As I type this, Danny has three of these treats in his hands. He’s back from work, after being on his feet for over 12 hours, and we ate a big dinner of red beans and rice. Very good, he said. Very good. Still, I think he was being polite. Really, he just ate dinner so he could get to these.
“They’re like rice krispie treats with a zing, a taste of milk chocolate and white chocolate. Can I have another one?”
(Danny’s my taster for everything right now, since I still can’t chew. Nearly two weeks ago I had my wisdom teeth out — at 45! — and unfortunately, there was some nerve damage. I can’t feel much of my chin or lower lip. I’m in pretty constant pain. The surgeon thinks it should reverse itself, slowly. I can feel that, luckily. Two more months and I should feel my chin without that burning ice sensation, when I’m lucky. The hardest part has been the no-chewing rule. Since the surgery is still healing, and I can’t feel my teeth — do you know how weird it is for your teeth to be numb? — the surgeon doesn’t want me eating anything I have to chew for a total of three weeks. That means the first time I can have anything besides soups, smoothies, and peanut butter off a spoon? Christmas Day.)
I’m going to hide most of them from him tonight, however, since I made a batch of these for Lu’s preschool’s holiday party. There will be nearly 15 darling children, their parents, food, and a lot of dancing. These treats should go over well.
(Okay, I took one chew of them. I can’t go on until I tell you that truth. These looked so good that I could not resist. I nibbled at one, like a rabbit, with my two front teeth. And then I let it melt on my tongue until I could swallow it. And oh, it was so good.)
Do you own an iPad? We bought one last year. At first, I felt a little guilty about it. Did I need one more computer? Now, however, I am so firmly in love with it that I cannot imagine life without it.
My iPad is always in the kitchen. I love that I can bring it in, place it in my cookbook holder, and look at a recipe easily. This is much easier than when I found a recipe online, scrawled it on the back of an envelope, and cooked while the spilled milk on the counter slowly seeped through the letters. Once I have the recipe cooking away, I use the iPad to listen to RadioLab or Fresh Air, or check my email while I listen to music. It’s astonishing to me to have everything in that one place. And it feels like it belongs in the kitchen.
Danny and I both hope that we can write cookbooks for the rest of our lives. But will each of those cookbooks, or gathering of recipes, be in hardbound form? I don’t know. The state of publishing is in an interesting place. I love the idea of doing smaller gatherings of recipes, for the holidays, or just about breads, or a cookie compendium. iPad apps feel like the future for those ideas.
This is why I was so eager to check out the Food52 app. Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs are so damned smart. They’re not only fascinated by food, but they really know it. With their experience, they could have easily started a food site based solely on their knowledge. However, what I love about Food52 is that they reached out to good home cooks around the internet and asked for their ideas. At first the website was an interesting idea: hold weekly contests like “Give us your favorite pear recipe” or “Summer soup,” choose the best ones, and then make a cookbook out of it.
Well, The Food52 Cookbook:140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks is out now. I highly recommend it, especially if you love food, feel confident in the kitchen, and aren’t intimidated by great ingredients. Note that the book was created by home cooks, with the key word being “exceptional.” Open the cookbook and you’ll probably find 20 new recipes to try within a few moments. I know I did.
However, as much as I like the cookbook, it’s the new holiday iPad app that really has my attention. You see, with an iPad app, you can do so many things besides having a recipe inert on the page. Within a recipe, there might be a directive to “roast the hazelnuts.” Click on the highlighted passage and you’re taken to a little video of Merrill demonstrating how to roast the hazelnuts. Another recipe might call for you to melt chocolate in a double boiler. You don’t have one. Click on the line and you’re taken to an online store where you can order one. If you’re not sure what fine sea salt is, click on it in the ingredients list and see a picture immediately.
Cookbooks in book form are wonderful. We have hundreds and more arrive every week. But having it all in one place like this, interactive and all visual? It’s pretty incredible.
This app not only contains recipes for the holidays like Le Bernadin’s Crispy-Skinned Fish, Kale with Pancetta, Cream, and Toasted Rosemary Walnuts, and Tipsy Maple Corn, but it also has a photographic guide to the most basic cooking techniques, baking 101, and prep for drinks. There’s also a holiday tip sheet for how to survive these crazy weeks. And, if I were more adventurous and had more time this year, I’d make the gingerbread house according to the specifications they provide.
You want to know what else is cool? There’s a special recipe category: condiments, gifts, vegetarian, individual holidays. And gluten-free. There’s an entire gluten-free options category and it’s full.
That’s where I found the original version of these treats. This afternoon, I made them.
I’m going to stop writing now, however, and join Danny on the couch. When I posted the photo of these on Instagram this afternoon, some of you were shouting at me for the recipe. I’m going to stop talking so you can start making these now.
P.S. Amanda and Merrill have been kind enough to give away one copy of the iPad app. Naomi Devlin, you are the winner! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHOCOLATE CANDY CANE SNOWFLAKES, adapted from the Food52 iPad app
The original of these called for white chocolate, rice krispies cereal, and peanuts. Well, our store was out of the healthy brown rice cereal I planned for. Heck with that — let’s use chocolate crisp rice cereal instead! We’re not big peanuts fans, but we sure love sliced almonds. And since Lu is crazy about Christmas this year, she has been talking nonstop about candy canes. Crush those up and go.
When it comes to melting chocolate, you have a few options. (Here’s where I wish you could click on each of these and see us demonstrating them in a video!) 1. Use your double boiler to melt the white chocolate. 2. Use your microwave. Set it for 30 seconds, stir the chocolate, and keep going until it’s nearly melted. Stir. 3. Do as I do. Put one pan on top of a pot of boiling water. As the steam rises, it heats the bowl on top. Stir the melting chocolate with a rubber spatula until it’s ready to go.
That’s the most time-consuming part of this recipe. The rest? Stirring and waiting until they are hardened in the refrigerator.
Chew one for me, will you?
2 1/2 cups chocolate rice crisp cereal (we’re big fans of Nature’s Path cereal around here)
6 candy canes, crushed into small pieces
1 cup sliced almonds
22 ounces white chocolate chips (or a block, if you chop)
Combine the chocolate cereal, crushed candy canes, and almonds into a large bowl. Toss around the ingredients until they are well combined.
Melt the white chocolate until it is entirely smooth, using one of the methods described above.
Pour the melted white chocolate into a large bowl. Pour the chocolate-candy cane-almond mixture into the melted chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, and moving quickly, combine all the ingredients together until everything is coated well.
Drop rounded spoonfuls of the mixture in little mounds onto a parchment-paper covered baking sheet. (Don’t worry about being too careful about how they look. The more splattered, the more real, I think.) You can put a lot of these spoonfuls onto the baking sheet because you’re not baking them. You don’t need to leave room for spreading. Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator (you’ll probably have another one filled too) to allow the treats to harden, about 30 minutes. Store the snowflakes in the refrigerator in a covered container.
Makes about 40 snowflakes.