Familiar treats in new shapes (anytime)

May 9, 2008

So we’re faced with another rainy weekend … I’m starting to wonder if swimsuit season will ever come. On the upside, the longer it delays, the less guilty I feel about indulging in sweet treats! And a rainy weekend is a very good time to whip some up. I’m a big believer in the classics like Rice Krispies treats, apple pie and meringue cookies, so I love it when we find new ways of presenting them that still taste just as good. In the past few months we’ve seen new twists on all three of them, as follows:

  • Rice Krispies Arches: Regular Rice Krispies bars are a sticky mess to scrape into a 9×13 pan, let alone mold into the shape of the Arch, but a few weeks ago M. was presented with an Arch so beautiful that we had to try to duplicate it. The trick is to make a ramped-up version with something thicker than marshmallows to hold it together; my choice is to add butterscotch chips, as follows:
    1 (10 oz.) pkg. marshmallows
    6 c. Rice Krispies
    1 (12 oz.) pkg. butterscotch chips
    1/4 c. butter

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and butterscotch chips and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in the Rice Krispies until evenly coated and then, working quickly, take a glob about the size of your hand and shape it into an Arch. It should stand upright (on the legs) as it cools. It can be decorated with frosting or drizzled chocolate.

  • Apple Pie Balls: These are made in individual muffin tins so there’s lots of crust on each piece to sop up ice cream — and the mess that sometimes accompanies the process of serving pies isn’t an issue. This recipe is a sugar-free one, to counterbalance the sugar bomb above!
    1 6-oz. can apple juice concentrate
    2 Tbsp. cornstarch
    1 Tbsp. butter
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    Dash salt
    5 large apples
    Pastry for 2 9-inch pie crusts, cut 12 into circles that will overhang the muffin cups

Heat the juice and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened. Add the butter, cinnamon and salt and remove from heat. Peel and coarsely chop the apples and add to the pan of hot juice. Stir to coat all the apples. Line individual muffin cups with pastry circles, letting the extra hang over the edges. Fill the cups, then crimp the edges tightly to seal. If desired for aesthetic purposes, flip the ball over so the seam is on the bottom. Cut a small vent in each (I like to do this in an A shape). Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

  • Meringue Bones and Ghosts: It can be daunting to whip up meringue, but once you’ve got the knack, it’s a great blank canvas for adding in tidbits (chocolate chips or crushed candy), for dipping into toppings and for making seasonal shapes. One of the best I’ve seen is bones and ghosts for Halloween, but there are endless possibilities, including flowers for Mother’s Day or simply plopping it onto parchment paper; even in blob form it manages to seem elegant. An extra plus is that meringue, once baked, keeps for weeks. And it has even fewer calories than the pie! For tips on making it, see this Fine Cooking article. For a kid-friendly explanation on making ghosts, see this blog.
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