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This past weekend was the first of football season, and–I can’t believe I’m about to type this–I am so excited for its arrival. In the past few years, I have increasingly looked forward to doing just about nothing on Sundays. These days give me an opportunity to cook (and usually drink) all day; it is on this day I experiment with new dishes, or test popular ones I’ve made in seasons past.

One of these recipes is Rice Krispies Treats. I usually keep them traditional, but top them with a spiced chocolate ganache for something a bit more refined. To kickoff the season, this time I stirred in speculoos spread–a flavor that hints at the impending end of summer and transition to the cooler months. So as I prepare to say goodbye to tomatoes, mai tais, and the faint tan I actually achieved this year, I seek solace in Football Sundays.

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Makes 12-15 pieces

4 Tbsp butter
1 10-oz bag mini marshmallows
2/3 speculoos spread
pinch kosher salt
6 cups Rice Krispies or puffed rice cereal
3 Tbsp millet, toasted

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add marshmallows.
2. Once marshmallows are melted, stir in speculoos spread and salt.
3. Add cereal and millet and stir until evenly coated with speculoos mixture.
4. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch greased pan and press down evenly.
5. Let sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

Notes: Of course this is delicious–they’re Rice Krispies Treats, for crying out loud. Speculoos was subtle but prominent enough to make them special. Next time: more millet!

Adapted from a Bob’s Red Mill recipe for Raspberry Oatmeal Bars, I made it vegan by swapping coconut oil for the butter. I didn’t have oat flour on hand and instead used whole wheat pastry flour, so it is not gluten-free. The reviews stated that the recipe was on the sweet side, so I used a bit less sugar than called for in the recipe.

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
Scant 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup superfruit jam or preserves (or any flavor you prefer)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously grease an 8×8-inch pan with coconut oil.
2. In medium bowl, combine melted coconut oil and vanilla. Stir in flour, oats, sunflower seeds, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt until thoroughly blended.
3. Press 1 cup of oat mixture firmly into bottom of the prepared pan. Spread jam evenly on top.
4. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over jam, then gently press.
5. Bake 20-25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and firm. Cool bars in pan for 30 minutes on wire rack. Cut into 16 squares and serve at room temperature.

Makes 16 bars.

Notes: for some strange reason, these bars tasted better as they sat. The coconut flavor mellowed and it somehow tasted sweeter a few days later.

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The first–and only–time I had mochi was at the original Fatty Crab restaurant in New York City’s West Village. I went to this place every chance I got, before it was nearly impossible to get in. There was a time when there were no dessert items on the menu, but you would receive a little mochi cake with the bill. I had never tasted anything so pillowy (some people call that “heavenly”), chewy, and crunchy, all in the same bite. I needed more.

Fast-forward many years later, and I finally baked a mochi cake of my own. I used , as featured in Gourmet Magazine’s May 2005 edition. Changes made: addition of 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds sprinkled on the top of the cake batter, and sugar reduced to about 1 3/4 cups (simply because I ran out).

The result? Wonderful! Crunchy exterior, custardy and chewy on the inside. Next time: add more sesame seeds, try increasing sugar to 2 cups. They froze fairly well, though we’ll see how they hold up with a near two-week transit time to get to my brother in Afghanistan! They are very dense and satisfying, and great with a cup of tea in the evening.

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