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Easy Like Lionel Richie

2 Jan

Rest assured, there are more failures to write up for you, my nine readers (see below to start), but before I retire for the evening, I’d like to leave you with a small little trifle that turned into a big success.

I mentioned in an earlier post that making the best holiday treats means making small, handheld, easily transportable treats.  This means that sweet little candy-ish things that’re made assembly-line style while you’re parked in front of a “completely legal” feed of, say, weekday football games…well, these treats are as perfect as that sentence isn’t.

This brings us to it, and it’s based on the very popular chocolate-coated Ritz-and-peanut-butter sandwiches that a lot of people make this time of year.  I love those things.  But for these new treats, I came across some perfectly round pretzel crackers, a little larger than a quarter.  A freak for all things salty and crunchy, I knew there had to be a good use for these.

First, I ate used an entire bag myself while watching an episode of “Burn Notice.”

But, I also managed—somehow–to save the remaining bag and thought that instead of peanut butter, I could make use of a jar of Nutella that’s been taunting me since I bought it in the summer.  Honestly, why do I do this to myself?  This is a carb-free house.  Usually.

So, two pretzel crackers, salt side in, Nutella and… what kind of chocolate to coat?  After several taste tests it was decided to go with white chocolate, which would also provide a really nice color contrast.

There are a couple of tricks to making these successfully, the first of which is the most important: As Nutella liquefies quickly under heat, make sure these are fully chilled before dipping.  Unlike peanut butter, to which saturated fats are added for stability, Nutella is gooey paste, made of hazelnuts, cocoa solids and here in North America, modified (with more unsaturated fat) palm oil.  It doesn’t stand on its own.

To keep the flavors balanced—they’re all very strong—keep the layer of Nutella pretty thin, and add about a TBL of shortening (or more) to your white chocolate to thin it out.  Then work quickly: Even very chilled, some Nutella will get into the white chocolate.  So long as it’s not much, though, it’ll mix right in.

Then throw them on some wax paper to set.  Some decoration really adds to them, such as a light dusting of white sanding sugar, chocolate cookie crumbs, or whatever cute things you have handy.  It doesn’t really matter, because people will love these no matter what.  Trust me on this.  Have I ever steered you wrong?

Don’t answer that.

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Groceries and Baking Supplies

20 Aug

Off to shop for this shit in the rain.  Still have a neck- and headache.  Please feel sorry for me.

See you tomorrow.

Honeypie Brownie Test: First Impressions

14 Aug

A full report will follow tomorrow, but here are the first things I noticed:

1.  35 minutes, the baking duration stipulated in the directions, is a bit too long.  30 should do it.

2.  The flavor is a little flat.  I think that along with the high amount of fat, this could be solved by either more salt, or using dutch-processed cocoa rather than natural cocoa (or both).

3.  The flavor’s also a little too sweet.  I think the addition of a little espresso would counter that nicely.

3.  Local, organic butter, eggs and cocoa perform no differently than their industrial–and far less expensive–counterparts.  Sorry, my krunchy green friends.  It’s not better.  And I’m pissed about it, too, because these are the most expensive brownies I’ve ever made.

With the exception of the time in the oven, the recipe did perform almost as I’d thought.  I do have a personal preference to brownies made with melted chocolate, but this is such an exceedingly easy recipe, I’ll use it again with maybe just the salt/cocoa/espresso tweaks to the recipe.

So good on you, Honeypie.  It’s hard to impress me, but you’ve done it.

And as for you, remember to stop back tomorrow for The Making of Honeypie’s Big Fruit Swirl Brownies.

Yes, the good camera's in St. Louis.

Patience, Friends

14 Aug

Just getting started on the brownie test.  Results available tomorrow, if not very late tonight.

See you soon!

Cat Scratch Fever.

9 Aug

Today, I’m taken away to write some copy for the BFF, who’s also the principal designer of Kassen Lifestyle. He’s got a show in St. Louis coming up this weekend, so in addition to the stuff I’ve already written, I am privileged to write a bit more tonight for the show and, in particular, about my favorite item he’s designed so far: The most amazing cat-scratch post ever in the history of cat-scratch posts and also, Earth.

Seriously, people, my cats, who once went after my furniture like raccoons in a garbage can, now only go after my furniture when they want something, such as sitting on this warm computer when I won’t them.  (Trust me–it’s a big improvement.)  And while it’s a little-too-little-too-late for my current furniture, my future old-lady velour couches with the wood paneling will be spared. Praise be.

So check out the site, as well my not-so-great photo below. (I do believe better photos will be up at the Kassen site within the next day or two. I don’t do it justice.) It’s really tall, it can’t be knocked over, and it’s Brutalist, to boot.  I know you will be covetous of this absolutely superior cat-scratch post, so you are welcome to contact Kassen anytime to order one.  In the meantime, I’ll see you tomorrow.

A-MAY-ZING.

Today.

8 Aug

This Just In

7 Aug

After seeing the photo here of those white-chocolate-peanut-butter things, the hostess of today’s party mentioned offhand that she didn’t actually have any other sweets coming.  What?  That shit ain’t right, man.

So after grocery shopping last night (it was Friday, after all), I deposited about an ounce-and-half of color glaze on my hair and while that seeped, I whipped up some more cookie dough.  It’s what’s now a standard recipe for me (pretty much the final maple cookie recipe, minus the maple extract; I’ll repost it later), but since these cookies are going to be sitting outside, I wanted to be sure the flavor and texture would be preserved, along with a taste and feel that would appeal to everyone.

The solution?  Honey.  About a quarter of a cup did the trick.  They’re light and chewy, and everyone loves chewy cookies.  The refrigerated dough performed exactly as I’d hoped with a blast of high heat (475 F)–nice crisp top, sides, and bottoms–then settled to a soft, chewy middle in a 350 F oven and sufficient cooling time.

I’ll post the whole drill later on for you, so check back.  In the meantime, here’s a not-so-great photo.  See you later–enjoy the day.

Pretty girls.