slaw, January/February 2010, pg. 21

Our Sunday night dinner this past week included a beef roast grilled at a low temperature on our charcoal grill, mashed potatoes, beet and carrot slaw, and black forest upside-down cakes.

Dinner was delicious, especially the beet and carrot slaw.  I love raw carrots.  On average I eat them 6 days a week: on salad or just plain carrots (Bugs Bunny style).  I love the sweetness of them and crunch.  I also really like roasted beets.  They are sweet and have a very unique color and taste!  I had never had raw beets or beet greens before so I was looking forward to this colorfully sweet slaw.

The slaw was very simple to make, although a little dangerous and it turned my hands pink!  I must admit I was pretty nervous grating the beets, picturing myself loosing pieces of fingers, every time I pushed the beet down the grater.  Next time I won’t cut both ends off the beets, so I will have a little more to hold onto while grating.  Washing the grated beets took a lot more water than I expected.  They WOULD NOT stop bleeding pink!  I finally got relatively clear water and called it quits.  The slaw dressing was very good.  The sweetness from the orange juice and tangy taste of the mustard and vinegar complemented the vegetables well.

The beet and carrot slaw was a hit!  Everyone went back for seconds, but we still had one serving of slaw leftover.  P brought it for lunch a few days later and said it still tasted great, however, everything had a pink tint.  Definitely a recipe to eat the day you make it, if you want three distinct colors!  I will be making this slaw again.

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Black Forest Upside-down Cakes, January/February 2010, pg. 51

The black forest upside-down cakes tasted good but the baking process was not positive.  As I made the batter, I was convinced the cakes were going to be a disaster.

My parents had dinner with us, so I doubled the recipe.  I was not a fan of the recipes directions.  The recipe tells you to stir room temperature butter (it’s January, so room temperature is 65⁰F) and sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.  Are you joking me?!  That was NOT going to be possible, so I got out my electric hand-beater.  The butter and sugar never got light and fluffy, it didn’t seem like there was enough butter to get the fluffy texture you usually get after beating the two ingredients.  (Since I doubled the recipe, so I checked my math and I did put the correct amount of each ingredient in the batter.)  Then I stirred in the rest of the ingredients and the batter was not what I was expecting.  It reminded me of an extremely thick brownie batter.  The batter was so thick, it stuck to my wooden spoon as I was putting it into my cherry lined pans.  I pulled up a few of the cherries as I was trying to evenly spread the batter in the pans.  At this point, I was positive, we wouldn’t be having dessert…

I ended up baking the two cakes for about 45 minutes.  This was probably because of my pan choice.  I didn’t have ramekins, but I did have two 5” springform cake pans.  While I let the cakes cool for twenty minutes, I made the whipped cream.  I left out the rum, because I’m not consuming alcohol anymore, and followed my grandmother’s advice for homemade whipped cream.

Put a glass bowl and the metal beaters in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before making the whipped cream.  (Yes, specifically a glass bowl.  I’ve gotten scolded for using a metal bowl, I honestly don’t know the reasoning behind the glass bowl but that’s how grandma does it.)  The cream whips much faster if all the utensils are colder than the cream.  Add a teaspoon or two of white sugar and then whip together until you get the consistency you want.  Back to the cakes…

The springform pans worked really well!  The cakes looked perfect.  Although, I think the batter was a little thicker and I probably should have used a third pan or pans that had a larger diameter.  This would have made the cherry to batter ratio more equal.

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Everyone really liked the rich tasting cakes.  One small piece for each person was more than enough.  I had never had sour cherries before and they were very good and went well with the chocolate.  But, honestly what doesn’t go well with chocolate?  I also liked the portion size of the cake.  In hindsight I didn’t even have to double the recipe.  The four of us ate one of the two cakes that night.  Personally, the cake was a little too dense for me.  I am going to blame the density on the very thick batter.  At this point, the black forest upside-down cakes, are a one-time experience for me.

Sandwich cookies.

Heart Sandwich Cookies, January/February 2010, pg.124

heart sandwich cookies

I was more than happy to make another dessert/snack that required rolled oats!  (I’m almost down to one container.)  I also thought these cookies would be perfect to mail to my brother for his birthday.  He’s a very busy person who eats at least 3 forms of peanut butter and jelly everyday.  Since, his cabinets are full of different jellies, hazelnut spread, peanut butter, almond butter, etc., (If you are going to eat three PB&J’s a day, you need variety!) I left the sandwich filling up to him.

The heart sandwich cookies were very easy to make.  I did use dark brown sugar, because that’s what I had.  The dough was a little darker than those in the Everyday Food issue, but the taste probably didn’t change that much.  Holy Moly, was the dough hard after I took it out of the refrigerator!  I had to let it sit for over 30 minutes before I could roll it.  I decided not to use a heart cookie-cutter, since I would be sending the cookies to my brother.  I also had to bake the cookies longer than the recipe said.  I am to blame for that because I’m not good at rolling thin cookies.  My rolled out dough is always thicker, maybe I need to keep a ruler in the kitchen.

The final product was pretty good.  I had a plain cookie and decided it tasted a lot like shortbread.  Which makes sense since there is 1.5 sticks of butter and a decent amount of sugar in the cookies.  I did find that the cookies were a little salty.  I would recommend decreasing the amount of salt.  My husband made a grape jelly sandwich with the cookies.  He said it was good but the jelly was rather messy.  So I decided to dip the cookies in some melted semi-sweet chocolate and make some sandwiches with the melted chocolate.  The hardened chocolate went well with the cookies and prevented a gooey mess while eating the sandwich cookies.  Overall, the sandwich cookies were fine, nothing special.