And now for the much-anticipated (by me) follow-up to our anniversary. This would be the food part of the celebration. It’s impossible for me to not bake something special for our anniversary and this year took the cake…quite literally.
But, before I knock you silly with the recipe, I need to tell you a story.
When Joe and I lived in Miami, we watched Food Network religiously. (I still do, but Joe has fully converted to ESPN and The Walking Dead.) One of their episodes of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” was highlighting desserts. For those not familiar with the show, they have food celebrities, chefs and critics weigh in on the best meals they’ve ever had and each episode features a different food category or style. This particular episode was called “Sweet Tooth,” and featured their favorite treats. I don’t remember how many people they interviewed, maybe 5 or 6? But three of them mentioned different desserts from the same restaurant. … In Miami. It’s called Michael’s Genuine.
It blew my mind and I knew we had to get there ASAP.
Now, this was around the time that you had to start booking your reservations online through websites like opentable.com way in advance. I remember Michael’s first opening was weeks away, on a school night no less. I think brunch was booked months in advance.
So, we went. We ordered appetizers and, duh, dessert. We each tried one of the desserts they featured on the show and it was every bit of incredible as I knew it would be. EXCEPT! The service.
No, we weren’t buying alcohol. Nope, we passed on a big dinner. And our bill still was in the $60-70 range. Yet we caught our waiter complaining to the hostess about us and the money lost if only we had been his average Miami customer, I guess. It totally ruined the entire experience and I was fuming all the way home, where I had a lovely “How was it?!” email from opentable.com waiting for me.
So I did what any girl in Miami does on a daily basis. I let them have it. Not 20 minutes later, I had a personal email from the restaurant manager apologizing and inviting us back for a full, multi-course dinner (and dessert!) on them.
Well,…okay….fine. I wasn’t *that* mad!
So back we went and what a meal it was! We ordered the same desserts—why mess with perfection?—had alcohol, had dinner, had appetizers, had it all. I think our tab was probably in the $200-250 range. So we left a generous tip and said thankssomuch to Michael’s Genuine. That’s what amazing customer service looks like, America. #redemption
And now you’re probably trying to stay awake, wondering where this is going.
Well, that dessert goddess? Ms. Hedy? She came out with a cookbook and in it she shares all of those amazing concoctions she sells in Miami for $12 a pop.
So it was time to make some Popcorn and Peanuts. Well, half of it anyway. Michael’s Genuine no longer calls this dessert “Popcorn and Peanuts.” It’s just the candy bar and gelato, so that’s what I made. And that’s now what I’ll forever dream is on my plate.
It’s hard for me to find words adequate enough to describe this dessert. As self-named peanut butter and chocolate experts, Joe and I were in love with this homemade candy bar after one bite.
Next time I might go easy on the shower of cocoa powder at the end. In fact, we only used half of the amount, but we were still doing that awkward cough after taking a bite as all of the powder hits the back of your throat. You know what I’m talking about.
The base layer of the candy bar calls for gaufrette cookie pieces, but you can substitute unsweetened rice cereal. Since we live in the middle-of-nowhere Utah, we used Rice Krispies and it was perfectly fine. We also can’t get the nice gianduja and Valrhona chocolate in our stores, but Ghirardelli has always worked for us. It’s hard to mess this up.
Hedy describes this concoction as the “grown up” version of her favorite childhood sweets: creamy milk chocolate bunnies, cream-filled Easter eggs and salty, peanuty candy bars…all combined in one decadent bite. She’s the queen of baked nostalgia! Marry me, Hedy!
Now, this bar is sweet and unapologetically rich, which I love. But something’s gotta give. And it’s not just going to be the top button on my pants. You need something with salt and a bit of kick to cut through the three layers of ridiculousness you just made.
Hedy’s brilliant answer to that is: <<insert Oprah voice>> BUTTERED. POPCORN. GELATOOOOOO!!!!!
I’m the type of girl who always keeps her ice cream maker’s bowl in the freezer, ready at a craving’s notice. I’m also the type of girl who will start making a complicated gelato recipe at 9:00pm. Various levels of forethought and preparation = me.
By far the best gelato or ice cream I’ve ever made. It tastes like you’re drinking buttered popcorn at the movie theater. If you’re like me, that pretty much describes my perfect heaven, so you’re gonna love it. You’re going to use every bowl and spoon in your kitchen to make it, but you’re going to love it.
At Michael’s Genuine, they placed the scoop of gelato on top of a bed of homemade crackerjack (whose recipe is also included in the cookbook), but we opted for plain popcorn and salted peanuts.
I’m just going to step away and let you drool over this food porn for a minute.
Incredible, isn’t it? I want you to make this – for your next anniversary, celebration, milestone, meal….anything. Just make it and rejoice that Hedy put into print what once was only found in South Florida. (And by rejoice, I mean, buy her cookbook!)
Now I’m determined to make the other famous dessert, the buttermilk doughnut with tangerine creamsicle pot de crème and blackberry-tarragon conserve. And then I’ll call my kitchen Marci’s Genuine. Who’s with me?
Until then, start with this…
Milk Chocolate Candy Bars
From Hedy Goldsmith’s Baking Out Loud
For the first layer:
12 oz. gianduja (Italian hazelnut milk chocolate) or milk chocolate (preferably Valrhona), chopped
2 tsp. canola oil
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter at room temperature (do not use natural)
3/4 c. gaufrette cookie pieces (or unsweetened puffed rice cereal)
2/3 c. salted peanuts
For the second layer:
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Caraibe 66%), chopped
1/2 c. heavy cream
For the third layer:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Caraibe 66%), chopped
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. (or way less) natural dark cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona), for serving
Line the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with parchment paper or foil and grease lightly with baking spray.
To make the first layer, in a medium heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the milk chocolate or gianduja. Add the canola oil and the peanut butter. Stir until well blended and smooth. It’s important that this mixture be very hot (not burnt), or it won’t cut into nice slices. Add the crushed cookies or cereal and the peanuts, stir until blended.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly. Place plastic wrap directly onto the chocolate and press to smooth the top. Refrigerate or freeze for 1 to 3 hours, or until very cold.
Once the layer is cold, make the second layer. In a small heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the bittersweet chocolate. Add the heavy cream and stir until well blended and smooth. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
Remove the plastic wrap from the loaf pan and scrape the bittersweet mixture into the pan over the first layer. Using an offset spatula, spread it evenly. Place plastic wrap directly onto the chocolate and press to smooth the top. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until very cold.
Once the second layer is cold, make the third layer. In a small heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the bittersweet chocolate. It’s extremely important to keep the chocolate very warm over the water. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks hold when the beater is lifted. Add the very warm chocolate and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until well blended and very thick.
Remove the plastic from the loaf pan and scrape the chocolate-and-whipped-cream mixture into the pan over the second layer. Using an offset spatula, spread it evenly. Place plastic wrap directly onto the chocolate and press to smooth the top. Wrap the whole loaf pan in pastic and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, or up to 2 to 3 days.
To serve, using the parchment paper or foil liner, transfer the candy to a work surface. Peel away paper or foil, and place the candy on a cutting board. Sift the cocoa powder evenly over the top. Using a large knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry, trim off the edges. Cut the candy (dipping the knife in hot water and wiping dry between cuts) into 3/4-inch slices. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
Buttered Popcorn Gelato
From Hedy Goldsmith’s Baking Out Loud
3 c. heavy cream, plus extra if needed
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
14 c. freshly popped popcorn (do NOT use microwave popcorn)
4 extra-large egg yolks
In a very large saucepan, combine the heavy cream, milk, 1/3 c. sugar and the salt. Cook, whisking, over medium heat until just barely boiling and the sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Add the popcorn and stir until coated. Cover and set aside until cool, about 30 minutes.
Strain the cream through a fine-mesh strainer into four-cup measuring glass, firmly pressing on the popcorn with the back of a spoon to extract every last drop of flavor and cream. You should have about 3 cups of liquid. Add more cream, if needed, to come up to this amount. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan.
In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and the remaining 2/3 cup sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is pale and thick and forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted.
Over medium heat, bring the cream mixture back to a simmer. With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly pour the mixture into the egg yolks until well blended. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula–making sure you get the sides and bottom of the saucepan–until the custard is thick enough to coat the spatula and to hold a line drawn through it with your finger, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. This custard needs to be cooled at room temperature! Because of the oil (from the popcorn popping), it will harden if refrigerated, and the churned gelato won’t have a smooth texture but will be more like over-whipped heavy cream and have a granular texture.
To churn, pour the custard into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately, or for a firmer gelato, scrape into a chilled bowl, cover, and freeze until firm, or for up to 3 days.
Hedy for President!