Naughty & Nice = Something for Everyone!

I can’t take all the credit for this post – the Naughty and Nice concept comes from a good friend of mine, Kate over at My Sweet Pancreas. And while we do share a number of similiarities, like The Vampire Diaries and shoes, when it comes to food choices we couldn’t be further apart. She’s a diabetic devoted to clean eating and yoga, and I am…not. I would put bacon on anything I could. Which brings me to the ‘Naughty’ portion of this post.

Peanut Butter-Bacon truffles

Behold, the Peanut Butter-Bacon truffle.

 

Now before any purists out there get all in a tizzy, I’m well aware that this isn’t technically a truffle. However, because it is a peanut butter ball filled with bacon-y goodness that happens to be shaped like a truffle and dipped in Callebaut milk chocolate, I’m calling it like I see it. The recipe comes from an old Crisco holiday baking booklet that came to me in a pack of my mother’s cookbooks that my sister brought on Thanksgiving. Not being a huge fan of Crisco – it has its place, just not in candy-making – I repurposed it and made the inclusion of my favourite ingredient, bacon. Because everything’s better with bacon!

 

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I’ve included a pic of the original recipe: I swapped out the Golden Crisco for unsalted butter and the chopped peanuts for crispy bacon pieces. Also, I tempered the chocolate and did away with the paraffin wax, not because it was easier but because we eat enough things that are fake and petroleum-based. And the ick factor was just too high…

 

 

 

 

 

 

In wanting to take advantage of the few days I had last week where I was virtually pain-free, I went on to create what I consider to be the exact opposite of this treat: raw ‘truffles’ using a blend of pureed dates and Cadbury’s Bourneville cocoa powder.

 

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I’ve been itching to try this for awhile now, figuring what with the trend toward healthy eating I should think about adding something that wasn’t loaded down with butter or bacon into my treat repertoire. I’m not sure what took me so long – it was dead easy to do!

Using this recipe as a starting point, I ended up using a blend of prunes and dates for added texture and sweetness and then, in a move that was clearly taken from someone else’s playbook, I decided to throw in some ground flax seed to upp the nutrient factor. Who am I?

Here’s the final recipe:

Cocoa Date Raw Truffles – yield 1 dozen

12-15 dates
2 tbsp hot water

Chop dates. In heatproof dish, pour hot water over dates and microwave on high for one minute. Stir until soft and well-blended.

Add
4 chopped prunes
1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Stir until smooth. Roll into one inch balls, then roll in more cocoa powder. Refrigerate until firm.

 

Whichever one you go with, whether you’re feeling naughty or nice, enjoy.

Fit for The King Praline Bars – Internet Famous, Twitter-Style

I swear, this is the last post you’re going to see on the contest, but this is a little exciting:

Here’s a photo of the head chocolatier from Purdy’s, the chocolate company that sponsored that little contest I’ve been bugging you about, with his version of my Fit for The King Praline that was just posted up on Twitter.

Below, I’ve included the original picture of my recipe after it was made for the video. Just to compare and contrast, you know?

 

He did a pretty good job, not that I’m surprised seeing as he’s a professional and all. Colour me impressed!

For more info on this Canadian chocolate company, here’s a link to their website and Facebook page. Oh – and if you’re looking for the recipe, it can be found here beneath the video itself, which you can feel free to ignore. Along with some snippets of my old makeup life, which I should probably delete since they’re no longer relevant. But nevertheless it’s part of who I am, so I guess it stays.

More Shameless Self-Promotion: Of Chocolate and Savvy Food Apps

It’s been a busy week, kicking off with a rather uncharacteristic move for me. I made a recipe video, and actually put it up on YouTube. For real.

You see, I’m not typically one who puts myself out there. I much prefer to hide somewhere in the background making sarcastic comments and rude gestures, but generally preferring not to be a centre of attention. But in order to get anywhere, in terms of career networking and the like, society seems to favour the extrovert-types. That whole ‘squeakiest wheel gets the grease’ kind of mentality. That’s why blogging and Twitter are so appealing to me – they allow me to engage in a certain amount of extrovert-esque behaviour while hiding behind a carefully edited Internet presence. Trouble is, I’m not all that good at the editing part  which means it’s often pretty much what you see is what you get, and I’m even worse when it comes to the ass-kissing, which is the other method that society prefers. And then there’s that horrible habit I have of going off on tangents that bear little to no resemblance to the original topic at hand…

What was I talking about? Oh right, my video.

I didn’t just randomly decide to ‘challenge myself’ by making a video – I had a reason to do it. A contest held by Canadian chocolate company, Purdy’s Chocolates, that I found out about on Twitter is what compelled me; the grand prize up for grabs is a trip for two to The Chocolate Show in New York City. I thought to myself, what do I have to lose exactly? And since I just happened to weasel my way into a very casual position at a local chocolate shop (more on that later – still very new), it seemed rather fitting as a next step. All I needed to do was come up with a concept. That’s where daily baking and Food Gawker-stalking come in really handy – they serve as excellent sources for inspiration. The only thing I really knew for sure is that I wanted to do something using bacon, because I’m a huge fan of the chocolate and bacon combination. And I know for a fact I’m not the only one. I also wanted to do something that represents my love of 50s culture, rock n’ roll and Southern food. So, not too tall of an order, right?

And then it hit me: Elvis bars. Or, so to avoid any messy copyright issues with Graceland, Fit for The King bars. A deliriously delicious combination of those things Elvis held most dear: peanut butter, banana, and bacon. It was a flavour combination first introduced to me by a cupcake called the Hunka-Hunka Burnin’ Love, which is comprised of a banana cupcake topped with peanut butter buttercream and a slice of bacon. In short, it’s the best little piece of Memphis flavour north of the Mason-Dixon line. But I didn’t want to copy this or even make another cupcake version, I wanted to make it into a candy. A bit more research led me to  look at penuches and pralines, so I figured I would just combine the two concepts into one and make it a praline cut in squares. This reflects my own baking roots that started in my mother’s kitchen with the trusty Women’s Institute cookbook at my side – those ladies do love their bars. I also somehow managed to incorporate my own Anglo-Scottish heritage into the candy’s design: with its peanut butter praline base topped with a mix of chopped up peanut brittle, banana chips and candied bacon it resembles the popular tea-time treat, Millionaire’s Shortbread.

So I entered, and have made it to the finals. Not by sheer talent, mind you, but by virtue of being one of only three who actually entered. But hey – it’s a start, right? And although my recipe will ultimately be made and judged by their head chocolatier and a panel of judges at their offices in Vancouver, they are still offering the public a chance to vote on their favourites via their Facebook page. Which leads me – finally – to the purpose of writing all of this: please…VOTE FOR ME! Basically, I’ve never really been in a position to win anything before – possibly because I don’t tend to even put myself in the running – but  perhaps this could mark a turning point? If people seem to like my video or recipe, perhaps that might be enough to inspire the confidence to do more of both.

The YouTube link for the video is here, where you’ll find the recipe listed in the description. Feel free to share and comment, just please – not on my chins. I’m not sure whether it’s the camera angle, the camera itself, or the cumulative effect of doing nothing but baking up sweets or making chocolates for the past few months, but let’s just say that I’m not a fan of myself on camera. Cast your vote here before 9pm Pacific time on Sunday, October 21st

Oh, and seeing how it’s the weekend and all, you may want to check out my latest post for She’s So Savvy. It’s about the various food iPhone apps I use on an almost daily basis, whenever I’m looking for something to make or go eat somewhere new. You can read it here.

 

Back Again… This Time with Blondies!

No, not the pop icon from the Eighties otherwise known as Debbie Harry…although she is pretty fabulous in her own right. ‘Dreamin’ is one of my all-time favourite songs. But no, that’s not why we’re here. 

This is  supposed to be a food blog, after all. So let’s get on with the food!

 

I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to the blondie; that is , the lighter-coloured version of the chocolate brownie. Not in enjoying them, just in making them. But then all of a sudden, as so often happens  with these things,  the craving snuck up on me and it soon became all I could think about. So off to the Internet I went in search of the perfect recipe. As it turned out, however, I had already had one in my possession all along.

This recipe came from a cookbook I found somewhere on the bargain table for less than a fiver.

 

Now usually I’m of the opinion that you get what you pay for, but not so in this case. I’ve used it as a basis for a number of goodies I’ve baked up in the past, before I started this blog so before I started taking pictures and writing about the things I was making. But never mind that – let’s just focus on the here and now. And here and now I give you the ultimate butterscotch blondie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How tasty does that look? I’m not a fan of adding nuts to things, and for some insane reason I’m constantly running across recipes that call for them. Usually, it’s walnuts which is the nut I’m least fond of. I normally just substitute with pecans or leave them out altogether and compensate with adding more chocolate or whatever other chopped ingredient happens to be going in. In this case, though, I had some little chocolate covered toffee candies from IKEA kicking around, so I thought I’d try smashing those up and tossing them in in lieu of nuts.

And man, let me just tell you how glad I am that I did!

The toffee and chocolate melted into the batter during the baking process in such a perfect way so as to lend it even more of the soft, chewy and slightly fudge-y texture that is one of the hallmarks of The Brownie. It was also intensely flavoured, not only from the candies but also the abundance of the butterscotch and chocolate chips. The only possible complaint I could possibly have had was with how little the recipe yielded having been baked in an 8 X 8 glass dish. But in restrospect perhaps that was a good thing. They didn’t last long, and wouldn’t have done much for the ever-expanding state of my ass if there were any more of them. My husband, who devoured more than half of them, has begun to complain that I’m trying to make him fat. Like I hold a gun to his head or something to get him to eat all the things I make. But despite how phenomenally good these blondies were, the craving wasn’t quite as sated as it should have been. I wondered what else could be made that was ‘blonde’.

I was on FoodGawker when I found it. I’m so addicted to that site that I’ve got the iPhone app AND follow the Twitter feed that alerts you to new recipes. So sad, isn’t it? Actually, not really when you get results like this

Remember when I just typed that I’m not a fan of adding nuts to things? Yeah – this would be the exception to that rule. Blonde Rocky Road Fudge.

This is a heavenly concoction comprised of yet more butterscotch chips, peanut butter and marshmallows. There is no bad here, unless of course you happen to be anaphylactic or diabetic. But if neither of these apply to you, then I would strongly recommend you make up a batch as soon as possible. The recipe can be found here – I left it well enough alone. Because, really, how could one improve upon such perfection?

 

 

 

 

 

Treatzilla. The End of All Cravings as You Know Them

Some treat recipes are passed down generation by generation as a family tradition. Others come by way of a quick search online or a newspaper or magazine article. And then there are the ones that kind of just…appear, out of nowhere it would seem in your mind, leaving you wondering what the heck that’s all about. That’s the kind of treat Treatzilla is – the kind that gets inside your head and just refuses to leave you in peace until you finally give in and make it.

It started out simply enough from a popcorn ball cake recipe, but the original recipe used jujubes. Now, I know there are many people out there who’d be all over that – and it is a great recipe in its own right, so I will definitely be posting it as well – but I’m not that crazy about fruit candies like that. I was looking for something far more decadent. Something that would be sure to satisfy almost any craving it came across. And so with that in mind I just started digging through cupboards to see what I had on hand that could be considered snack-y, then take it from there. Turns out that I had quite a lot of options, almost enough for more than one treat, but then I thought – Why Choose? Why not just throw it all into one giant Mega-Treat?

And with that, Treatzilla was born.

For those people who can’t live without jelly beans or Gummie Bears, I threw some in on the side to make it complete. Believe me, if I could have figured out how to squeeze some bacon into this, I would have. But I think it’s probably more than enough to handle on its own. However, if bacon is something you can’t live without then feel free to make those necessary modifications. I completely understand

Treatzilla – a Seven Aprons Original Recipe 

(inspired by Popcorn Cake from Bruce County Women’s Institute cookbook – recipe below)

1 and a 1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

250g bag marshmallows, divided into three parts as follows: half bag, then half bag minus 1/4 cup reserved.

1 Tbsp butter (salted, unsalted-doesn’t really matter)

1 cup pretzels, crushed

4 cups popcorn

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup butterscotch chips

1. Melt peanut butter and corn syrup with half bag of marshmallows over medium heat till incorporated. Add butter and brown sugar, stir till fully blended. 

2. Add remaining ingredients in order and stir until all are covered by the peanut butter

3.  Lightly oil a tube or Bundt pan, then sprinkle 1/4 reserved marshmallows evenly along the bottom. Pour mixture into prepared bundt pan.

 4. Allow to cool and set before unmolding onto plate. Top with glaze and allow to cool before slicing.

5. Serve on a plate with a side of jelly beans, jujubes, red licorice or Gummie Bears  if desired. 

Glaze 

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/4 butterscotch chips

4 Tbsp whipping cream

2 Tbsp butter

1. In one small bowl, combine chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp butter and melt slowly in microwave at 50% power in 20 second increments until combined. Stir frequently.

2. Stir in 2 Tbsp whipping cream until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside.

3. In another small bowl, repeat Steps 1 and 2 with the butterscotch chips, remaining butter and cream. 

4. Alternating between the chocolate and butterscotch mixtures,  pour by spoonfuls over the cooled and inverted cake in whatever pattern (or non-pattern) is desired. 

 

Original recipe. As you can see, I made a few modifications…