The in-house Valentine
We’re bringing Valentine’s in-house this year. I know there is a case to be made for a lovely evening out, but this year, I think dining in is going to be just as much fun. And let’s be honest, finding a babysitter on Valentine’s evening is no easy task! At the request of a three-year-old, we’re going to “build” a raclette. He’s still working out the details of the accompanying meats and vegetables he’d like to cook, but I think he’ll come up with a good plan. And with a starting point of melting cheese and crusty bread, it’s hard to go wrong.
My son has always been accustomed to time in the kitchen. His first baby swing was set up in a corner of the kitchen and stayed there throughout his infancy. As a result, he has become keenly interested in what is going on—what is being prepared and more importantly, when can he have a taste of it? I take full responsibility for making an occassion out of every treat in the oven—turning on the oven light, and “voila,” pulling back the tea towel curtains with a grand flourish. Any baking process that involves a mixer has him standing at the kitchen counter, tightly gripping the rail of the chair, mesmerized by the spinning beaters. It hasn’t taken him long to learn the location of the baking staples and he dashes back and forth from the pantry, retrieving sugar and flour. He takes great pride in the moments when he alone holds the whisk over the bowl, attempting to stir with as much bravado as he can muster. I couldn’t be more pleased.
As he has gotten a little older, I’ve been looking for ways to get him a little more involved with whatever I am working on. It’s no surprise that he is more willing to try things he has had some hand in. Try as I might, I can’t get him interested in salad. But put him at the sink with a head of lettuce to wash, and suddenly the boy is crunching through leaves with the enthusiasm of a small rabbit! And while I generally don’t have to do much to get him interested in treats, I’ve been trying to include him in more of the baking steps. The gingerbread twigs I baked at the holidays were perfect for him and the inclusion of sparkles made them that much better. For Valentines, I’ve been looking for something that we could make together. This holiday is rich with fancy sweet treats, but what about something for a three-year-old to get involved with? How about some no-bake bars that require little more than a few swipes of the spatula through the melted chocolate, mingling marshmallows and crunchy nuts in a few deft movements? Sounds like a plan to me!
I hope your day is sweet, whatever your plans may be!
There are hundreds of Rocky Road recipes out there. This version uses dark chocolate, 60 to 75 percent cocoa is a nice range, for a rich flavor without quite as much sweetness. I added salted pistachios to bring a little savory note to these treats and a bright pop of color when cut into squares. A sprinkle of salt adds sparkle and brings balance to the rich chocolate. Perfect for assembling with children and sharing with sweethearts.
11 oz of good quality dark chocolate, chopped
10 oz. mini marshmallows
2/3 cup pistachios, shelled
Sprinkle of flaky salt, optional
Line an 8×8 baking pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
Melt chocolate in a large bowl over a pot of steaming water. Remove from heat. Stir in the nuts and marshmallows. Place mixture in the prepared pan and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for at least two hours to set. Lift foil from pan and cut chocolate mixture into small squares. Wrapped tightly, squares will keep for several days.
Makes about 16 squares.