Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sugar Coated in Paris

Croissants, crapes, espresso, and chocolate. Bistros, leaves, love and autumn.

What better a place to eat and float your way through each minute of your day than Paris, France? I for one perused the streets of Paris spending all my time peeking in the rustic patisserie windows and nudging my head in the wooden doors just to take a sniff of the delacy and flavor that only a home baker could envy as much. That chocolate, those tarts, the pure indulgence of meranges that seem to peak higher than Everest. How do they do it?

There is a way with sweets in Paris, there is a love that is in every cut of cake and every flip of a crepe. Maybe its just me or the air in this romatic city, but they do things differently here. It's about beauty and flavor...without ever sacrificing either. Its the art, the form and the heart that you can feel on the tips of your taste buds in everything you touch.

It's delicious. It's beautiful. It's Paris in the fall time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies!

Lets take a culinary adventure back to the delicious decade of 1990 and an obsession that was equally as mouthwatering as it was to-die-for tasty: chocolate marshmallow cookies and Valley River Mall. Most of you will not know Valley River Mall, but I bet you do remember the old cookie stands that were a regular fixture in the suburban shopping paradise...the cookies were big (so big) and our favorite was a chocolate comatose of rich cocoa, gooey marshmallows and a smothering of luscious, fluffy frosting.

Not only was this cookie experience so memorable because of the sugared goodness that I can still taste to this day, but more importantly because it was my sister's first introduction into why the world of baking is so much more that an Oreo. In our 7 year old world, these cookies were gold and our allowance was currency. My sister LOVED these and she I will credit as my inspiration in the quest at recreating the cookies from our childhood that have long been lost in shopping mall turnover.

1 box of chocolate cake mix (I like devils food)
1/2 cup of butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla
1 bag of large marshmallows (cut each marshmallow in half and set aside)
Chocolate frosting (you can make it or by it canned - one can will do for this whole recipe and its easy!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. With an electric mixer, cream butter (apx. 2 minutes)
3. Add cake mix, eggs and vanilla - mix until blended
4. Drop by spoonful onto cookie sheet lined with parchment (I use a medium cookie scoop)
5. Bake @ 350 for 8- 9 minutes
6. Remove cookies from oven and quickly place 2-3 marshmallow halves sticky side down on top of the cookie
7. Place pan back in oven for 1 minute
8. Remove cookies again and use the back of a buttered spoon to lightly flatten and spread the melted marshmallow across the top of each cookie
9. Allow to cool and frost with the chocolate frosting, making sure to cover all the marshmallow
10. Eat, eat, and try to share :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Whose broad stripes and bright stars

Operation Baking Gals round three started off this month by going back to the basics - Rice Krispies Treats!

I Bet if you ask yourself what the first sweet treat was that you were allowed to whip up as a youngster, you might be right with me in remembering the simplistic perfection of mini-marshmallows, butter and Rice Krispies.  Though these might be the easiest culinary snack you will find on my blog, don't underestimate the smile power of these sugar packed treats...which is just why they made the perfect gift to send off to my soldier of the month, CPT Jackie Buzzard and her team, stationed in Iraq.

When baking for OBG's, my culinary outlook is a little different than my everyday relationship with my oven.  On a regular basis I am usually inventing, experimenting and letting my imagination freely flow into my KitchenAid mixer...but OBG's is no regular cookie exchange my friends. With each and every round our goal is to bring these troops a little closer to home, remind them of our kitchens and all the goodness that they remember coming out of it.  With that said, this month I decided to deliver the most basic (and most loved by all!) nostalgic American goodie with a little United States flare to boot.  Taking the traditional recipe from right off the box, I melted, stirred and stuck my way to the perfect rectangular bar of sweetened cereal goodness. Top that off with a little dunk into melted white chocolate dusted with red and blue sprinkles and we have the perfect build on your favorite Kellog's Rice Krispie Treat.

So from my lunch box to yours, dig in.

3 tablespoons of butter
4 cups of mini marshmallows (add 1 cup extra if you want marshmallow chunks in the end)
6 cups Rice Krispies
2 boxes of white dipping chocolate (or one bag of white chips)
Sprinkles of your choice

1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat
2. Add marshmallows and stir until completetly melted. Remove from heat (for extra whole marshmallow chunks, add the extra cup here)
3. Add Rice Krispies cereal and stir until coated
4. Using a buttered spatula, press mixture into a 13x9 inch pan coated in cooking spray
5. Once cool, cut into rectangles
6. In microwave, melt white chocolate according to package directions
7. Dip ends of Rice Krispie bars into melted chocolate
8. Sprinkle with desired coating and lay to set on foil coated in cooking spray (you might need to put these in the refrigerator to speed up the process)
9. EAT!