As the car barrels down the highway at a steady pace, I find myself sitting in the backseat, writing to you. The sun is shining through the window, sending a brilliant glare onto my computer screen; so bright I find myself needing a pair of sunglasses. Between reading books and staring out at the brown, snowless landscape through the window, I've successfully passed seven hours strapped in one place. I'm headed to the mountains for a weekend getaway filled with warm fireplaces, fresh snow, and a pair of skis strapped to my feet.
Everyone needs a vacation now and then.
As anyone who has ever taken a road trip knows, they require a different class of food altogether. There are traditions and rituals that must be followed, either passed down from parent to child or evolved from assorted friendships. For instance, I have a friend who insists on buying a bag of Fig Newtons before we take on the road. A healthy snack, she claims (but they are not quite so healthy after you've eaten your way through nine or ten).
Another friend and I always stock up on beef jerky and soda at the nearest gas station. We eat until parched from the salty meat and sick from the carbonation. Why we insist on doing this, I'll never know, but it is a sin to break a tradition once it has been set. Beef jerky and soda it will always be, whether I like it or not.
Growing up and traveling with my own family, road trips were one of the rare occasions my mother would fill the car with candy, cookies, soda, and other forbidden delights. With so many prohibited treats within reach, it made the fact that we were stuck in a car for countless hours bearable (and, thinking back, perhaps that is where my mother's tradition started in the first place). Even as I sit here now, surrounded by bags of candy and pretzels, I've found myself contributing to this madness. In preparation for the trip, I made a batch of these chocolate caramel crispy bars. After testing them out on the road, I can attest that they were a very good idea.
Nevertheless, the mountains have started appearing over the horizon. Living on the flat, golden plains, I often forget how tall they really stand. So, if you'll excuse me, it seems I have a bit more window watching to do.
What are your road trip food traditions?
These Chocolate Caramel Crispy Bars are crispy rice cereal bars with attitude. Made in the same method as the traditional, a healthy portion of chocolate and rich caramel sauce are added to the melted marshmallows to create the only variant. When taking a bite, the chocolate and marshmallow hit the tongue first, followed by a smooth caramel finish. These are simple to make and you may find them disappearing before you were ready to see them go.
One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Caramel Crispy Bars
Yields 9x13-inch pan
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup caramel sauce (caramel ice cream topping will also work)
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces (1 bag) mini marshmallows
6 cups crispy rice cereal
In a large saucepan (10 cup capacity), melt together butter and chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Mix in caramel sauce and salt. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows, melting until smooth. Gradually add crispy rice cereal, stirring until cereal is evenly covered.
In a greased 9x13-inch pan, press down cereal until evenly distributed and flattened. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into bars and serving. Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature to keep soft and chewy.