Wing it: Chocolate Speculoos Popcorn

I’ve been playing around a lot with Speculoos spread recently and thought I’d throw it in some popcorn and see what happened. Naturally, great things happened. If you’re unfamiliar with Speculoos, it’s a tea biscuit from Belgium that I think of as a cross between a graham cracker and a gingersnap. You can find them at Wegmans, Fairway, and many other large supermarkets. The spread is what you get when you crush up the biscuits and add some other emulsifying stuff. It’s also known as cookie butter, easily found at Trader Joe’s, and is better than Nutella. It has a somewhat spicy flavor and fun texture that is fun to bake with.

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I hoped that melting the spread with chocolate chips would make for a good popcorn topping, and I was right. I didn’t bother measuring anything; the amounts are mostly based on personal preference anyway. Here’s what you need to do:

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Step 1: Make some popcorn from scratch. You can buy popcorn kernels at the grocery store, and either pop them on the stove (instructions here), or in a large microwaveable bowl. Cover the bottom of the bowl with one layer of kernels, and cover with a plate that fits over the bowl. Microwave the popcorn until there are 3 seconds between the pops. Sprinkle salt to taste.

 

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Step 2: Microwave some chocolate chips and Speculoos spread on high in 15 second intervals. If you’re not sure you’ve microwaved enough, it’s easy to add more later.

 

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Step 3: Pour the meltedness on the popcorn and coat evenly with a spoon, rubber scraper, or both.

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Step 4: Spread the popcorn onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and stick in the fridge for at least 20 minutes so the chocolate can solidify.

 

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Step 5: Take out and enjoy! Great as is for a party dessert, or on top of ice cream!

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5 Ways to Use Speculoos (video)

Hey y’all, happy August! I’ve been playing around with beach snacks and fast sweet treats. Cookie butter, also known as speculoos spread, is one of my favorite things that comes out of a jar. Check out the video I made about how to eat it!

If you have some cookie butter in the cupboard and you don’t know what to do with it, here are the five things:

1. Dip sliced apples into it like peanut butter. Quick, easy, sweet, kinda nutritious.

2. Spread onto toast. Really lets the speculoos flavor come through.

3. Put it on ice cream. If you microwave a small bowl of the spread until it liquefies, it will harden like a chocoalte shell once it hits the ice cream. Textury delight!

4. Make it a filling for cookies. If you’re making a batch of cookies, or even want to spice up some store-bought cookie dough, a speculoos filling will surprise friends and taste great.

5. Eat with a spoon. Why not? Fewer calories, right?

Looking for more ways? Check out my speculoos rice crispy treats here!

Skillet S’mores

I’ve seen this idea floating around the internet, probably on Tasty or Buzzfeed, and I had the perfect size (read: smallest) cast iron skillet to try it in, so here’s a great way to prepare for the summer in the safety and warmth of your kitchen while waiting for the March Nor’easter to pass.

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This is a good and fast thing to whip up if you have people over and are trying to keep them happy – but for that, you’ll probably want a bigger skillet…

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Just load up the components of a s’more, minus the graham cracker, into a cast iron skillet. So, that’s really just the chocolate and marshmallows. Use milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (or both, hi), depending on your taste. Add the marshmallows on top until you can’t fit any more. Pro-tip, which I did not do: cut the marshmallows in half so it’s easier to get to the chocolate once everything is melted. It will also allow the marshmallows to melt more, before the chocolate seizes.

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Needs more padding
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Perfect

 

Throw it in the top half of the oven and broil for a few minutes – go nowhere! Keep a close eye on the marshmallows and take out the skillet once the marshmallows have browned to your liking.

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Now! Grab your graham crackers and dig in. But really, you’ll need some wrist pivoting and finagling to get up under the marshmallows for the chocolate. Not that it’s difficult, this is just fair warning for you and your friends. Actually, speculoos biscuits may be the true pro-route here.

Disclosure: Graham crackers are prone to snapping under pressure.

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Enjoy your premature summer treat with the crew while we wait for the 60° weather to return in New York.

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Leave any more pro tips you come across in the comments!

Speculoos Rice Crispy Treats

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You know those “baking” recipes that don’t require baking…skillet cookies, bars of various sorts, icebox cake, rice crispy treats. Rice crispy treats are like a blank canvas from which you can create beautiful art. Add peanut butter, use chocolate rice crispies, add unmelted, mini marshmallows, or add cookie crumbs! One of the final nights of senior year, my friend Desirée and I were trolling the internet for some baking ideas and we somehow came up with rice crispy treats, with speculoos biscuit crumbs for an added toffee-like taste. One late-night Wegmans run later, and we were equipped with rice crispies, speculoos biscuits, marshmallows, and butter. We got some speculoos spread for good measure. The best part about any rice crispies is that you can adjust the texture to your personal taste: ooey gooey? More marshmallows. Crispety-crunchety? More rice crispies. While this recipe is quick, the cleanup can be a little tricky. Make sure to soak your pot as soon as it’s empty!

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Melt butter and marshmallows, + salt
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It should look something like this
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Add the cereal quickly
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Flatten into lined pan

Speculoos Rice Crispy Treats
Makes about 12 bars

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
8-12 oz marshmallows
7 speculoos biscuits, crushed
4 1/2 cups rice crispies
1 pinch salt

Instructions
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the marshmallows and mix diligently until it’s all melted. Add a pinch of salt. Add the rice crispies and speculoos crumbs, in half increments, until the cereal and cookies are coated evenly. Quickly transfer to a lined pan to cool and eat.

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Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Speculoos Frosting

This weekend I wanted to see how to make a filling or frosting out of speculoos that was less intense than the spread itself. The only way to do this more or less was with cupcakes…challenge accepted. Chocolate seemed most appropriate, and I had some chocolate chips from a photo shoot at work to use up (pics to come). I discovered that your typical frosting additions do not particularly help the spec-situation, and ended up with acceptably tasting, yet strangely textured speculoos “frosting”. I feel a civic duty as a self-proclaimed food blogger to share my culinary efforts, both successful and otherwise, to illustrate precisely what and what not to do in abnormal baking practices. So learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself 😀

DSC_3041  First up: get your jar of speculoos into the bowl. This was almost the whole jar, but I used 1 cup. You’ll need an electric mixer or kitchen stand to get the spread whipped.

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See the color change? Good! I should have stopped there and forgotten the rest but….NAH

 Check out this gif! Gonna try to make this a thing, hopefully better. Not bad for a last-minute decision, though.

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Cue heavy cream. Except don’t, because this will happen. As they say, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke! I think with just some powdered sugar and more mixing it would have been 👌. So don’t add heavy cream. Maybe don’t add sugar either because it’s all so sweet to begin with.

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K moving right along…the cupcakes themselves were really great so we’ll get right to it. There was no cocoa powder in this recipe and just a half cup of chocolate chips. Melt with butter and you’re good to go.

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Time for whisking! With a fancy pointy whisk that is much easier to wash than the normal round ones.

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More whisking with the cute should-have-sifted-these-together-but-didn’t mini whisk

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Mix it up

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Add crushed raspberries

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Check it out – before rubber scraper, after rubber scraper!

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How cute. So moist and dark.

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Speculoos Frosting
This is what I would recommend you to do. Everything described is how it went down, except for the frosting. If you have better luck with yours, leave a comment below and tell me about it!Makes 12 cupcakes

Cupcakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 oz bittersweet chocolate (~1/2 cup chips)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 handful raspberries

Frosting
1 cup speculoos, or cookie butter from TJ’s

Directions
Melt the butter and chocolate together with a double boiler. You can also microwave them. Make sure you mix well if you do this. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Add these dry ingredients in increments to the egg mixture. Add the chocolate and butter in two rounds, still using a whisk. Mash up the raspberries; you can use a potato masher, a fork, or your hands. Just make sure to get all the juice.
Pour the batter into a muffin tin lined with paper, two thirds to three quarters of the way up. Place in the oven at 350° for 18 minutes.

For the frosting, put the speculoos in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or large bowl, using an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until the color has gotten much lighter and the speculoos is less dense. Add some powdered sugar if you dare. Once the cupcakes have cooled down, spread the frosting on the cupcakes and enjoy!

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Grab some milk. You’ll need it.