Sand in the Vaseline

Last week, my bake sale was pushed back a day, due to a day off from school, thanks to Sandy.  Now, I’m not complaining, mais elle nous a posé un vrai lapin (She stood us up) where I live.  I hope anyone whom she didn’t is safe; my heart goes out to those without power or heat who are bracing for the next big storm.  
Life has been a little hectic for me lately, as you can probably tell by my lack of posts.
Being a senior in high school, the big deadline was November 1st for my college application.  It was down to the wire.  A real nail biter.  By the time I finished typing that last essay, it was 10 o’clock and the last trick or treaters had already dissipated into the night.  Hitting submit was a relief, for about two minutes.  Then the post-application panic set in.  
Now, a week later, I’ve submitted to a pretty much constant state of being on edge.  


 Also, it’s November
Which means I’ve been spending every waking minute some time planning Thanksgiving.  As in, the menu, the shopping lists, the timetable, the seating, etc.
Call me Liz Lemon. Please?
To help get in the holiday spirit, make these cinnamon cookies.  Cinnamon and dulce de leche are commonly mixed flavors in Latin America; many recipes for cajeta (goat’s milk dulce de leche) call for a pinch of cinnamon.  These butter cookies are super flaky, with cinnamon swirls, and pair perfectly with the sticky, salty filling.
Into comfort food?  Then make rice krispies instead.  Except make them better.  Start with the marshmallows. No corn syrup or refined sugars and no artificial flavoring allowed.  They are so much better.  Fluffy, springy, and soft, with a mellow maple undertone and little flecks of vanilla.  Add those to a little bit of browned butter, mound up a mountain of rice krispies, and press into a buttered pan.  Beautiful, and so much healthier than those little blue packages.  

Cinnamon Swirl Cookies with Dulce de Leche
adapted, in part, from smittenkitchen
for the (quick) dulce de leche:
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
a few healthy pinches of good-quality sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour the milk into an oven proof dish, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Put aluminum foil over the top, and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking and swirling often to avoid overflow.  Once toffee colored, pull from oven, add another pinch of salt, and let cool.  
for the cookies:
4 ounces (1 stick) butter 
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk
splash vanilla
big pinch of salt
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until fluffy.  Add in the egg yolk and a splash of vanilla extract, and mix until combined.  Add in the flour all at once, and mix until a dough forms.  Weigh out the dough, divide in half, and add half of the dough back into the mixer bowl.  Add the brown sugar and cinnamon in, and mix until combined.  Take the vanilla dough and knead it together with the cinnamon briefly, until they begin to swirl together.  Roll out the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness, and cut out cookies.  Gather scraps and reroll.  Bake cookies, spaced 1/2 inch apart, for 10-12 minutes, until they are starting to be golden at the edges and the centers are no longer puffy and soft.  Let cool, and fill with dulce de leche.
Brown Butter, Maple, and Vanilla Bean Rice Krispies (Snobby Krispies Treats)
for the marshmallows:
adapted from Gourmet, via smittenkitchen
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoons gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup unrefined sugar (I used evaporated cane juice)
1/4 cup maple syrup
big pinch salt
1 egg white
scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
mixture of 1/2 confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 cornstarch (about 1/3 or 1/2 cup)
Oil a 9 x 12 pan.  Add 1/4 cup of the water to the bowl of a stand mixer, and sprinkle gelatin over top to soften.  In a heavy saucepan, cook the maple syrup, last 1/4 cup water, salt and sugar until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees F.  Pour syrup over gelatin.  With the whisk attachment, beat mixture until thick and nearly tripled in volume.  Meanwhile, beat the egg white with the vanilla bean scrapings until stiff peaks form.  Once the gelatin mixture is done whipping up, beat in the egg white until just combined.  Scrape marshmallow into pan, dust the top with confectioners sugar mixture.  Chill until firm, at least 3 hours and up to one day.  Once marshmallow is firm, turn it out onto a cutting board and slice into pieces using a well oiled knife.
for the krispies:
3 tablespoons high-quality European butter (I used Kerrygold)
10 ounces marshmallows
8-9 cups rice krispies
Butter a 9 x 12 pan well.  In a heavy saucepan, brown butter.  Once browned and nutty, add in marshmallows, and stir well until they are all melted and homogeneous.  Add in the rice krispies and stir until all the krispies are coated, but not inundated with marshmallow (you may need to add more so that the bars aren’t too sticky).  Scrape into the pan and press down with a buttered spoon.  Let cool, then cut into bars.

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