Monday, August 26, 2013

Pin 212: Crunchers (aka Scottish Chocolate Caramel Bars)

Original pin:
Crunchers - A Swirl of chocolate, brown sugar, peanut butter, butterscotch and crackers

In July, (yes, I am way behind around here) I needed a dessert to take to our family reunion. I don't make a ton of sweets but my sweets board on Pinterest is full of delicious-looking things. I used the occasion to try something out. I pulled up this recipe for "crunchers." Club crackers layered with a caramel-y filling and topped with a butterscotch/chocolate layer. Yumm.

While this dessert definitely does NOT fall into my just-whip-together-something-amazing-as-you-glide-out-the-door category, it was not difficult. Just time consuming, and as far as Mr. Pinterest is concerned, uses far too many pots and pans to pull together.

I started with layering the crackers but I couldn't fit as many in the dish as the recipe said I should, so I switched to a larger dish. I could almost squeeze the right amount into this dish but my final dessert was not as thick as the original posters. When it came time for topping, I was certain the called for amount would not cover my dessert completely so I just added a few extra handfuls of chocolate chips and butterscotch and then ended up with a nice thick chocolaty layer.

All chilled and out of the fridge ready for cutting:
I popped it out of the dish and off the foil--surprisingly easy and smooth. Time to cut into bars. I wasn't sure what to expect while cutting--if it was going to be difficult or not, but it was really easy to cut.
So my layers are not perfect, my chocolate is pretty thick, but the bars themselves were pretty darn tasty. Not exactly what I expected, but a nice little combo of salty and sweet. I packed the bars up and took them to the family reunion. One of our cousins took one taste and declared them exactly like this dessert they fell in love with on a trip to Scotland. I guess that gives me "International Chef" status.

Total cost: umm. I forgot. It was July. Sorry folks.

Total time: Thirty minutes plus chill time.

Final verdict: They were easy enough and tasty enough that I will probably make them again, but I might wait for a special occasion--maybe Christmas parties or the next family reunion. I might also stick with a smaller dish and less crackers to have a thicker bar like in the original photo.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pin 211: Homemade Ice Cream in a Baggie

Original pin:
How to Make Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag by familyfun #Ice_Cream_in_a_Bag #KIds #familyfun

The boys and I decided we were ready to take on this challenge today--homemade ice cream in 5 minutes using plastic baggies. Seems a perfect summer activity for kids. I had some 1/2 & 1/2 leftover from a soup recipe last week so the only thing I had to buy was rock salt. Fabulously for me, the rock salt was on sale at the grocery today!

After dinner tonight we decided to whip these up. Things did NOT go as smoothly as I had planned. The basic idea is that you put the ice cream ingredients in a small baggie.  Then the small baggie goes inside the larger baggie with ice and salt. Shake a few minutes and, voila! you have ice cream. First problem was when I turned my back for one minute, little bit decided to shake his bag upside down. You can probably guess that ice and rock salt when absolutely everywhere. Refilled his and when I grabbed my camera to get an action shot, we found problem number two. (Thus no action shots.) The ice baggie was getting torn and leaking. Quick fix--double bag the ice bag.  Back to work when almost immediately, the ice cream baggie was ripped and leaking into the ice!
milky, icy, salty mess

Double bagged the ice cream bag and changed strategies.  I sat the boys down in chairs, wrapped the double bagged double bags in a towel and we went for more of an agitation/massage motion than shaking to avoid any more trauma to our baggies.

This strategy did not result in any more tears, no leaking, and we actually did end up with some ice cream eventually. It took longer than five minutes and my kids didn't have the arm strength/endurance to do this alone. I took turns with them agitating there bags. Maybe about 10 minutes after we had fixed all our problems and changed our strategies we decided our ice cream was solid enough to sample.

It probably could have gone an additional few minutes, but it was pretty ice-cream like. The taste was really good--much better than I anticipated. The boys dressed theirs up with sprinkles and I just kept thinking of the delicious candy mix-ins I didn't have.  We made two batches per the recipe. It easily made four servings (two servings per baggie).

Total cost: $2.49 for rock salt

Total time: It took us 25 minutes to solve all our problems and end up with a mostly frozen ice cream. Next time I predict it will be more like 15 minutes.

Final verdict: We will make this again. One of my favorite soups calls for a small amount of half-and-half and the remainder always goes bad in the fridge. This is a perfect solution to using up that left over bit. My recommendations (and plan for next time) double bag from the beginning. Double bag the mixture and double bag the ice. Also, I will stick with the agitation/massage action. It worked and just took a bit longer. The kids were really bummed they didn't get to eat their ice cream out of the bag like the kids in the picture.