Hugs and Homemade KitKat Bars

1.31.11 § 44 Comments

Let’s do a quick recap. Monday, I was linked to by the CNN food site Eatocracy; Tuesday, the link was up on Food News Journal; Wednesday, I was the featured blogger of the day on Foodpress. Thursday night, I had an amazing date with a guy I really like (shh! don’t tell him please…), and he surprised me by making dinner (as previously discussed, food is most definitely the way to my heart). Anyway, it had been way too long since I’d eaten a good burger, and that combined with the company and the wine made for a pretty kick-ass evening.  By Friday morning, I was definitely walking on sunshine.

In an annoyingly cheerful mood, I headed to the grocery store to grab ingredients for homemade KitKat bars, a recipe I’d found the previous day and couldn’t wait to try out. It wasn’t until I got home and looked at my computer and saw about 50 emails that I realized I’d been featured on freshly pressed! Needless to say, I was thrilled. It was totally a candy-making kind of day.

Thankfully, I was all alone in my apartment, so I could feel free to belt out all the songs from my favorite Broadway musicals  (namely, In the Heights, Wicked, and Legally Blonde). I danced around my kitchen feeling happier than I have in a very long time, and so much of that is thanks to all of you.

The response to my post about Ginnie has blown me away. In addition to the many, many comments and likes on the blog, I’ve also received a slew of personal emails, from someone in Australia offering to let me borrow her kitchen if I ever get out that way to a woman in Portugal, sharing the story of her own personal struggles with losing someone she dearly loved. I’ve been so deeply moved by the outpouring of love and support that I’m left without words to communicate how incredible this week has been.

Not long ago I came across a quote scribbled in an old journal of mine, which quickly became my new daily affirmation: “Hello universe. I’m tired of lessons. I would like some hugging now please.” I can’t think of a better way to describe how I’ve felt this last week than hugged by the universe, by all of you, and by Ginnie. I want you all to know I am returning that hug, and if it were possible, I would send all of you some homemade KitKat bars, which are really much more like a hybrid of a KitKat and a Reese’s. The next best thing is telling you to go make some yourself, because they are super easy and they keep in the refrigerator for two weeks! Not that they’ll hang around that long…

Homemade KitKat Bars
from Serious Eats, adapted from Paula Deen

75 Club crackers
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Line a 9 x 13 inch rectangular baking dish/pan with one layer of club crackers. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add graham cracker crumbs, dark brown sugar, milk, and granulated sugar. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour half of butter mixture over crackers in pan and smooth surface with a spatula. Arrange another layer of club crackers over the mixture, then cover that layer with the other half of the butter mixture. Arrange a final layer of club crackers on top.

Combine peanut butter, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips in a small saucepan. (You can spray your measuring cup with Pam to keep the peanut butter from sticking.) Melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Spread over the top of crackers, smoothing with a spatula.

Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for two hours. Cut the bars into two-inch squares. Bars will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks in an airtight container.


Mimi’s Brownies

8.17.10 § 7 Comments

I admit that going this long without a blog post has been irresponsible of me.  But I’ll also admit that after making an unexpected trip home to New Mexico to see an ailing grandmother (who I thankfully got to see before it was too late) and dealing with the aftermath of a death that rocked my family, I have not felt much like writing.  And although I have felt like cooking, I haven’t been doing much of that either.  Funny how food magically appears after a loved one dies.

Tomorrow, I’m heading back up to New York after the longest stay in my hometown for quite some time.  But tonight, before I leave, my mom and I have decided to whip up a batch of Mimi’s brownies.  While we weren’t able to find her recipe box (that is an unsolved mystery that I’m about to hire a private detective to sort out), my mom had her own handwritten copy of that well-loved recipe, which I grew up on.

The brownies are in the oven as I type, making the kitchen smell heavenly.  I think the thing that is the hardest to deal with is that mom and I will both get to eat two corner pieces—the ones my grandmother liked the best and that we all used to fight over.  I will always fight for the corner brownies.

Thanks Mimi, for teaching me that food is love.  And family.  You’ll be missed.

David Lebovitz’s German Chocolate Cake

7.29.10 § 17 Comments

When I was little, my grandma would make my favorite cake for my birthday each year.  As I got older, this torch passed to my best friend, who makes birthday baked goods for all her loved ones.  However, now that I’ve moved far away from most of those I know and love, I realized that this year, I didn’t have anyone who was planning to make me a cake!

After much lamenting, I said to myself, “You know what?  You’re an owngirl.  Make your own freakin’ birthday baked good.”  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, let me share a definition (courtesy of the Online HOTroy Dictionary and the original owngirl, my friend Helen, also known as Helen of Troy):

Owngirl (n): A woman in control of her destiny, unafraid to take a chance and make her life awesome. She does what she wants, without regard for others’ opinions of her.
ex).  This morning I didn’t want to wear a bra, so I didn’t. You know why? Because I’m an owngirl.

Owngirl (v): To take control of a situation and make it what you want.
ex). He was so attractive that I went straight up to him and owngirled him. He liked it.

So, I put on my owngirl shoes, picked a recipe, and got to work.  Actually, I had to go buy cake pans first.  Would you believe I didn’t have any?!  Anyway, it wasn’t until I was about halfway through the batter-making process that I realized I had picked the most complicated cake OF ALL TIME.  (One of my fatal flaws is that a lot of times I forget the importance of reading a recipe all the way through before beginning a kitchen adventure.)  While it’s incredibly complicated and time consuming to make this, it’s also definitely worth it.  Just make sure you budget, you know, a whole day.

Picture this: I’m in my hot, un-airconditioned kitchen, wearing the clothes I slept in, frantically mixing what I think is the final version of cake batter because I’m trying to get to my own birthday dinner.  I’m supposed to be there in about an hour and a half and the cakes need to bake for 45 minutes.  It is at this point I realize that I am supposed to whip some egg whites and sugar until they form semi-firm peaks and then incorporate that into the batter.  Really Lebovitz? Really?!  To complicate things, I only have one bowl for my kitchenaid mixer and in my frantic state, I can’t decide whether or not I want to transfer the half-ready batter and clean the bowl so I can reuse it.  I decide not to waste the time.  So, I have to sit in the floor (no counter space in my life, remember?), holding a bowl of egg whites as my kitchenaid does its work in a random mixing bowl.  All the while, I’m panicking, texting my friends apologizing for the fact that hey, I might miss the dinner being held in my honor.  (At this point, the owngirl buzz is beginning to fade a bit.)

Thankfully, my roomie and her friends offered to pull the cakes out of the oven when they were done.  (I told you she was great.)  With her assurance that everything would be okay, I managed to shower and get out the door in time to make it to dinner.  I was only twenty minutes late, which is pretty impressive considering the circumstances.

It wasn’t until the next day that I had an opportunity to finish the cake to end all cakes.  Each layer covered with a rum syrup and a coconut-pecan-custard filling, the entire thing topped with a frosting that is basically just melted chocolate…amazing.  Although, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  In my unbearably hot kitchen, the frosting kept melting!  I had to frost for about five minutes and then stick the cake in the fridge for about ten to keep the entire thing from turning into a big chocolate puddle.  It was well worth it though.  My friend Adam, who accompanied my friend Charles to my apartment for a birthday brunch, said he couldn’t understand the point of making a cake from scratch.  Did he eat his words?  Not exactly.  But he did lick his plate.  Seriously.

As a sidenote, many of you have asked in the comments about my recent dating escapades.  The night after my birthday, shortly after consuming large amounts of cake, I went out with Brian, who is doing a really cool project where he crowdsources his dating life. Here’s a video recap of our date, and here we are being famous.  We had an awesome time on our date and a repeat may or may not be in the works, so keep an eye out.

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