I love when Curran brings crafts home from preschool. I do not hang them or keep them, but I love that someone else is doing crafts and artsy things with him so I don't have to. I don't like junk or tchotchkes and I suppose crafts feel like a waste of materials and money. No offense, personal opinion, and I appreciate that other people love them but one cannot be good at all of the things. HOWEVER. My heart is not completely made of stone and I love my children so I went to Michaels (a store specifically for crafty people) last week to pick up Valentines supplies. Cards, stickers, glitter hearts, paint, heart cookie cutters, we're going for it. I really wanted to buy that $4 box of pre-made Minion cards, staple a bag of mini pretzels to it and call it done but my parents always made Valentines really special for my sister and I, so I'm going to do crafts for a minute in the spirit of family tradition. My (crafty) mom still sends us homemade Valentines. Where I do fail them in enthusiasm for crafts, I make up in cooking projects. They like to bake because they've caught on to the outcome. These sunflower butter hearts fit within all the allergy rules at preschool and my kids think cookie cutters are magical. They make a mess and push each other and the whole of it is harder and slower, but I think that is the refinement happening in me at this stage of parenting. Everything is harder with them. It just is, and when I quit fighting it and resign to things like Cleo never sleeping in the car no matter how far the drive or Curran being highly sensitive and crying easily, I give up the loosing battle for control. Instead of trying to fix it or solve it, for their sake or mine, I'm better for all of us. I'll be damned if they look back and think I didn't let them in on being in the kitchen, a place I love, because it made it harder and slower for me. Our food will be our crafts if that's how I need to do it.
So. I applaud you if you have mini bags of pretzels or conversation hearts, but if you're up for a pretty simple, two dish cooking project, these could not be easier.
/// EVENT! ///
Hugh and I are hosting a food photography workshop in Seattle, WA on April 28+29. Tickets and a few more notes are available on the shop page. This will be our third workshop at Aran's beautiful studio and the whole experience is so refreshing for us and what we do for work. Hugh will go over light and composition and editing and I'll jump in for some styling and prep food with Aran and we get to bounce ideas off each other and learn how to be better at our craft. Basic understanding of your camera is recommended but you could just use your phone too, it doesn't really matter. We'd love you to come. Feel free to contact me with any questions at all.
CHOCOLATE CRISPY SUNFLOWER BUTTER HEARTS // Makes 12ish
Because I know someone is thinking, "can I use all maple?", the answer is not really. Brown rice syrup is thicker and sets better than maple. It's the sweetener used in most packaged protein bars. I cut it here because I like the flavor of maple better and I wanted the hearts to be a little more tender. In short, you can go all brown rice syrup for the liquid sweetener yield, but not completely maple. They sell it at all health food stores, some conventional grocery stores or more conveniently, albeit more expensive, here.
These are mildly chocolatey. If you want more, add a generous handful of chocolate chips to the mixture.
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup sunflower butter
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup rice crisp cereal
1 cup quick cooking oats*
* the quick cooking ones have a softer texture. The old fashioned sort will work, but have a bit of a raw taste in context as they're thicker. I'd suggest pulsing them in a blender or food processor if you go this route.
Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.
In a large saucepan, warm the rice syrup and maple. Add the sunflower butter and coconut oil and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and let it cool a moment. Add the salt, cocoa powder, rice cereal and oats. Stir to mix.
Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth down the top with damp hands. The mixture will be sticky, damp hands will help.
Let it set in the fridge for a couple hours before cutting them into squares or using a cookie cutter for shapes.
They are best kept in the fridge, and will keep covered for 3-5 days.