Party snacks by candlelight – is there anything better?
There’s a song my husband plays sometimes that echos the refrain “There will be snacks.” Sometimes we sing it to each other even when the music isn’t playing.
And while the song seems to be about the end of days, mentioning survival kits and crumbled financial institutions, it still seems to imply that even the apocalypse can be made better by snacks.
Which is an idea I can totally get behind.
There’s just something about snacks that make me happy. Perhaps because making them (and eating them) suggests that friends, laughter, a nice glass of wine and plenty of fun are in my near future. Or maybe it reminds me of sitting exhausted on my couch, after the last guest has gone home, and being left alone to finish off the last odds and ends from the plates.
Whatever the reason, out of all the meals or menus I plan or partake in, it’s always the snacks that I love the most.
The blogging world is a funny place. You start writing and then you begin to discover other people’s blogs. You start to follow those blogs and slowly you develop relationships with those bloggers. And through those friendships, you discover new bloggers, and start to follow their blogs and so on and so forth.
I first stumbled upon Shanna’s blog because of my fellow blogger, Liz of deLizious. Liz had mentioned one of Shanna’s posts on her Facebook page and so I wandered over to have a look. The post itself was rather sad but I’m still happy Shanna wrote it because that was the first glimpse I had into the world of Curls & Carrots.
If you read C&C you’ll know it’s chock full of great recipes, for everything from vanilla & cardamom challah to udon salad, and pictures of Shanna’s adorable kids. And each post often contains multiple recipes so it’s like hitting a culinary jackpot.
Not too long ago she posted a recipe for double chocolate brownie cookies and I knew I had to make them. I also knew who I had to make them for — my mother, an admitted and dedicated chocoholic.
I finally got the perfect opportunity this weekend, when it was time for our annual family reunion. Having just returned from vacation, and freshly recovered from a post-vacation cold, I was fairly exhausted and unmotivated. I couldn’t think of what to bring for my contribution but then it hit me — who doesn’t love a cookie?
Last year I saw some really, really cute cookies on Pinterest. They were little thumbprint cookies, topped with chocolate and decorated with tiny chocolate eggs. I had every hope of actually making them. But then life happened and my motivation for fiddling around with tiny cookies flew right out the window.
Luckily this year was less chaotic and I actually managed a few sweet spring-time experiments like homemade Peeps and — finally — these little sugar cookie nests. And I have to say they were adorable enough (and tasty enough!) to be worth the wait.
While there are TONS of cookie nest recipes around, I really liked the simplicity of this one — no mini muffin pan necessary, just a basic sugar cookie recipe and some imagination. I contemplated using coconut flakes as the grass, but in the end I went with melted dark chocolate, green jimmies and mini chocolate eggs.
So my husband bought a case (yes, a 200-count case) of sugar cones earlier this year. Most of them were used at Wild About Game where he served up scoops of his ridiculously delicious foie gras ice cream. But he ran out of ice cream before he ran out of cones and so for the past few months I have been shuffling the box around our kitchen.
Finally I figured if he wasn’t going to do something with the leftovers, I would. My first creation was a chocolate toffee bark. I didn’t have the silvered almonds that the recipe asked for so I used crushed sugar cones instead. I added a bit of sea salt as well and called the whole thing a success.
Toffee & dark chocolate bark with sugar cones
After that I did some digging online and found a recipe that actually called for sugar cones, these caramel-date and ice cream cone bar cookies. And since I found them on a post titled “The 12 Cookies of Christmas” I could even claim they were seasonally appropriate! (This year Christmas approached so quickly my holiday baking suffered some serious set backs.)
Like many new projects I tackle on a whim, these peppermint meringues were found on Pinterest. They were just too pretty too pass up and I happened to have egg whites left over from making ice cream for Thanksgiving (we made a goat cheese ice cream and a straight up old-fashioned vanilla — both were awesome!). I decided it was a perfect time to use them up and cross a cookie off my holiday “must bake” list.
Meringues are super easy to make and I can totally, absolutely appreciate a cookie that you can let bake for two hours and not have to think about. In fact, the only things you have to worry about with meringues are having any fat in the egg whites when you whip them (bad news) or over/under whipping them. Happily, I avoided both of those issues and my cookies turned out pretty darn adorable.
I like to do different sizes so people can have “just a nibble.”
I am still slightly uncertain as to why this cookie is not a biscotti. After all, they are both “twice cooked” which is the general translation of biscotti. I’ll concede there is a slight difference in the dough. When I’ve made biscotti, the dough tends to be drier and some light kneading is usually required to get the logs properly formed. The tozzetti batter was much looser and after its first baking, looked more “free form” than traditional biscotti.
But presenting your co-workers with cookies that look like biscotti, while telling them they are not in fact biscotti, makes you feel a little silly.
And yet I’m happy I trusted Bon Appetite’s recipe because, no matter what you call these unassuming crunchy cookies, they are delicious. I’m a sucker for any kind of sweet that goes best with coffee because then you can eat it for breakfast without an ounce of guilt. These were perfect dunked into my morning cup of joe.