I'm Just a Kid: Turning Childhood Favorite Treats Into the Ultimate Desserts

I’m just a kid at heart. Some of my fondest memories of being a chubby kid were all based on eating junk food. Prepackaged little cakes, movie theater popcorn and candy were my best friends. Cracker Jacks — with its secret little toy — made me very happy. Actually, popcorn anything makes me giggle with delight. I have been known to forgo a meal in order to justify eating a large bucket of salty buttery corn.

Fast-forward to today. Always thinking about my past, I re-create versions of all my favorite childhood treats.

In my new book, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors, on bookshelves in just five days, I toss buttery, salty popcorn with rich melted chocolate and peanuts for a quick, rich and amazing treat (recipe below).

Halloween was (and still is) my favorite holiday. I remember competing with my big brother Steven to see how much candy we could gather. As kids, we would dump overfilled candy-laden plastic pumpkins on to a bed sheet covering the carpet in our living room. At the end of the night, we’d count up all the pieces of candy and, based on sheer volume, declare a winner. Hands down, my favorite was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Mom would let us keep a few and take the extra to work — or so she said.

In Baking Out Loud, I created my own Reese’s version, You’ve Got Chocolate In My Peanut Butter Bars (recipe below).

I’m just a kid at heart with grown-up knowledge of how to create new childhood memories for the next generation.

Check back tomorrow at noon when FN Dish gives away two copies of my new cookbook.

Popcorn + Peanut Bark (pictured above)
Makes 1 pound

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Caraibe 66%), chopped

3 cups freshly popped popcorn
½ cup salted peanuts (preferably Virginia)
Pinch of kosher salt

1. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick liner.

2. Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the popcorn, peanuts and salt. Fold the mixture until the popcorn and peanuts are evenly coated with the chocolate.

3. Scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a thin layer.

4. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until cold and firm. Break into small clusters and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

You've Got Chocolate in My Peanut Butter Bars
Makes 20 pieces
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Caraibe 66%)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter (preferably organic), at room temperature

1. Line the bottom and sides of an 8½ × 4½-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or foil, and grease it lightly (preferably with Pam). Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring until the chocolate is smooth, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, and salt on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until blended and smooth. Add the peanut butter, and mix until just blended.

3. Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly. Place plastic wrap directly onto the peanut butter mixture, and press to smooth the top. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, until very cold, or freeze for 45 to 60 minutes.

4. Using the parchment paper or foil liner of the loaf pan, transfer the candy onto a work surface. Peel away the paper or foil, and invert the rectangle onto a cutting board or plate. Using a large knife, trim off the edges to make an even-edged rectangle (nibble on them—so good). Pour the melted chocolate over the top, and spread it evenly. Refrigerate for 2 hours, until very cold.

5. To serve, cut the candy lengthwise into two 1½-inchwide strips. Cut each strip into 10 pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make sure to serve chilled.

Recipes and photos courtesy of:

"Reprinted from the book Baking Out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith.  Copyright © 2012 by Hedy Goldsmith.  Photographs copyright © 2012 by Ben Fink.  Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc."

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