Thursday, March 29, 2012

Minty Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats

Since I started writing a lot, I haven't had a lot of time to cook, and so I've started defaulting to making all sorts of rice crispy treats because they only take 15-20 minutes to complete.  This is my new favorite recipe for rice crispy treats.

Stacey's Minty Chocolate Rice Crispy Treat Ingredients:
1/3c peppermint candies, crushed (I used candy canes)
2 tbs butter, organic
2c marshmallows, plain
1-2c chocolate mint marshmallows (if you can't find these, just substitute regular marshmallows) 
4c cereal (I use a mix of rice crispies and corn flakes from TJ's)
1/2c-1c chocolate chips (I used a mix of milk and semisweet, but you can use whatever you like)
5-6 drops peppermint oil

4-qt. pot
11 cup pyrex baking dish, or an 8x8" baking dish, oiled

I even took process pictures for you - I haven't taken these in a long time.  So, I found these marshmallows and I felt like using them in something where they became melted and unrecognizable wouldn't do them justice, and they weren't good enough to just eat by themselves (although I think my second assertion would be contested by Afram, who ate the first bag that we got this way in its entirety).  


I thought they should be featured in rice crispy treats.  If you can't find these (I got them at Target), just use regular mini marshmallows.

First, crush your candies into the size that you want to eat them in your crispy treats.  I used a mortar and pestle and I like them to be about 1/4"-1/2" long/wide/whatever.


Add these to a bowl with the chocolate chips in it so you're ready to dump them in at the last minute.  Oil your baking dish so that the crispies don't stick. Melt the butter over medium heat.


Add the first 2 cups of marshmallows.  This is also an aberration from the normal recipe.  I like to save some marshmallows for later so you get big chunks of marshmallow.  Stir over low heat until the marshmallows are melted and then put in the peppermint oil and stir.  Here's mine at mid melt.  Make sure you don't let them get too hot - they'll get stuck and crispy.


Next, throw in your cereal.  Stir quickly until combined. Next, throw in the additional marshmallows (mint or regular) and stir until they are sticky and slightly melted (this shouldn't take long).  

Last, put in your chocolate chips and peppermint candies and fold in gently.  If you do it too slowly, all the chocolate will melt and it won't look so pretty.  Use a silicone scraper to press the crispy treats into the oiled glass dish.


Food porn style:


Wait at least an hour for these to cool before you cut them otherwise it will be a sticky mess.  Or don't wait and make a mess.  It all tastes good. :)


Monday, March 19, 2012

Bailey's Brownies

My friend asked me to make something St. Patrick's Dayish for today even though St. Patrick's Day was Saturday.

Stacey's Bailey's Brownies Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, organic
2 oz unsweetened 99% chocolate, Scharffen-Berger
1c sugar, organic
1/3c brown sugar, organic
2 eggs
1/4c Bailey's Irish Creme Liqueur

2/3c unbleached white flour, organic
1 tbs whole wheat flour, organic (you can use regular flour)
1/4c cocoa powder, organic, Dagoba
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3c semisweet chocolate chips, Guittard

Stacey's Bailey's Ganache Ingredients:
3/4c mix of 64% dark / 38% milk Guittard couverture chocolate
Organic Heavy Cream (enough to cover the chocolate in a measuring cup - probably 1/3c?)
1/4c Bailey's Irish Creme Liqueur

9x9" baking pan or cake pan, lined with foil and buttered

Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together.  Then add the sugars, eggs and 1/4c liqueur.  Mix the dry ingredients together (except the chips) in a separate bowl and add it to the wet mixture.  Stir gently until combined and then add the chocolate chips.  Stir until combined.  Spread the mixture into the baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes, turning once at the halfway point.

For the ganache frosting, fill a pyrex measuring cup with the 3/4c chocolate discs.  Then pour in the heavy cream until it reaches the top of the chocolate pieces.  Heat this in the microwave for about a minute and then stir it gently until combined.  Then add the Bailey's and stir to combine.  Let this sit until it thickens up (probably will take an hour) or about 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator.  Stir again and then spread this on the brownies once they've cooled.


I have to say these are one of the favorite brownies I've made so far.  :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wassail and Fresh Snow Soap

I finally had some time to make more cold-process soap.  Hooray! I intended on making 4 lbs at once, but then since I'm so smart, I didn't realize until I measured all the oils / fats that it wouldn't all fit in my soaping pot.  I ended up having to remeasure out half of it once it was all melted and make two separate batches.  So, instead of having to figure out that all this stuff doesn't fit in a 4-qt stockpot like I did, here is the halved recipe for 2 lbs.

Here are the soap qualities.

Soap Bar Quality Suggested Range Your Recipe
Hardness 29 - 54 44
Cleansing 12 - 22 16
Conditioning 44 - 69 53
Bubbly 14 - 46 30
Creamy 16 - 48 43
Iodine 41 - 70 57
INS 136 - 165 147

I always aim to make sure conditioning is fairly high up.  I won't go through all the process steps again since it's the same as the Mango Soap Recipe. Please be sure and follow all safety precautions especially for making your lye solution.

Stacey's Wassail & Fresh Snow Soap Ingredients:
Solid Oils
8 oz beef tallow
6.06 oz Palm Oil (this was shortening from whole foods)
3.2 oz Coconut oil, 76 deg (this is the melt-point)
3.2 oz Palm Kernel Oil flakes

Liquid Oils
5.04 oz Castor Oil
2 oz Olive Oil
2 oz Canola Oil, organic
2 oz Sesame Oil

12.16 oz distilled water
4.4 oz lye NaOH

1 oz fragrance oil per batch - I added a dash of paprika to this one for some color
Wassail Fragrance Oil - I added a dash of paprika to this one for some color
Fresh Snow Fragrance Oil

As before I made the lye solution first, and as that cooled in its ice bath, I melted the liquid oils.  Again I poured the lye solution in while it was pretty warm about 120F, and my oils were closer to 100F.  It took a few minutes to get to trace, perhaps 5-10, and then I poured in my fragrance oils and stirred until combined. For the Wassail, this is where I threw in the paprika as well to give it some color.

Here you can see what it looked like just after pouring on 1/21/2012:


3/8/12 Cut these up, wrapped them in plastic once they were dry to cure (I unwrapped them for this photo, you're welcome), and this is what they look like now - little more than a month.  :)



Tried the Fresh Snow so far, smells nice to me - fresh and slightly fruity, if I had to give a description.  Boyfriend doesn't really care for the smell, but likes the soap.  Soft, lathery. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cow-free Brownies

So, one of my boyfriend's co-workers "can't eat anything that comes from a cow," meaning no milk products.  I'd think that would mean no dairy, but he can eat eggs.  Anyway, he likes brownies and I thought I'd try and come up with a brownie recipe.

Stacey's Cow-Free Brownie Ingredients:
1/4c coconut oil, organic
3/4c cooking oil
3 eggs, organic
1 oz 99% unsweetened chocolate (Scharffen-Berger)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2c sugar, organic

1c unbleached white flour, organic
2/3c unsweetened cocoa powder, organic (Dagoba)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1c semi-sweet chocolate chips (make sure there are no milk products in here)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave with the unsweetened chocolate.  Add the cooking oil and mix.  Add the eggs and vanilla bean paste and whisk with a fork. Then mix in the sugar. I wish I mixed all the rest of the dry ingredients separately and then put it in, but I didn't - I threw everything on top and mixed it in with a rubber scraper.

Bake for 22 minutes, rotating once at the halfway point.

Result? A little gooey, but if you like that, then keep it the way it is.  I think next time I'll add another 1/2 tsp of baking powder and bake for a few more minutes.  Will let you know what the co-worker thinks in an update. :)


Monday, March 5, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

I wanted to make some cupcakes for my grandfather's 96th birthday this weekend so I made these. I was more interested in the frosting so I just made the Yellow Cupcake recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. I did a half batch and used lowfat milk instead.

Stacey's Altered Yellow Cupcake Ingredients:
1 1/3c unbleached white flour, organic
2 tbs cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick softened butter, unsalted, organic
3/4 + 2 tbs sugar, organic
2 eggs, organic
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
3/4c lowfat (2% milk), organic

15 cupcake liners
cupcake pan

Preheat the oven to 350F. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, then the vanilla. Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the milk. Beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour, then the rest of the milk.  Beat in the last portion of the flour mixture.  Using a cupcake scooper or spoons, fill the cupcake liners in the pan about 2/3 full.  Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, rotating once at the halfway point. Makes 15 cupcakes.

Stacey's Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:
2 oz scharffen-berger unsweetened
2c powdered sugar
2 tbs milk (pour milk into powdered sugar a little at a time)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
dash salt

mini chocolate chips
turbinado sugar, organic

I waited until the cupcakes were cool, and then I softened the butter in microwave.  I added milk to the powdered sugar and mixed with my standing mixer with whisk attachment. Then I melted the chocolate in microwave on 30 second intervals stirring in between, until it was all melted. I added the softened butter to powdered sugar mixture and mixed until fluffy. Then I added the melted chocolate, put in a dash of salt, and mixed until combined and fluffy. I spread the frosting immediately on the cupcakes.

I put mini chocolate chips in small sauce bowl (a little larger than the size of a cupcake). Then, I dipped the frosted cupcakes into the bowl, and sprinkled with a little turbinado sugar for a little crunch.