Soda cracker ice cream sandwiches

Guess why I decided to make these. So much putzy work!! I just had to do it. You can read the original recipehere and it will probably make a lot more sense than I do. You need to make 2 a top and a bottom, using saltines as a base. Then layer them with toffee and then melted chocolate (the heat of the toffee melts it) and freeze that. Once you’ve got 2 vast hard platters of toffee/chocolate/saltine you spread ice cream onto one and put the top layer on and freeze. Then you cut the individual sandwiches. Saltine crack ice cream sandwiches. This stuff was amazing. 

Cutting it all apart, though, not so much. In fact, cutting it into “sandwiches” was almost impossible. Frozen chocolate and rock hard toffee on soda crackers with ice cream inside, jeez. It was a hot day, even in my air-conditioned house, and the ice cream started melting the second I started to think about cutting it, the chocolate began melting onto my hands while the toffee remained, you know, essentially hard as a rock. The crackers, however, couldn’t hold up structurally to the pressure of the knife. Eventually after much experimentation (and not just a bit of wasted material—which I ate) I got the right tools for the job and got it done. It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

Saltine Crack Ice Cream Sandwiches

32 (about 100 grams) saltine-style crackers
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1/2 cup (95 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) dark chocolate (semi- or bittersweet) chips or the equivalent amount of chopped chocolate
2/3 cup toasted, chopped almonds or a nut of your choice (optional)
Sea salt for sprinkling
1 1/2 to 2 cups ice cream, any flavor (we used vanilla)

Heat your oven: To 350°F (175°C).

Prepare pans: Line the bottom and sides of 1 9×13-inch baking sheet or 2 8×8-inch cake pans with foil, then lightly coat foil with nonstick spray. Arrange crackers in a single layer so that they fit in the bottom of your pan. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to cut any to make them fit flat. In ours, I used a serrated knife to cut several to fit neatly. Having no crackers overlap will make it easier to spread the caramel in a few minutes.

Make toffee: In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar together. Stir until it begins to boil, then whisk (which will help the butter and sugar come together) for 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. I only add salt at this point if using unsalted crackers, i.e. not saltines. Pour over cracker-lined pan(s) and use an offset spatula to evenly spread the caramel, working quickly as it will be eager to cool and set.

Bake: In heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, checking in at 10 minutes to make sure the corners aren’t darkening too quickly. Remove from oven and scatter chocolate chips over caramel crackers. Wait 5 minutes for them to soften, then use a spatula to spread the chocolate into an even layer. Sprinkle with nuts and a couple pinches of sea salt.

Chill crackers: Transfer pan(s) to freezer until absolutely cold and solid, about 15 to 30 minutes. Using the foil to lift toffee sheet, carefully transfer the candy to a cutting board and remove the foil. If you’ve made this in one pan, cut your sheet evenly in half with a serrated knife.

Assemble ice cream sandwich block: Line the bottoms and sides of your baking pan (now foil-free) with a piece of plastic wrap. Place your first sheet of candy chocolate side down in the bottom of your pan. Scoop your desired amount of ice cream over the sheet and spread it into an even layer. Place second sheet of candy, chocolate side up, on top, pressing it onto the ice cream. Return to freezer for several hours, at least 4 but probably 8 is best to get the block of sandwiches solid enough to cut without being completely aggravating.

Cut block into individual sandwiches: When sandwich block is frozen solid, transfer to a cutting board (you can also freeze your cutting surface for 10 minutes before using, to give you more time before things get too melty) and use a sharp serrated knife to very, very carefully saw your block into ice cream sandwich squares. I cut my 8×8-inch blocks into 16 2-inch sandwiches. This is definitely the peskiest part. If things warm and melt too fast, just place the whole thing back in the freezer for 10 minutes before continuing.

Once cut, return sandwiches to freezer to let them firm up again, before transferring them to a container or freezer bag for store, or, you know, your mouth for near-immediate gratification.

Giant crinkled chocolate chip cookies

Melissa Clark in the NYT said these were good. They looked good so I just HAD to try them. They seemed so simple. Good Lord what a process. Making the dough was not such an issue since it pretty much happens in one bowl, but measuring them all out (3 oz each) and them rolling them into balls, freezing them for 15 minutes then, while they bake you have to continuously open the oven, pick up and drop the cookie sheets, banging the sheet to create the “crinkled” look of the cookies.

Why did I want to make these? I dunno. It’s the month of pain, my need to make dessert (that I am not going to eat) kicks into overdrive. I even used all my vanilla sugar for these. Not that I could notice any kind of difference there (I may have eaten one, or possibly 2). I also made 2 batches, one I used baking soda, the other baking powder, again, no diff.

They were good, but thesewere better. Smitten Kitchen.  Just sayin.’ 

Peanut butter chocolate tart

As desserts go, this should have been easy. It’s a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a blog I enjoy reading. You can find her original recipe here. (and you should look at it since hers seems to be a miracle of ease and loveliness. It’s supposed to taste like the Girl Scout peanut butter cookies. It didn’t really but that was probably my fault. I followed the recipe exactly except that I did not use Skippy, I used Smucker’s Organic. (And now I have peanut butter in the house which is dangerous for me.) I dunno. I could not get the peanut butter layer to stick to the crust. It just pulled up the first layer of crumbs no matter what I did. And once I finally had the thing assembled, it just fell apart when I cut the portions. The crust just crumbled. 

On the whole, it tasted fine but I would never make it again because it looked bad so I would not gamble on it. I have a much better recipe we call Butt Bars that are easier to make and taste like Peanut Butter Cups. 

One other thing, if you plan on making it, I used Ghiradelli 70% chocolate which was way too high toned . . . I should have used Nestle’s chocolate chips or even that crappy Ambrosia “dark confectionary coating.”

SOOOOO not on my diet

I cannot imagine what possessed me to make these. I have no idea how I found the recipe which promises that this is the best chocolate chip recipe in the world (recipe follows, or you can find that here) but I have been haunted by the idea of it. She also says that it is sufficiently different from the gold standard of chocolate chip cookies, the Toll House cookie by which all other cookies are measured. For the moment I will have to take her word since I am on a diet and cannot eat them. So I made a batch to take in to work. Apparently she was not lying.

OK, Ann, here’s a recipe you can try.

Smitten Kitchen’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

Yield: Approximately 18 to 24 cookies

1/2 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 TB (25 grams) granulated sugar

2 TB (25 grams) turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw; you can use more brown or white if you don’t have this, but it adds a subtle crunch)

3/4 cup plus 2 TB (165 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 tsp baking soda

Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

1 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 pound (225 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into roughly 1/2-inch chunks.

A serrated knife works very well for this, thank you Martha Stewart

Flaky sea salt, to finish, I suppose kosher salt would work. Not table salt though.

Heat oven to 360°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in salt fine sea or table salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on a low speed until just mixed. The dough will look crumbly at this point. With a spatula, fold/stir in the chocolate chunks.

Scoop cookies into 1 1/2 tablespoon mounds (I just made balls), spacing them apart on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, until golden on the outside but still very gooey and soft inside. Out of the oven, let rest on baking sheet out of the oven for 5 minutes before transferring a cooling rack.