Endless Road Trip: Collingswood Pop Shop

There is more to South Jersey than the Real Housewives: there is food. We were recently visiting  to celebrate my future sister-in-law”s birthday and went to the Pop Shop in Collingswood, NJ. The name “pop shop” insinuates great ice cream floats, milk shakes, and fountain soda. However, I noticed that every waiter was wearing shirts touting their love for cheese. The shop was featured on Food Network”s Throwdown with Bobby Flay for their grilled cheese. The menu features the sandwiches from the show so some of us got that, while future sister-in-law ordered the trophy of dessert breakfasts – s”mores french toast. Then of course, we all gorged ourselves with desserts. Enough chit chat – on to the food.

S”mores French Toast:

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Under the heading of “Fantastic French Toast Dreams,” you will find cinnamon bun french toast, banana”s foster, and even ham and cheese. But then you see the s”mores french toast on the menu and by chance see a waiter flaunting a pile of french toast, graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow on what has to be a silver platter. Clearly someone at the table is ordering the s”mores french toast. Sister-in-law ordered it with a small amount of persuasion from the table and offers to give up half of their sandwich for a bite of the gooey french toast.  Well I got my bite in a trade for some bacon and cheese fries. The bite included savory fresh french toast  soaked with chocolate sauce. Then the marshmallow sauce that glues the stack of french toast together hits you. Your bite must include a piece of the top of the stack, since that is where the crunch of the graham cracker comes from. While I would never be able to finish an entire dish of it, I would suggest someone at my table order it again.

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Endless Booze: Adult Chocolate Milk

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I know grown men that will still order a chocolate milk out at a restaurant or diner. So why not? Unless you don’t like chocolate (and hate America), you should be thrilled to hear of adult chocolate milk. My sister’s boyfriend brought it to us as we celebrated the Fourth of July and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I can’t really tell you what it’s made of…since the label doesn’t say much at all. The only thing I can tell you is that it was chocolatey with a slight hint of booze and it goes with many mixers and other alcohols. The overall consensus was that a shot of it tastes like an alcoholic Tootsie Roll.

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Bourbon Chocolate, and More…

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I don’t really think I need to tell you much more. I’ve debated at work about the few foods that go good with anything. We narrowed it down to two: cheese and chocolate. Well, I believe I’m helping make the chocolate point with the Raaka Bourbon Cask Aged Chocolate. Raaka touts itself as the first company to make a chocolate that uses cask-aged cocoa beans in their bourbon cask-aged chocolate.  The first time I noticed this chocolate was in Bryant Park during the Christmas season. My fianceé and I went into the small shop expecting some kind of gimmick. They provided small samples of each flavor. I could definitely taste the sweetness of the bourbon in the chocolate.

Of course, I tried all of their other flavors, and each sample had a distinctly pleasant and different flavor from the other. End of story–I ended up with a gift bag full of Raaka chocolates for Christmas (thanks fianceé). The bars are still hidden away to savor for the sudden urge I may have every now and then. Apparently the trick to the deliciousness of these chocolates is twofold: (1) the chocolates have uniquely different flavors (see Bourbon Cask Aged, Vanilla Rooibos, or Porter) and (2) the simplistic “virgin” crafting of the chocolate.

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Endless Ice Cream: Chocolate Chip Cannoli

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We get pretty excited about unusual ice cream flavors here at ES, so we were stoked when we found out about “100 Scoopies,” a project to make 100 unique ice cream flavors in 365 days.

From Sriracha chip to stroopwafel and and limburgse vlaai, Bostonite Chloe Jankowitz has been churning out innovative flavor after flavor, winter weather be damned. She was also kind enough to share one of her most delectable recipes with Endless Simmer.

Chocolate Chip Cannoli Ice Cream

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Artsy S’more of the Day

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From bars to peeps to ice cream and well, everything, if there’s a new way to eat s’mores, we’re into it. Today’s s’mores mashup comes from Emily Pizza in Brooklyn, where their wood-fired pizza dough is re-used as an encasing for a S’MORES CALZONE, filled with lots of gooey chocolate and marshmallow, with a graham cracker crumble on top. Yes.

And the after shot…

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SIX Layer Cookie S’mores Bars

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You know how we like marshmallows. And chocolate. And peanut butter. And sweets. Well, ML invited the fiance and I to a dinner party and requested that we provide the desserts. We wanted something quick and easy, but something complicated that will make you go “whoa.” The interwebs weren’t giving me a “whoa” AND quick and easy. Onward to the cookbook library and I found this recipe in Peanut Butter Comfort.

Thank goodness I own a cookbook dedicated entirely to peanut butter. Really. It came down to three recipes in the book, and believe it or not, this one was the easiest. It paid off. Once the oozing marshmallow-stuffed, graham cracker-wedged, chocolate bar and cookie sandwich came out of the oven, the fiance and I just stared, smelling it and salivating at the finished product.

I started wondering which was was best to serve it. Hot or cold? Do I want gooey marshmallow and chocolate to end up in my man beard for later enjoyment? Or do I want to enjoy the crunch of the hershey bar in the middle of the cookie, surrounded by peanut butter and marshmallow? If hot—a la mode? Is ice cream necessary on top? Or is it going to be just as good without? We went with serving warm. The verdict: dog ear that son of a bitch, because we’re doing this again. It’s settled.

Peanut Butter Comfort’s Six Layer Peanut Butter S’mores

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Pretty as a Picture (At Long Last)

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I consider myself to be an above average home cook.  I get lots of practice, what with putting dinner on the table seven nights a week and all (six if my husband gives in to my love of Pete’s Apizza.)  Desserts, though….not so much. I don’t even care for desserts most of the time.  I prefer a cold beer and a handful of sour cream and onion potato chips for a late-night snack. Still, it is nice to bring a show-stopping sweet to a potluck now and then.   Plus, I just know that one of these days, someone is going to rope me into a bake sale.  So, when the chance arose to review a copy of The Big Book of Desserts and Pastries by Claes Karlsson, I volunteered.

As expected, when the book arrived, it was filled with beautiful, full-color photos.  I skipped right past the candy section. As I said, when it comes to desserts, I know my limits.  If it involves a thermometer, I’m out. I settled on the honey pine nut cake. I had all of the ingredients on hand, the directions were simple, and the picture in the book was drool-worthy. But my DIY result was…disappointing. Sure, my little pine nut cupcakes tasted good, kind of like sugar cookies with pine nuts on top, but they did not look particularly beautiful.  Mission not accomplished.

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Next, I went for the thin tuiles.  This go-around, I even bought heavy cream, something not normally on hand at our house.  I mixed, spoon, and baked as per the instructions. The resulting cookies were so fragile that the trip from the pan to the cooling rack was enough to shatter them. I blame the fact that the recipe calls for an oven heated to 390 degrees, and chances are that my very old, non-digital oven was off by more than a few notches.  Grr. The crumbled cookies did make an excellent topping for ice cream, so all was not lost, but I still had not achieved my goal of a photo-worthy dessert.

After failing twice, I was ready to move this book from the cookbook shelf to the coffee table.  Clearly, in my less than capable hands, it would be better for browsing. I was having tea with a friend the next day, however, so I decided to make one last attempt, with a recipe for coffee-flavored chocolate cake.  I didn’t have the correct pan shape, but I refused to let this stop me.  An hour or so later, I sighed with relief as I pulled out my camera.  The resulting cake cubes were not only delectably chocolatey with a hint of coffee-flavor,  they were gorgeous. Thank goodness.

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Coffee-Flavored Chocolate Cake

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