Monday, October 17, 2011

UnRecipe: Gimme Some Sugar, Baby

Yes, I'm back! I'm back! Thanks to those who followed and wrote me while I was visiting family in Hawaii. I'm back on the Mainland and ready for action. Well, more like ready to get caught up on the mountain of work that had to sit while I was away, but hey, life moves on. We'll see if I do a post about my latest trip; it's going to depend on how photos turned out, but regardless -- it's good to be back in the bloggosphere.

This aptly-named post title, aside from that being one of my favorite lines by the fantastic Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness (if you haven't seen this movie, shame on you. It's awesome. As are all the Evil Dead movies), refers to the fact I wanted sugar. Lots of it. And while this isn't representative of all the poor eating habits of a single day, it does contain all the major sweet tooth cravings I've had over the last month or two. Let the sugar rush... commence!

Coffee and ice cream, afo-ghetto - Photo by Wasabi Prime

No, I'm not pregs with fertilized eggs, but I am a lady-girl, who sometimes has lady-girl cravings. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. And since I don't often crave sugary things, when I do get the hankerin' for something sweet, it's super-specific, and if I don't get it, the universe and everyone within my immediate vicinity are in for a world o' hurt. It's not always chocolate, but chocolate more often than not is a likely culprit. Even though we're cutting back on caffeine, I'll still have a cuppa Joe now and then, which feels like getting struck by lightning, if you must know. I craved both sugar and coffee for a potent dessert, so I made a dark cocoa-coffee ice cream and then put a scoop of it in a dessert cup, pouring hot coffee over it. The traditional way of enjoying affogato is gelato with espresso and sometimes a little dash of a liqueur, consider this afo-ghetto, since I was just working with what I had, and ice cream and coffee is effin' delicious.

The holidays are nearly upon us... start the caramel corn - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I started to think about the holidays. It's not like I just sit in a room and suddenly ponder the meaning of Christmas. But it's been getting to look a lot like Halloween, even back in August when Costco started putting bulk candy out and even now, I see holiday wrapping paper showing up on shelves and decorated trees are showing up in department stores. Retailers are insane. These are like not-so-subtle reminders, much like the Hammer of Thor beating upon your skull, that holiday season is on the horizon, so get crack-a-lackin' on what to make/bake/buy for gifts this year. I do rely on baked goods as inexpensive gifts, especially since at this point, most of the people I know don't need more stuff, but something sweet is appreciated. And I bake in bulk, so whatever I make has to be something that isn't fussy, can be done in large batches, and made a few days in advance of giving/mailing out. This year may be a caramel popcorn year. So, Friends of Wasabi, start practicing your happy/surprised face when you get a big ol' box of caramel corn this year!

I started some early recipe tests, some more successful than others, trying different ingredients to make the caramel more unique. Homemade caramel can't be beat, this is not news to anyone, but when you eat caramel corn you made from scratch and compare it to the store-bought kind, it's no wonder Cracker Jack had to put a prize in their boxes to convince people to eat it. I'm kidding, I still love Cracker Jack. But the homemade stuff really is better. And if you can avoid burning your skin off with the napalm-like hot caramel, that's just icing on the cake.

Campfire goodness, baked into a cookie - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I was feeling a little nostalgic towards s'mores. Mostly because I didn't get a chance to really enjoy the great outdoors this summer and making a sticky mess of a delightful fireside dessert. I had a bag of mini marshmallows. They're cute. They're full of mysterious preservatives. But they're still cute. I think they were 99 cents at the store, and the spirit of the impulse buy possessed me to get them. I spent one afternoon putting them on toothpics and toasting them over a lit candle. That was kind of fun. But you don't go through a whole bag of mini marshmallows like that and would feel Epic Shame if you did. So I looked for a recipe that used them, chocolate chips and buttermilk. Why buttermilk? I had half a carton leftover from making blueberry muffins, and it needed to be used up. Lo and behold, I found a recipe for whole wheat s'more cookies on Epicurious. It was like the junk food gods said, ask, and ye shall receive, you sugar-addled junkie. They were pretty tasty. Not the prettiest things in the world, but they were like big, sticky-sweet bombs of chunkasaurus rex goodness. They bake up and set nicely, but they got really sticky after a couple of days. It could have been the moisture in the air, and the fact that marshmallows are just stabilized forms of sugar-goo. The marshmallows are added whole and during the baking they melt down into gooey little craters, but in a few days they get almost syrupy, so it turns into a bit of a messy cookie, FYI. I sent some to Mr. Wasabi's parents, gave little bags of a few cookies to friends, and the rest were promptly eaten by us. I'm still deciding on whether or not to include this in the holiday baking roster, as I know friends would enjoy it, but may have to avoid sending these to family in Hawaii, as the humidity may turn the cookies into The Blob. And that's not very holiday-like.

What about you? Are you already planning your army of baked goods to send out to friends, family and the like?

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