Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

If you’ve never experienced the wonder that is a Whatchamacallit candy bar, I am sorry to tell you that you are SERIOUSLY missing out. Sure, the Whatchamacallit doesn’t get the glory of a Snickers, or a Milky Way, or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup… but there is a boatload of deliciousness to be had in this unassuming candy bar. (You guys, you can’t even find a bag of mini Whatchamacallits at Halloween… awfully RUDE, candy overlords!) It’s crunchy, it’s caramel-y, it’s subtly peanut butter-y – all without being overly sweet or overwhelmed by chocolate.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

As an ardent lover of rice krispie treats (I can easily take down an entire pan on my own), I occasionally sit around and daydream about how I could make a standard rice krispie treat more delicious. Clearly, my life is more exciting than you can possibly comprehend. Anyways, one day I was hit with a stroke of genius – that I could make a rice krispie treat that would taste like a Whatchamacallit! It took me several months to actually decide to do it (let’s be honest, I don’t particularly need a gigantic pan of rice krispie treats staring me down all week)… but over the weekend, the urge struck, and I just decided to go with it. I had all the ingredients, I was in the mood for a kind of salty/sweet dessert… and now I’m doing that thing where I keep walking by the plate of treats, cutting off a sliver here or there, just eating a little bit at a time. I fully expect all of them to be gone by this evening.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats
makes one 9×13 pan of treats

5 T salted butter
8oz marshmallows
3 T peanut butter
generous 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
approx. 7 cups rice krispies
2oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 tsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

1.) Start by melting your butter in a large pot, over medium low heat. Once the butter is melted, add your peanut butter and caramel sauce and stir, so the warm butter starts to melt the peanut butter.

2.) Add in your marshmallows, and stir continuously so the sugars don’t burn, until everything is melted and smooth.

3.) Remove the pan from the heat, pour in your rice krispies, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold them into the marshmallow mixture. I like to start with maybe 6 cups of rice krispies, and add more as needed – you want to be sure they’re not too dry!

4.) Spray a 9×13 pan with baking spray, and press the rice krispie mixture into the pan (lightly wet your hands to keep everything from sticking).

5.) Add the chocolate and coconut oil into a small bowl, and microwave in 20 second increments until it melts and can be stirred until smooth.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

6.) Scoop the chocolate into a small sandwich bag, and snip off a tiny bit of one corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the treats in whatever pattern you like! Let the treats cool and the chocolate harden (you can stick them in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, if you’re impatient like me), and then cut into squares. Enjoy!

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YESSSSSSSSSS. These Whatchamacallit treats were EXACTLY what I had in mind. A little salty, a little sweet… nutty, buttery, and juuuust enough chocolate. And, because they consist primarily of puffed rice, they don’t taste heavy or too rich (all the better to eat 18 of them in one sitting). Keep in mind, you can mess with the proportion of caramel to peanut butter, too – I wanted the peanut butter to be present, but not overwhelming (as it is in a Whatchamacallit), but if you’re a peanut butter fanatic, feel free to use more PB. I am not sure why I’m admitting this, but I added my peanut butter and caramel sauce to the pan, and kept tweaking until the mixture smelled like a Whatchamacallit. Evidently, I am intimately familiar with the exact scent produced by the Whatchamacallit-specific ratio of peanut butter and caramel. Please feel free to be embarrassed on my behalf.

The nose knows,
Tina

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Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

As I have admitted here before, I am not big into sweets. Sure, I enjoy a freshly baked cookie (or 5), or a big slice of key lime pie – but most of my dessert preferences trend toward things that are tart, or set off with a touch of salt. If I am going strictly sweet, I’m usually content to keep it to a smaller portion (the key word there being “usually”… I will not pretend I’ve never made quick work of a pan of brownies). It can be hard to come up with a dessert that doesn’t lend itself to huge portions, isn’t terrifyingly rich, or doesn’t require 3,000 steps. That’s where truffles come in.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

They’re simple to make, they require few ingredients, and they’re customizable in any way you wish. Now, be forewarned, making truffles can get a little messy… but as long as you’re not afraid of getting a little chocolate on your hands, you’ll be just fine.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles
makes about 24 truffles
modified from here

1 scant cup granulated sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
1.25 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1 tablespoon salted butter
assorted toppings: cocoa powder, toasted coconut, toasted and chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

*Use higher quality chocolate chips, if at all possible. The cheaper ones tend to have more junk on them, to keep them from sticking together, and they won’t melt as smoothly. I like the ghirardelli chips, myself!

BEFORE you start: please remember that molten sugar will burn the daylights out of your skin. Be very cautious not to splatter yourself, and resist the urge to grab those caramel-y drips with your fingertip. You will regret it.

1.) In a small saucepan, heat your heavy cream over low heat. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl, and set them aside.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

2.) In a medium saucepan, combine your sugar, corn syrup, and water. Gently stir everything together, and then set the pan over medium heat. Heat the sugar mixture without stirring (feel free to gently swirl the pan occasionally), until it’s a medium gold/amber in color.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

3.) Carefully pour the warm cream into the sugar and water mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula as you do. Be very careful, as the mixture will bubble up pretty aggressively.

4.) When the cream and sugar mixture are totally combined, pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for a minute or two, then gently whisk the caramel and chocolate together, until it is smooth and uniform in consistency. Add the butter to the chocolate mixture, and whisk that in.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

5.) Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow dish, and set it in the fridge for a couple hours to firm up. Once the mixture is firm to the touch, use a small metal scoop (or spoon) to scoop out small portions of chocolate (about the size of a large marble). Use your hands to roll each portion into a ball, and set aside (on a plate, or parchment-lined baking sheet).

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

6.) Place your toppings in small bowls, and toll the truffles in them to coat. Set the finished truffles on a plate or in a dish, and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them! (You’ll likely want to cover the plate or dish with plastic wrap, so the truffles don’t pick up any strong smells in your fridge!)

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

My preferred coatings are unsweetened cocoa (for those that want a super-rich chocolate taste), toasted coconut (because coconut is sent straight from heaven), and toasted, chopped hazelnuts (because it tastes like a gourmet ball of nutella, clearly). There are TONS of options, though – powdered sugar, colored sprinkles, chopped pecans… the world is your oyster, my friend.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

I find these truffles to be preferable to just straight chocolate truffles. The caramel adds an extra bit of sweetness to cut through the dark, rich chocolate – but without being cloyingly sweet, or overtly caramel tasting. These little guys are the perfect sweet treat to end dinner with, whether you enjoy one, or a dozen!

It’s amazing how many truffles you can down as you just sneak ONE MORE out of the fridge, over and over and over again,
Tina

S’mores Cupcakes (dairy-free, if you prefer!)

S'mores Cupcakes

I have been meaning to post about these cupcakes since last summer, and I keep putting it off… because every time I pull up photos of the damn things, I am overcome with the urge to bake (and subsequently EAT) a giant batch of them. And let’s be honest, now that I’m over 30, any sort of over-indulgence results in a stern talking-to from the waistband of my pants, so… I try not to torture myself by gazing at photos of baked goods, is what I’m saying. ENJOY YOUR METABOLISM WHILE YOU’RE YOUNG, KIDS!

S'mores Cupcakes

(That got off track quickly, didn’t it?)

My point is: these cupcakes are mighty delicious! I would like to say that they’re less messy than eating an actual s’more, but that would be a straight-up lie, and I won’t do that to you. So, pull your hair back, roll up your sleeves, and just get comfortable with the idea of having bits of marshmallow stuck to your face all day. They’re worth it.

S’mores Cupcakes*
adapted slightly from here and here
makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk

S'mores Cupcakes

For the ganache filling:
6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the frosting:
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)

Special equipment needed:
a kitchen torch**

S'mores Cupcakes

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.

2.) In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt). Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the butter, sugar, and eggs, and mix until just incorporated. Then add half the milk, another third of the dry ingredients, the remainder of the milk, and the remainder of the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix with each addition.

3.) Place cupcake liners into cupcake tins (or spray them with nonstick cooking spray), and fill each one about 2/3 full with batter (I like to use a 4T metal scoop so all my cupcakes are even – and err on the side of underfilling the cups). Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

4.) While the cupcakes bake, make your ganache. Place the chocolate and heavy cream into a small glass bowl, and set the bowl over a small pan of simmering water, making a double boiler (keep in mind: you do not want the simmering water to touch the bowl, just the resulting steam. You only need a small amount of simmering water at the bottom of the pot, and the bowl should be a bit bigger than the pot, so it will rest nicely in the opening). As the chocolate and cream heat up, gently whisk the two together until they’re completely melted and cohesive. Carefully remove the bowl from the pot (it will be hot!) and set aside.

5.) When your cupcakes are completely cool, take a small paring knife and cut a small hole out of the middle of each one, a little larger than the size of a quarter. Eat the resulting cupcake bits as a reward for all your hard work.

S'mores Cupcakes

6.) When the ganache has totally cooled (you can toss it into the fridge for 15 minutes or so to speed the process up), it should be relatively firm. Use a small metal scoop (I like the 2t size) or two spoons to scoop a small amount of ganache into each cupcake.

7.) Time for the frosting. Set the metal bowl of your stand mixer over a pot of simmering water – again, making a double boiler. Add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar (if using) to the bowl, and whisk to combine. Whisk the mixture constantly, until the sugar is totally dissolved, and the egg whites are warm to the touch (the sugar is dissolved when you dip your finger into the mixture and it no longer feels grainy – this should take 2-3 minutes).

Marshmallow Frosting

8.) Place the mixing bowl on to your mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and set it on low. Gradually increase the speed on the mixer as the egg whites thicken, and beat until the egg whites are about tripled in volume, and very glossy, about 6-8 minutes.

Marshmallow Frosting

9.) Pile the marshmallow frosting into a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice (I prefer one of the star tips, so the resulting ridges will brown nicely). Pipe the frosting on to the cupcakes, and then go over the frosting with your mini kitchen torch to toast it lightly**.

S'mores Cupcakes

*These cupcakes are easy to make dairy-free, if that’s your thing. Substitute Earth Balance for the butter, and a dairy-free milk of choice for the whole milk (I went with Lactaid, but unsweetened almond milk would also be fine). The frosting is dairy-free on its own, and for the ganache, you can either use a combination of semi-sweet chocolate and coconut oil (about 2T for 6 ounces of chocolate), or totally skip the ganache filling, and instead just melt some semi-sweet chocolate and drizzle it over the top of the frosted, toasted cupcakes.

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**If you don’t have a kitchen torch, I understand you can pop these suckers under your broiler to toast the marshmallow frosting – I have never tried this, so your mileage may vary. Please report back if you give this method a shot. Also, for the love of all things holy, KEEP AN EYE ON THEM. You don’t want your beautiful cupcakes to go up in flames because you got distracted by yelling at the couple on House Hunters who insist that they can’t buy that house because the paint colors are ugly. FOCUS.

Man, these cupcakes are gooooood. The graham cracker cupcake is just slightly sweet, and the chocolate ganache is chocolate ganache, so you’ll find no argument there. Add a big pile of sweet, fluffy marshmallow with delightfully brown, toasty edges, and your guests will be putty in your hands. They’ll also probably leave sticky piles of marshmallow all over your house, but that’s why the nice people at Mr. Clean make Magic Erasers.

S'mores Cupcakes

As you’ll note in the photos in this post, these made an excellent addition to a Fourth of July celebration, but I also made them for a Christmas party, and they were well-received then, too. The allure of the s’more knows no season.

You’re welcome, and also, I’m sorry,
Tina

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Just to remind me that I am getting really, really old, one of my nephews had the nerve to go and graduate from high school last weekend. As if it’s not bad enough that I continue to grow gray hairs with the proficiency of someone three times my age, my nephew had to go and turn into an adult overnight! Please excuse me while I polish my bifocals.

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

For me, family celebrations = cooking and/or baking. For my nephew’s graduation, I made oatmeal heath bar cookies (his favorite), devil’s food chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream (by request), and lemon cupcakes, just to switch things up a bit. These cupcakes might be my new favorite! I love the brightness of the lemon in desserts… it adds a freshness that cuts through the sweetness of all the sugar.

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 24

2 sticks butter, at room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 8 lemons
1 c milk (2% or whole is best)
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t kosher salt

For the frosting:
3 eight ounce blocks of cream cheese, at room temp
12 T salted butter, at room temp (but not warm)
2-4 cups powdered sugar

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until they’re very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. (Of course, you can use a hand mixer for this!)

2.) Add each egg one at a time, mixing until well-combined after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, and mix well.

3.) Combine the milk and lemon juice in a measuring cup, and whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.

4.) Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the bowl, and mix until just combined. Then add half the liquid, another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the liquid, and the rest of the flour – mixing until just combined after each addition.

5.) Line your muffin tins with cupcake liners. Fill the cups about 2/3 full (I like to use a 4T cookie scoop for ease and consistency). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. The cupcakes should NOT brown at all.

6.) While the cupcakes bake, make your frosting. Combine the cream cheese, butter, and two cups of the powdered sugar in the stand mixer, and beat until the frosting is very smooth, 2-3 minutes. Taste the frosting, and add more powdered sugar if needed. I prefer my cream cheese frosting to be more tangy than sweet, but adjust to your taste.

7.) Once the cupcakes have completely cooled (at least one hour), pipe the frosting on however you like! (If you are not going to decoratively pipe the frosting, you can cut the frosting recipe in half.)

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

You can make the cupcakes a day ahead (place them on a platter, and cover it with tinfoil), but the frosting should be made the day you plan to serve them.

Like I said, these are definitely a new favorite. The cake is light and moist, the frosting is rich and tangy, and they deliver a serious punch of lemon! If you wanted to get super fancy, you could pipe some lemon curd into the center of the cakes… But these are pretty perfect as they are, if you ask me.

BRB, gotta go yank some more grey hairs,
Tina