V-Day Baking Brainstorm

On the one hand, Valentine’s Day is all about the date night, but on the other hand it’s all about classroom card exchange and an excuse to baking everything in the shape of red and pink hearts. As we know I love an excuse to bake with a theme or season in mind, so I have done a lot of the latter over the years. If you’re thinking about baking this week, I have three ideas at three different difficulty levels.

Sadie Dishes- Valentine's Day Baking

Heart Shaped Pink Rice Krispie Treats

This options wins when you think about effort vs. reward. You just take the standard recipe, add a little red food coloring, and presto- Valentine’s Day Rice Krispie Treats!

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1.5 10 oz. bags of mini marshmallows
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • red food coloring
  • 6 cups Rice Krispie Treats
  • Themed mix ins- sprinkles, white chocolate chips, etc.
  • Heart shaped cookie cutter

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan or small stock pot over the stove on low/medium heat.
  2. Add 1 bag of marshmallows to melted butter and allow to melt together. Add vanilla extract to melted mixture. Add drops of food coloring until you get the color you want (less is more for food coloring, take it easy).
  3. Have the six cups of Rice Krispies and half bag of marshmallows ready in a large bowl.
  4. Add warm butter and marshmallow mixture to the cereal and leftover marshmallows. Stir until uniform. At this time you can add in sprinkles or any other mix-ins you would like. I add the sprinkles later on so they don’t melt completely.
  5. Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking pan and allow to cool. Then use cookie cutters to create heart shapes!

Heart Shaped Shortbread

Shortbread sounds a little boring, but you bring these to work and your co-workers have one with their morning coffee and you will be their best friend forever. You can dip half the heart in chocolate and add pink or red sprinkles to make them fancy. I use Ina Garten’s classic shortbread recipe for this. It says is makes 20 cookies, but my guess is that you get more than that.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature (three sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (you can use chocolate chips)
  • Sprinkles or nuts for decoration

Method

  1. Cream butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add vanilla extract to mixture.
  2. In a separate bowl sift together the flour and salt. Then slowly combine the wet and dry mixtures, trying not to over mix.
  3. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350.
  5. Roll the dough out to quarter to a half inch thick depending on how thick you would like the cookies. Use your heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake cookies at 350 for 20-25 minutes until just slightly golden brown. They shouldn’t get too much color.
  7. Melt the chocolate in 30 second increments in the microwave. Once it’s shiny you can just stir it until it’s all melted together.
  8. Use a spoon to paint half of the baked and cooled cookies with chocolate. If you would like you can dip the chocolate part in sprinkles or chopped nuts to add a little je ne sais quoi. Allow chocolate to cool and solidify before storing.

Heart Shaped Marshmallows

Here’s where the degree of difficulty gets ramped up a little. This is for when you’re baking to impress. If I were you, I would not start making these on a whim because they take some time, effort, and a serious clean up. The plus side is you get major bragging rights, because you just made marshmallows from scratch!

Ingredients

  • 3 packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • red food color gel (optional)
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Prepare a 9 x 13 brownie pan with parchment and dust the bottom with powdered sugar.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the gelatin with a ½ cup of water.  Allow the gelatin to “bloom” (I think it’s called) while you cook the other mixture.  Some recipes recommend a full half hour.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the corn syrup, sugar, and a half cup of water. After the sugar melts, turn the heat up to high, and cook until it reaches 240 degrees (use a candy thermometer).
  4. Once the mixture has reached the correct temperature, remove from heat.  Use an electric hand or stand mixer to mix the gelatin on low as you pour in the warm mixture in very slowly.  Once the mixture has been completely poured in, mix it on high for about 15 minutes until the “fluff” is pretty thick.
  5. Add vanilla, salt, and food coloring and mix until well distributed.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula smooth it out.  This process will be a little sticky and difficult, but you will persevere.
  7. Dust the top of the fluff with powdered sugar (it is easy if you pass it through a sifter).  Allow the fluff to “dry out” overnight.
  8. The next day, lift the large marshmallow out of the pan and place on a cutting board.  Use a knife or a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the marshmallows.
  9. Microwave the semi-sweet chocolate chips for 30 seconds at a time until mostly melted.  Use a fork to stir the chocolate until smooth. Dip the marshmallows in the chocolate, and allow to dry.
  10. Microwave the white chocolate similarly and place in a pastry bag with a fine tip or a Ziplock bag with a small corner snipped off.  Once the semi-sweet chocolate has set, use the white chocolate to drizzle a design on top of the layer of chocolate.
  11. Allow to set at room temperature or place in the freezer to speed up the process.  Enjoy!

What are you making to celebrate?

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Trashed Up Treats

What is better than a good old fashioned Rice Krispie treat?

A trashed up Rice Krispie treat!

I wanted to bake for a friends birthday recently, and when I think birthday, I tend to lean toward flavors from childhood. My first thought is: sprinkles. Which is my first thought everyday really. I decided to go with Rice Krispie treats to switch it up from some of my latest baking endeavors. I knew I would have to add more than just sprinkles, so the next thought was white chocolate chips. And then I realized only I can handle that level of sugar, so I decided to add pretzels to the mix to cut the sweetness. And thus, these were born:

White chocolate pretzel Rice Krispie treats

Yields approximately 24 cupcake sized portions

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 2 10 oz bags of mini marshmallows
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 cups of Rice Krispie cereal
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped pretzels (I used mini pretzel sticks)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a 10 oz bag of white chocolate chips (more or less to taste)
  • Rainbow Sprinkles!

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a pot over low to medium heat on the stove.
  2. In a separate large bowl combine the pretzels, half a bag of marshmallows, and half of the Rice Krispies. Putting some of the marshmallows in this mixture will vary the marshmallow texture, which I enjoy.
  3. Add the remaining one and a half bags of marshmallows to the butter, and stir so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
  4. Once the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is homogeneous (probably 3-5 minutes), add the vanilla extract, and the other half of the Rice Krispies to the marshmallow and butter mixture and stir until they are well incorperated.
  5. Add the warm marshmallow mixture to the large bowl of other ingredients and mix so the mixture is uniform.
  6. Stir in the white chocolate chips and rainbow sprinkles last so they do not melt completely.
  7. Portion into muffin tins with liners (I find this the easiest way to manage Rice Krispie treat presentation) and allow to cool at room temperature or in the fridge.

Before:

Ingredients

After:

White Chocolate Pretzel Rice Krispie Treats!

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats!

Even though most retailers and coffee shops seemed to have bypassed November and moved straight onto December and Christmas, I plan to eat pumpkin right through pie leftovers on Black Friday. Thank you very much! I’m not quite sure when Christmas season started right after Halloween, and Thanksgiving became the red headed step-child, but I’m not a fan. Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year!

So anyway, I wanted to make some treats for a team meeting at work because we were having more people actually in person than usual. One of my teammates recently learned that she needs to stick to a gluten free diet, so I decided to go the gluten free direction because I feel bad that she never gets to snack with us anymore.

The Star of the Show
The Star of the Show

Rather than try to adapt a gluten recipe, I wanted to make something that is gluten free to begin with. The obvious choice? Rice Krispie treats! And if that wasn’t enough of a crowd pleaser to begin with, let’s add pumpkin!pumpkin!

These were definitely a crowd pleaser! When I was looking for recipes online I initially found several using pumpkin spice Jello instant pudding mix rather than pumpkin puree. While I’m not so opposed to that method, my grocery store didn’t have the flavor. I didn’t have the time to shop around, so I went with a recipe that actually just used pumpkin and pumpkin spice. It totally worked, plus it was probably a little better to use pumpkin rather than a pudding mix.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats

Adapted from Bake Love Give, yields about 20 bars depending on size

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1 10 oz bag of mini marshmallows (plus a little extra if you like them extra gooey)
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice (a little extra if you want to turn up the spice)
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies (Gluten Free if you want to be strict gluten free)
  • 5 oz. white chocolate chips (melted for drizzling)

Method

  1. Melt butter in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Add pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice. Stir to combine and turn off heat.
  3. Add Rice Krispies and extra marshmallows if desired. Stir until well combined and spoon into 13 x 9 baking pan to cool. Alternatively you can portion out the batter with an ice cream scoop or into cupcake molds.yum!
  4. Once treats have cooled, melt the white chocolate chips in microwave for 30 second intervals. Make sure you don’t burn it! Use a fork to drizzle it over the treats for a little extra je ne sais quoi!

finished product

I ended up also making flourless chocolate cookies, obviously gluten free, and obviously fantastic. Both of these hit the spot!