My daughter has recently been bubbling over with enthusiasm over s’mores– that sticky-sweet concoction of chocolate, graham crackers, and toasted marshmallows, sacred to campfires everywhere. Personally, I find them too sweet, and prefer plain toasted marshmallows without the extraneous crackers and chocolate to get in the way– but I’ve never been one to pass up a challenge when I see one!
We decided to adapt the s’mores to the warm summer weather by turning them into a frozen dessert! We mixed pre-toasted marshmallows into a no-churn ice cream base and added a ribbon of dark chocolate ganache, then layered it between sheets of graham crackers to make cold and creamy, sweet and sticky treats that (admittedly) melt in your hands but are worth it!
For my daughter’s kitty-themed fifth birthday party, the first thing she asked for was “a cake shaped like a house, that’s also a cat.” What could I do but give it my best shot? After all, coming after last year’s castle cake, it should be a snap, right?
When I was a little girl I greatly enjoyed reading the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books, which featured chapter after chapter of misbehaving children and their hapless mothers who turned to good old Mrs. Piggle Wiggle for help. The cures ranged from “let the kids stay up late as long as they want until they’re too tired to do anything fun, so they’ll stop complaining about bedtime,” to “I’ll let you borrow my pig with lovely table manners to act as a model/shame your child into eating politely,” to “here are some magic pills that will turn your child invisible whenever he’s showing off.” The books were hopelessly dated even back when I read them– they all involved happy housewives and mostly absent husbands, and everyone wore gloves and attended luncheons and ate ridiculous 1950’s food. Which is what brings me to this, um… masterpiece.
Because really, the 1950’s produced some seriously awful stuff, and while I think that the foods mentioned in the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books were deliberately exaggerated (prune, noodle, and sardine surprise, anyone?), this one was just too bizarre-yet-plausible to pass up.
The table was decorated with pink tulips, a pink tablecloth, pink candles, pink napkins, and pink nut dishes. The main course was a maraschino cherry, walnut, marshmallow, pineapple, strawberry, cream cheese and cabbage molded salad, accompanied by pink biscuits. There were also pink mints and pink gumdrops. And luckiest of all, Mrs. Harroway just happened to be dressed entirely in pink with even pink gloves and pink roses on her hat. All through lunch she was so happy and gay everybody said, “You look adorable, Helen dear, I wish I’d worn pink.”
I love rice krispie treats. Just love them. There’s something about the nice firm chew when you first bite into them that makes them addictively delicious. But I rarely make them, mostly because I get distracted by other, more exotic recipes. Also because my husband isn’t a huge fan and I’d end up eating the entire pan myself. (that was certainly the case with the leftover rice krispie treat towers from the birthday castle cake).
But when I found myself with a leftover bag of mini marshmallows and half a box of rice krispies that would never get eaten as breakfast, I knew that I’d be finding an excuse to make these delicious snacks soon. A gathering of friends provided the perfect occasion, and a newly-doctored jar of salted caramel sauce provided the inspiration for a delicious variation. I stirred a healthy dollop of caramel sauce into the melted marshmallow/butter mixture before mixing in the cereal, drizzled extra caramel on top of the finished treats, and topped it all off with a sprinkling of salt.
You know how some people dream of shopping sprees in high-end boutiques or shoe stores? I dream of unlimited shopping sprees in cake decorating/kitchen supply stores. In my future dream house there’ll be a special pantry just for baking supplies, and it’ll be filled with specialty cake pans, every piping tip in the catalog, and a rainbow of sparkling colored sugars.
Okay, so most of that isn’t feasible (though I do have quite a collection of cake pans), but colored sugar is actually within reach, and I don’t have to spend $5 on a bag of each color just in case I might need it someday! Continue reading →