Happy new year, everyone! Despite the awful weather we had over the holidays here I hope everyone was still able to celebrate and have a happy holiday in some way, shape or form with family and friends. Even though it was beyond frustrating to have an event of this magnitude happen just before Christmas (the scrambling, the worrying, the damage, everything. I have never seen so much ice, so much white and so many streets blocked with yellow tape in my life) I know it could have been much worse. My house didn’t lose power during the ice storm (a few outages here and there for a minute or so at a time but nothing serious) so I am beyond grateful and thankful that I was able to stay in my home during the aftermath.
Amidst all the craziness I managed to squeak in a little bit of baking, photographing and food blogging (not as much as I had initially planned but there was no way around it, not with entire neighbourhoods, streets and streetcars without power!) so I’ll be sharing the goods with you all over the next little while. It may be back to the grind for many folks tomorrow but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have some holiday fun here!
2013 was full of so many highs and not-so-highs and while the latter part of the year didn’t exactly end the way I wanted or expected it to (in more ways than one), I do have some really awesome memories to look back on: taking my very first plane ride ever to Florida in February (and eating macarons from the Miromar Outlets in Fort Myers!), being a Macaron Day ambassador in March, attending and being a part of FBC’s first food blogging conference at Hockley Valley in April, taking the train for the first time to Ottawa in May, meeting Chef Michael Smith in June (I had the honour of eating hand-shucked oysters from him!), doing Summerlicious in July, celebrating my birthday in August, having one of the most amazing afternoon teas with my best friend in September (blog post in the works!), meeting Rosie Daykin at a food blogging event promoting her new Butter Baked Goods cookbook at Random House in October, buying teacups at my favourite antique market in November, and of course, celebrating Christmas in December with my best friend, my boyfriend and other friends in true foodie fashion.
Sometimes I let the negative energy get to me (struggling to balance full-time work and blogging and everything/one else in my life and the not-so-highs that happened this year that I won’t care to repeat or hash out here) so much so that at times it feels crippling, emotionally and mentally. I know I’m surrounded by so many good, wonderful and happy things though so I try my best to focus on them and I’m determined to make just as many, if not more, happy memories in 2014.
Baking is therapeutic for me so I had a little fun experimenting over the holidays and this is what came out of it! I wanted to play around with the Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookie Bar recipe from my Food & Wine magazine again using some of the baking goodies I had in my cupboard. I really wanted to make it look festive so I swapped out the plain chocolate chips for rainbow chips in red, white and green, added a layer of miniature marshmallows and a layer of graham crumbs.
So what I did was crush some Honey Maid graham crackers and mix it with some melted butter. I pressed the crumb mixture into an even layer in a parchment-lined 13×9-inch pan. I topped it with an even layer of miniature marshmallows and then topped it with the cookie bar batter. Voila! A golden, ooey gooey cookie bar dessert! I honestly just wanted to play around with the miniature marshmallows to see how it would turn out. They completely melted into a gooey caramelized layer making them super fun to eat. Keep in mind that this was just a fun experiment on my part, if we want to actually see a distinct layer of white marshmallows, we’ll have to tinker with the recipe. Try them out and see how you like them!
Recipe for Holiday Marshmallow-Rainbow Chip Cookie Bars (adapted from Chocolate-Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars recipe from March 2011 issue of Food & Wine magazine).
Makes 12 big squares or 24 smaller rectangular bars.
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened, divided (1-1/4 sticks or 10 tablespoons)
- 2 cups graham crumbs (if you are crushing graham crackers from scratch, it’ll take about 28 crackers)
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for whole wheat pastry flour but I didn’t have any and also didn’t feel like buying any so I just used regular all-purpose flour!)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup rainbow chocolate chips (*Deb’s Note: I used a holiday mix of red, white and green. The original recipe called for semisweet chocolate chips)
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Reserve 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons) for later use; melt remaining butter. Mix graham crumbs with melted butter. Press graham crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Top with miniature marshmallows.
- Beat the reserved butter and oil with the granulated sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt; beat the dry ingredients into the wet mixture at low speed. Gently fold in the rainbow chips until combined (*Deb’s Note: I just mixed the chips in with my hands so the dough wouldn’t be overmixed)
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer over the marshmallows. Bake 16-18 min. or until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 min. Using parchment paper “handles”, lift out and cut into squares or bars.