Cashew Chocolate Squares+ 5 Sweet Links to Start 2022

Ann ended 2021 similar to the way she began 2021 in bed at 9:30. A few drinks eased the annoyance of the holiday but didn’t compel her to watch the ball drop in Times Square. Twenty years ago she loved New Year’s Eve, celebrating with friends, bar hopping, and drunkenly making out with her husband. Out with the old and in with the new. And yet twenty years later out with the old and in with the new seemed harder to achieve. Letting go was harder. Ann wondered if her age was to blame as she smeared overpriced eye cream over her dark circles and plucked stubborn little hairs from her chin. Maybe age was the culprit, maybe Ann had always struggled to let go. Tonight wouldn’t be the night to find out. She fell asleep.

What seemed like minutes later, Ann woke to the sound of honking Candian geese. She looked at the clock. 12:15am. The geese seemed to be announcing the arrival of the new year. Ann found this odd, comforting, and heartbreaking all at once. What an odd moment. She put her head back on her pillow. Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” popped into her head. “Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air are heading home again.” She thought of a friend who introduced her to that poem many years ago. She wished her well and released her into the night air. She could let go. What made her release that which no longer belonged she wasn’t sure. This would not be decided tonight. Now was the time to rest. Maybe the geese would return with the early morning light.

The start of a new year makes me anxious. What will this year bring? Will I be able to manage it? In an effort to find some comfort post-holiday madness I turned to a collection of recipes from my grandmother. I came across pecan squares which she wrote “delicious” next to in her perfect script. I knew she wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction. I also realized I wouldn’t be able to make these bars with pecans due to a peanut allergy in our household. Finding pecans not processed in the same facility as peanuts is damn near impossible. Jerry’s recipe calls for pecans as well as Bits O Brickle. I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store specifically for Bits O Brickle so I opted to use cashews and chocolate chips. Success! The shortbread crust is perfectly buttery and slightly sweet. The chocolate chip, cashew, and sweetened condensed milk combination are reminiscent of a candy bar similar to Twix. Also, they are super easy to make- bonus! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Cashew Chocolate Squares

Makes 16-18 squares

Recipe adapted from Jerry’s Pecan Squares

Ingredients:

2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup of confectioners’ sugar

1 cup or 2 sticks of unsalted butter

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 large egg at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

7.5 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped roasted cashews

Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper allowing the parchment paper to hang over the sides.  Set aside.

Using a food processor mix the flour and confectioners’ sugar, pulsing several times until combined.  Next, add the butter.  Pulse the butter with the dry ingredients until well incorporated.  The dough should come together to form a ball.  Remove the dough.  Press the dough evenly into the prepared 13×9 pan.  (If you find the dough sticks to your fingertips dip your fingertips in confectioners’ sugar and proceed.)  Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside. 

While the crust is baking mix the sweetened condensed milk, egg, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, cashews, and salt in a medium bowl.  Pour the wet ingredients over the still-warm crust, spreading evenly, and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the bars appear golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Once cool, cut into squares.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.  The bars taste best the day they are made.  Enjoy!

5 Sweet Links

Start the year off with a Toll House brownie you deserve it, after all, we are still in a pandemic.

I made these bars and they are excellent.

My grandmother’s chocolate chip halfway cookies are a family favorite. Check them out here.

This recipe is on my must-make list.

Make these brownies for someone you love.

Oreo Coffee Ice Cream Cake + 5 Frozen Treat Links

This ice cream cake is based off the of my grandmother’s coffee ice cream recipe. Though I always enjoyed her pistachio ice cream the most, her version of coffee ice cream is excellent. This version of coffee ice cream is for coffee lovers. The flavor is strong but not overwhelming. The addition of the Oreos is inspired by my youngest son’s love of coffee Oreo ice cream. He has a surprisingly mature palate for a seven year old. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Coffee Oreo Ice Cream Cake

Makes 1 8×3 inch cake.

Serves 6-8

Ice cream recipe adapted from my grandmother’s coffee ice cream recipe.

Ingredients for Ice cream:

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

¾ cup sugar

3 tablespoons instant powdered coffee

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 dozen Oreos crushed plus more for decorating

Store bought chocolate sauce ( I used Stonewall Kitchen’s Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce.)

Directions for Ice cream:

Chill a medium sized bowl for about 20 minutes before proceeding.  Pour cream and milk into chilled bowl. Add instant coffee and stir until completely blended.  Next, add sugar and salt.  Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  Chill the mixture for 20 minutes.

Line an 8×3 inch round cake pan generously with plastic wrap, so it hangs off the sides of the cake pan.  Set aside.

Churn the ice cream according to the ice cream manufacturer’s instructions.  5 minutes prior to the end of churning add the crushed Oreos.  Scoop the soft ice cream into the prepared cake pan.  Smooth out the top with a spatula.  Cover entire cake pan with plastic wrap and freeze for 12 to 24 hours.

Ingredients for Whipped Cream Frosting:

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer with a whisk attachment, add heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl. Better if bowl is chilled prior to making whipped cream as it helps the cream whip faster.  Whip on medium speed until the cream holds soft to medium peaks.  Proceed with recipe.

Assembly

Remove the ice cream cake from the cake pan by pulling on the plastic wrap and lifting the cake out of the pan.  Place on a cake plate or any plate. Using an offset spatula, quickly frost the sides with half of the prepared whipped cream.  Using a clean offset spatula spread store bought chocolate sauce on the top of the cake.  Freeze for 20 minutes.  Remove cake from freezer and pipe remaining whipped cream around the top of the cake.  Decorate with additional Oreos and chocolate sprinkles if desired.  Freeze for 30 minutes unwrapped.  Then wrap cake with plastic wrap and freeze until ready to serve.  Allow cake to sit out for about 5-10 minutes before cutting it.  Enjoy!

5 Frozen Treat Links

Brownies and ice cream anyone? Head here.

Samoa Ice Cream Sandwiches are a thing. My mouth is watering.

My own roasted strawberry and rhubarb frappe and vanilla raspberry swirl ice cream pie.

Looking for a no churn ice cream recipe? Head here.