Hannah Kaminsky, Bittersweet and author of My Sweet Vegan – By no accounts have I ever heard of high school being an easy, enjoyable time through and through, but who knew it would ever be so difficult. No, I’m not talking about the school work or tests, but everything that happened in between; The last thing that you learn from this establishment is math and english.
These past four years stretch out endlessly in my mind, making a time line that is so immense, it sounds positively absurd that so much could change in only a handful of months. I’m sure everyone reaches a this point at one time or another, but to actually experience it and be able to say for myself that know what if feels like… It’s just wild.
Honestly, for so many years I thought that life would not happen to me. All of the inevitable life events would somehow look the other way while I crept out the door and I would be exempt from all the baggage they bring. Relationships, jobs, driving, applying to colleges- For some inexplicable reason, I felt certain that these worries could never actually happen to me. Clearly, adolescence spared me no amount of naivety. Through car crashes, both figurative and literal, I’ve blindly felt my way through all of these complicated things that I was in no way prepared for. I can say with relief that ultimately I made it out in one piece, but in no way am I the same as that bright-eyed 14-year old who first marched in the doors of that decripit urban school I would come to know as my own.
I’ve learned a lot, more than I would have liked to about some things, but none of it was taught in class. All the same, I owe a lot to that place; Without the bitterness that counterbalances my timid optimism, there’s no way that I would have ever found myself in the bittersweet state of mind.
On that note, with such a bitter taste left in my mouth after recounting all those horrific highschool blunders that I hope to bury in the farthest corners of my brain, the only thing that I could find as an appropriate way to commemorate the end of this era would be to bake.
And what could be more appropriate than a rocky road bar? Lumpy, bumpy, and not exactly a beautifully sculpted dessert, this is one where you can rest assured that it will taste far better than it looks. Including just a little bit of everything and even some rather unexpected ingredients, the mixture of flavors and textures is surprising at first but completely enjoyable. Somehow it all manages to work together without creating a harmony that sounds like our highschool band [aka, banging two trashcans together repeatedly] and makes any rocky road seem like a worthwhile path to venture down.
I know that although I may have made it through the mire and muck of compulsory education, I still have a long, rocky road ahead of me… But if it’s anything like this bar, then I think that life will be a whole lot less bitter, and a lot sweeter instead.
Rocky Road Bars
1/2 Cup Margarine
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup AP Flour
3/4 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Mixed Nuts, Chopped
1/2 Cup Vegan Caramel Sauce
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8-inch square pan.
In a standmixer, beat the margarine until softened and then cream in the sugar. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and chopped nuts, stirring to combine. Once all of the ingredienlts are evenly dispersed and you achieve a crumbly mixture, remove 1/2 cup and set aside. Dump the remainder into your prepared pan and press it in with your fingers so that it fully covers the bottom in a level layer. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.
Meanwhile, combine the crumb mixture that you saved with the whole mixed nuts, marshmallows, and chocolate. Have this ready when the pan comes out of the oven.
Once baked, pour the caramel over the warm bars and spread to cover. If your topping is a bit too firm to spread, microwave it for a few seconds before pouring it on. Sprinkle the mixture of sweet morsels over the top and disperse evenly, pressing them in very lightly. Bake for another 15 – 20 minutes, until the marshmallows are puffy and nicely browned. Let cool to room temperature, and chill in the refridgerator for at least 30 minutes before cutting or you will end up with one sticky [albeit delicious]mess!