Yesterday was brutally cold and windy in New York City and although I generally tune out when people complain about being bored, I was. I admit it. Jacob and I take a walk somewhere, anywhere — seriously, I may or may not have used “Let’s go buy mama some bourbon!” as an excuse to leave the apartment one recent day — everyday. Even if it is cold; that’s what the snowsuit and hat and footmuff and knit blanket (“We lost the baby!”) are for, right?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spied a recipe that promised butterscotch brownies or cookies or cake bliss within that suggested you make your butterscotch confection with … butterscotch sauce. From a jar. Or butterscotch chips. From a bag. Sorta like those sandwich recipes that tell you to get out two slices of bread and some deli meats (um, thanks?), it’s kind of a letdown but I just assumed that butterscotch must be a thermometer-requiring, magic wand-waving difficult thing to make. That would explain it, right?
Well, I’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, misled and so have you because butterscotch — deadly good butterscotch, butterscotch so transcendent it might could bring tears to your eyes — is ridiculously easy to make. Five ingredients (spoiler: one of them is salt) + five minutes on the stove = I just can’t. I’m simply not savvy enough to apply language to how awesome it tastes.
I seem to be on a bit of a coffee kick these days — Exhibit A being Alex’s Espresso Chiffon birthday cake with Fudge Frosting and Exhibit B being Thanksgiving’s ridiculous Cappucino Fudge Cheesecake. I’m sure that’s it just coincidence that the coffee kick began just as the number of hours I slept each night decreased, which also coincided with me getting weepy with joy when I wrapped my fingers around my first coffee of the day each
morning afternoon. Amazing how you can drink something your whole life but it then all of the sudden one day it becomes a transcendent experience, you know?
Nevertheless my fascination with the intersection of coffee and toffee goes back much longer than that, at least as far as the Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies I made two years ago, and realized that the only thing that could make it more delicious would be to use a chocolate that had toffee bits in it. When Alex brought home Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch this week, I was again reminded of this amazing thing that happens when the buttery, tangy caramelized flavor of toffee contrasts the bitter edginess of espresso, and decided at once to combine the two in one espresso-soaked candy.
As it turns out, the last days of October don’t awaken in me a desire to fly around on my broom, don a “sexy” nurse/maid/fireman outfit or even gorge myself on candy. Nope, according to a quick glance at my archives, apparently when Halloween approaches all I can think about is reinterpreting Rice Krispie Treats.
Unfortunately, I don’t seem to choose my recipes very well. Last year’s Peanut Butter Crispy Bars were delicious, but had structural issues that irked me. And two years ago, I fell prey to a Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treat that was all sorts of a styrofoam-textured disaster. Nevertheless, I haven’t been able to get them out of my head, so this year I decided I would conquer them once and for all. It helped that I knew exactly what went wrong the original dud of a clearly-untested recipe (hm, do I sound bitter?): the cereal to marshmallow ratio was unfeasibly high, more than double that of the original recipe and — small detail — marshmallows don’t caramelize very well, and should you succeed in getting them to, they don’t cool back down to anything gooey or soft. What a travesty.
The first time I made marshmallows, well, I don’t think saying “it was a mess” adequately describes it. Oh, the marshmallows were successful; they even looked and tasted like marshmallows, but yours truly? I ended up in a tangled web of marshmallow strings.
It all went south when I couldn’t resist the urge to scrape down the paddle and bowl (anyone else an obsessive bowl scraper? I cringe when things go to waste). The paddle was gunked to the bowl and the scraper was glued to the paddle and then — and it is my duty to implore you not to do this at home — you think, “well, I’ll just wipe off the paddle with my index finger” and then your index finger gets knit to the scraper and then you think “well, let me use my other finger to wipe this one off” and all of a sudden, you’ve got strands of marshmallow strung from each finger to the bowl, the mixer, the paddle, the scraper, each corner of the pan, your shirt, the floor and then your husband comes home just as you’re pleading “help! I’m all knotted up!” and he instead gets the camera.