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chasing fireflies

I wasn’t going to talk about my current post-graduation status until everything was locked down but today I received official confirmation regarding a job! I was offered a position in December, but with the shaky economy and impending hiring freeze the state of California might experience, I figured I had a better chance of meeting Britney Spears than snagging this job. But after a month of persistent phone calls and emails with human resources, I can officially say that starting Tuesday, I will be working at California’s Department of Fire and Forestry Protection. Bring on the firefighters, baby! I don’t want to bore your with the details but I hope that this is a good fit for me, and that the people I will be working with are as awesome as the people that I am leaving behind at my internship. I gues you could say that I am finally growing up. Welcome to the 9-5 wheel, Amanda!

Ugh. I might need a cocktail now. Or some chocolate. 

Incidentally, I’ve got a recipe for some chocolatey goodness! And what’s funny is that this recipe reminds me of being a kid, which is starting to sound a lot better than being a working professional… I made these rocky road bars way back in November for Thanksgiving. Yes, almost three months ago. I know, I’ve got a bit of a backlog going on here. But these bars weren’t stellar, rendering them forgettable.

For the Thanksgiving dessert spread, I wanted to incorporate something kid-friendly for those who weren’t ready to come to terms with the amazingness also known as my favorite sour cream pumpkin pie and the decadent tall and creamy cheesecake. Kids are funny and are known to be picky when it comes to food. Does it look weird? Does it smell weird? Does it sound healthy? They think of all these things before eating something, regardless of how the actual dish tastes. Cheesecake and pumpkin pie might’ve freaked them out, but marshmallows and chocolate would suck them in.

I used a recipe from one of the first baking books I ever got, Old Fashioned Bake Sale. It has a ton of easy recipes geared at getting kids in the kitchen and while I like the book now, at the time that I got it, I was 14 and SO NOT INTERESTED. Hhmmm, maybe my mom’s friend who bought me this book saw my impending baking future or had a hunch I’d get baking later in life. I’ll have to send her a thank you card or something… 

Sadly, the bars themselves were less than stellar but that was probably my fault. I was juggling two other attention-needy recipes and couldn’t attend to this one properly. The chocolate cookie crust was dry, and I should’ve cut the baking time down since my oven runs hot. Also, baking with marshmallows is tricky as they puff up and expand when baked in the oven. They also won’t stick to whatever it is that you are baking unless you use incorporate them in to batter or use a glaze that will MAKE them stick. Case in point, I had a hard time cutting these bars since the marshmallows were used merely as a topping. Next time, I will top the chocolate crust with a chocolate ganache, creating some kind of adhesive for the marshmallows. The walnuts were perfect in this bar, but I would chop mine more, making them finer and less chunky. I noticed alot of the kids were wary of them, but they still ate them so it’s all good.

While these weren’t my favorite, I enjoyed the childhood memories they brought back to me. I mean, who can’t eat a smore without thinking about those days back in elementary school when your hobbies included chasing fireflies and playing with matches. Wait, was that just me? Oh… awkward…

It’s funny that out of all the places I traveled to as a child, some of my best times were spent up at Lake Tahoe. I was never a Girl Scout, but I spent many summer nights up in the Sierra Nevadas, camping out and roasting marshmallows. A self-proclaimed tomboy, I loved running around in the mud or building campfires. More importantly, I craved those big fat baked potatoes wrapped in foil that my mom would make and the roasted vegetable skewers were got to make ourselves, laughing as the fire’s ash drifted in to the sky. And, of course, after our nightly walk around the lake, we’d whip out the ingredients for a fat and tasty smore. While others prefered there’s slightly melted, I liked mine practically burned, so hot that it would burn the roof of my mouth. Sandwich that together with a Hershey Milk Chocolate bar, and I was in heaven. You could have told me the world was ending and I wouldn’t have cared. Satisfied and stuffed, I’d fall asleep, looking at the stars with chocolate smeared all over my mouth and hands. 

While these bars lacked that wow-punch, they deserve to be enjoyed either in the dead of winter as you are wrapped up in flannel blankets on your couch or over a roaring fire out in the woods, with muds of hot cocoa and a starry sky high above. There are a couple of rocky road bar recipes floating out there in the blogosphere so I will be trying those out in the future. But for right now, this simple recipe will do. The kids liked them, the adults nibbled on them in between movie marathon sessions, and I got to remember what it was like being a kid.

Rocky Road Bars
Origin: Old Fashioned Bake Sale
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 16 to 20 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
● 2 cups (12-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided
● 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
● 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
● 1 cup granulated sugar
● 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
● 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
● 2 large eggs
● 2 cups mini marshmallows
● 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375℉. Grease a 13×9 baking pan.
Microwave 1 cup chocolate morsels in a medium, microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10 to 20 second intervals; stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Combine flour and baking in a small bowl.
Beat sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large mixer bowl until crumbly. Beat in eggs. Add melted chocolate; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Spread batter into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky.
Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with marshmallows, nuts, and remaining morsels. Return to oven for 2 minutes or just until marshmallows begin to melt. Cool in pan on wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. Cut in to bars with a wet knife and serve warm.

Printable Recipe here.

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January 15, 2009 - 8:02 am

Paula - Yummy!It contains so many things I love…It sounds like it is defintily worth a sin:)

January 15, 2009 - 9:11 am

Rachel - OMG these look AMAZING! And congrats on the new job!

January 15, 2009 - 9:22 am

Kat - Congratulations on your new job – and the bars look delish as well!

January 15, 2009 - 9:46 am

pickyeatings - Congrats on the job! Those bars look delicious. Oh so very delicious.

January 15, 2009 - 11:36 am

Megan - Oh no, don’t tempt me, these look so delicious! My inner child was enjoy delving into a pan of this for a day or two :)
And of course, congrats on the job! What an accomplishment!

January 15, 2009 - 1:08 pm

gine - Just discovered your blog :-): Yummy … looks delicious :-)!
Congrats on your new job too :-)! XOXO

January 15, 2009 - 1:38 pm

Y - Congrats on the job!

January 15, 2009 - 1:46 pm

kickpleat - the photos look great. the slumping melting marshmallows look like delicious pillows. i could regress in this.

January 15, 2009 - 5:30 pm

Caitlin - Congrats on the job, and welcome to the 9-5 bunch! It’s loads of fun, I swear :)

January 16, 2009 - 10:50 am

eurydice - congrats on the job – that’s very exciting!

January 16, 2009 - 6:47 pm

Robin - Congrats Amanda! Yum, firefighters (err, I mean, chocolate!)

January 17, 2009 - 4:22 am

Donna - Congrats on your job. May I join you with a cocktail? Great looking bars!!

January 17, 2009 - 5:24 am

Amanda - Oh mama! Those are amazing!

January 17, 2009 - 4:05 pm

Ashley - Well, first off Congrats on the job and “welcome to the real world of 9-5″
Your cookies look amazing! I posted something similar the other day, but since I’m camera-less my posts don’t seem to have the same affect (*sigh*)
Good Luck with the firefighters.. I mean.. ahh, you know what I mean ;)

January 21, 2009 - 9:30 am

cindy - talking about lake tahoe is making me want the summer to come! i live in reno and we are so close to the lake. some of my best memories are of chimney beach and skunk harbor…if you haven’t been there, go, both require hiking a bit, but still…go.

and congrats on the job. that is an amazing accomplishment!

January 22, 2009 - 6:42 am

steph (whisk/spoon) - oh yum–i feel like i haven’t had a proper chocolate dessert in weeks! great news on the job! congratulations!!

January 22, 2009 - 10:15 am

Tonja - Good luck w/ the new job. Warning… firefighers are gross. I have been shacked up w/ one for 7 years – ugh. I compare it to a never ending fraternity. They are dirty and smell bad most of the time. But they sure do look good cleaned up and in their uniforms. Which is the hook…

January 16, 2011 - 5:33 am

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