I have some really exciting news, folks. Set your TiVos to “awesome”, because I am going be on Anderson Cooper Live on Thursday, February 28th! Three competitors were chosen to face off in Anderson’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Challenge, where I will be force feeding Mr. Cooper cookie after cookie. It’ll be just like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer goes to hell for eating the Forbidden Doughnut, and they hook him up to that machine that feeds him a million doughnuts and he still asks for more. I hope that you will all watch as I embarrass myself on national television. It’s always been a dream of mine. I have no idea what I am going to say or how I am going to say it, but I do know that tonight is going to be spent baking lots and lots of chocolate chip cookies. Hopefully they like my cookies as much as I say that they will! I do talk a big game.
And I have even more exciting news to share! Let’s hope that this is a continuing pattern in my life from here on out. Last night, my friend Emily and I took at baking class at Momofuku Milk Bar in Williamsburg, hosted by the glorious Christina Tosi. This lady is kind of insane – she adds more butter and sugar to her desserts than you’d think is humanly possible, but her creations have so much flavor that it’s worth the calorie bomb. The class we took was based around “the crumb”, which is an essential textural ingredient that most of the Milk Bar items have. We made milk crumbs and birthday cake crumbs, as well as the famous blueberries and cream cookies. We were able to have a few beers, bake, and take all of our tasty treats home to enjoy. I’m not quite sure what I am going to do with my crumbs yet, but Kramer took the cookies into his office today because if he hadn’t done that, I would have gone home tonight to gobble them all up myself. I had an amazing time and this class was absolutely worth the $50 I paid to take it. I learned a lot and I hope to take another one soon. Since I did so much baking last night, allow me to share with you this no-bake dessert today!
Now, these bars come from my other favorite bakery, Baked in Brooklyn (they have an awesome book). Not only are they chewy, crunchy, gooey, and chocolatey, but they also happen to be vegan if you use dark chocolate, which I discovered by complete accident, although I’m glad that I did! Until recently, I didn’t really know or hang out with any vegans – surprise, right? But we’ve recently become better acquainted with these mysterious no-animal-product-eaters, and so it’s been a fun challenge for me to try to think up vegan friendly recipes when I know I’m going to be seeing them. It is especially tricky because I’m not someone who keeps things like coconut oil or vegan butter or egg replacements around, so whenever I come across a promising vegan recipe, I am often quickly discouraged by the idea of having to put on real pants and walk the 20 feet outside to the wonderful bodega in my neighborhood who carries just about anything a vegan baker could want. Real pants are a real deterrent – I know I’m not the only one! It’s such a drag to have to change out of the same super sweet sweatpants that I’ve had since I used to row crew in high school. Okay, I seem to have gone off on a pants-rant. It happens. Back to these bars. They’ve got it all! Peanut butter, chocolate, crispy cereal, gooey caramel, and crunchy peanuts. They are truly a sweet-and-salty bar, which I don’t think any sane person can turn down. I brought these over to Morgan’s house for the Oscars, where they were quickly dubbed “addictive” by everyone in attendance. That’s really the ultimate seal of approval, isn’t it?
Baking with Christina Tosi at the Milkbar HQ.
Melt together your corn syrup and sugar, whisk in your peanut butter and vanilla, then toss with your cereal and peanuts.
That’s the stuff.
Press everything into a parchment lined pan (be sure to grease that parchment, too).
Then melt your chocolate.
And drizzle it over your bars. You probably won’t use quite all of it.
Allow the chocolate to set, then cut into bars and enjoy!
These will keep well in an airtight container, either at room temperature or in the fridge, for up to 4 days.
- 6 cups plain crunchy cereal (like Chex)
- 1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup (light or dark, I used a combination of both)
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 ounces milk chocolate, melted (or dark chocolate to make these vegan)
- Combine your cereal and peanuts in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a medium sized pot over medium heat, melt together your brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring and simmering for 5-8 minutes. When melted and the sugar has dissolved, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
- Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and butter/grease. Pour the peanut butter and sugar mixture over the cereal and peanuts and toss with a greased spatula until well combined (be careful, it's hot). The mixture will cool a bit as you toss it together, so you should be able to press it until the prepared pan with your fingers (or use a greased spatula). Allow the bars to cool, then drizzle with the melted chocolate. You can place this in the fridge until it firms up, then cut into bars and serve.