JB Bars

JP, this one’s for you.

Since traveling to Australia is sort of like going to the U.S. from a size perspective, we chose to visit three cities: Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglass (an hour outside of Cairns).

In each of the three cities, a delightful little petit-four like cookie was served alongside coffee for a taste of something sweet at the end of meals.

The little treats started with a shortbread base.  To which a layer of penuche, or brown sugar fudge was added.

The squares were topped by a layer of chocolate.

These are kind of like million dollar shortbread.  Only not.

Once we got home I spent some time trying to find a name for these little guys.  No luck.

So, TD and I decided to name them ourselves.

While in Sydney, we met up with our friend Julia (and Jennifer and Myra).  They were there leading a group of college students and while it’s a sad state of affairs to have to go halfway around the world to spend time with someone who lives less than 10 miles away, good fun was had by all.  Some of that fun was the discussion, debate and general admiration of a certain footie player from the Sydney Swans.

Australian rules football is fantastic.  TD and I caught a Sunday game in Melbourne (at the historical MCG) between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues.  It was a crisp afternoon in early fall with huge clouds and a cool breeze.  Beer, meat pies with tomato sauce and some very….athletic athletes.  It doesn’t get much better.

Australians are fervent sports fans and on their island nation, the Sydney Swans are royalty.

Their crowned prince?  That certain footie player, Jude Bolton.  A prolific athlete–315 games in his 14 year career thus far–Mr. Bolton is, according to JP, also an ace bloke.   Dear readers, meet Jude.

Photo source: Phil Hillyard / News Limited via FoxSports.

By now you’ve figured it out.  JB Bars are short for Jude Bolton bars.  Because, we like him that much.

As for the Sydney Swans…well…Australia seems to have a knack for using American fight songs as their own.  The Sydney Swans fight song is set to the tune of the Notre Dame fight song.  Make what you will of that little nugget.

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Salted Caramel Squares

Twix Bars

JB Bars

penuche layer adapted from Stephanie Stiavetti at www.theculinarylife.com everything else is Misanthropic Hostess

Shortbread Base


  • 10 TBS butter, cold
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/8 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 1/8 C salt


  1. Preheat oven to 235 degrees.
  2. Line an 8X8 or 9X9 pan with parchment so that pieces hang off the end on all four sides.
  3. In a food processor, pulse together sugars, flour and salt.
  4. Cut butter into 1/2 TBS pieces.  Using pulse function on the processor, add-in pieces one-at-a-time until the dough just barely comes together.
  5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  6. Press dough into pan.
  7. Prick dough all over with fork.
  8. Bake on middle rack until golden brown (20-30 minutes…begin checking at 20 minutes or when you  begin to smell the butter cooking).
  9. Remove from over and allow to cool completely.

Penuche & Chocolate Layers

  • 2½ cups brown sugar
  • 2½ cups white sugar
  • 1¼ cup whole milk or half and half
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8-12 ounces chopped chocolate (I used bittersweet) depending on how thick you’d like the layer.  I used about 9 ounces.


  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low flame, heat brown sugar, white sugar, milk, butter, and salt to 236F while stirring constantly. This should take 20-25 minutes.
  2. Pour penuche into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium for 2-4 minutes, or until fudge is thick and smooth. Lower speed to low and add vanilla extract.
  3. Using a spatula greased with butter, spread penuche fudge on top of shortbread base, smoothing out the top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the penuche is cooling, melt chocolate in a double boiler or in microwave (50% power, 30 seconds at a time, stirring in-between until chocolate is melted and smooth).
  5. Spread chocolate evenly over penuche layer using an offset spatula.  Allow to harden.
  6. Lift entire concoction from pan using the ends of the parchment.  Cut into 1-inch squares.
  7. Serve or use within two or three days.  Will keep slightly longer if stored in an air-tight container.  Do not refrigerate.


Shake Your Cherry Ripe Bonbon

I love wandering the aisles of grocery stores in other countries.  I may be overstating this assertion, but I think grocery stores are a pretty accurate proxy of a country’s cultural, political and even geographical positions.  The snack food aisle (often aisles) is one of my favorite.  I love perusing the exotic packaging and, when I can cipher  the language, the strange and wonderful flavor combinations.  I’ll admit, part of the allure is the “ewww gross” factor.  Smoked shrimp Doritos?  Limberger Cheetos?  Disgusting…and yet…completely fascinating.

While I generally draw the line at observation on the salty snacks, international candy is a favorite of mine to bring back as gifts (especially since many of the interesting varieties can be purchased through duty-free shops, helping with the customs issue).  I probably brought back $50 worth of candy from Hong Kong a couple of years ago.  I have no idea what it was…but the packaging was gorgeous.

Before heading to Australia, a friend of ours gave TD the inside line on her favorite Aussie candy bar: Cabury’s cherry ripe.  Intrepid chocolate triers that we are, we managed to procure a cherry ripe within hours of landing in Melbourne.  Dark chocolate+coconut+glace cherry bits makes an excellent combination.

Photo credit: http://www.cadbury.co.nz/products/bars/cherry-ripe.aspx?p=3550

Once the cherry ripe seal was broken, there was no going back.  In order to preserve our own innocence, I purposefully did not count the number of cherry ripe bars purchased while “in-country.”

I did realize early on however, that the coconutty-cherry middle had a very similar consistency to the needhams I made last fall.

And so, upon return to the U.S., I got down to business recreating the cherry ripe bar into bonbons.  The middle of a cherry ripe bar is darker than my little bonbons…more of a crimson than a candy apple.  But, candy apple was the only red food gel I had in my stash at the time.  I ordered the glace cherries from Amazon.  I’m fairly certain the only thing anyone uses those things for are fruit cakes…and the middle of summer is decidedly NOT fruitcake season (insert joke here).

I used a 1/2 ounce scoop to form the chilled guts into little balls.  Then I froze the balls and, pulling them out of the freezer in batches of 12 or so, dipped them in dark chocolate.

TD claims these taste very similar to the original.

Provided their lurid color, I think they’d make a good halloween treat.


INXS (the original, not the one they tried to make over a few years ago).  These guys were a major part of the musical landscape that was high school for me.  Need you Tonight, Suicide Blonde and New Sensation all bring to mind images of swim meets and beach days at La Jolla Shores.  What I didn’t find out until later was that the band’s original name was The Farriss Brothers: Andrew, Jon and Tim.  While the spelling is different, two of the three are what my father and grandfather are called.

Cherry Ripe Bonbons


  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes (not seasoned) (you could easily get this amount from a single large russet potato)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb  confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 7 ounces flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 7 ounces glace cherries, finely chopped (you can also buy “cherry chips” where the chopping has been done for you
  • red food gel
  • 18 ounces (about 1 1/2 packages)  chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 paraffin wax block, the same paraffin you melt to use on top jam (2 1/2 by 2 1/2)


  1. Pare, cook, and mash potato to make three-quarters of a cup. Add salt.
  2. If you are making recipes right after boiling the potato, use the still-warm sauce pan or dutch oven. The pan should still be warm enough to melt the butter off the heat.  If not, turn on heat to low and allow butter to melt.
  3. Turn off heat and add mashed potato, confectioners sugar and gel.  Fold to evenly mix color.
  4. Add-in flaked coconut, chopped cherries and vanilla.
  5. Mix well and turn into a buttered 9X9 inch pan and spread evenly.
  6. Refrigerate to harden.
  7. When hard, scoop and then roll into balls (I used a 1/2 ounce scooper).
  8. Place cut squares back into the fridge until dipping.
  9. For the dipping chocolate, again use a double boiler or place a heat-proof bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water.
  10. Add paraffin and allow to melt.
  11. Add chocolate and allow to melt.
  12. Stir well to mix ingredients.
  13. Dip in the chocolate mixture (with a fork, toothpick, or my personal favorite, bamboo BBQ skewer).
  14. Place on waxed paper to harden.


The Josh’s Mom (cherry limeade for grown ups)

I know I said we’d go back to Australia for a few weeks, but I’ve got one more recipe before we do that.  It’s an adult beverage.  And, I couldn’t wait until the end of the summer to share.

I can’t quite figure out how to tell the story of this cocktail without revealing what incredibly bad people TD and I are.  So, I’m just going to tell the truth.

Our little unicorporated area of Los Angeles has its own fourth of July parade.  Like many other July 4th parades across this fine country, ours is populated by local politicians in classic cars, boy scouts, indian guides and youth baseball/softball leagues.  TD and I started going when we moved to the neighborhood because it seemed unpatriotic not to attend a parade that begins three blocks from our house.

Three summers ago we were doing our American duty, sitting on the curb watching the 10th high school band drift by when a miracle happened.  We were situated next to a family with (as we remember it), a boy of about seven.  Every time this child even began to look like he might wander off, his mother would yell: “josh.  Josh.  JOSH!!!!!”  Soon TD and I were so wrapped up in the drama going on next to us that the parade was nearly forgotten.    While we felt bad for poor Josh, his overbearing mother’s shenanigans were very entertaining.

The following year the miracle happened again and we found ourselves side-by-side with Josh and his mom.  This year was even better.

So, you know how at some, small town parades the participants throw candy?  Our parade has candy and swag.  T-shirts, beach balls, airline peanuts, reusable shopping bags–all up for the taking.  The distribution is randomized…and almost always done by children.  They walk by, throw stuff and the kids pick up what they can.  You’ve done this before right?

So.  Josh’s mom.  Every time there was swag to be had, she did one of two things.  If Josh didn’t get some, she would approach the giver (remember, they’re almost always kids) and ask for some.  If, by chance Josh got whatever prize was thrown…but only one, Josh’s mom would still solicit the thrower with the same explanation each time: “can I have another (fill in piece of crap here), Josh’s sister isn’t here and they’ll fight if she doesn’t get (fill in your piece of crap here).

Now, I don’t know about you, but where I grew up there was parade etiquette.  These unwritten rules pretty much stated that if you are lucky enough to be watching a parade and if the parade walkers throw cool stuff into the crowd, you either get some or you don’t.  You don’t stop the progress of the parade just so you can get  [insert piece of crap here].   I know times change so I did some research.  TD and I looked up and down the parade route and Josh’s mom was the only parent guilting poor local dance troupes and Shriners for gifts.

We continued to feel really bad for Josh.  And whoever he might date in the future.  If he’s ever allowed to date.

Which brings us to this year.  We figured, if by some chance we happened to sit in the vicinity of Josh’s mom, we’d do some careful observation and come up with a cocktail for future Josh.  Guess who we sat next to at the parade?  I promise, it wasn’t planned.  In fact, Josh’s mom didn’t join the crew until the parade had begun.  Much to our surprise, Josh has not only a sister but another younger brother (which made us wonder why 2012 Josh’s mom was only asking for stuff for the sister).

TD and I went to the parade armed with our cell phones so that we could text each other should to chance arise (I told you, we are bad, bad people).  Sure enough, first swag throwers come through and one, or two of Josh’s siblings didn’t get the double bubble being thrown.  So, mom flies into action.  Again, and again, and again.

Here is the thing, Josh’s mom used the excuse that her kids would fight if all three didn’t get equal stash.  But, as very close observers of the scene, TD and I can attest, those kids bickered the entire time.  They bickered in way that neither TD and I would have ever dared fight in front of our parents.  Josh’s mom seems to have a new strategy: yell at the kids to stop bickering while her eyes and fingers are engaged in what I’m guessing is candy crusher or some other momlike phone game.

By the end of the parade, we decided that Josh didn’t need the cocktail, we did.  And, so, I bring you the Josh’s mom.  Next year, we’ll come to the parade armed with enough cocktails for not only us, but anyone who happens to sit next to Josh’s mom and family.

Josh’s Mom

Makes 6 high ball or 8 low ball cocktails

note: of course these can be made individually.  BUT, I think this recipe works better as a punch.


  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2/3 C fresh lime juice
  • 2 C frozen sweet or sour cherries (I used sweet)
  • 2 C soda water, seltzer or sprite
  • 1 C vodka
  • Lime wheels or wedges to garnish


For simple lime syrup (do this at least 2 hours in advance and allow to chill).

  1. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan.  Stir to dissolve sugar and allow to come to a boil.
  2. Once mixture is boiling, turn off heat and add lime zest.  Allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain-out lime zest (I use a fine-mesh colander) and chill.

To assemble punch

  1. In a blender, puree cherries until smooth.
  2. Mix-in lime juice.
  3. Mix-in seltzer.
  4. Mix-in simple syrup to taste (start with 3 TBS and go from there depending on desired tartness).
  5. Mix-in vodka.
  6. Serve over ice with lime wheels as garnish.

Julio’s Hot Carrots

As TD will agree, my love for the hot carrot borders on embarrassing.  A staple of the Southern California taco stand, I often force him into causing a distraction so that I can heap these spicy little gems directly onto whatever I’ve ordered, completely bi-passing the appropriate little dishes provided.  Who am I kidding, whatever  I’ve ordered is just a beard to deliver the hot carrots.

Also embarrassing?  It’s taken me this long to realize I could make my own at home.

In researching recipes I discovered that what I thought was a requisite member of any good salsa bar may just be regional.  Most recipes I found suggest that the hot carrot originated in a Mexican restaurant in San Diego called Julio’s.  Julio’s is no longer open and sadly, I don’t remember ever going there while growing up.  But, his legacy is strong and far-reaching.

Sadly, not the first Kitchen God photo bomb this blog has seen.

I thought this would be a fun fourth of July recipe because somewhere along the way I found an Alton Brown creation called Firecracker Carrots.  Sadly, his recipe uses baby carrots.  The blasphemy.

Will I stop raiding the spicy carrot bowl at our local taco shop?  Have you met me?  But, at least in my house, hot carrots have been elevated from a sometimes food to an all-the-time food.

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Foster the People…in an attempt to will a new album into existence.

San Diego Style Hot Carrots

source:  this recipe is a little like salsa, I mixed and matched ingredient lists until I got a blend I liked


  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 7 ounce can pickled jalapenos (with juice)
  • 2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS oregano
  • 1 TBS kosher salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 TBS oil (I used olive)


  • Clean and peel carrots.  Slice on the diagonal to about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Add carrots to a large saucepan and bring to boil in about 24 ounces water.  Once water hits a steady boil, set timer for 5 minutes.  Promptly drain carrots in a collander.
  • While water is heating, thinly slice onion.
  • In a large bowl, combined onion, jalapenos and juice, vinegar, spices, bay leaves and oil.
  • Add blanched carrots to bowl.  Mix until all ingredients are well distributed.
  • Cover bowl and let mixture cool for three hours.
  • Hot carrots can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.  They won’t last that long, I promise.