Summer traditions

Summer is all about traditions.
Camping and making s’mores or enjoying fruit salad on a hot day come to mind as delicious memories in which to indulge prior to watching the sky light up with colors. While the number of fireworks shows continue to dwindle in the Bay Area, the food traditions can only grown.

Let’s spend our time this year focusing on treats that will transport adults back to their younger years while bringing smiles to your little ones.

First, the crackle and pop of Fourth of July won’t only be in the sky with the King Arthur Flour recipe for patriotic Pop Rocks sugar cookies. Just remember not to mix them with soda – just kidding! Then, we’re going to bring the nostalgia of s’mores to your house without the huge mess, courtesy of the Best Friends for Frosting site. It does, however, require a crème brulee torch. Be prepared! Lastly, a cool fruity yogurt dip will provide a healthy dip for veggies and other fruits while trying to beat this summer heat. This easy-to-make treat comes from the Craft website.

Pop Rocks Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, to taste
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar till smooth. Add the buttermilk and vanilla, again beating till well-combined. The mixture may look a bit curdled; that’s OK.
2. Add the nutmeg, flour, baking soda and salt to the wet ingredients, and beat until the mixture forms a cohesive dough.
3. Divide into three parts, mixing one part with blue food coloring (a lot), one part with red (also a lot) and leave one part plain. This way, you can have a mix of red, white and blue.
4. At this point, you’ll want to break into those Pop Rocks. I put a nice little handful of red (strawberry) and blue (raspberry) into the corresponding balls of dough (you could do a mix in the white dough).
5. Drop the dough in round blobs onto a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. They should be a bit bigger than a ping-pong ball, a bit smaller than a golf ball. Using a cookie scoop (or, if you have one, a small ice cream scoop, one that will hold about 2 level tablespoons of liquid) makes this task extremely simple. Leave about 2 inches between the dough balls, as they’ll spread as they bake.
6. Bake the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven for about 12-14 minutes, or when they are just starting to brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack. While you’re waiting for them to cool, you’ll want to take a small bowl and mix the leftover pop rocks with whatever red, white and blue sprinkles you’ve got around. Once cool, either top with a generous dollop of frosting (I used cream cheese, below) or put a dollop between two cookies for a sandwich. If you’ve just frosted the top of the cookie, apply sprinkle mixture to the top or dip it into the bowl if the frosting consistency allows for it; for the sandwiches, you can dip the sides in the bowl so that they pick up the sprinkle mixture.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat 8 oz. cold cream cheese (not rock solid, but it means you can use it straight out of the refrigerator) with 5 Tbsp. softened butter and 2 tsp. vanilla until combined. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar that has been sifted after measuring. Continue to add more sifted powdered sugar until you reach a consistency and sweetness that fits your taste.

Sprinkle mixture
Using two half-pouches of Pop Rocks (fold what you have left into the dough) and a mix of some other red, white and blue sprinkles.

Toasted Campfire S’more Pops
Ingredients
1 Package of 6 inch cookie pop sticks
1 28 oz. bag of Marshmallows
1 box of graham cracker crumbs
1 12 oz. bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs. of Crisco
1 sheet of wax paper
1 Chef’s Torch / Creme Brulee Torch

Directions
1. Insert one stick into the middle of each marshmallow. Helpful tip, place your hand on top of the marshmallow while inserting your stick to ensure it does not exceed breaking through the top of your marshmallow.
2. Using a chef’s torch / crème brulee torch, caramelize each marshmallow 5-8 seconds, working the torch around the marshmallow. Caution, do not do this near any in-flammables. You may also use the top of your gas stove if you do not have a chef’s torch.
3. Place graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl.
4. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose its shine after it has dried. Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
5. Quickly dip each caramelized Marshmallow half way into the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate.
6. Immediately after dipping in chocolate, dip each caramelized marshmallow coated with chocolate into your bowl of graham cracker crumbs and set directly on wax paper.
7. After you have dipped all caramelized marshmallows in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs, repeat dipping each marshmallow in graham cracker crumbs at least 1-2 more times.

Fruity dip
Ingredients
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
8 oz. plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 to 3 Tbsp. honey, to taste
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions
1. Wash strawberries. Remove stems and discard. Chop the strawberries.
2. Add the yogurt, cream cheese, honey, and lemon juice to a small food processor. Puree until smooth.
3. Add the chopped strawberries to the yogurt mixture. Puree until very smooth. Spoon mixture out into a bowl, chill for 30 minutes. Serve with fresh fruit for dipping.

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