My good friend brought into work today the new Pepperidge Farms Blueberry Cobbler cookies. Now, to say I have a love of Blueberries is like saying Justin Bieber somewhat likes public urination. So, when Tony generously offered me one, I jumped at the chance. Amusingly noticing the claim on the front I see everywhere, “Naturally Flavored With Other Natural Flavors”,
I switched to the dense list of ingredients. Imagine my surprise to find in the list, “Cranberries”. Imagine my further surprise to find Blueberries in the wasteland of “Contains 2% or less of the following:”
What? Blueberry Cobbler cookies actually have more CRANBERRIES than Blueberries?!? Cook at home, eat at home, know what you eat……
Well, it was birthday time again at work and this time we decided to do something easy…Baker’s Day. We did cookies, cakes and treats. I did some of the treats…Rice Krispee Treats! Sunday morning found me melting bag after bag of marshmallows in a saucepan with butter and pouring it over Rice Krispee-type store brand cereal. Quickly stirring to combine as the mass immediately forms a sticky ball in the bowl and dumping inyo pans and forming with water-coated hands.
A favorite of my friends at work was the Fruity Pebble treat. This is your basic Rice Krispee treat where 40% of the cereal is Fruity Pebbles. Oh, my – as my friend Joe said, inspired. I once made a 100% Fruity Pebble Treat – it was so sweet it was like sticking your face in a sugar bowl. So, I’ve found it’s best to cut it by over half. Just right.
This time I felt the need to try something new. Something I never tried before – a Rice Krispee cake.
RICE KRISPEE CAKE
For each layer:
- 7 Cups of Rice Krispees
- 10 oz bag of Marshmallows
- 3 Tbls. Butter
Place the Rice Krispees in a large bowl. Melt butter in large saucepan and add the marshmallows. As soon as marshmallows start to melt, start stirring and continue until all of the marshmallows are melted. Quickly pour over the cereal and equally as quickly stir – the mass will quickly (notice a pattern here?) form a ball. Drop mass into a well greased 9” cake pan and press with wet hands to spread evenly. Repeat with second pan and let cool.
Flip pans and frost like a normal layer cake.
It was better than you think.
Yes, I did Bacon Ice Cream again. C’mon, after you’ve had bacon ice cream, why wouldn’t you do it again and again? Well, if your insane, Orthodox Jewish or a vegetarian – then, maybe. But, being a Republican, meat-eating Catholic, I’m obviously none of the prior, so I had to do it again.
And I did.
This time I followed the Dave Lebovitz recipe to the letter. Last time I made a maple ice cream, thinking the candied bacon would just be perfect with a maple ice cream. And gosh darn it, it did taste really good! But, I swore to follow the recipe next time, and so I did!
For the candied bacon:
- 5 strips bacon
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny side down.
Sprinkle 1½-2 teaspoons of brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon, depending on length.
Bake for 12-16 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. Continue to bake until as dark as mahogany. Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack.
Once crisp and cool, chop into little pieces, about the size of grains of rice.
For the ice cream custard:
- 3 tablespoons (45g) salted butter
- ¾ cup (packed) brown sugar (170g), light or dark (you can use either)
- 2¾ (675ml) cup half-and-half
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons dark rum or whiskey
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
To make the ice cream custard, melt the butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and half of the half-and-half. Pour the remaining half-and-half into a bowl set in an ice bath and set a mesh strainer over the top.
In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the warm brown sugar mixture to them, whisking the yolks constantly as you pour. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Cook over low to moderate heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
Strain the custard into the half-and-half, stirring over the ice bath, until cool. Add liquor, vanilla and cinnamon.
Refrigerate the mixture. Once thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bacon bits during the last moment of churning, or stir them in when you remove the ice cream from the machine.
So? How was it? Well, once again, I brought it into work for the final decision. This time, to the man (including me!), everyone thought it was fantastic. It scared a lot of people and many needed to be coaxed into trying it, but, all to rave reviews! Was it as good as the maple ice cream version? Well, no. But, it was still damn good eats!
A couple of times in my blog postings, I’ve mentioned that I had nothing to post because I wasn’t making anything special enough to post about. Often, that’s true, but equally as often, what I’m making is still pretty good and worthy of posting. Case in point, my kicked-up Rice Krispie Treats.
Now, who doesn’t love these? Sticky, marshmallow-y treats, all sweet and yummy? I’m in the habit of kicking them up by adding additional cereals to the Rice Krispie’s, like Fruity Pebbles and Fruit Loops. I once, in a Bart Simpson Squishy moment, made a treat with ALL Fruity Pebbles. Let’s just say it was so sweet, I woke up with the same sugar hangover Bart did. This one was pretty good, though:
MIKE’S RICE KRISPEE TREATS
- 3 Tbls butter
- 1 bag of marshmallows (about 11 oz.)
- 4 cups of Rice Krispie Cereal
- 3 cups of Fruit Loops
Spray an 8 X 8 or 11 x 7 pan with non-stick spray. Gather the cereal in a large bowl, ready to add. Melt the butter in a large pot. When butter is melted, add marshmallows and stir to melt. Once melted, quickly add to the cereal and stir to combine. It’s going to come together quickly and mold into a huge ball around your spoon if you don’t get a move on! Spoon into the prepared pan and wet you hands. Push down and mold into the pan; it will be ready to cut in 15 minutes.
Well, I guess Mike is back! Mike is the guy that will try stuff, Mike is the guy that loves bacon, Mike is the guy willing to go where no one has gone before! OK, people have gone here before, specifically Dave Lebovitz, but normal people won’t go there. I mean, c’mon, bacon IN ice cream? Bacon anywhere near ice cream? That’s the Mike we all love and know. That’s the Mike I love and know!
I had been promising a lot of friends at work that I would be making this, but never did. Well, this weekend I decided it was time. So, I went for it. The first time I read his recipe/article, I was screaming, “Where’s the maple sugar?” I’ve had maple “flavored” bacon, and boy it makes the house smell good, but the taste has always been sort of fake. So, I thought perhaps Lebovitz’s recipe could use a little bit of real maple flavor, so I went down that road. I used maple sugar on the bacon and made a maple ice cream.
CANDIED MAPLE BACON ICE CREAM
- 5 strips bacon
- about 2 tablespoons maple sugar
- 1 cup Grade A maple syrup
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- Pinch salt
- 4 large egg yolks
Make the bacon (“makin’ bacon”)
To candy the bacon, preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle 1½-2 teaspoons of maple sugar evenly over each strip of bacon, depending on length. Bake for 16-20 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over, cost with more maple sugar and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. Flip and coat every 5 minutes. Continue to bake until as dark as mahogany. Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack. When cool, cut into rice size pieces.
In a small saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a simmer and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, reduced maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, to the hot cream. Return to medium-low heat and cook, whisking, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Just before done, add bacon pieces.
Wow! It was so incredible! It’s subtle, odd, interesting, sweet, bacon-y – just nothing you’ve never had. I brought it to work and everyone liked it but one, who just couldn’t wrap her mind around bacon in the ice cream. David, in the original recipe, called for thick cut bacon. My bacon was fairly thick, but I think thinner bacon might be better, as long as it got very candied, not burnt. A candied, crunchy bacon is the key to making this work.
What can I say? In my last post (November 24th) I mentioned my life was going crazy because we bought a company in California. Well, total chaos has ensued! First of all, we traveled all over New England for Thanksgiving, leaving the Wednesday before and not making it back until Sunday afternoon. Then, we went to pick up our Christmas tree and get it set up because I was traveling to California that Wednesday. I spent the next two days getting ready to be gone for almost a week, arriving back from a six hour flight on the next Monday night. Now, for the last two weeks I’ve been working late every night just trying to keep my head above water. Adding to the pressure, my new boss started this past week so I’ve been having to deal with that, too.
Then, last weekend happened in New England. For those of you not nearby, a huge ice storm hit the area, ripping down trees and causing power outages so severe, some of the hapless victims STILL don’t have power. We were very lucky and never lost power (one of the few bonuses of living in the city), but we had friends not so lucky, so we played host for the weekend.
Other than that, not much was going on.
Before I started this crazy carnival ride, Molly and I made some pumpkin whoopie pies for Katie’s school. They were so good, I couldn’t believe it.
PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES
- 2 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 1 c. cooking oil
- 2 c. cooked pumpkin
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 3 c. flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Cream sugar and oil. Add eggs and pumpkin. Gradually add sifted dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Drop spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (Be sure to fully cook them, even overcooking them a little bit – it makes a better pie).
I have a friend who made some of these for work and she made little ones, maybe as round as the mouth of a water glass. We made bigger ones, a good 4 inches across.
- 2 whipped egg whites
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 4 tbsp. milk
- 4 c. powdered sugar
- 1 c. shortening
Cream egg whites, vanilla, flour, milk and 2 cups powdered sugar. Mix then add remaining sugar and shortening.
A couple of times I have mentioned that I am part of a group at work called the Birthday Committee. The Birthday Committee organizes a monthly birthday celebration for employees. This month we have chosen deserts as our “theme”. We’re going to have cake, brownies, cookies, cheesecakes, etc. I mean, heck, who wouldn’t love that? I was challenged by a new member (let’s call her Jen, because that’s her name) to make candied apples.
Now, I’ve gotten lazy and that sounded like a lot of work. But, the only thing bigger than my belly is my ego, so I said, “All right, girlie! It’s go time! You’re going down! Your skinny little a$$ is mine!” Ok, maybe I didn’t say all that out loud. Maybe all I did was try to channel my inner chameleon and attempt to blend into my chair.
Anyway, I made some candied apples to see if it was feasible for me to make 50-70 apples for the Birthday Committee. In fact, last Monday, while I was home with my kids, we went apple picking specifically for small-ish apples for candied apples.
- 24 smaller apples
- 24 wooden ice-cream sticks
- 4-1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon red food coloring
- 1-1/2 cups water
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpats. Set aside. Wash and dry the apples. Insert a stick through the stem of each, leaving about 2 inches of the stick for gripping.
Place the sugar, corn syrup, food coloring, and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring slowly to a boil while stirring constantly and cook until the ingredients are dissolved. OK, you’ll notice my sugar looks very purple-y. That’s because I accidentally put 1 DROP of blue in the sugar before the red and I had almost no red. Oh, well – soldiering on….
Insert a candy thermometer into the liquid and continuing cooking, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 290 degrees F. This should take about 20 minutes.
Remove the syrup from the heat and dip the apples, one by one, coating each evenly. Work quickly so the sauce doesn’t harden. Place each apple standing on the prepared cookie sheet. Let the apples cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
OK, it was so darn easy! Get your apples prepared and start cooking. The sugar syrup takes a full 20 minutes to get to 290, but then it’s just dip, roll and place. Maybe 5 minutes for all 24 apples. That’s it. Let it sit for an hour and “Kapowee!” They’re done.
Summer fruits are starting to ripen and with that comes the DESSERTS! I know, fruit is good for a snack, a salad, etc., but c’mon, what we really want are the desserts. And this recipe is so simple, there’s no reason not to make it every night (except for the weight gain, of course).
One of my family’s favorite fresh fruit deserts is the crisp. It can be made with just about any summer and fall fruit, but it is best with berries. I was at the store and I spotted some fresh cherries and scooped them up for this desert. Sure, I had to pit them and it’s amazing where fruit juice can fly to when you force a pit out the side of a berry, but it was worth it.
(I know, technically, cherries aren’t berries, they’re drupes, but who wants a drupe crisp? As a man, the thought scares me for some reason.)
- 4 cups Fresh Fruit
- 1 cup Flour
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 Egg, beaten
- 1 stick Butter
Place fruit in an 8 X 8 baking dish. Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together and pour over fruit. Melt butter and mix with the egg. Slowly pour over the dry mixture. If you want, you can now lightly sprinkle sugar over everything, giving it a sweet, crunchy top when it’s done. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the top golden brown.
Here’s some pictures at various stages in the baking:
Ready for the oven
Yesterday, She Who Must Be Obeyed had to work, so the kids and I decided to make her a cake for Mother’s Day. The kids did nearly everything (I only separated the eggs and frosted the cake). We went to my favorite cookbook, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook for my favorite Lady Baltimore Cake and Portsmouth Frosting. The only problem we had was instead of 8 inch pans, we only had 9 inch pans, so the cake is a little flat.
Here are the kids flouring the pans (we went outside to do that and that was a good idea)
Mixing and adding
Beating egg whites
Final mixing (by this time, flour was everywhere)
It was a lot of fun and Mom seems pretty happy with her cake. Cooking with kids can be trying, but you need to accept the fact it’s messy and slow, but worth every minute.