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fluff fest

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Recipe: cookie butter marshmallow swirl chocolate ice cream

This has been such an excellent winter for us snow-wise. Sandwiched by sunny bluebird days, this last storm dropped nearly a foot in the local mountains on Tuesday. And it was a cold storm which meant nice sugary powder.

untouched snow on the trails

looking across the valley

It’s funny how we use food to describe snow: champagne powder, sugary, mashed potatoes, chocolate chips (technically rocks on snow), buttery, death cookies, corn snow. Recently, when I drop into a big pocket of powder, I’ve been thinking of it as marshmallowy. That jogged my memory of these amazing candy bars that a client (Robin Chocolates) developed last fall: dark chocolate ganache, marshmallow, and cookie butter topped with crisped rice pearls and dipped in dark chocolate. You have to see it to believe it.

insanely good

I had never had cookie butter before until Robin gave me a taste (and then she gave me some of the candy bar to sample). Whoa. Cookie butter, where have you been all my life?! I bought a jar last week for some inspiration, and settled on making an ice cream version of Robin’s candy bar. Damn straight. Are you ready? Start with chocolate ice cream.

egg (yolks), sugar, salt, chocolate, dutch-process cocoa, cream, milk, vanilla

whisk cocoa and cream together

stir chopped chocolate into the heated chocolate cream

stir in more cream

**Jump for more butter**

unexpected delights

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Recipe: chocolate caramel pretzels

It has taken me a little while to get dialed into Crested Butte since we aren’t here full-time, but it’s happening. The hardest part is reading the skies because the valley is surrounded on three sides by towering mountains. Local orographics make for weather that changes quickly without much warning, unlike our home on the Front Range with unencumbered views reaching from the Continental Divide to the Great Plains. But I’m always observing skyward and the other day as we were finishing our nordic ski, I looked back at Paradise Divide as its mantle of snow began to take on a warm glow. The one day I decided to leave my camera at home…

I skied with a fast and regular stride – kick and glide, kick and glide – arms pumping. I don’t like to rush Jeremy when he’s enjoying his workout, but I tried to hurry him along. At the car, I quickly changed out of my boots and chucked the skis and poles into the back. Sometimes Jeremy will dawdle about with his gear, but thankfully it was too cold for that. As we drove back to our neighborhood I kept looking in the side mirror and commenting on the spectacular colors behind us. Jeremy agreed that it was lovely, but didn’t realize my intention to capture sunset. He asked if he should stop to check the mail and I said, “No! Just pull over on the side of the road – this isn’t going to last another minute!” They say the best camera is the one you have with you, and it’s true.

the glorious sunset from our neighborhood (iphone pano)

In other news, Kaweah is improving daily. I won’t gross you out with photos of her infected toenail, but I’m actually looking forward to when it falls off so she can move about more freely. She’s definitely feeling spunky and getting around like nothing is wrong. For now, the child’s sock remains on the infected paw to keep her from licking it. When I asked the thrift store proprietor if she had children’s socks, she asked how old my child was. “Well, it’s for my dog who has a toe infection.” She smiled and said in a musical voice, “Oh, it’s for your other child! Yes, doggies are our children too.”

my eternal toddler coming in from the snow

So today’s recipe is something that I didn’t think would be very good at all the first time I tried it. This past summer I had two chocolate caramel pretzels from a client shoot sitting on my desk for several days until one afternoon I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day and broke into one. Then I ate the second one. They were that good. The salty, creamy, chewy, sweet, crunchy, chocolatey was such an unexpectedly delicious combination. Before the holidays, I tried making some to give as gifts. There are two ways to do it – both with good results.

from scratch: pretzel rods, cream, sugar, vanilla bean, water, corn syrup, salt, butter, chocolate

The easiest way is to purchase a bag of caramels (gourmet or store-bought brand name) and melt them in a pan with a little cream. But I decided to make my own caramel since I was out of practice. I let my sugar syrup reach the top of the temperature range (250°F to 320°F), which resulted in a gorgeous but completely hard caramel. I recommend targeting the lower bound or at least the middle of the range so you don’t break your (or other people’s) teeth. Still, I managed to save the caramel by stirring in some cream over a low flame. That yielded a softer, chewier caramel to coat the pretzels.

scrape the vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod

heat butter, cream, salt, and vanilla pod and seeds together

combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in another pan

**Jump for more butter**


Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Recipe: bourbon caramel popcorn

So Thanksgiving was last week, but it feels like it was more than a month ago. Jeremy and I spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving installing some temperature sensors around our place in Crested Butte and getting passes squared away for the mountain as well as the nordic center.

exploring the nordic trails

last light at the end of the day

The mountain opened the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and we went up to see what was what. It was our first time skiing at Crested Butte. All the while when we were looking for a place, our realtor (who also telemark skis) would ask if we were going to hang out and “play” (read: tele). And I always shook my head. We would ski AFTER we found a place, I told Jeremy. Promise kept.

glorious sun on opening day

thanksgiving corduroy

It was amazeballs. Good snow, great mountain, not crowded, and just up the road. We got a couple hours in on Thanksgiving morning before cleaning our place and heading home to Nederland. Once home, I realized that I had cleaned out the refrigerator before we left. I also realized that everything in our town was closed for the holiday at 7pm (rightfully so). Usually I can cobble anything together, but I had very little to work with. So I prepared instant kimchi ramen for dinner. And I ate applesauce straight from the jar (I was hungry). Then I made a big batch of popcorn. So that was our Thanksgiving dinner. The next evening, my parents had us over to their place for Chinese Thanksgiving dinner.

lots of seafood: lobster, shrimp, squid

my happy plate

The following night, it was our turn to host my parents (and my friend, Erin) for dinner. When they arrived, I had appetizers set out on the table for guests to enjoy while I finished dinner prep. I also set a bowl of leftover popcorn out from our impromptu Thanksgiving dinner. It wasn’t any old popcorn, but an addictive bourbon caramel popcorn. My mom sidled up to the bar to chat and watch me work. The bowl of popcorn was right under her nose, so she tried some. And she tried some more. And more. She really liked the popcorn. I set it out again at dessert. She adamantly refused a slice of cake, claiming to be too full, but as the conversation wore on, she kept picking bits of the popcorn off and popping them into her mouth. I love when I make something that my mom likes.

you’ll need: popcorn, vanilla extract, bourbon, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda

fluffy popped popcorn

**Jump for more butter**