Monday, July 29, 2013

S'More Bars

It is not officially summer at our house until we have made our first round of s'mores, or at least something in the chocolate/marshmallow/graham family. Although Boy Mimi long ago took care of officially welcoming summer around a fire with some friends, we couldn't resist trying a new take on this classic summer dessert.
While these will never replace the fun of roasting a marshmallow and sandwiching it between chocolate and graham crackers, these s'mores bars hit all the right notes, and in less time than it takes to build a fire and get out the wire hangers. Bar cookies are a favorite of mine because they can be made in advance, and usually feed a crowd. We took these to our annual 4th of July party, and they were a nice sweet ending to our meal ( in addition to Mrs. A's angel food cake with her famous chocolate frosting. It was a holiday, so eating two desserts was totally allowed.)

Originally I thought I would just use a graham cracker crust topped with chocolate and marshmallows, but after some thought I decided that these needed a sturdier crust that wouldn't crumble in your hand. We went for a graham cookie/shortbread type crust. While s'mores are usually made with milk chocolate, I didn't want these bars to be too sweet so I used half milk, half dark chocolate in the middle layer. Finally, I wanted to get both the creamy marshmallow texture like the inside of the toasted marshmallow, but also the crispy exterior so on top of the marshmallow cream layer, I sprinkled some mini marshmallows to get nice and golden, like that perfectly toasted marshmallow everyone always attempts while roasting over a fire.

S'Mores Bars

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups  flour
1 egg
1 1/4 cup plus 5 tablespoon graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces dark chocolate chopped
6 ounce milk chocolate chopped
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallow 

Cream together sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix well. Add flour, salt and 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs. Mix until thoroughly combined. Reserve 1 cup of mixture for topping. Press the remaining mixture into a 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle unbaked base with chopped chocolate. Dollop marshmallow creme over chocolate and spread with an off set spatula as best you can. Sprinkle mini marshmallows over top, filling in gaps in marshmallow creme layer.

Add the remaining 5 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs to reserved base and work in with finger tips. Crumble over top of mini marshmallows.

Bake in 350 oven for 25 minutes until marshmallow are golden.

Cool and cut into squares.

Link:Foodie Friday

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jalapeno Peach Rice

I just wasn't feeling the peaches and herb ingredient choices for the July Improv Challenge. Usually I have two or three ideas going, but not this time, and I was going to pass. Despite planning on skipping this month, peaches and herbs sort of hung around the back of my mind, and it kind of bothered me that I just couldn't think of a good way to put them together.
I don't normally read Southern Living, but I happened to pick up an issue and found a recipe for sweet tea rice with peaches and chives. Since I grow chives in my herb garden and our peach tree is overflowing, I decided to give this a try.

The first time I made this I used the sweet tea, but it was too sweet for us. Sweet tea is just not a thing here in Southern California like it is in the South, and we are not at all used to the sweet flavor (we drink our tea over ice and unsweetened), but if you enjoy sweet tea, you would probably like the rice cooked with it as in the original recipe. I did try it with regular tea and it turns it a nice color, but didn't really add any special flavor. If you're not making it sweet, I don't think it matters what liquid you use to cook your rice.

This recipe is a big departure from my usual  posts, but it is a keeper enjoyed either hot or cold. The jalapenos add a nice bite, and a necessary contrast to the sweetness from the peaches and tea, but if spice isn't your thing, adjust the amount of jalapenos to suite your taste.

Jalapeno Peach Rice
adapted from Southern Living

2 cups liquid (sweet tea, tea, chicken stock, or water)
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced *
1 large fresh peach, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper


1. Bring liquid to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; stir in rice and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes or until tea is absorbed and rice is tender.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add pecans, and cook, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Add jalapeño, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in hot cooked rice, diced fresh peach, chives, 1/4 tsp. salt, and white pepper.

* My jalapenos were not very hot so I used 2.

Link :Foodie Friday