Confession #1: I’d love to be a food photographer. I’ve given it a lot of thought. Once I finish my dissertation, I will know whether it’s a true calling, or just an escape fantasy, but it’s pretty long-standing.
Confession #2: Until today, I’d never tried to photograph something as I cooked it. I’m not too shabby at taking attractive pictures of nicely plated dishes, or ingredients in still life. Taking pictures as you actually assemble a recipe is a different animal. So I feel like I’ve learned a bit today. However, this recipe is so good, I’m still going to share it with you, along with my attempt at documenting the process.
This is the dessert I requested every year in lieu of a birthday cake. I like cake just fine, but this is just way better, and it eventually became a family tradition to boot… so now it tastes like pure celebration to me. I don’t have a catchy name for it. I used to just call it My Birthday Ice Cream Cake, but my boyfriend completely objected the first year I made it, crying out “There Is No Cake In This!!” He loved it, but said it was false advertising all the same. Still, “Chris’s Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwich” is kinda clunky. How about “Chris’s Krispie Crunchy Creamy Concoction”? Ugh. I’ll take your suggestions, dear readers.
Anyway, it’s pretty simple, which is part of why the photography was hard. I fly through the whole process in about 20 minutes, and I kept forgetting to photograph each step. So bear with me.
First, you get out the cookbook that your grandmother made you for high school graduation, all hand written with her special notes and colloquialisms. Take a moment to think of her fondly, wish she was still around, and hope that somewhere, you’re still making her proud.
OK, sorry. That’s my first step. Your first step is to pull up this blog post. You will need the following ingredients.
- 4 cups Rice Krispies, shredded
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup melted butter (Grandma’s actually calls for “Oleo” but I like real butter better)
- 1 1/2 quarts softened ice cream (Butter Brickle goes well but I can’t find it in this part of the country. I used butter pecan today. Any vanilla or sweet cream based flavor will be fine. I avoid fruit and chocolate flavors for this, but your preferences may vary.)
Note that I’ve adapted this from Grandma just a bit, so that now there’s more crust-to-ice cream, and it fits in a 9×13 pan. The original recipe was made in a “refrigerator tray.” I may have a birthday coming, but I am blessedly young enough that I had to ask my mom what that was (it’s like a metal ice-cube tray, but with removable dividers).
As you can see above, mistake #1 was forgetting to take a picture of the ingredients before I’d melted the butter. It’s prettier in a stick. Also, the recipe isn’t clear on whether to measure the Rice Krispies before or after “shredding,” nor on exactly what shredding is. I measure them before, and stick them in a mini food processor in batches. I grind them to varying consistencies, with a couple batches nearly whole, and a couple nearly powdered. And yes I’ve managed to live this long without a real food processor, though it’s perpetually on my wish list. You can see my baby one below.
Again, I jumped ahead and forgot my picture. The next step, which is also midway finished above, is to mix your melted butter, shredded Krispies, brown sugar, and coconut together until wet and incorporated. Grandma recommended a fork for this step and I cannot complain. It will still feel a bit gritty, and that’s ok. You’ll also hear some snap-crackle-popping, meaning you’ve gotten the cereal wet enough with butter. Good job! Now pour half of it into the bottom of your pan.
Mush it down with that same fork! You can see here, despite the sticky fingers dropping the camera, that I’ve lined the pan with waxed paper. That’s not called for and I’ve never done it before, but I seem to remember every year that I have trouble cutting and serving this baby without destroying my pan with a knife. So this part will be an experiment in waiting until tomorrow.
Next, smear your ice cream in and smooth it down. The first picture here shows what it looks like when your ice cream isn’t soft enough. I had to wait a little while, because hard ice cream just picks up your topping from the bottom. So I waited, and then I smeared. I like to use a soft flat spatula, but the back of a big spoon will work fine.
Next, put the rest of the topping on the top. I ran out because I cannot ever appropriately gauge “half” by eyeballing it, but I refuse to stop eyeballing it. As such, the picture below illustrates what “not enough” looks like. I don’t want to be able to see ice cream when I’m done. No big deal though, I just whipped up a little more topping from the ingredients that were still out. This recipe is very forgiving, so if your proportions are off, or if you run out like I did, you don’t have to painstakingly scale the recipe into 1/16ths or anything crazy – just throw some more stuff together and mix it in.
Once “not enough” turns into “enough” (see below), throw that baby into the freezer. Freeze until very hard, then cut into squares and serve. I like to freeze it overnight, but 3-4 hours should do just fine if you’re in a pinch.
There is only one acceptable method of clean-up.
We have one non-coconut eater in the bunch, so I made another small batch in a loaf pan, but substituted graham crackers for the coconut. I tested a small sample and I’m not sure it’s going to be as good as the original, but I’ll reserve judgment until I try the final product (and get his reaction). I’ll update accordingly.
So. That was a pretty long post for a simple 5 ingredient, 20 minute recipe. But it is perhaps my very favorite, so it’s earned it. Have you ever had anything similar? Any suggestions or modifications? I’m looking for any excuse to make this thing more than once a year.