It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Today: A completely manageable 2-ingredient "project" to help you feel craftsy and festive on Halloween (no silly costume required).
Each year, cookies and cream bars (nom de plume: Cookies 'n' Crème Bars; so sophistiqué) get their fifteen minutes of fame on Halloween. The holiday does wonders for a Dalmation of a candy bar that's all too often pushed aside for the Krackles and the Mr. Goodbars of the chocolate world.
But not on October 31st. By the end of the night, cookies and cream bars will have landed in the bags of millions of young children with moldable minds and unrefined palettes -- these are the people primed to be lifelong consumers. And on this night, it is consumed in snack-size treats; they're small enough to prevent most people from eating a couple of full-sized bars without coming up for air (and having to deal with the consequences). Lastly, no one can pooh-pooh anyone else for eating white chocolate on Halloween. This isn't Valentine's Day. This holiday is about quantity, not quality.
More: Not such a fan of white chocolate? You can make your own Crunch Bars, too.
So before you forget about cookies and cream bars for another year, buy two ingredients -- white chocolate chips and chocolate sandwich cookies (or, if you want, buy another type of sandwich cookie; I imagine peanut butter- or mint-filled cookies would be good) -- and make your own. Top them with cacao nibs if you think you'll crave something bitter to cut the sweetness.
Why make these yourself? You'll know exactly what's inside; you can manipulate the cookie-to-chocolate ratio and the fineness of the cookie crumbs; and it will give you a completely manageable "project" to help you feel craftsy and festive on Halloween (no silly costumes required).
Makes too many for one person
12-ounce bags white chocolate chips
One 16-ounce bag chocolate sandwich cookies
Cacao nibs, for sprinkling (optional)
Line a square or rectangular baking dish (8 x 8 for thicker bars, 9 x 13 for thinner ones) with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
Smash your chocolate sandwich cookies to smithereens. Use a food processor if you're feeling civilized and you want a fine crumb, or have at it with a rolling pin for a more haphazard approach. (For neatness, you can double bag the cookies before crushing them.)
Melt the white chocolate gently on the stovetop, or place it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it in short increments, stirring after each, until it's melted and smooth. Dump the crushed cookies into the melted white chocolate and mix until the cookie pieces are all coated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan (save the spoon and bowl for licking purposes).
If you're like me and you can't leave well enough alone, sprinkle everything with cacao nibs. Place the baking dish in the freezer to set, at least 2 hours.
When you can't wait any longer, take the pan out of the freezer, remove the bars by lifting the overhanging foil or parchment, and allow them to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice with a sharp knife (dip the blade in hot water if you're having difficulty cutting).
Store the bars in the refrigerator or the freezer. Give them to tonight's trick-or-treaters, or keep them to yourself and watch your supply slowly dwindle.
Photos by James Ransom