S’mores Bars

This recipe is from a great blog featured recently on the WordPress site, The Shortlists. One look and I couldn’t resist trying it out myself.

It’s incredibly easy — just a few ingredients, one big, messy mixing bowl, and no baking involved. The taste will evoke memories of those tasty s’mores you may have had around the campfire years ago. It would be a great recipe to make with kids (but as I found out, it’s also pretty great when you’re after a homemade sweet treat in a hurry).

1 box Golden Grahams cereal (9 cups)
3 cups miniature marshmallows (or regular marshmallows chopped up)
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 12-oz. package milk chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Grease a 9×13-inch pan. You may want to line the pan with baking paper and grease that for easier cleanup.

Place the Golden Grahams in a large bowl. Measure the marshmallows and keep to one side.

In a large pot, stirring constantly, bring corn syrup, butter, chocolate, and vanilla to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Pour the warm chocolate mixture over the cereal, scraping the pot with a spatula. Use the spatula to stir the cereal mixture, then mix in the marshmallows until everything is coated. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and press it down evenly with the spatula.

If you want to enjoy it right away, let it sit at room temperature until cool and then scoop out the gooey pieces. For best results, and bars you can slice and serve, place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

This cake turned out to be a big success — a straightforward recipe with delicious results and a rich chocolate flavor. As you can see, it was designed for Easter. The top ridge of the cake caves in, creating a base for a whipped topping that looks like a nest. Lay some candy eggs on top and you’ve got much more than a flourless chocolate cake — you have an Easter Egg Nest Cake.

This was a Nigella Lawson recipe I clipped from The New York Times eight years ago. I don’t tend to have a lot of luck with her recipes, but as I suspected, the recipe’s appearance in the Times meant it was a winner. I hope you have similar results.

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

For the cake:
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
6 large eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted and cooled
Approximately 1 cup small candy eggs, like robin’s eggs

1. Heat oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, then grease the top of the paper.

2. For the cake, stir the softened butter into the just-melted chocolate and let cool. Whisk 4 egg whites until foamy (this is best done in a stand mixer). Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and whisk until whites hold their shape but are not too stiff. Reserve.

3. In a separate bowl, by hand, whisk 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 1/3 cup of sugar and vanilla until combined. Stir in chocolate to mix.

4. In three additions, fold whites into chocolate mixture*. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake rises, cracks, and center is no longer wobbly.

5. Cool cake on a wire rack; the middle will sink and the sides will crack. Carefully remove cake from pan and place on serving plate.

6. For topping, whip cream with vanilla until it is firm but not stiff. Fold in melted chocolate. Fill top of cake with whipped topping, easing it out gently toward the edges. Arrange candy eggs on top.

*A tip for folding mixtures: Folding is not the same as stirring. It requires gentle and methodical mixing with a spatula. Holding the bowl on the left side, cut through the batter with the edge of the spatula from left to right, then lift upwards with the broad side of the spatula along the half of the bowl closest to you. Give the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat, doing this until the batter is slowly mixed. Doing it this way preserves the air bubbles in certain batters where the bubbles are necessary for lift.