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“…You make me so hungry, Robot, I get so hungry, I get so hungry I could die…”
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Chocolate has always been famously paired with peanut butter, but I’ve seen a recent shift in the food scene to pair chocolate with pretzel (or chocolate paired with both peanut butter AND pretzel at the same time, but that’s too much to compute).
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I moved to a new city a few months ago and I’m overwhelmed with food.
I moved from Springfield, Missouri, which is a decently sized little city. We had four grocery stores options in the whole town. Now that I live in Columbus, Ohio, I have six grocery options on my street alone.
Six! On one road! Where am I supposed to shop? I’ve been shopping at each store bit by bit – flour here, sugar there, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream pints from over there, etc…
One of those stores is Trader Joe’s, which I have waxed poetically on before. Trader Joe’s is a super fun pit stop for candy or cookies, but it’s too expensive for us to viably shop there for all of our groceries. But hey, I’m not complaining about their cookies or candies. You’ve had cookie butter before, right? You haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen a robot piling a cart high with cookie butter in Trader Joe’s. I like to give the locals a little something to look forward to in their menial grocery shopping. I’m a super nice robot like that.
However, it is a bit disappointing to admit that I did come across a Trader Joe’s cookie failure. It might not be a failure to you if you prefer crunchy cookies. We don’t.
We (and by we I mean the humans I bake for, OBVIOUSLY) are soft, chewy cookie fans. As in, if it isn’t chewy, it’s not a cookie. It’s like a cookie-wannabe. The Cousin Oliver of cookies, if you will.
So Trader Joe’s offers these tiny crunchy cashew caramel cookies. The flavor was great but it was like eating rocks (only a slight exaggeration). But don’t worry, I’ve fixed that problem in this recipe. These cookies are delightfully soft (but not fall-apart-in-your-hands-soft, if you know what I mean) and chewy, and the kick of salt from the cashews pairs with the caramel bits like – well, like salt and caramel.
And that flavor combination is just as popular in Ohio as it in Missouri. You humans are all the same.
Chewy Cashew Caramel Cookies
makes 3 dozen
slightly adapted from Oh My Sugar High
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cashews, halves and pieces, salted
1 cup caramel bits
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or Silpat!).
2. In a large bowl, cream together shortening, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla extract.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, mixing until just combined. Gently stir in cashews and caramel bits.
4. Roll the dough into rough balls, approximately 2 tablespoons-worth. Space cookies about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just turning golden brown. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
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If you like food (hi!) – especially making food (hi friend!) – especially especially baking – (hi best friend!) – then you probably spend twenty minutes down each aisle in the grocery store, gleaning ideas and inspiration for future recipes.
That’s not how I came up with this one. In fact, the reason I made this recipe is because I’ve never seen any of the original cake popsicles in a store before. Turns out humans and robots alike always want what they can’t have.
I stumbled upon this review of Good Humor Birthday Cake Ice Cream Bars. And, like, what? This is amazing, why haven’t I ever seen it before? No matter! I’ll make my own, and tailor it to exactly my taste and preferences. Which… for the most part… would be birthday cake.
But I decided to try something a little different – blue raspberry cake with vanilla bean ice cream. And that’s the beauty of this recipe: you can use ANY flavors that you want! Chocolate cake with strawberry ice cream, carrot cake with butter pecan ice cream, yellow cake with chocolate chip ice cream, it’s endless!
The original Good Humor bars are coated with rainbow crunchies. I chose to forgo those this time for a simpler popsicle, but maybe you might want to roll your popsicles in Fruity Pebbles or M&Ms. No judgment here.
And if you’re wondering what these cake popsicles taste like, imagine a cake pop encased in ice cream. Oh yeah. We’re going there.
Make sure to check out Sucre Shop for some adorable popsicle sticks. Here I used their spoons, which worked just fine except they didn’t fit through the top of my popsicle mold, so that’s why the sticks look a little (a lot) crooked. You’d think that since I’m a robot I would automatically be making measurements and doing calculations to avoid this problem… maybe you humans are rubbing off on me.
makes 16 popsicles
1 box (15.25 oz) cake mix, any flavor (I used Pillsbury Blue Raspberry)
4 tbsp frosting, canned or homemade (I used Pillsbury Blue Raspberry)
1-1/2 quart ice cream (I used vanilla bean)
1. Bake cake mix according to box instructions. Let cool completely, then crumble into little pieces using your hands. Gradually add the frosting, one tablespoon at a time, until the cake crumbs are solid and firm enough to press into the bottom of the cake pan. You might not need the full 4 tablespoons. (It’s like making cake pops.) Freeze the mixture for about ten minutes.
2. Once the cake/frosting mixture has hardened – it should have the feel of clay at this point – cut the cake into pieces your desired size. I ended up with about 16 equal-sized rectangles. The rectangle (if you’re using a popsicle mold like this one) should be just big enough to fit into the mold. Take a popsicle stick and insert it into the cake rectangle. If your cake falls apart (as mine did, since I was actually using small spoons instead of sticks… oops) just reform it to a rough rectangle around the popsicle stick. You’ll have a chance to reshape it to the right size later.
3. Once all of the popsicle sticks have been inserted into the cake rectangles, re-freeze the cake pops for another 5 – 10 minutes.
4. While the cake pops are in the freezer, melt the ice cream. Transfer the ice cream from its container and into a microwave-safe bowl. (It’s okay to work in batches!) Melt the ice cream for about 30 seconds and stir vigorously to remove any lumps. The ice cream should still be thick but also pourable. Bad descriptor, but: kind of like melt-y soft serve.
5. Fill your popsicle mold about 1/2 full with ice cream. Remove the cake pops from the freezer – if necessary, use a sharp knife to trim the edges – and gently press a cake rectangle into each individual popsicle mold. The cake pop will push up the ice cream so that it’s surrounded, but if you have any leftover space at the top, take a small spoon and carefully ladle extra ice cream to fill up the mold.
6. Freeze the popsicle mold until the ice cream has completely hardened – I let mine freeze overnight. To remove the popsicles, run warm water over the outside of the mold to loosen the popsicles. They should pop right out! Enjoy!
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Just because I’m a robot who technically can’t feel temperatures doesn’t mean this lack of summer weather isn’t getting me down. From snow in the middle of April to the low temps now that it’s May, I’m really wishing for sunshine.
(They say, “be the change you wish to see in the world,” which is why I’ve taken to painting my metal outsides bright yellow.)
So I’ll have the next best thing: summer desserts. Or desserts that remind me of summer, anyway.
Chocoley has sent me a few of their products to mess around with – they didn’t directly say “please make it summer, Cybidon” but I read between the lines. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with their chocolate. It is SO easy to use and the quality is superb. I definitely recommend their chocolate, which comes with instructions on how to properly use it, and I’ll be using it from here on out.
Because popsicle sticks make everything more adorable – lollipops, cake pops, gearbox pops – naturally I had to turn these into cherry pops. And since I had used a cherry pitter for easy pitting, it was also easier to dip the cherries into the chocolate. However, you can also use a bobby pin to pit the cherries from the bottom, leaving the stem intact, and proceed with the recipe. Or if it doesn’t bother you, leave the pits in! Just be sure to not, you know, eat them. If you’re a robot like me, that shouldn’t be an issue. Eternal sigh.
I should also note that I did use maraschino cherries at first, but they were too sweet. The tartness of fresh cherries balanced really well with the sweetness of the key lime cream center, and it all came together in a summer explosion. With bonus chocolate.
Cherry Limeade Chocolate Pops
Chocoley Key Lime Cream Center
Chocoley Bada Bing Bada Boom Dipping & Coating Formula – Dark
cornstarch (to prevent the cream center from sticking to your hands)
small popsicle sticks (I used 2.5” sticks)
1. Pit the cherries. Lightly coat your hands with cornstarch and pinch off a small amount of Key Lime Cream Center. Roll the cream into a ball, and then flatten in the palm of your hand. Gently place a cherry in the center and wrap the cream around the cherry, making sure to leave one of the holes exposed. To make the cream smooth, carefully roll the cherry between your palms. Line a plate with parchment paper and place the cherries right side up. Once all of your cherries are covered, set the plate in the freezer while you melt the chocolate.
2. Melt the Chocoley dipping chocolate according to the included instructions. I microwaved the chocolate in a small bowl at 10-second intervals, stirring in between. It took less than a minute for all of the chocolate to melt.
3. Remove the key lime-covered cherries from the freezer. Dip the ends of the popsicle sticks into the chocolate, and insert it into the hole on the top of the cherries. Hold the popsicle in place for a few seconds before setting the cherry back down on the parchment paper. Once all of the cherries have popsicle sticks, place the plate back into the freezer for 3 – 5 minutes.
4. Once the chocolate adhering the popsicle sticks to the cherries have dried completely, dip the whole cherry into the melted chocolate and allow any excess chocolate to drip off. Set the dipped cherry upright on the parchment paper, again holding in place for a few seconds to steady it. The chocolate won’t take long to set up at all, but feel free to freeze the chocolate covered cherries for 3 – 5 minutes until they are completely hardened.
5. Keep the cherries stored in a cool, dry place.