I'll Take My Cereal with a Side of Butter and Marshmallows

I thought I'd share the recipe for my breakfast.  My breakfast for the last two days.  Salted.  Brown Butter.  Rice Krispie Treat.  I see nothing wrong with this picture.  It is cereal, with a touch of razzle dazzle.  Yes?  I have made, and I'm not joking, five batches of these in the last two weeks.  It's my way of spreading love and happiness throughout the world.

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 stick unsalted butter
10.5 oz bag mini marshmallows
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
6 cups Rice Krispies
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt, heaping
extra marshmallows

-Coat a 9x13 pan with butter or non-stick spray.
-In a large, non-stick, pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Stirring frequently, the butter will melt, foam, and then start to turn golden.  Start watching it because it will start to turn brown and give off a nutty aroma.  You start to notice brown bits at the bottom, keep stirring to prevent burning.  You want a nice dark brown color of these bits, not burnt, it can be a blurry line so trust your instincts!  Once it reaches a nice brown color remove from heat.
-Add bag of marshmallows to butter, stir around until you can no longer see any marshmallow shape, you may need to add it back to the heat temporarily to make sure they are all melty and gooey.
-Add your vanilla and almond extract.  I always eyeball my amount, so the 1/4 tsp is a good estimate of what I think I add.  Stir around and mix well into the melted marshmallow.
-Add your Rice Krispies.  I generally measure over the pot, so we'll say it's a generous 6 cups.
-Sprinkle the salt evenly over the cereal.  Fold cereal into marshmallow mixture.  Folding is what I do instead of stirring so the cereal pieces don't get crushed into a powder.
-Once the cereal is coated, sprinkle in some marshmallows.  Fold those in until they are even throughout.
-Turn out into pan.  Wet you hands to where they are just slightly moist.  Press krispies down into pan gently, working the mix evenly around pan.  I don't like to press them down hard because I enjoy "fluffier" treats, not hard, dense ones.
- Let them cool long enough so you can make neat cuts. Enjoy!  And enjoy!  And then enjoy some more!

As you can see, I take my Rice Krispies seriously.  The brown butter and salt are new, but I've always added vanilla and almond extract for extra yummy flavor.  I love marshmallows, so adding extra marshmallows at the end seemed to be a logical decision.  They make the treats more special, because let's be honest, they are just Rice Krispie Treats!  These are about as elegant as these things can get; a slight nutty flavor with a hint of salt at the end of each bite.  These can be made quickly and they will go quickly!  It will be your, "What can I make last-minute, that still pleases everyone?" recipe.  Trust me.

Baklava Bars

I love Baklava.  It is such a rare treat.  Which is good, because it just feels sinful as you eat it.  The honey is generally dripping down your hand, it oozes goodness when you bite into it, and you know that someone slaved over this delicious pastry that took mere seconds to inhale.  I've always wanted to try my hand at a batch of baklava, but I've seen videos of this being done, and I've heard the agonizing tales of the long process, (peeling the phyllo sheets gently apart without tearing) and well, this lady just doesn't have enough patience to handle all that!  So naturally, when I came across a simplified version, I had to try it.  I knew if it tasted anything like the real stuff, this was going to be a keeper, and guess what?  It's a family favorite!  Plus easy-peasy (oh, yeah!).

Baklava Bars
adapted from A Southern Grace and Betty Crocker

Cookie Base:
1 pouch sugar cookie mix
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
pinch of cinnamon-big pinch!

1 1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
1/4 c. pistachio meats, dry roasted and salted, chopped
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. cinnamon (heaping)
1/8 tsp. salt
-package frozen, pre-baked mini phyllo shells

In case you were wondering what I'm talking about, I use these.
2/3 c. honey
1/4 c. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves

-additional honey for drizzling

1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees F.  Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

2.  In a stand mixer,  mix all cookie base ingredients until dough forms.  Press into bottom of prepared pan; Bake 12-15 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes.

3.  While cookie base bakes, using a food processor, pulse the filling ingredients until well mixed and you have a nutty, chunky paste.

4.  Sprinkle the nut mixture evenly over partially baked, slightly cooled base. Crumble phyllo shells in hand and evenly sprinkle over nut mixture until covered.  Bake additional 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Sprinkle that nut mixture over the top

Crush up those phyllo shells

5.  On medium heat, combine all glaze ingredients in a small pot.  Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to bubble and boil. Remove from heat, strain out cloves and cinnamon sticks.

6.  Drizzle glaze evenly over bars.  Cool before cutting.  Drizzle with honey before serving.

I like to be generous with my drizzling of honey!

Watch these go quickly from any picnic platter!

Leftover Tip of the Week

Not too many posts ago, I made sugar cookies.  When I roll out my sugar cookie dough, I try to cut out as many cookies as possible, which makes sense, right?  Unfortunately I don't like the idea of re-using all of the little scraps for cookies after they've been man-handled, dredged in extra flour, re-chilled, and re-rolled, even though I'm told that it makes perfectly good cookies.  I won't go into my little OCD's in the kitchen, but I also can't stand to waste food/ingredients that are still quite useable.  Therefore, I squish all my little cookie scraps together, wrap up the dough ball I've created and store it in the fridge.  And so it sits there and it eventually ends up in the back of the fridge which I find one day, hiding, and I look at it sadly as I toss it in the trash.

Until one fine day, I was randomly going through baking blogs and came across, "Sugar Cookie Bars" on Recipe Girl's blog.  They looked extremely yummy with fluffy yellow frosting. I printed off the recipe and decided to make this lovely treat for my son's birthday party.  And then it hit me!  Why make new sugar cookie dough, when I've got a big ball of dough scraps in the fridge?

So if you have the same issue I do, then this post is for you!  Leftover cookie dough scraps have finally found a home!

Sugar Cookie Bars
adapted from Recipe Girl

Whatever sugar cookie dough you have leftover.  Hopefully your recipe works like mine did, otherwise click on Recipe Girl which links you to her recipe if you want to start from scratch.

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 cups of powdered sugar (sift after measuring)
5 Tbsp. milk
food coloring, if desired

1.  Spread dough on a greased, rimmed baking sheet.
2.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.
3.  Prepare frosting:  In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening together until smooth and creamy.  Mix in vanilla and salt.  Add powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) until combined, then add milk and mix until smooth and spreading consistency.  Add a few drops of color, if desired.  Spread over cooled cookie, then cut into bars.

Okay, a few things.  I found my smallest baking sheet because I was working with scraps, not a full batch of dough.  I worked it down into my desired thickness.  Now my dough still didn't cover the whole baking sheet, so I improvised and rolled some foil against the dough line.  Worked great.  A little ghetto looking, but it worked.  Recipe girl recommends you refrigerate the bars until firm to get nice clean cuts.

These were delicious, and fun looking with sprinkles.  And that frosting....oh my goodness it is good.  My husband asked, "Why pink?" but there is just something about that color that makes them more appealing to me.  Maybe it reminds me of childhood.  But I want to put it on all my cookies.  I'll control myself.

Week 16: Dark Chocolate Truffles with Fleur De Sel

#1. Unless you consider yourself a "foodie" you may be wondering what 'fleur de sel' is, well, it's fancy salt. Fancy salt that you can buy in fancy stores. But I'm pretty sure it is becoming more recognizable and can be found in more common grocers. #2. You may also be saying to yourself, "This isn't a cookie! And, this is a cookie blog!" Alright, you caught me. I love cookies (clearly) but I also like to get my hands on a different project so I can get comfortable making other goodies. And, I'm justifying this post because I also include candy in my yearly Christmas tin. And, if you're wondering what Christmas tins have to do with this, refer to post #1.

Dark Chocolate Truffles with Fleur De Sel
Recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

(makes about 32)
20 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, divided
1/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. water
2/3 c. whipping cream
1/4 tsp. fleur de sel

1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
Additional fleur de sel

1.Place 8 ounces chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water; stir until chocolate is smooth. Remove chocolate from over water.
2.Combine sugar and water in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides and swirling pan occasionally.
3. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Stir over very low heat until caramel is smooth. Mix caramel and 1/4 tsp. fleur de sel into melted chocolate.
4. Chill until truffle filling is firm, at least 3 hours. Place cocoa in bowl. Using about 1 tablespoon for each truffle, roll into balls, then roll in cocoa. Arrange on baking sheet. Cover; chill overnight.
5. Line baking sheet with foil. Place remaining 12 oz chocolate in medium metal bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water; stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water.
6. Working quickly, submerge 1 truffle in melted chocolate. Roll around to coat. Using fork, lift out truffle and tap fork against the side of the bowl to allow excess coating to drip off. Transfer truffle to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. Sprinkle lightly with additional fleur de sel. Let stand until coating sets (about 1 hour). Cover and chill, bring to room temp. before serving.

Why didn't I title the post "Caramel-Dark Chocolate Truffles...."? Well, to be honest, I didn't get the flavor of caramel so much. If I told my tasters that is what they were, then I would get the, "Where's the caramel?" question/comment. It was a long week and I wasn't in the mood to launch into explanations. It may have been my fault that there wasn't a strong caramel flavor. Probably all my fault, but let's not dwell. The last thing I wanted to do was burn a batch of caramel, so when it started turning amber I got a little nervous that at any moment it would turn black. And so, I may have taken it off the heat a little sooner than I should have. Oh, and FYI, when I added the cream, the caramel immediately turned hard and I panicked, but I took a few deep breaths and continued stirring. Thankfully I didn't give up, because it dissolved into the cream and became smooth.

After letting the filling chill for 3 hours or so, I used a melon baller to help me glide through the hardened chocolate. My tiny cookie scooper broke right away when I tried to use it; I was highly annoyed since it was my first time using it. After they were all rolled, I stuck them in the freezer so I could coat them in chocolate that same night. It worked great. I was able to coat about 3 truffles before the chocolate started to set, this is when I sprinkled on my fleur de sel.

My Verdict: These remind me of a chocolate-covered pretzel...minus the pretzel? And I love chocolate-covered pretzels. In fact, I practically ate a whole bag of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Slims the other week. Don't judge. Just go buy a bag for yourself if you're near a Trader Joe's. You'll understand. I put the bag away a million times, and eventually just gave up the whole charade. Okay, anyway, these truffles are rich and I think the salt helps them from being too much. Do you know what I mean? The combo of sweet and salty in the same bite is really big right now ("they" say), so I recommend you make these and possibly introduce those around you to a whole new taste bud experience.