No hedgehogs were harmed…

Continuing our tour of Australian treats!

While in Melbourne we visited the Queen Victoria Market several times. Like Vancouver’s Public Market, Florence’s Mercato de San Lorenzo or even Los Angeles’ own Original Farmer’s Market ,  Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is an eclectic circus of produce, fish, meat, and bespoke food stuffs.

While it was delightful pursuing the long rows of fresh produce and authentic Australia goods (kangaroo paw anyone?), our true fascination (read infatuation) was with the collection of tiny fine goods stalls in the original building.

We spent a good deal of enjoyed time oggling the fresh cheese, pasta and cured meat stalls.

And of course there were the patisseries and bakers.  It was while TD was standing in line for his daily flat white that I spied a new-to-me treat at one such shop.  The handwritten card labeled the brownie type good as “hedgehog slice.”  Intrigued, I bought a wedge of the zebra (not really hedgehog) like confection.

First things first, the term “slice” appears in tandem with many Australian treats: hedgehog slice, caramel slice, cherry ripe slice, lemon slice, jelly slice…you get the idea.  Generally, slice in Australia seems to fall into the same category as square or bar here in the U.S.

Sometimes slice is baked, while other times, like with the hedgehog, things are just sort of thrown together and then refrigerated (kind of like magic or nanaimo bars).

And, as with nearly every Australian baked good and candy we encountered, coconut plays a central roll.  Our first impression (in the name of research) of hedgehog slice was that they were a sort fudge with vanilla cookie bits lightening up the deal (bet you never thought you’d see “cookie bits” and “lightening things up” in the same sentence).

Luckily, a review of recipes revealed that these are even easier to make than fudge.  They require no baking and can be infinitely varied (I suggest subbing-in Tim Tams for the Marie cookies).

And, like the Anzac biscuits, these were a surprise hit.

About the name.  I couldn’t really find a single answer as to why they’re called hedgehog slice.  In fact, hedgehogs aren’t even native to Australia.  Of course, neither are the British.

Hedgehog Slice

source: I tried out a couple of methods for making hedgehog slice.  The method using sweetened condensed milk was delicious but didn’t set-up properly.  The recipe below worked well the first, second and third times I tried them.  As what happens with recipes, several I came across referred back to an original posting in a magazine called Women’s Weekly.  The recipe below is a repost from a blog called Honey Kitchen

I’ve converted the appropriate measurements to US customary

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ x 200g packets Marie biscuits, coarsely chopped
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
  • ½ C desiccated coconut (shredded works just fine)
  • 250g  (about 1 1/4 C) butter, chopped
  • 1 ¼ C granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 150g  (3/4 C) dark chocolate, melted
  • ½ tsp vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Grease a 9X9 pan and line base and two long sides with parchment paper, extending paper 2cm above edges of pan.
  2. Combine biscuits, nuts and coconut in large bowl.
  3. Place butter, sugar and sifted cocoa in a medium pan; stir over heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; whisk in egg.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over biscuit mixture; mix well. Press into prepared pan. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
  5. Turn slice onto a chopping board; cut into pieces. Spoon combined warm, melted chocolate and oil in a small snap-lock plastic bag. Squeeze chocolate to one corner; twist bag, then snip tip of bag. Drizzle chocolate over top of slice; refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

I like big bundts and I cannot lie

I know, I know, I know.  I really have nothing to say for myself.

Actually, I do.

I haven’t had some sort of blogging mid-life crisis.  But, a girl only has so much free time. And most of my free time since the new year has been taken up by a little project we’re calling “Playa Remodel 15…15…15.”  As I type there are men demolishing my kitchen:

It’s very exciting.  But, as you remodel veterans know (and this rookie had NO idea), to get from idea to actual work is pretty much its own part-time job.  We started gathering bids in January and work has just begun this week.  We aren’t doing anything drastic. But because we’re living in the house at the same time, we’ve had to  break it up into nine phases.  And, I’ll let you in on a little secret: this is really just a test run for some bigger trouble we’re thinking of getting ourselves into later this year.

And then there was the matter of that hostile but totally legal URL takeover.  You may have noticed the new address.  If not, please update your feeds: www.tmhostess.com.   Let’s just say that if you ever need to be saved from your own idiocy (speaking strictly for myself), Jennette Fulda at Make Worthy Media is your gal.

I do have a couple of months worth of baking adventures to share with you all.  And of course, I took before pictures of the house so that I can share our misadventures

But, back to the bundts.

I mean really, who doesn’t like a big bundt?

This one was supposed to be a zebra cake.  A beautiful marriage of vanilla and chocolate cakes.

I thought i had the technique down while I was constructing the batter.

It looked pretty goof going into the oven.

Alas, it came out more tabby cat than zebra.

Nevertheless, this is a fantastic cake recipe.  It’s rich and moist and while I’ve included the original recipe for the ganache icing, I think it would be just a great with a dusting of powdered sugar.  It’s everything a big bundt should be.

 Zebra Bundt Cake

borrowed and not even slightly adapted from Bakers Royale

  • 3 C cake flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 ½ C granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ C natural (not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder
  • 6 TBS water
  • 1 ½ C unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ C whole milk

Glaze

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 C heavy cream

Directions

  1. Sift flour baking powder and salt into a bowl (yes, this is a second sifting of the flour); set aside.
  2. In a separate medium size bowl add in ½ cup of sugar, the cocoa powder, and water then whisk until mixture is smooth; set aside.
  3. Place melted butter and sugar in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium high until mixture is blended, about 1 minute. Add in vanilla and beat until combined. Add and beat eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition. Once all eggs are added, beat mixture until it becomes light and fluffy (it will resemble pancake batter, but slightly thinner).
  4. Turn mixer speed down to low and add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions and mixing just until blended.
  5. Add 2 cups of the batter to the cocoa mixture and stir until blended.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, pour two scoops of vanilla mixture into pan. Now alternate and pour one scoop of chocolate mixture on top of vanilla mixture. Continue to alternate between vanilla and chocolate layers until bundt pan is filled.
  7. Bake zebra pound cake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees F or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and cool completely.

To make glaze

  1. Place chocolate and cream in a pan over low heat and stir until chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before using.

 

And one for the road…Espresso Macarons

I know it’s October but I’ve got one more for you.

The theme of this run of macaron recipes seems to have been “stuff you can add to the shells without totally messing up their fickle, fickle structure.”  Maybe I should have started with this recipe because really, it’s a no brainer: espresso powder.  I was so lazy I didn’t even use the instant variety.  Nope, I just took a knife to a Nespresso pod (I do the same thing for my favorite brownie recipe) and the rich bitter results went straight into the batter.

A million years ago I worked as a cocktail waitress at Lawry’s the Prime Rib in Beverly Hills.  I’ve talked about this right?  Anyhow, when we made espresso we’d serve it with a lemon twist.  As a nod to the citrus brightness that plays so well with the espresso’s bitterness I added a drop or two of orange oil to the chocolate ganache filling.

Happy October!

Espresso Macarons with Bittersweet Chocolate and Orange Ganache

for the shells

Ingredients

  • 60g almond flour
  • 100g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground espresso
  • 50 g egg whites
  • 20 g granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 315 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  I like to draw the circles with Sharpie on a couple of pieces of parchment as a stencil. In order to use them multiple times I lay another piece of parchment over the top.
  2. Weigh and measure out all of your ingredients.  When I’m making multiple batches I actually weigh out the almond flour, sugar and any other dry ingredients into separate zip-lock baggies and label them.
  3. In a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse together almond meal, espresso powder and confectioner’s sugar.  Give it a few pulses then sift into a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  4. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or an electric hand mixer), add the egg whites.  Beat on medium low until frothy.
  5. Increase the speed and slowly add the granulated sugar and pinch of salt.
  6. Beat eggs until they form soft peaks.
  7. Working in three batches, add first portion of almond meal mixture to the egg-whites.  Gently fold until just combined.  Repeat with the additional two portions of meal folding to combine while using as few folds as possible.
  8. To test if the batter is ready to pipe, scoop about 1/4 tsp onto a flat surface.  The batter should act like lava and spread enough to lose its peak but not its shape.  I usually do this test several times starting at the point where everything is just combined.  If you under-mix the batter you can always give it a few more folds.  However, you are out of luck if you over mix.  So, err on the side of multiple tests.
  9. When the batter is ready, pour it into your piping bag.  To be honest, I don’t bother with a tip, I just snip the bag about an inch or so from the tip.
  10. Pipe your shells onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.
  11. Allow to sit for 10-60 minutes or until the shells appear dry.  I have found this process is heavily dependent on the weather.  The more moisture in the air, the longer they need to sit.
  12. Working with one sheet at a time, bake for about 20 minutes.  To test, gently grab one corner of the parchment and attempt to peel it from the shell.  A clean peel means the shells are done.  If they are sticky, back in the oven for another 5 minutes and test again.
  13. Let the shells cool but once cool, carefully remove from the parchment.  I have found that you don’t want to let the cooled shells sit on the parchment.

for the ganache

Ingredients

  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1/4 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 TBS butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 drops orange oil

 

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan gently warm the cream until little bubbles form along the perimeter.  Remove from heavy.
  2. Add in chopped chocolate swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is covered.  Let rest for 2-5 minutes.
  3. Gently whisk chocolate and cream to combine.  Add-in butter, salt and oil. Whisk until smooth and silky.
  4. Pour into a heat-proof container, cover and allow to set in fridge.

 

 

 

 

Dog Days

I know what you are thinking.  You think I’ve been slacking off all summer, what with the post here, another there and multiple weeks in between.

Actually, the opposite is true.

The last couple of summers I found myself teaching a pretty intense graduate course.  As much fun as it was (really, it was), come September I found myself exhausted and not really ready to start the academic year.

So this year I said no to teaching and instead became the student.

Of baked goods.  I just finished up a phenomenal 10 week baking course through the New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA.  Every Monday night the class convened for lecture and hands-on practice. The instructor, Chef May Hennemann was fantastic: incredibly accomplished, knowledgable and patient.   I’m not exaggerating when I say I think I smiled the entire 40 hours.  We covered everything from quick breads to laminates and I feel like my technical skills have greatly improved.

As an adult so many things I do are driven by need or purpose–means to an ends.  It was an incredible luxury to do something with the sole aim of enjoyment.

In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that I working on negotiating additional coursework.

But here is the rub.  Each weekend following the Monday night class I would practice the previous week’s lessons.  This hasn’t left me with much time or motivation for blog posts.

But, I do have lots of stuff to share.  Some is directly from the class but most of it derivative from the concepts I’ve learned and played with on my practice days.

I many even have to double up some weeks.

I

We didn’t actually make ice cream in class.  But, the base of ice cream is very similar to creme anglaise, custard and pastry cream.  Like I said, derivative.  My very favorite chocolate cake includes a healthy dose of stout beer in the ingredient list.  So, when a friend brought us a Tabasco sauce meant for serving over ice cream I immediately thought of this combination.  It’s a good one!

Stout and Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream

adapted ever so slightly from David Lebovitz

makes about one quart

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 3/4 C stout beer (Guinness or another favorite)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
  2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks (you don’t want to scramble your eggs), whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
  5. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted.
  6. Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
  7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to catch a valentine

Have a valentine for whom you’d like to show your looooooove?

Need to catch a valentine so that someone will loooooooove you?

Well, have I got a recipe for you.  It has everything….

Oh, how I miss you Stefon.

But seriously.  I promise this quadruple chocolate threat cookie will get the job done.

And you know what they say.  If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

Quadruple Threat Chocolate Cookies

adapted from Sunset Magazine’s 50 all-time best Sunset Test Kitchen recipes

Ingredients

  • 10 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar plus more for dipping (or cocoa could be used to dip)
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I used the ground espresso right out of a Nespresso capsule)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 C bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 C chopped white chocolate
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
  1. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over low heat.  Once  butter is melted, remove from heat and add-in the chopped bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates. Swirl pan to cover chocolate (as best as it will) and let stand for five minutes.  Using a wire whisk, whisk until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  You may need to return to very low heat.
  2. Whisk eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla into chocolate mixture. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into chocolate mixture until evenly mixed, then stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Wrap dough airtight and chill until firm enough to hold its shape, at least an hour.
  3. Using a large scoop (I scooped between 1/8 and 1/4 of a cup), scoop dough, placing it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet with two inches in-between (I fit about 8 drops of dough on a half-sheet).
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Dip the bottom of a pint glass or even round surface in sugar or cocoa powder.  Gently press down each drop/ball of dough until flattened slightly (the chunks in the cookie should help to keep the thickness at about 1/2 and inch).
  6. Bake until cookies no longer look wet and you can feel a slight crust on top, about 10 minutes (don’t overbake); switch position of baking sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on racks.
  7. Cookies freeze nicely up to two weeks in air-tight containers or freezer bags.

…but the kitchen sink

Where the hell have I been?

Around.

Let’s make some compost cookies!  I think any kid who has ever had an interest in baking has tried-out the garbage cookie “recipe.”  You know, throw everything that seems like it might taste good into a batch of basic dough.  Note–the picture below is right before I wrapped them to cool-down.  For baking they need a little more room.

Christina Tosi of Milk fame absolutely did this.  And then she grew up and made a living out of it.  I wish I’d thought of that!

I’ve listed the original recipe below.  But come on, this cookie recipe begs for improvisation.  In addition to the listed ingredients, I threw in some chocolate covered pomagranate seeds and chunks of chocolate-covered-peanut-butter-filled pretzels.

Oh, and I guess I should admit.  I just used store-bought graham crackers instead of making the crust.  I’m a slacker.

If you like this, you might also like these

Blueberry and Cream Cookies (a TMH favorite)

Confetti Cookies

Compost Cookies

Christina Tosi from Milk, 2011

You can also find some of the recipes from the book on the milk momofuko milk bar site.

Ingredients

  • 225 g (16 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 150 g (2?3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 50 g (2 tbs) glucose
  • 1 egg
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 225 g (1 1?3 cups) flour
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) baking powder
  • 1.5 g (1/4 tsp) baking soda
  • 4 g (1 tsp) kosher salt
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) mini butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 recipe (1/2 cup) graham crust (recipe below)
  • 40 g (1?3 cup) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 5 g (2 1/2 tsp) ground coffee
  • 50 g (2 cups) potato chips
  • 50 g (1 cup) mini pretzels

Directions

  1. Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk over mixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust (or graham cracker crumbs if you are lazy like me), oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. be careful not to over mix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips. you deserve a pat on the back if one of your cookies bakes off with a whole pretzel standing up in the center.
  4. Portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan (I used about 1 1/2 TBS per cookie, Christina Tosi is more of a go big or go home kind of girl and recommends using a 2 3/4 ounce scooper). Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature— they will not bake properly.
  5. Heat the oven to 375°f.
  6. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pans. bake for 18 minutes. the cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.
  7. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. at room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Graham Crust

makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 190 g (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
  • 20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
  • 25 g (2 tbs) sugar
  • 3 g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
  • 55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream

Directions

  1. Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
  2. Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. the butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. if it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ table- spoons) butter and mix it in.
  3. Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

Put the almond in the cocoa powder and eat it all up

What?  That doesn’t work? Fine.

We continue our adventures with gluten free baking this week.

In general, my weekly trips to Trader Joes are precise,  surgical and leave little room for casual perusal.  Experience has taught me that unless I show up at a specific Trader Joes right as it opens on Sunday morning, the shopping experience will leave me wanting to poke someone’s eye out with one of those little toothpicks they use to serve the samples (see blog name for explanation).

Every once in a while (like once a year), I get lucky and it seems like the only people in the store are me and the friendly staff.  This happened recently and I actually paused to look around the nut butter section while picking up the sun butter for last week’s post.  This was probably a bad idea on my part because what did I spy with my little eye?  None other than Nutella’s American cousin: Cocoa Almond Spread.

For reason’s I’ve just explained, I’d never seen this concoction before and knew immediately that I had to make something with it (this has absolutely nothing to do with a strong desired to sit down with the jar and a spoon…how dare you suggest this).  The spread has the same consistency as almond butter (duh).  Thicker than nutella.  It’s also less sweet than the hazelnut version (though still sweet enough to reduce the sugar in the recipe).

As soon as I got home, I pulled my almond flour out of the freezer and got to work using the sun butter blossoms recipe as a blueprint.

The almond flour obviously behaved very differently than the corn flour and, with about a tablespoon and a half of dough, I go beautiful, perfectly round 3 1/2 inch cookies.  They had a nice texture reminiscent of their fancier kin, the macaron.

Seeing the finished versions cooling on their wire racks sent my brain to a singular place.

That’s right, these made the perfect ice cream sandwich cookies.  You could also spread a nice layer of the cocoa almond butter on the inside of a cookie, top it with another and you’d have yourself an excellent sandwich cookie.

Soundtrack

Ray LaMontagne

Cocoa Almond Cookies

recipes makes about 18 (1 1/2 dozen, is easily doubled)

Ingredients

  • 1 C cocoa almond butter
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C almond meal/flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line 2-4 baking pans with parchment paper
  2. Using a standing or hand mixer, cream together the sugar and cocoa almond butter for two-to-three minutes.
  3. Beat-in the egg and vanilla until batter is smooth.
  4. By hand, sift-in flour and baking powder and then fold until the flour is just combined into the batter.
  5. Roll batter into balls using about 1 1/2 TBS (less if you want a smaller cookie).
  6. Set balls on lined baking sheets about three-inches apart.  Cookies will spread significantly (diameter will nearly triple).
  7. Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies appear set.
  8. Slide parchment off of cookie sheets and allow cookies to cool on the parchment.
  9. Ice cream optional!

Sometimes, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do

Somebody asked me to name the one thing I can’t resist.  This was at work and was posed by a colleague who could not believe that I don’t like doughnuts.  It’s true.  In the palate lottery I somehow escaped a taste for most breakfast related pastries–doughnuts, pancakes, waffles, french toast–all completely lost on me.  TD thinks it’s un-American.  I’m just thankful that there is one category of “sugar and fried”  I don’t love (carrot cake rounds out the list of not-likes if anyone is keeping track).

My answer to the question?  Nutella.   I probably hadn’t thought of the stuff in months.  Of course then, it was ALL I could think about.  I think I’ve mentioned before that in a pantry filled with baking supplies (there are at least a couple of pounds of chocolate in there at all times), the only thing I can’t keep on-hand is nutella.

Truth be told, a jar of that chocolate hazelnut manna, a spoon and a cup of strong coffee would have scratched my co-worker induced itch.

However, that would have been embarrassing.  So I threw in some crispy rice as to appear more respectable.

Why the “c” and not the “k” in crispy?  Two reasons.  First, it really chaps my hide when words are purposefully misspelled for marketing reasons.  So much so that I refuse to patronize, purchase or consume the misspelled entity.  Reason number two?  I’m cheap and used generic crisped rice.  So, my treats were literally “rice crispied.”

If you like this, you might like these

Devil’s Food Hazelnut Crunch Cake

Bella Bars

Nutella Rice Crispy Treats

adapted from the original Rice Krispys Treats recipe

speaking of Kelloggs, if you haven’t seen the Drunk History version of the famous familial fued…you’re missing out

Ingredients

  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 1/2 C nutella
  • 4 C miniature marshmallos
  • 6 C crispy rice cereal (I used generic hence the “c” instead of the “k”
  • 1 C chopped, toasted  hazelnuts if desired.

Directions

  • Grease or butter a 9X13 baking pan
  • In a large saucepan, melt together butter and 1 cup of nutella over low heat.
  • Add in the marhsmallows and stir until combined and melted.
  • Add in rice crispies and nuts and mix.
  • Using a buttered/greased spatula (and clean fingers if you can stand the heat), evenly press mixture into prepared pan.
  • Melt remaining 1/2 C of nutella.  Spread evenly over pressed treats.
  • Allow to cool and cut.

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.

If you like this, you might like these.

Salted Caramel Squares

Twix Bars

JB Bars

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

Shortbread Base

Ingredients

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

Directions

  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

Ingredients
  • 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.

Directions

  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.

Soundtrack

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

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  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.