I’ve been sitting here, trying to craft a clever story that would segue into the glory that is these cookies. but guess what? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Because these cookies are NOW. They’re everything. The New New. And I can’t stop eating them. They’re at once brown buttery, brown sugary, crisp-chewy, and butterscotch-y. So let’s cut the nifty foreword and get right down to it.
With all of our busyness these days, I can understand that you may scoff at a recipe that has an ingredient that to you have to make before you even begin. A crunchy, buttery, sweet-salty homemade cashew brittle is the cornerstone of these super delicious cookies. Ingredients made of ingredients! What is my problem?
It’s a chilly, dreary, rainy day here in San Francisco (the California way of ushering in winter).
I’m getting more pregnant by the minute (now firmly in my third trimester, and by the looks of yesterday’s ultrasound, all is good with Sir Baby, thank you).
I have also been hit with some ungodly cold-ish virus that I know I caught from Little C, who was sick earlier this week (so dirty, little kids, I tell ya).
I’ve just dropped my precious offspring off at school for the last time this year, and am now back in bed, surrounded by pillows and tissues and hot water, which seems to be the only freaking thing with which they let sick pregnant people medicate other than the occasional Tylenol, which is a liar and a complete joke when what I really need is, like, 12 DayQuil capsules and a nebulizer full of Xanax to quell my holiday to-do list anxiety.
But! Despite all this doom and gloom and wahhhh, my life is so harrrrd…, yesterday was glorious. Glorious, I say! We were a fine-tuned baking operation, me and Little C, cranking out cookies, brownies, and an extra special holiday confection to add to the tins of goodies we assembled for her teachers. These Candy Cane Nougat Bites are sweet, minty, melt-in-your-mouth pillows of heaven and I encourage you to try making them as your One Last Thing to do before Christmas, which I’m sure you don’t have enough of already, right?
First things first–congrats to the five randomly selected winners of last week’s giveaway! The winners have all been contacted by e-mail. Woohoo!
So it’s fall, y’all! I really do love this time of year, don’t you? I’m all up in the fall baking season already. I’ve stocked up on flour, butter, and sugar, washed all my aprons, and have more new cookbooks to flip through than I can even deal with (more on that in an upcoming post–there are some newly released gems out there!).
Along with getting to work through some brand-new-to-me recipes, I’m totally in the swing of book promotion stuff, and one of the best parts about that is getting to revisit recipes in my own dang book. Which is to say recipes that were worked and reworked and obsessed over like potential cancer-curing experiments, and then once deemed publish-able, were put away in the far, far reaches of my mind. With a bit of distance to calm my nerves about some of the more crazy-making recipes, I can now look at them like old friends with whom I share an embarrassing history. It’s like a college reunion, without all the Abercrombie sweaters.
Oh my dear, darling readers. How have you been?! I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful summer doing very exciting things, while I’ve spent most of it being rather boring, and seemingly in hiding from an interwebs perspective (except for Twitter; I can’t seem to quit The Twitter). I wish I had a whole lovely list of things that I’ve been doing to share with you and an adorable Instagrammy collage to accompany it, but alas, I don’t. We’ve really just been lazy around here, people. Lazy, and not too interesting, and yes, there’s been some time spent in the kitchen, but not to produce anything of note. I mean, delicious things, thankfully, but mostly what have become go-to classics around here, like a certain banana bread, oatmeal cookies, and ice cream I’ve told you about before.
And isn’t that so nice sometimes, just to fall back on the things that work? To slow down for a while, stop the wheels from turning, turning, turning, and try to flip that dang switch off, the one that always makes us feel like we’ve got to be doing something new and different at all times in order for our days to count for something? (Who invented that, anyway, this constant need to be in motion? It’s kind of overrated. Trust me, I’ve been on the couch a lot over the past month and let me tell you, doing nothing has its benefits.)
If you’ve never been to San Francisco on July 4th, let me break it down for you: It’s freaking depressing. Cold, windy, and so foggy that we’ve never even bothered to go see fireworks in the 4 1/2 years we’ve lived here. But from the warm cocoon of our living room, they sound awfully festive! At any rate, the wintry conditions don’t hold me back from making treats suitable for the holiday, adding the perfect note to an afternoon spent grilling in an overcoat.
At first glance, these Kool-Aid Marshmallows might seem too bizarre to be a real thing. Believe me, I get it. And I wrote the recipe. But really, what we’re doing here is adding flavor to the mallows with the powdered drink mix, rather then just throwing in an extract or candy oil in the final steps of whipping. And the color is provided in powder, too, so no extra food coloring is needed to achieve a perfect candylike hue–hooray!.
While you can use any flavor of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix for these, the specimens you see in the photo above were made with Tropical Punch mix, which is one of my very favorite flavors for Kool-Aid Marshmallows. (Can you believe that I’ve experimented with this enough to have a favorite flavor This is my life, friends.) With all of their awesome fruit punchy-ness, they’re everything a marshmallow should be–fluffy, fun, full of Candy Land-esque novelty flavor. And as long as I’m on my way to Crazytown by flavoring a marshmallow with Kool-Aid, I tend to just go for it, take the scenic route, and roll the edges in Pop Rocks, which crackle delightfully upon serving. It’s all so hysterically whimisical, it almost makes you forget that you’re spending July 4th in long johns.
I’m going to give you the recipe for these gems below, but I also thought I’d give you a few more ideas for goodies for the 4th, suitable for summer get-togethers and picnics of all sorts. Enjoy!
To begin, first let’s pretend “riffable” is actually a word. Because truly, it appears so often in my personal lexicon that I would be mortified to learn that it’s not.
(Related: Let’s talk about people (note–not me) who use the word “orientated”. As in, “I am perfect for this job because I’m very detail-orientated” or “This map has me all disorientated”. I should add that if you’ve ever said either of those sentences, you probably A) did not get the job, and B) should know that’s it’s likely not the map’s fault.)
Anyway, regardless of the legitmacy of the word, I’m all about recipes that offer high a riffability factor. In fact, some of my favorite back-pocket sort of recipes aren’t really recipes at all, they’re more like ideas that open you up to a whole bunch of different variations. That’s part of the reason that I’m so bananas in love with marshmallows that I actually wrote a whole book about them and stuffed every available bit of white space with variations and ideas for riffing on the basic recipe. Homemade mallows are the perfect building block for some serious confectionery creativity and giving you all kinds of ways to blow minds and take names.
But with mallows, no matter how simple the process and how large the payoff, there is most definitely a recipe involved it takes some doing. So say you want the glorious, candied blank canvas, with even less effort. Well, I’m picking up what you’re laying down and I’ve got just the thing for you. Like most things in life, the idea begins with a slab of good chocolate. I don’t see how this could not go well.
So yesterday was a big day, folks. The sort of day that I’ve been giddy about for weeks on end. Yesterday I got up, mainlined about half a pot of coffee, and actually managed to shower and dress myself before dropping Little C off at school. Post-drop off, I drove to the KQED studios here in San Francisco, got settled in front of a microphone and tried to act like it was a totally normal day. Except it so totally wasn’t. Because I was there to talk with Lynne Rossetto Kasper and record an interview about marshmallows for The Splendid Table. Ohmahgah.
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