Peepshi

When I saw the post from Serious Eats on making sushi out of Rice Krispie Treats and decapitated Peeps, I had to give it a shot.  Their recipe called for store bought Rice Krispies and Fruit by the Foot.  Of course, I had to make my own! 

Here is the recipe straight from Kellog’s website for Rice Krispie Treats:  

   
  • 3 tablespoons  butter or margarine
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40)  regular marshmallows
  • – OR –
  • 4 cups  miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups  Rice Krispies®
  •  

     

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add KELLOGG’S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS:
In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Follow steps 2 and 3 above. Microwave cooking times may vary.

Note

For best results, use fresh marshmallows.
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème can be substituted for marshmallows.
Diet, reduced calorie or tub margarine is not recommended.
Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container. To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

     I thought it would be easier to mold the the Treats before they were set.  It wasn’t.  I found the easiest method was to let them set fully and then cut off slices about 1/2 an inch thick.  Also a good idea to butter your hands and have a cup of water standing by to quickly wash off sticky goo. 
     Fruit leather is very simple  and a heck of lot cheaper and tastier to make yourself.  Basically you make a fruit puree by peeling and pureeing in a food processor whatever fruit you feel like and then straining out the solids.  Depending on the sweetness of the fruit, add sugar to the puree to taste.  You can also add a touch of lemon or any spices you want at this point.  Cook the puree on the stove top until thickened.  This will vary depending on the water content in your fruit.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with sturdy plastic wrap (the kind that is microwave safe) or use a silpat baking mat.  Pour out the purée into the lined baking sheet to about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.  Place the baking sheet in the oven, try to keep any plastic wrap from touching the sides of the oven or the oven racks. Also try to make sure that the plastic wrap hasn’t folded back over on top of the purée. If this happens, the purée won’t dry out. Heat the oven to a low 140°F. If you have a convection setting, use it, it will speed up the process and help dry out the purée. Let dry in the oven like this for as long as it takes for the purée to dry out and form fruit leather. I usually keep it in the oven overnight, so about 8-12 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface.  I have even over dried it before and it became almost brittle but I just brushed it with some water and it became pliable again.
     I found it easier to shape individual pieces of the sushi and cutting the leather to fit the pieces.  It might have been possible to shape in rolls like regular sushi but I did not have a rolling mat.  I used Pop Rocks to garnish like roe as well as sesame seeds and chocolate sprinkles. 
I took these to a birthday celebration and had to get a shot of my biggest fan!!
 
 

Bacon Pecan Toffee

Found this great pic of my toffee surrounded by other bacony goodness at adventures of a florida girl in dc blog.

Had a very long and intense weekend with the bloggers workshop on Saturday and Bacon Takedown on Sunday.  Although I did not win the Takedown, I had a great time, especially with the Bacon Bloody Mary’s (thank you Lucky 13 Mixology!! ). 

As promised, here is the recipe for my Bacon Pecan Toffee with Candied Bacon.  Candy can be very temperamental and I prefer especially with these recipes to use a scale for more accurate results.  An accurate candy thermometer is not necessary but highly recommended.

2 lb Fresh Salted Butter

2.4 lb Granulated Cane Sugar

0.4 lb Baker’s Special sugar **see note for substitution**

4 oz chopped candied bacon*** see recipe below***

12 oz cooked and crumbled bacon****see note below****

1 lb Whole pecans, lightly toasted

0.8 oz Salt

0.3 oz Lecithin*see note below*

6.4 oz Warm water

12 oz Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips (can use milk, dark, whatever you like but these are my go to chocolate chips)

12 oz butterscotch chips

The procedure:

Place butter in a heavy pan. Bring to boiling point and add the warm water. Again bring to the boiling point and stir in the granulated cane sugar. Wash down sides with water and a pastry brush. Bring to a good stiff boil and add the lecithin. (*The lecithin is optional but helps ensure butter and sugar do not  separate during cooking process.* )   Cook to 250°F. Add the roasted pecans. Cook to 280° -290°F and then lower the temperature on the stove. Cook to 300°-306°F. Take the pan off the stove and add the salt, crumbled bacon (not the candied bacon, that goes on top) and Baker’s special sugar(** I used equal weight of regular sugar and pulsed it in the spice grinder 7-8 times.  The purpose is to seed the sugar in the candy to produce a fine grain to your toffee, so you want the consistency to be somewhere between granulated and powdered sugar.**)   Mix well and pour onto a buttered cooling slab or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper that has brushed with butter or if you are feeling really naughty, use the bacon fat left from cooking off bacon.  Quickly spread batch.  Top warm toffee with a sprinkling of both chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.  When chocolate is melted, use a skewer to draw a marbled pattern with the butterscotch.  Top with crumbled candied bacon.  Store in refrigerator for at least a couple of days but preferably for a week for toffee to achieve maximum grain and butter flavor.  The easiest way to break up the toffee is to turn it toffee (as opposed to chocolate) side up, cover with a lint free cloth, and hit with a hammer.  Store it in the refrigerator or freezer. 

*** Candied Bacon-

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the strips of bacon flat and not overlapping.  Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar over the bacon.  Place in oven and then turn oven on to 325 degrees F.  You want the bacon to cook low and slow to render out as much of the fat as possible.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, to your desired doneness. 

****I used candied bacon in the toffee for the first batch but found it to be grainy and chewy.  I much prefer to use the candied bacon on top and regular bacon inside the toffee.  You can cook off large batches on sheet trays similar to the candied bacon method but without the brown sugar and do not cook on the same tray.  The candied bacon is much more sensitive to burning.

“Baked” Brownies

baked browniesMy bff’s Ethan and Michelle have a house out in Buda, TX with a wonderful wraparound porch.  After a stressful week, there is nothing more relaxing than kicking your boots up on the rail and having a cold one.  Sometimes, after an especially stressfull week, a cold one is a tall glass of milk along with my favorite brownies.

This recipe is from “Baked:  New Frontieers in Cooking”  by Matt Lewis and Reanto Poliafito.  It is the perfect combination of fudgey and chewey.  It also closely resembles another of my favorite confections, Miles of Chocolate, although Miles’ are gluten free and these are not.

Parchment paper "sling"
Parchment paper "sling"

I would also recommend making a sling for the brownies by lining the pan with parchment paper or tin foil with enough overlapping the edges to pull the brownies out of the pan AFTER they cool.

THE BAKED BROWNIE
Yield: 24 brownies

The Baked brownie is a beautiful thing. It has won the hearts and minds of many people, been featured on the pages of O Magazine as a favorite thing, and won best brownie by the folks at America’s Test Kitchen and the Today Show. Our brownie really owes many kudos to our friend and superstar pastry chef Lesli Heffler-Flick. She created the original ultimate brownie for us. It is dense, chocolatey, and slightly fudgy, and we are forever grateful to her for letting us adapt her recipe.

Baked Note: A great brownie is easy to make, but you have to be aware of several factors. 1. Use a dark cocoa powder, like Valrhona. A pale, light-colored cocoa does not have enough depth. 2. Make sure your eggs are room temperature and do not overbeat them into the batter, and 3. Make sure you check your brownies often while baking. Once the brownies have been overbaked slightly, they have reached the point of no return.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60-72%), chopped coarsely
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal pan 9x13x2 pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.

Configure a large sized double boiler. Place the chocolate, the butter, and the instant espresso powder in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. Mixture should be room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (DO NOT USE A WHISK) fold the dry into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.

Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with your spatula. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotate the pan half-way through baking) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.

Best So Far Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

One of the first things I learned to bake was chocolate chip cookies off the back of the yellow Tollhouse package.  Every time I made them, they seemed to turn out different.  Sometimes crispy, sometimes chewy.  Sometimes cakey, sometimes perfect.  I have since learned that recipes are more about technique than a list of ingredients.

For example, “Beat until creamy.”  Creamy with my KitchenAid is way different then creamy by hand or even with a hand mixer.  I now know that over-beating the butter and sugar can cause the too much air to be incorporated  into the batter and  the cookies will overspread and flatten.  Over-mixing when you add the flour causes gluten strands to form which makes cookies tough.

I have tried many different chocolate chip cookie recipes and my favorite so far is Alton Brown’s “The Chewy.”    It is important to follow this recipe EXACTLY to achieve the perfect combination of the crispy edge with the chewy center.

Ingredients

Hardware:

  • Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheets
  • Mixer

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

 

Personally, I like to scoop before I chill onto a parchment lined baking sheet, placing them as close together as possible so I can fit almost a double batch on one sheet.  Once they are chilled, you can bake as many as you like and save the raw dough already scooped in the freezer.  Nothing says “love” like fresh, homemade cookies.

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