Truth be told, I don't like my birthday very much.
I mean, the date is fine - February 25th. Precariously close to being a leap year baby, but other than that - totally reasonable.
It's more that I find the ordeal of actually having a birthday to be quite stressful. Everyone wants/expects you to be so happy(!) and joyous(!) and high on life(!) and so you feel this intense pressure not to disappoint. You do the things that people think you should be doing to celebrate even if they're not what you want to be doing...which really is just for it to be a totally normal day.
But with cake at the end.
Is that really so much to ask for?
I know, right, how very birthday-scrooge of me.
My dad never particularly liked his birthday either, at least not as far as I can remember. According to my mom, after his sister died (nine months before I was born) he just didn't want to celebrate. And I can understand that.
I've felt that way about every holiday since he died. Because maybe, if we just pretend that it's a totally average normal run-of-the-mill day...it won't hurt as much when he's not there.
Last year, my parents and siblings came to my "friends" party. My dad brought champagne even though I insisted that he didn't.
But he was just so happy to be there. To be included. That there was no stopping him. If he wanted there to be champagne then damnit there was going to be champagne!!!
He was quite a force, that's for sure.
So I don't foresee myself being able to be particularly happy(!) and joyous(!) and high on life(!) on Monday.
But I can be happy today.
Because it's just a normal, average, run-of-the-mill day.
The kind where a s'more nut bar will be enjoyed all the more because it's such a surprise. You weren't expecting to eat something this addictively delicious today. But here we are.
Chocolate, peanuts, and marshmallows all rolled out on top of a graham cracker crust. It really doesn't get any better than that.
One year ago...Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Soup, Barley Risotto with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Champagne Honey Mustard
Two years ago...African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas
Three years ago...Chocolate Coconut Banana Bread Pudding
S'more Nut Bars
Makes 24 bars, adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
- 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 17-20)
- 1 tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 7 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 7 1/2 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 1/2 oz mini marshmallows (I used vegan marshmallows)
- 1 cup lightly salted whole peanuts
- 1 cup chopped lightly salted peanuts
- Preheat oven to 300. Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar. Add the butter. Use your hands to combine the mixture, then turn it onto the prepared pan. Press the crust into an even layer along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
- Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes or until it is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.
- In a large heatproof bowl, toss the chocolate together. Drizzle the corn syrup over the chocolate.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil. Pour it over the chocolate mixture and let stand for 2-3 minutes. Starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out, whisk the chocolate mixture into the cream until it is completely smooth. Fold in the marshmallows and whole peanuts. Pour into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the top with the chopped peanuts.
- Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until set.
Have you guys ever heard of Graeter's ice cream? The company has been around, churning out ice cream since 1870, and is now in it's fourth generation of family ownership. They make their ice cream using the French Pot method and each batch is only made two gallons at a time resulting in an insanely awesome creaminess. It is denser than most ice creams out there since it is gently folded instead of whipped, giving you more bang for your buck as well as an amazing texture. In addition, they use only fresh REAL ingredients (cream, milk, cane juice, fruit, chocolate chunks and BEET JUICE to color, if applicable. How rockstar is that?).
They are coming out with their first new ice cream flavor in 3 years - black cherry chocolate chip - and they sent me a few pints to try it out, along with their blackberry chocolate chip and vanilla chocolate chip flavors for comparison. I have to say, the black cherry chocolate chip was my favorite of the three. In a world where artificial cherry flavor abounds, this ice cream actually tasted like REAL cherries. And the HUGE chocolate chunks mixed throughout were no laughing matter either.
I used two pints of this ice cream to make ice cream sandwiches for The.Boy and I for Valentine's Day using Smitten Kitchen's recipe for the cookies. They were so easy to work with and put together that I will surely be making them again...and the chocolate cookie/black cherry chocolate chip combo was spot on perfect. If you happen to have a Graeter's near you or a vendor that sells it, I would highly recommend picking up a pint (or six!).