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    Friday
    Mar302018

    Extra Special K Bars

    Growing up we had bars similar to these but they were made with Rice Krispies and they were called Scotcheroos. Well, a local bakery sells Special K bars, which, as the name implies, are made with Special K Cereal. Apparently, in some parts of the country, that’s how they’re always made. Who knew? Both varieties are basically a chewy, crispy, peanut butter bar, topped with chocolate, butterscotch topping. For me, that’s where they have always come up a bit short. Butterscotch chips have a very strong, artificial flavor and smell about them. So much so, that Hubby hates it when I buy one from the bakery because my whole kitchen will smell like them. Well, I have discovered a delicious alternative, and as usual, the homemade version beats out any I’ve had before.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 6 cups Special K Cereal
    • 1 cup peanut butter
    • 1 cup syrup
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips
    • 1 cup Ghirardelli Caramel chips 

    I realize the ingredient “syrup” sounds a bit vague. The thing is, I don’t use corn syrup. Ordinarily, I use brown rice syrup, but when I was at Target picking up ingredients, they didn’t have that, but did have Sugar in the Raw Cane Syrup. I’ve never seen that before, so I thought I’d give it a try. It worked wonderfully and tastes way better than corn syrup. That being said, if the only thing you can find is corn syrup, it will work.

    First up, measure your cereal into a really big bowl and set it aside. (keep in mind, you’ll need plenty of room for stirring)

    Next, put the sugar, syrup, and butter into a pan over medium low heat.

    Here’s the secret to bars that are deliciously soft and chewy... don’t overcook the syrup. When I was researching recipes, the most common question I came across was, “Why are my bars always hard?” I’ve seen some recipes that say to boil the mixture for 3-5 minutes… nope. That’s just asking for bars you’ll break your teeth on. Basically, you want the sugar to be dissolved, and it’s ok if it just barely starts to bubble. If you're having trouble getting all of the sugar to dissolve without it boiling, add 1-2 tablespoons of water. That way you can cook it longer and/or bring it to a boil without overcooking it. 

    Turn off the heat and add the peanut butter. Mine was a new bottle that hadn’t yet been refrigerated so it was of pouring consistency, which made for easy measuring, but not a very pretty picture.

    Add the vanilla and stir until everything is incorporated.

    Pour that over your waiting cereal.

    Stir to coat all of the cereal. Keeping it all in the bowl, rather than all over the bar and floor, will be the hardest part. Just be patient and eventually it will all cooperate.

    Glop it into a parchment lined 9x13 pan. Yes, glop is the appropriate term for that.

    Press it into the pan, slowly working it toward the edges. If it’s cool enough, you can use your hands. Otherwise, a spatula will work fine, it will just take a little longer.

    Now, onto the topping. Remember how I said I don’t care for butterscotch chips? Well, it turns out, Ghirardelli has started making caramel flavored chips, and they are delicious!

    Place 1 cup of those and 1 ½ cups of milk chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.

    Nuke 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir… until it’s all melted and smooth.

    Pour that over the bars. (Is it just me, or is there something seriously delectable about flowing chocolate?)

    Spread that over the top, getting all the way to the corners. Then, another hard part, walk away and leave it to cool and set up. It will probably need a good 3 hours. You can speed it up by putting it in the fridge, but they’re better served at room temperature.

    When they’re ready, go ahead and cut them into whatever size bars you want. I recommend small because I guarantee you’ll be coming back for a second, regardless of the size. As you can see, cutting is not my strong suit. Having two different sizes was done purposely because I needed some big ones for pictures, but not having one straight line in the bunch, well, that’s just how my brain works. I guess I’ll have to blame it on cooking while intoxicated again.

    Regardless, they taste amazing! They are perfectly chewy, peanut buttery, and sweet, with a subtle underlying caramel flavor. And best of all, no artificial, butterscotch weirdness.

    What’s your favorite childhood treat?

     

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    Wednesday
    Mar072018

    Dark Chocolate Raspberry Crunch

    Recently, Costco started selling this amazing stuff they call Dark Chocolate Raspberry Chia Thins. Basically, it’s thin pieces of dark chocolate freeze dried raspberries and chia seeds. It is incredibly delicious.

    The only problem is the chia seeds. You see, when chia seeds spend a little time in a wet environment, like your mouth, they become slimy. So although they add a delightful crunch while you’re eating the treat, an hour later, you’re picking little bits of snot out of your teeth.

    This has a way of ruining the whole experience. I had been thinking about making my own with just the raspberries, but I really do like the crunch. I had thought about using chopped almonds, but that’s a different kind of crunch. Then, one morning I was sharing a poppy seed muffin with my mom and I finally had the answer. Poppy seeds could provide the crunchy texture without the subsequent slime problem.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • Dark Chocolate (just over a pound)
    • 1.2 ounces freeze dried raspberries
    • 1 – 2 teaspoons poppy seeds 

    For the chocolate, I absolutely love Trader Joe’s pound plus bars. I used the whole thing minus about 2 Tablespoons of shaved chocolate that wasn’t needed during tempering. And speaking of, the first thing you need to do is temper your chocolate. I have a whole post about how to do that here. Once you’ve done that, you should have something that looks like this.

    I only used 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds, but if you want more crunch, it can certainly support 2.

    Stir those in, and then it’s time for the raspberries. Once again, Trader Joes was where I got mine. They are a really good source for stuff like that.

    Crush any of the whole berries inside the bag and remove the moisture thingy.

    Then pour the raspberries into the chocolate.

    Stir until everything is completely coated and evenly distributed.

    Pour it only a parchment lined sheet pan (13x18 ish), scraping out every last drop, because trust me, you are not going to waste any of this.

    Spread it until it’s about ¼ inch thick. It will probably just about fill the pan.

    Now, as long as your house is not too warm, just walk away. If you’ve successfully tempered your chocolate, it will soon set and turn back into the consistency it was when you bought it.

    Give it a few hours to let all those cocoa butter crystals finish doing their thing, and then just break it apart. I got my hands nice and cold under the tap and then dried them thoroughly and snapped the chocolate into small pieces.

    I just love the bright pops of red! Isn't it beautiful? Prepare to be blown away by how incredibly delicious it is, as well! Costco’s got nothin’ on me!

    It’s possible I’ve started something dangerously addictive. I’ve thought of all sorts of things you could do this with. I might try a white chocolate and mixed berry one next. You could use any variety of chocoate, add chopped coconut chips, any kind of nut… I’m afraid the possibilities are endless! What kinds of things do you think would be yummy?