Saturday, January 12, 2013

One good hand is all you need to make some tasty treats!

I have been suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome maybe from as far back as my college days when I worked in a salmon cannery in Alaska, cleaning fish all summer. But it's gotten so bad over the past few years that I can't even sleep through the night because of it. So I decided to finally do something about it. I suppose there's never a great time for surgery, but I do have most of January off, enough time (I hope) to have my dominant hand done and recover in time to start grading papers again. I had the procedure done on Thursday, and with the help of some strong narcotics, the pain isn't too bad, and--TA-DAH!--I've been sleeping like a baby!

What I haven't been doing, of course, is cooking. I can move my fingers and pick up very light things, but I can't grasp anything with any amount of strength or pressure. However, I can stir with my left hand and sort of guide things with my right. It ain't much, but it's enough to make some seriously gourmet rice krispie treats like these, inspired by a version I came across on Pinterest.

The original recipe called for regular Rice Krispies, but I used Cocoa Krispies (Cocoa Pebbles would have been even more awesome) plus a half cup of mini chocolate chips to amp up the chocolatey goodness. It also called for TWICE as much of the caramel topping, but that sounded like you'd have to have a lot of insulin on hand for that! A thin layer of tender caramel was plenty sufficient, plus I added a scant cup of macadamia pieces for crunch. Very decadent but not difficult to make, even if you're one-handed.

Browned Butter Cocoa Krispies Treats with Macadamia Caramel Topping
(Source: adapted Pots and Pins, via Pinterest)

Rice Krispies Treats:
4 tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz.) regular marshmallows or 4 cups of mini-marshmallows
6 cups Cocoa Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles
pinch of coarse salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips     

1 cup white sugar (next time, I'd use brown sugar here)
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 (1 stick) cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup macadamia pieces

Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.  In a large pan, over medium-low heat, melt butter. Cook until the butter starts to foam, smell nutty, and turn golden brown. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Pour in Cocoa Krispies, salt, and mini chips and stir gently until the cereal is evenly coated. Scoop mixture into prepared baking dish and using a lightly buttered spatula or buttered fingers, press down firmly into baking dish. 

In a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine sugar, corn syrup, half cup of cream and the butter.  Stirring often, bring to a boil, over medium heat, then pour in remaining half cup of cream.  Heat without stirring to 242 degrees (soft ball stage) or until a small abount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a firm but pliable ball when removed from water. This will take about 20 minutes or so; watch so it doesn't boil over.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and nuts.  Immediately pour over Cocoa Krispies.  Allow caramel to cool completely, then cut into bars or squares.

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