You Have Been Chopped!

Hello.  My name is Amanda and I’m addicted to the Food Network.

When there is nothing else on TV my thumb automatically punches in the numbers.  It’s a reflex.  When my husband hands over the remote he leaves it on the Food Network because he knows it will end up there anyway.  I can watch the same episode of the same show multiple times and not get bored.  I am inspired by different things every time.  It just depends on my mood!

My most recent obession is Chopped.  I wait in anticipation for the secret ingredients to be revealed…and then I yell at the chefs because they don’t make what I think they should make.

Come on!  Really?!  That’s all you could come up with?  And you call yourself a chef.  Geez, I could do so much better.

Well, that’s what I think anyway.  I would probably buckle under the pressure.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t be inspired!

I watched an episode a couple weeks ago that inspired a crazy sounding recipe that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.  The stars of the show: puffed rice cereal, cognac, butterscotch candies and pancetta.

So on this cold, dreary weekend I’ve decided to take on the challenge.  I even decided I would post my experience no matter the outcome.  I decided to change up a couple of the ingredients because they are a little more convenient for me but I think they still work.  It may not be your cup of tea but hopefully it will inspire you to break out of the box and do something daring.

Without further ado, my Chopped inspired creation:  Pancetta Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats with Whiskey Chocolate and Ancho Cinnamon Almond Brittle.

Pancetta Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats with Whiskey Chocolate and Ancho Cinnamon Almond Brittle

For the brittle:

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Vegetable oil, for coating saucepan

For the Rice Krispie Treats:

  • 4 oz. crispy pancetta and rendered pancetta fat
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • soft caramel candies
  • 10 oz package large marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies

For the Whiskey Chocolate:

  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey

Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray or butter.  Hint: line the pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper first, letting it hang over the edge.  This will give you handles for easy removal to cut them later.

In a small bowl combine almonds, ancho chile and cinnamon.  Set aside.  Brush the inside of a medium saucepan with vegetable oil.  Add the sugar and water and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it comes to a boil.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes.  Uncover, reduce heat to medium and cook until the sugar becomes golden, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the nut mixture.  You have to work quickly at this point.  Pour the mixture on a sheet pan covered with a silicone cooking mat or greased parchment.  Cool completely, then break into small pieces.

Cook pancetta in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes to render the fat.  Remove pan from heat and remove pancetta with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.  Set rendered fat aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.  The butter should melt, then foam, then start turning golden and smell nutty.  Stir frequently and don’t walk away!  As soon as the butter turns a light brown color remove it from the heat and stir in caramels, marshmallows and reserved pancetta fat.  Stir until caramels and marshmallows melt.  You may need to put the pot back on low heat to accomplish this.  Stir in pancetta and Rice Krispies.  Press the gooey mess into the prepared pan with a greased spatula or use the butter wrapper.  Let cool.

While treats are cooling, put chocolate morsels in a heat-proof glass bowl.  Heat cream in a medium sauscepan over medium-low heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges.  Pour cream over chocolate in bowl.  Let stand for a minute and then whisk until smooth.  Stir in whiskey.  Let cool slightly until it starts to thicken.  Pour over rice krispies and smooth out.

Sprinkle brittle over chocolate before it sets.  Let the chocolate cool completely and then cut the treats in to bars.

Whoa.  These ROCK!  There is no way these can be good for you but they turned out pretty great for my first attempt.  Sometimes I impress myself.

Tomorrow is Monday.  You need a treat.  Indulge a little or a lot.  ENJOY!

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