Homemade Snickers

We had a very big weekend! Bernie had her first solid food!!! Our apple trees were ready for their first little harvest, so we zipped up in our matching green hoodies, I strapped her in her carrier, and together we walked outside and picked a basket of apples. Then we peeled them, chopped them into pieces, and simmered them with a little cinnamon as we sang that we like to Oat Oat Oat Opples and Banonos. The apples were still a little tart (I’m pretty sure they’re Gala apples but they don’t get that sweet until the first frost) so I added a chopped Honeycrisp to the mix. Once they got very soft, I pureed them with a stick blender and then poured them into her cute baby blocks. Then we fed the apple cores to the chickens!

We also made squash puree! Peeling a butternut squash with a five-month-old takes half a day but we did it and steamed some for Bernie food to stick in the freezer and used the rest for grownup supper.

I’m inspired by Bringing Up Bébé to try to serve Bernie the same foods that Eggboy and I eat, so on Monday night we sat down for supper and all ate apples! Apple squash hotdish for us, applesauce for Bernie. Sitting down to our first real family dinner was a dream come true. And, ok, Bernie’s reaction to the applesauce wasn’t exactly the same excited reaction that she had after slurping up grape flavored Tylenol back when she got her four-month shots, but she went back for a second bite! And almost a third. And then made a face that said you overdid it on the acidity, mommy, you’re chopped. I’m pretty sure the apples were just too tart for her. Oops. I think I’ll add another Honeycrisp next time. Anyway, it’s all just going to get better from here and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before she’s opining on my cake textures and soup seasoning! Wouldn’t it be funny if her first word was “moist.”

We have another very big weekend coming right up: Bernie’s TV debut along with the debut of season four of Girl Meets Farm on Sunday!! Not to give away any spoilers but the season premiere is hella cute. Because Bernie. And also because it features one of my new favorite dessert recipes, homemade Snickers!! Ugh they are so dangerously good and easy to make. Really surprisingly easy. When I think of Snickers bars, I think of nougat and caramel and when I think of nougat and caramel I think of candy thermometers and time-sensitive things and too many pots and then having to scrub too many pots of sticky stuff and it strikes fear! But it turns out that there’s a perfect hack for the nougat, which is marshmallow fluff. Marshmallow fluff + nut butter + sugar = Snickers nougat but better because you can use any nut or seed butter you want and you just mix it up in one bowl, no thermometer needed. And with the caramel thing, I’ve decided I’m probably only using store bought caramel from now until Bernie and any future younger siblings of hers go off to college. Another thing that’s fun with these is that you can change up the nuts, as long as they are salted and roasted since they need to balance out the sweetness of the nougat and caramel. Over the summer, my mom and I made tahini snickers with pistachios, almond butter snickers with macadamia nuts (that’s what’s pictured here), and the classic peanut butter with peanut scenario. It’s truly a Choose Your Own Adventure recipe. You could also theoretically use different types of chocolate with these but I’d recommend sticking with dark because, again, the nougat and caramel are indeed quite sweet. These little guys come together really quickly, they might be my new favorite no-bake dessert, and they keep really well in the fridge. So yeah, I can’t stress enough their element of danger because of how good they are, but if you learned anything from your halva bars, just keep them next to the carrots. Carrot, Snickers, carrot, Snickers, balance. 


Homemade Snickers:

Makes 16 Candy Bars

ingredients

3 c (720g) dark chocolate chips, divided

1 tb refined coconut oil, divided

½  c (128g) unsweetened nut or seed butter

2 c (192g) marshmallow fluff

3 c (360g) powdered sugar

2 tb whole milk or almond milk

3/4 c (84g) roasted salted nuts

11 oz (312g) caramels

2 tb heavy cream or almond milk

Flaky salt, for topping

clues

Spray the bottom and sides of an 8” x 8” square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper that hangs over the edge of the pan by an inch on two sides.  Add 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips and 1 ½ tsp of coconut oil to a glass bowl and place the bowl over a simmering pot of water. Stir the chocolate until it has melted completely, about 5 minutes.  Pour it into the pan and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly in a thin layer all over the bottom. Place in the freezer to set.

Meanwhile make the filling.  In a large bowl mix together the marshmallow fluff, nut or seed butter,  powdered sugar, and milk. Mix well until it becomes a soft dough-like consistency (this mixture is incredibly sticky and you may need to use your hands).  Remove the pan from the freezer, wet your finger tips and press the fluff filling down over the chocolate in an even layer. Sprinkle the nuts on top and press lightly into the fluff.  

Add the caramel and cream to a small sauce pot and cook over low heat, while stirring.  Cook until the caramels are melted, 5-8 minutes. Spread the caramel over the fluff and place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the remaining chocolate and coconut oil. Spread the chocolate over the top of the caramel and sprinkle with flaky salt. Place back in the refrigerator until chocolate is fully set and hardened, about an hour or up to overnight.

Using the parchment, pull the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Run a sharp knife until warm water and then cut 16 bars. Enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the fridge. These should keep for a week or even longer, if they last that long.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

P.S. Don’t forget to tune in to Food Network this Sunday at 11a/10c for the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm! Here are some pics from this episode!

halva magic bars

Hello from my first week back to blogging life after seven weeks of filming and three months of maternity leave! Season 4 is officially in the bag (and scheduled to premiere on September 8th!), and after a one-day trip to New York earlier this week to make turkey on the Today Show, I am home and ready to figure out this whole test-noodle-kugel-recipes-while-Bernie-is-singing-Baby-Beluga-with-Grandma-in-the-living-room thing. It’s gonna be great! I’m gonna squish her cheeks anytime I want!

The Season 4 shoot was so much fun. It really was like summer camp: we had movie night under the stars, a wiener-fueled bonfire, bourekas in a wheat field, and a dance party with backstreet boys and a disco ball and everything. On the weekends we sat on the beach and invented new uses for the word gourmet. (“Are you wearing a Juicy velour robe? That is so gourmet!” “Did you just get very extravagant nail art? How gourmet!” Basically: fancy but not trendy, and nothing at all to do with food.) On the last day, I got Iced and that was that. I miss the crew so much already.

One of my faaaaavorite recipes from this season were the Halva magic bars that I made for an episode that’s an ode to Midwestern potlucks. Every potluck around here has to have a bar- a brownie, blondie, lemon square, cookie bar, etc. I grew up calling these desserts by their specific names but here they’re all just lumped into one big geometrically pleasing category that is the centerpiece for my go-to sample of a Midwest accent (“Are you going to bring the bars, Marge?” where the “ar” sounds a little pirate-y… aim for the back of your mouth and you’ll see what I mean.)

Magic bars, or 7-layer bars (tomato/tomahto), are one of the top three bars of all time. They are dangerously delicious and they’re magic because you make them by just piling everything into a pan. You don’t have to mix anything in a bowl or soften butter or commit any real effort, they’re so easy and the return is so great that it honestly feels like you’re cheating the world. 

The classic magic bar has butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, sweetened condensed milk and shredded coconut, but in a painfully predictable move, I’ve subbed out the butterscotch for crumbled halva and the pecans for pistachios. And of course the condensed milk was just begging for some rosewater (it gets topped with coconut, can you blame me?!). Listen, one day I’ll make something that doesn’t feature the holy combination of coconut + rosewater + pistachio + halvah but, like, today’s not that day. And neither is tomorrow. 

The result is a bar that’s just as chewy and gooey and amazing as the original, but with a little more color: nuttiness and flakiness from the halvah, greenery and saltiness from the pistachios, floral notes from the rosewater, and pretty pops of pink from the optional rose petals on top. It’s a Midwestern/Middle Eastern mashup that was bound to happen at some point because all of these flavors work so darn well together. Proceed with caution because you will want to eat the whole batch immediately. Luckily storing them in the fridge makes them even better because it makes them chewier, so hide them in the back behind the carrots and just eat a carrot every time you go in for a bar. They’ll cancel each other out.


Halva Magic Bars

makes 20

ingredients

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter

9 graham cracker rectangles (1 package)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 c (175g) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

1 1/2 c (226g) crumbled halva

1 c (120g) roasted pistachios

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk or sweetened condensed coconut milk

1 tsp rosewater

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 c (160g) sweetened shredded coconut

2 tb dried rose petals, optional

clues

Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and line the bottom with parchment. Add the butter and stick it in the oven for a few minutes so the butter melts. Meanwhile, crush the graham crackers by putting them in a large ziploc bag and smashing with a rolling pin or blending in a food processor. When the butter’s melted, swirl it around the bottom of the pan and scatter the graham cracker crumbs evenly all over (you’re not actually making a full on graham cracker crust, don’t worry about packing it down or anything).  Sprinkle with salt, then sprinkle the chocolate chips, halva, and pistachios all over. Pour a little of the condensed milk on top and then add the rosewater and vanilla to the remaining condensed milk and mix it in. Pour it evenly all over the pan. Sprinkle the coconut on top and rose petals, if using. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool fully (ideally overnight or for a few hours in the fridge) before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a good few days.


Homemade Mini Ice Cream Cones + A Cookie DO Collab!

If I had a dollar for the amount of times since being pregnant that I’ve stared at a batch of cookie dough and wished with all of my might that I could eat a huge blob of it raw, I’d have Poppy Seed’s college tuition paid for already. Raw cookie dough is right up there with cold salami as the foods I miss most. Just like, sweet, doughy, buttery, chocolate chippiness, snuck by hand and licked off the mixer, my eyeballs are rolling back into my head just thinking about it.

So when the idea of collaborating with Cookie Dō on a special edition flavor came up, I obviously almost passed out. Pregnant or not, Cookie DO is a dreamland. They have a million different insanely good cookie dough flavors that you just eat with a spoon!! Each one as addicting as the next, and as Kristen the owner and I started brainstorming ideas for our February collab, I foamed @ the mouth: tahini chocolate chip, matcha oreo, pistachio white chocolate, Italian rainbow cookie… When I tasted them all, the Italian rainbow cookie was the one I kept thinking about. I’d lie in bed, excited to wake up the next morning so that I could have a bite.

(Do we need to rehash my love for these soft almondy cookies?? I’ve made them into cake form, gelato sandwich form, and have made a matcha red bean version, but never have I had them in dough form!)

This dough is insanely good. It’s intensely almondy with chocolate chunks throughout, and the colors are so bright and happy. It’s my dream dough. So starting now and through the end of the month, you’ll be able to get it at DO, either in store or online.

And!! Portions of the proceeds will be going to Emma’s Torch, an amazing organization in Brooklyn that provides culinary training, ESL classes, and interview preparation to refugees. I first heard about Emma’s Torch when the director, Kerry, was interviewed on Unorthodox and immediately fell in love with the cause. You can listen to this episode here and learn more about Emma’s Torch here. I am soo excited that this cookie dough will help support this cause!

Because it’s fun to eat this dough in little scoops like an ice cream cone, I have a recipe for homemade mini cones today! They are not hard to make, you just need a cone mold (I use this krumkake mold) and an offset spatula. You can dip them in chocolate or leave em naked, and you can make them up to a few days in advance. Be prepared for your house to smell like an ice cream parlor! 


Homemade Mini Ice Cream Cones

yields 12

ingredients

1/2 c (100g) sugar

1/2 c (65g) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp kosher salt

a pinch of ground cardamom

2 large egg whites

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

optional:

3 oz chocolate chips

sprinkles

clues

preheat oven to 375ºf. grease a baking sheet. grease a small (6”) wooden cone mold.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt, and cardamom. add the egg whites and extracts and mix until you have a smooth spreadable batter, slightly thicker than the consistency of honey.

with a small offset spatula, spread two 1-tablespoon dollops of the batter into 3-inch rounds, at least 2 inches apart onto the greased baking sheet. this part gets a little sticky, but it doesn’t need to be perfect! (only bake 2 rounds at a time so that you have time to mold the cookies before they cool.)

bake until the edges are lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. working quickly (but carefully, so as not to burn your fingers), use a small offset spatula to flip a cookie over onto a work surface and then wrap it around the greased cone mold. remove it from the cone mold and then stand it up with the pointy end on top, propping it up as needed and cool fully.

repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the pan and cone mold each time. allow cones to cool to room temperature.

if desired, melt chocolate chips in a microwave or double boiler and dip the tops of the cooled cones into the melted chocolate and roll in sprinkles. place on a parchment lined plate and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm.

cones can be kept in the fridge or at room temperature for several days.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!

rice pudding

Nearly all of the desserts in Paris were extremely ornate, with pretty colors and artful boops to the nines. Eye candy was everywhere, and it was an essential part of the storybook fantasylandness that is Paris. The eclairs were tiny edible sculptures, the cream puffs were like oversized jewels, and many of the macarons were dusted with gold. The one dessert that left the biggest impression on me, however, was the ugliest: rice pudding! We had it for dessert at L’Ami Jean, where it was spooned into a large bowl over ice cream and crunchies, and then again the next night at Chez Georges, where it was loosey goosey and outstandingly velvety. On the second night, I just could not stop eating it.

Rice pudding grossed me out in my childhood. I loved standard chocolate and vanilla pudding cups so much, especially when they came in Lunchables, but every time I’d go to the store with my mom and make my pudding selection, I felt almost violated by the fact that rice pudding invaded my line of vision when I was just trying to look at the other pudding. The same way I currently feel if I ever have to go past the bananas on the way to the apples. It was all about the texture with rice pudding: why was it caviary and translucent? Why did it look like little eyeballs? Why did it have to be that way and what was wrong with regular pudding?

In my old age, I’ve come to appreciate the textural structure of rice in a pudding. I like chewing my pudding. It’s not scary anymore, it’s just rice, and it’s not like it’s cottage cheese or anything. The rice pudding in Paris wasn’t the first time I’ve had it and enjoyed it, but it was the first time I truly became inspired to make it. Not only was I enchanted by the texture and flavor, but I was also super into how appropriate it was for after a big dinner. Not too heavy, not too sweet, it was an A+ ending bite. And it kind of embodied that effortlessly classy and cool vibe that is basically every Parisian woman. I liked that it came in a big communal bowl without fanfare or garnish, it was a confident dessert.

When I got home I learned how easy it was to make and how it’s magic. You don’t need cornstarch or gelatin, it just thickens with the starch from the rice. At a minimum, you can make it simply by boiling rice in milk and adding sugar. I was inspired by the creaminess of the Chez Georges rice pudding to add a little heavy cream, and then by Jessica Battilana’s recipe to add richness via an egg yolk. To flavor it, I recommend vanilla bean, lemon zest, and either rosewater or a dusting of tonka bean, which gives it a beautiful flavor that’s a cross between cinnamon and vanilla. Tonka beans are illegal in the United States since you can die if you eat like dozens of them but you only ever use a few passes over the microplane at a time. Eating dozens of them would be like eating dozens of nutmeg seeds, ew. And they’re legal pretty much everywhere else, even Canada, so it’s silly that they’re illegal here. I’m not advocating you go and smuggle some into the country but if you bought some in Paris and accidentally forgot about them in your suitcase on the way home then use them for this.

Lastly, I am serving this pudding over Bonne Maman’s very special edition raspberry, strawberry, and elderflower preserves. I love it and its beautiful jar so much. Bonne Maman released it on the occasion of their pop-up boat party in Paris last month, so you can’t actually buy it… but… I'm giving away four jars this week on Instagram! So head over there to win one. Really you can’t go wrong with any preserves in this recipe here. Raspberry or strawberry would be perfect with rosewater rice pudding, or swap out the lemon zest for orange zest in the mixture and serve it over orange preserves. The world is your rice pudding oyster!


rice pudding

serves 6-8

Ingredients

3 1/4 c  whole milk

1/2 c (100g) arborio or medium grain white rice 

1 vanilla bean

1/4 c heavy cream, plus more if desired

1 egg yolk

1/4 c (50g) sugar

1/4 tsp salt

A few passes of tonka bean, optional

1/4 tsp rosewater, optional

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Bonne Maman preserves, for serving

Pistachios, sprinkles, candied rose petals, optional, for serving

clues

In a medium pot, combine milk, rice, and vanilla and bring to a simmer over medium high. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for 20-30 minutes, until rice is soft. Reduce heat if it creeps above a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolk and heavy cream. Drizzle in 1/2 cup of the hot rice mixture while whisking very quickly, then slowly drizzle this into the pot while whisking. Add sugar and continue to whisk and cook for 2 more minutes, or until the texture is porridge like. Remove from heat and stir in salt, tonka (if using), rosewater (if using), and lemon zest. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cooled. Pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.

To serve, spoon preserves into the bottom of a glass and top with rice pudding and sprinkle things of choice. If you’d like your rice pudding on the looser side, you can stir in another splash of heavy cream.

-yeh!

Thank you, Bonne Maman, for sponsoring this post!

Photos by Chantell and Brett!