A good friend is currently deployed in Afghanistan, helping to build and establish a healthcare system within the country. It’s impressive and a little scary. While I’m terribly worried about her at times, I’m proud all of the time. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be so far from home, away from friends and family in a somewhat hostile environment where you are a woman in a very patriarchal culture and to top it off, you don’t speak the language. Geez.
So I do what I can to show her support in my own special way– I send care packages. Every few weeks a little box ‘o treats shows up that keeps her smiling and aware that someone way over here is sending good thoughts to her WAY over there.
I wanted to do classic American treats with a twist that would taste great and ship in one piece. I remembered a post David Lebovitz did a while ago on White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats with Candied Peanuts. Uhhhh… hello mister! I made a batch during the “Big Peanut Salmonella Scare of 2009” so I was unable to find peanuts anywhere. Instead, I used cashews and hot damn were these things good. Highly recommended.
Of course I needed something else – treat boxes need a variety don’t you think? What about a variation of the same recipe in dark chocolate? Chocolate is ALWAYS good. Black and white rice krispie treats! Not only will they taste great and ship well, they’ll look fantastic in the box. I’m all about the visual.
So on a whim, I tried David’s recipe with bittersweet chocolate (Valrhona Caaribe) and Cocoa Krispies. I love Cocoa Krispies. The way they made chocolate milk in your bowl just seemed so sneaky and cool to me as a kid. This version turned out great! Deep chocolate flavor that was unbelievably good with the salty sweet crunch of a candied peanut (I finally found some peanuts.) Yes siree. My friend loved them. I, most certainly, kept a nice assortment for myself. Don’t tell her that the tin was a few short.
Here’s an interesting math problem: If one box is sent from Chicago to Afghanistan on the same day a similar sized box is sent from Chicago to California, why does the Afghanistan shipment arrive 5 DAYS BEFORE the California shipment? Figure that one out for me, would you?
And don’t forget the troops! Even if you don’t know anyone personally, ask around. I’ll bet you know someone that has a loved one overseas who would adore some home baked treats.
UPDATE 08/06/09: shortly after I posted this entry – a few hours actually – I received word that my friend is headed back stateside. Yeah! At the moment she’s knocking another “Stan” off the travel list, sitting tight in Kyrgyzstan awaiting transport home. Hopefully the girl can get a much needed beer there. Cheers to you KK!
CHOCOLATE PEANUT RICE KRISPIE TREATS
Makes about 25 treats – Adapted from David Lebovitz’s original recipe
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
10 ounce bag mini marshmallows
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1 cup candied peanuts
6 cups Cocoa Krispies
- Spray a 13″ x 9″ pan with cooking spray.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
- Add the bittersweet chocolate and stir until melted.
- Add the mini marshmallows, salt and the vanilla paste (or extract); stir constantly over the heat until completely melted. (If they start to scorch on the bottom, remove from heat and continue to stir, placing the pan back on the heat occasionally, stirring until smooth.
- Remove from heat and add the candied peanuts and Cocoa Krispies until well combined.
- Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top (it may be easy to spray your hands with cooking spray and use them to lightly pack down the krispie mixture.)
- Let cool then cut with a sharp knife.
- These are best eaten on the day they’re made but will keep, tightly wrapped, for several days.
Update 8/19/09: let’s revise that shelflife, shall we? Fact is, wrapped tightly, they’ll keep for some time – up to two weeks likely though I’ve never had any stick around that long. This batch arrived in Afghanistan in perfect condition at least a week after I made them.