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Salty Honey Pie

June 29, 2015

Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch… You know that I looove you. I can’t help myself!

 

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I am in excellent spirits today. The sun is shining, Tony and I finally set a date and confirmed our wedding venue, I have pie, and my sister, Rachel, and her boyfriend leave for Italy tomorrow! I might be more excited for their trip than they are… I have spent countless hours creating and revising what I like to refer as, “The Perfect Itinerary.” It is my finest work yet. We have Lake Como trips, wine tasting, lunch in the countryside, Rome, site-seeing, hiking, Cinque Terre, boat rides, laying out, Amsterdam, Red Light District, bike rides, picnics, Milan EXPO, panzerottis, and maybe a few trips to museums sprinkled in between… We’ll see… We’re in Italy, after all.

 

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I have been limiting my dessert consumption to once a day in preparation for their visit because I’m pretty sure I am going to gain 10 pounds while they’re here… However, this pie sang to me and I figured if I only eat a slice a day upon their arrival, I could chalk it up as a success. I’m alllll about moderation.

 

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This pie was seriously so good and so unique. It has a flaky, buttermilk crust and a delectable honey-flavored custard filling that has no resemblance to flan, which I loathe. Ah, and then there’s the top crust (is that a thing?)… It has almost a caramelized finish to it and then it’s sprinkled with a healthy serving of sea salt.

In my humble opinion, the addition of sea salt on any dessert automatically bumps it’s score up 2 points… Salted brownies, salted cookies, salted chocolate, salted chocolate milk, salted caramel, and now salted pie. It’s a match made in heaven.

 

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In typical Claire fashion (things get crazy when Tony isn’t around), I was standing over this pie dish eating my daily slice of pie and sprinkling flakes of sea salt on every individual bite. I just couldn’t get enough.

Oh, and if that doesn’t convince you to make it immediately, it’s also a pie that tastes more delicious with each passing day… So it’s truly a great option when you’re home alone and want to eat a pie to yourself.

 

Salty Honey Pie from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book via Joy The Baker:

Pie Crust:

½ cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold buttermilk

Filling:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon white cornmeal

Scant ½ teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

¾ cup honey (I use raw sage honey)

3 large eggs

½ cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 to 2 teaspoons flaked sea salt

  1. To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers (or a potato masher), work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. Add a bit more buttermilk if necessary, but you want to mixture to be shaggy and not outwardly wet.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Gently knead into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help re-chill the butter and distribute the moisture.
  3. To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
  5. To make the filling, whisk together melted butter, sugar, cornmeal, and salt in a medium bowl. Split vanilla bean and add the vanilla bean scrapings (or extract, if using) into the butter mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in honey. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking to combine. Whisk in heavy cream and vinegar.
  6. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake pie for 45 to 55 minutes until pie is deep golden brown and puffed around the edges and set in the center. Open the oven and rotate the pie halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 4 hours before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, and sprinkle with sea salt just before serving.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs

June 26, 2015

Happy Friday, friends! I have a short, sweet, and salty post for you!

 

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I am slightly crazy/obsessive and I plan our weekly dinners about 1-2 weeks in advance and I always struggle with what side dishes to serve. I like to eat my vegetables in the form of salad, but when it comes to carbohydrates I still haven’t quite figured it out.

You see, I like to eat my carbs in the form of dessert, but Tony is all about the gainz and eating carbs at dinner is critical so I typically rotate between sweet potatoes, Lebanese potatoes, bulghur, and maybe basmati rice. Super crazy stuff.

 

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Sweet potatoes are kind of one of my favorite foods and I try to serve them as often as possible… I never feel bad about eating a sweet potato. They are nutritious, delicious, and extremely versatile, which is great when I am serving them every other day! 

My favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes is to cube them, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, cinnamon, and chipotle, and then roast them in the oven for a couple of hours until they are soft and crispy. It is delightful… But since I’m trying to avoid weeknight-dinner-boredom in the kitchen, I thought of the brilliant idea of making another Jerusalem: A Cookbook recipe starring sweet potatoes, “Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs.” Jerusalem for the win! 

 

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I’ve had my eye on this recipe for quite some time and since it’s officially fig season in Italy, I finally gave it a try last week and oh, my goodness, I’m slightly obsessed… This recipe was good, figgin’ good (sorry, I had to). It is the perfect side accompaniment of salty, sweet, spicy, and creamy and an excellent (and creative) way to serve sweet potatoes! Make it tonight. Boom. Done. Roasted.

 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs Recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook:

4 small sweet potatoes (2 ¼ pounds/1 kilogram in total)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Scant 3 tablespoons/40 milliliters balsamic vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons/20 grams superfine sugar

12 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 ½-inch/4 centimeter segments

1 red chile, thinly sliced

6 ripe figs (8 ½ ounces/240 grams in total), quartered

5 ounces/150 grams soft goat’s milk cheese (optional)

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F / 240°C.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthwise, and then cut each half again similarly into 3 long wedges. Mix with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out, skin side down, on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
  3. To make the balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle.
  4. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the green onions and chile. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often to make sure not to burn the chile. Spoon the oil, onions, and chile over the sweet potatoes. Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature. Crumble the cheese over the top, if using.

Baked Alaska and Four-Year Blogiversary

June 22, 2015

The Bite-Sized Baker blog turns FOUR today! I thought I would celebrate with a super exciting announcement and a super retro dessert, Baked Alaska! This is hands down the most amazing dessert I have ever made.

 

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The Baked Alaska dessert as we know it was created in 1867 by French chef, Charles Ranhofer, at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York to celebrate the United States’ purchase of Alaska… But there are some historic claims that Thomas Jefferson served a very similar dessert in the White House as early as 1802!

 

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This cake was phenomenal… Like happy dance, face covered in ice cream, finger-looking good. It is essentially an ice cream cake that’s smothered in a light, fluffy, and marshmallowy meringue and then toasted in the oven or with a kitchen torch (think s’mores ice cream cake)! Since the cake goes through various freezing stages, the ice cream doesn’t melt when you torch the meringue, and you have this sensational hot and cold combination… It is basically all that is wonderful in the world and a true showstopper! Especially when you bring it to the gym with you at 7AM and toast it with a kitchen torch just before serving…

I made everything from scratch, but if you are short on time, you can easily substitute your favorite store-bought ice cream and box-mix cake for an equally delicious dessert!

 

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Now, the moment I’ve been waiting for… time to share my exciting news! I cannot believe I’ve had this little blog for FOUR YEARS now! Granted, I haven’t always been the most consistent with my blog (i.e., taking 2-month hiatuses at any given time), this blog has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and has shaped who I am today. I AM THE BITE-SIZED BAKER.

This little space is an extension of myself and I decided it was time to finally invest in a site that reflected myself visually, as well… And with the help of my lovely fiancé and the lovely duo behind Purr Design, I am FINALLY giving The Bite-Sized Baker blog the much-needed facelift it so badly deserves!!!

There will be a new layout with no more endless scrolling through hundreds of posts, a visual recipe index, printable recipes, and so much more! I am BEYOND excited for this next chapter of the blog and I hope you all enjoy the end result as much as I will!

 

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Baked Alaska recipe from The Bite-Sized Baker:

3 pints of ice cream of your choice

A Wiseman’s Chocolate Cake from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

4 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate (99% cacao), finely chopped

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup hot coffee

2/3 cup sour cream (I substituted plain, full-fat yogurt)

1 large egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Italian Meringue:

4 large egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar

1 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of fine sea salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. To make the chocolate cake, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Place a round of parchment in the bottom and butter it, then dust the pan with flour, and shake out the excess.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Combine the chocolate and cocoa. Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Stir the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Scrape the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Let cool completely in the pan on the rack. Invert the cake and remove the parchment.
  5. To assemble the cake, line a 9-inch round bowl with plastic wrap and fill the bowl with softened ice cream, place the piece of cake on top of the bowl of ice cream, and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
  6. To make the meringue, put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. When the egg whites start to foam, add the cream of tartar. Gradually add the granulated sugar and salt and continue whipping on medium-high speed. Once all the sugar has been added, add vanilla extract, turn the speed up to high, and whip until the egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.
  7. To serve the cake, remove the ice cream cake from the freezer, turn upside down onto a heatproof serving platter, and remove plastic wrap. Cover the cake completely with meringue and place in the freezer, uncovered, until ready to serve. When ready to serve, remove the cake from the freezer and use a propane torch to brown the meringue. Slice and serve immediately. The assembled cake can be stored in your freezer for up to 7 days.

Sweet Cream Biscuits with Peach Jam Ice Cream

June 16, 2015

In the past two weeks, there has been a visible change in the peach game at the Mercato Centrale. Peaches start to make an appearance in early May in Florence, but by mid June, their sweet scent is filling the air and I can’t help but stock up on a dozen at a time. I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve imitated Super Nintendo’s Mario Kart, “Peaches! Here we goOoO!” 

 

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In the past two weeks, I’ve made Grilled Pork Chops with Grilled Peaches, Caramelized Red Onions, and Gorgonzola based on THIS recipe, Flourishing Foodie’s Sweet Corn, Cherry, and Peach Salad recipe, Peach Brown Butter Buckle from Kitchen Konfidence, Peach-Blueberry Oatmeal Bars, and now this masterpiece… A buttermilk ice cream with crumbles of sweet cream biscuits and ribbons of peach jam.

It makes me wish I was from the South, called people, “babe” or “sugah,” and liked to drink bourbon.

 

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This ice cream is from my second favorite ice cream cookbook, “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.” Her first cookbook is still my favorite and I fully intend on making every single recipe in the book by the end of the year. The Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam Ice Cream is one of my favorite summer flavors of theirs– it’s creamy, rich, fragrant, and full of luscious peaches. It’s everything you could possibly ask for on a hot summer day and it also happens to be the perfect recipe to make the most out of bruised peaches!

 

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On a side note and a slight rant… I talk about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams a lot on this blog and it’s for good reason. Ever since my first visit to Jeni’s original Scoop Shop in Columbus, Ohio in 2010, I’ve been slightly obsessed; every flavor is original, every ingredient is sourced locally, and every pint of ice cream is handmade. Not only is the ice cream swoon-worthy, but the company itself is something to be admired. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is built upon a foundation of consistency, transparency, and relationships– not something you see in most companies these days… So yes, I am slightly obsessed, but what do you expect?! Jeni Britton Bauer is living my dream life; making and eating ice cream every day!!! Since they are in a bit of a sticky situation right now and their Scoop Shops are temporarily closed, I thought I would show my support for her craft and her company’s mission by making a recipe from one of her two cookbooks… and if you care about quality ingredients and companies who actually care, you can do the same! #TeamJenis

 

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Sweet Cream Biscuits with Peach Jam Ice Cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts:

Peach Jam:

2 large peaches

¾ cup sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

Sweet Cream Biscuits:

3 cups self-rising flour (You can also substitute this for 3 cups all-purpose flour with 4 ½ teaspoons baking powder and 1 ½ teaspoon salt whisked in)

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

2 2/3 cups heavy cream

Ice Cream Base:

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 cups buttermilk

½ cup crumbled Sweet Cream Biscuits, frozen, or store-bought biscuits

¼ cup Peach Jam, chilled

  1.  To make the peach jam, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a small X in the bottom of each peach. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  2. Blanch the peaches in the boiling water just until the skin begins to peel back at the X, 5 to 15 seconds. Transfer to the ice bath to cool; drain.
  3. Peel the peaches, using a soft-skin peeler. Slice the peaches in half from top to bottom and twist to separate the fruit from the pit. Puree the peaches and measure out 1 cup puree for the jam.
  4. Combine the peach puree, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and boil for 8 minutes, until it thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  5. To make the sweet cream biscuits, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Butter a quarter sheet pan.
  6. Put the flour and cold butter in a food processor and pulse 15 times. Add the cream and pulse until the dough comes together into a shaggy mess.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press it together. Fold the dough in half, then fold it over itself two or three times, just until it is no longer clumpy. Spread the dough onto the pan—it spreads easily, so you can use your hands.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack.
  9. To make the ice cream, mix about ¼ cup heavy cream with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  10. Combine the remaining cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes precisely. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
  11. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  12. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in buttermilk. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
  13. Remove the frozen canister from the freezer, assemble your ice cream machine, and turn it on. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and begin to spin the ice cream until thick and creamy.
  14. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, mixing in the crumbled biscuits and jam as you go. Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least four hours.

 

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Peach-Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

June 11, 2015

Once upon a time, I tried to recreate the legendary “Savannah Bar” from Great Harvest… My photos were horrific and my recipe left much to be desired. They were good, but they didn’t hold a candle to the real thing… Also, I just had to Google both of those idioms to make sure I typed them correctly, because I am the absolute WORST at repeating phrases and idioms correctly.

 

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I am a pretty particular person and I am especially particular about eating baked goods outside of the house. The issue is, I eat A LOT on a regular basis and I have to be strategic about eating baked goods. I want to save my sweet calories for something that I’ve made myself so I can eat it straight out of the oven… in the comfort of my own home… where people can’t judge me if and when I eat half a dozen cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and/or bars. But there are some baked goods that I can simply not pass up and the Savannah Bar from Great Harvest is one of them.

For those of you who are not familiar with Great Harvest, Savannah Bars are an oatmeal cookie bar topped with seasonal fruit and an additional oatmeal cookie crumble. They are sensational.

 

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It’s been almost four years since I posted my original recipe and I thought it was time to give it the attention and love it so deeply needed. Plus, the photos were starting to hurt my eyes. In my original recipe, I used two different recipes for the oatmeal cookie base and the crumb topping and I was less than excited about the final result, my crumb topping was lacking and it just wasn’t a Savannah Bar. For the new, revamped recipe I used only one oatmeal cookie recipe for the base and crumble and the results were pretty noteworthy, Savannah Bar status.

 

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My favorite thing about this recipe, other than the delightfully chewy oatmeal cookie, is that the fruit filling can be easily adapted depending on the season. All you need is 4 cups worth of fresh fruit and voilà! My favorite thing to do is to eat these bars while they’re piping hot and if I’m feeling extra indulgent, I’ll add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. There is something so satisfying about eating a warm fruit dessert with ice cream in the summertime!

 

Peach-Blueberry Oatmeal Bars by The Bite-Sized Baker:

Oatmeal Cookie Base and Crumble:

3 cups old fashioned oats

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

Fruit Filling:

2 cups peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch thick wedges

2 cups fresh blueberries

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons cornstarch

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9-inch by 13-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overlap on the sides.
  2. To make the oatmeal cookie mixture, combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl until combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add sugar and beat for 2-3 more minutes until fully incorporated. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. On low speed, gradually add dry ingredients until just combined. Spread ¾ of the oatmeal cookie mixture into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly for 5 minutes.
  4. While the oatmeal cookie base is baking, covering remaining oatmeal cookie crumble with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes and make fruit filling.
  5. To make the fruit filling, combine peaches, blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl and gently stir until combined.
  6. Spread fruit filling over oatmeal cookie base and top with remaining oatmeal cookie crumble and bake for 30-40 minutes until edges are set and the crumble is golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack and cut into squares OR serve while warm with a scoop of ice cream!

Golden Grahams S’mores Bars

June 5, 2015

My sister, Rachel, is a third grade teacher and yesterday was her school district’s last day before summer break, which got me to thinking about my third grade experience…

I remember third grade like it was yesterday. I went to Los Alamitos elementary school and my teacher was Mrs. Compton and that’s where I met and fell in love with my elementary school crush, John Germaine. My math teacher was Mrs. LeBlanc and I learned multiplication and division that year. I joined my first competitive soccer team, the Almaden Express, where I met my best friend, Whitney Reyes. It was also the year I quit Girl Scouts, claiming I had “too much homework and soccer practice.” It was a great year.

 

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Like any child, the last week of school was always my favorite, when activities consisted solely of getting your crush to sign your yearbook, cleaning your desk, attending pizza and ice cream parties, and planning your endless summer vacation.

Now that third grade is a mere 16 years ago (WHAT???), I find myself relating more to the adults in this situation. Summer vacation must be a NIGHTMARE for parents.

 

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Sure, kids can occupy themselves for the first two weeks of summer and if you’re lucky, they’re involved in a swim team or a day camp for the duration of summer… But after that?! Kids get restless and suddenly YOU’RE responsible for providing them endless amounts of entertainment for the rest of the summer! Unless you’re like my parents and you have five children so they can entertain each other and run around like animals in the neighborhood and you just blow your whistle to make them come home when dinner is ready… But if you’re not out of your mind, you’re going to need activities to do with them… And what better way to entertain a child than to create something together in the kitchen? Something that is simple, traditional, and representative of an American summer… Something like Golden Grahams S’mores Bars.

 

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Like most Americans, I have an affinity with s’mores. I like them in their traditional form, maybe with an added Reese’s Cup for good measure, but I love them in the form of ice cream, cookies, bars, Oreos, tarts, cakes, cheesecakes, Starbucks Frappuccinos, and basically whatever else I can get my hands on. I’ve made so many different variations of s’mores that I’ve lost count, so naturally, when I saw this original Betty Crocker recipe, I was very intrigued. So intrigued that I packed a box of Golden Grahams, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, and corn syrup in my suitcase so I could make them in Italy.

 

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These Golden Grahams S’mores Bars are more or less a variation of the original Rice Krispies Treats, replacing the crisped rice cereal with Golden Grahams and melting chocolate chips into the marshmallow mixture. I was planning on eating the entire pan myself because Tony claims he hates Rice Krispies Treats, but even he couldn’t keep his paws off of these treats. They were so good, so simple and easy to make, and they don’t require an oven! I mean, if Tony can help in the kitchen, than your eight-year-old can help too!

 

Golden Grahams S’mores Bars recipe by Betty Crocker:

8 cups Golden Grahams™ cereal

5 cups miniature marshmallows

1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips

¼ cup light corn syrup

5 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup miniature marshmallows, if desired

1 cup milk chocolate chips

  1. In a large mixing bowl, measure cereal. Butter 13×9-inch pan. In a large saucepan melt 5 cups marshmallows, the chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter, stirring often until melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Pour over cereal; quickly toss until completely coated. Stir in 1 cup of marshmallows and milk chocolate chips.
  3. Press mixture evenly in pan, using buttered back of spoon. Let stand uncovered at least 1 hour, or refrigerate if you prefer a firmer bar. Store loosely covered at room temperature up to 2 days.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies with Sea Salt

June 3, 2015

Friends! It’s been a while and I have some fun updates and some fun rants! Fun in my eyes, at least. I think Tony wants to scratch my eyeballs out.

 

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Anyway, I flew home two weeks ago to spend time with my family and to confirm our wedding venue… Finding a wedding venue is kind of like clothing shopping, in my opinion, which I hate. I hate going to multiple stores, browsing through racks of clothing, trying on clothes, and being disappointed. I prefer online shopping to the real thing so I treated wedding venue hunting like online shopping… If I read enough descriptions and reviews and looked at enough pictures, we could just base our decision off of that. I did most of our venue research online and narrowed it down to one venue so that when I went home we would just have to tour one venue, finalize the details, and then enjoy the rest of the week. Silly me… The venue was beautiful, but the customer service kind of sucked, and now we’re back to square one and I’m back in Italy. Yaaaay.

 

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I wasn’t overly concerned that this one venue didn’t work out, but once I returned to Italy and started contacting other wedding venues, the reality of wedding planning hit me. Planning 12 months in advance wasn’t early enough! Venues, photographers, and caterers were already completely booked for the next summer. Bananas!

So for the past week since I’ve been home, I’ve been staying up until the wee morning hours (the jet-leg didn’t help either) researching and emailing wedding venues and vendors and generally just annoying Tony with my ever-changing requests… Fortunately, Italy was ruled out early on so we at least know our wedding is going to be in the United States, but we still don’t have a clue where in the United States… And then we still have to decide on color schemes, florals, table settings, decor, menus, and entertainment! But of course, this isn’t all bad, after all, I loooove planning, but I’m just terrible with making decisions and even worse at decorating and styling. Thank goodness for my sisters!

 

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In other fun news, my sister, Rachel, and her boyfriend, KC, are visiting the first two weeks of July so I have been planning and perfecting their itinerary like a mad woman! This will be the first time either of them have visited Europe so I want to make it a trip of a lifetime! I had promised a post on Lake Como when we went in April, but we decided on spending a few nights in Lake Como with my sister and KC instead of the Amalfi Coast so that post will have to wait until July!

 

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My last update is a bit of a tease… I am working on a SUPER exciting project with the founders of Love and Olive Oil, which I will announce shortly, but in the name of exciting things, I made their Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies with Sea Salt. Oh, my tasty goodness. I’m telling you, these cookies are some of the best cookies I’ve ever made in my life! I made them in Italy before I went home and ate 6 of the two dozen I made in one night… and then I made them again while I was home and my family freaked out over them. These cookies are something else! Peanut butter and chocolate is always a winning combination, but the sprinkling of sea salt on top of these cookies make these cookies heavenly and leaving you wanting just one or two or six more, which is perfect because this recipe makes two dozen!

 

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Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies with Sea Salt by Love and Olive Oil:

Peanut Butter Filling:

½ cup creamy peanut butter, room temperature

¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt (increase to ¼ teaspoon if using unsalted peanut butter)

Cookies:

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup dark or Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup mini chocolate chips

Large flake salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling

  1. In a small mixing bowl, mix together peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until it forms a smooth paste. Dollop teaspoons (grape-sized balls) of filling mixture onto a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugars until fully incorporated. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add the dry ingredients until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate cookie dough for 1 hour until firm enough to handle.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll 1½ tablespoons of dough and flatten the dough to make a flat circle. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled peanut butter mixture in the middle then place another flat circle of cookie dough on top. Crimp the edges to seal and roll into a ball.
  6. Place dough balls on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, 2 inches apart and bake 11-12 minutes or until the centers are just set. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sea salt immediately, and let cool on wire racks.
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