Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

When you were a kid, what candy in the trick or treat bag made your day?  For me, it was chocolate, of course. And it couldn't be just any chocolate, either.  It had to be the good stuff - the name brand chocolate.  You name it..Snickers, Reese's, and of course, Butterfinger.

We don't have any trick or treaters of our own yet, and we're the type to eat any candy we buy for the trick or treaters a week before Halloween.  So,...we typically don't buy any (until after Halloween, that is).  But, the past few weeks, I've been seeing pins on Pinterest for homemade butterfinger candy bars.  One recipe has lots of ingredients, and the other so simple you don't believe it could possibly work.

The science geek in me really wanted to see how candy corn plus peanut butter equaled butterfinger bars!  But, yes, ladies and gentlemen, it works.  And, if I do say so myself, the homemade version is better than the original.  (But just as bad for you, LOL)

The "real" butterfinger is on the right.  Doppelganger on the left.

Homemade Butterfingers
16 oz candy corn
16 oz peanut butter
Chocolate coating (Candy Melts, Chocolate Bark, whatever you please)

Microwave the candy corn and peanut butter in a glass bowl until it starts to melt.  Stir.  Continue melting and stirring.  The candy corn will not melt as easily as the peanut butter, but you shouldn't need more than a minute and a half of microwaving total.  Keep stirring until the candy corn is completely melted and combined with the peanut butter.  The mixture will start out pretty grainy, and you'll think you're going to have to toss your bowl out. But, pretty soon, it comes together into a smooth ball, and very little candy sticks to the bowl. You can now press the mixture into a pan or candy molds to set, or scoop them into bonbons.  Let cool completely before covering in your melted candy coating.

I used a 5 oz bag of candy corn and about a half cup of peanut butter and got 5 "fun size" candy bars plus three small bonbons.  The homemade butterfingers are the size that fun size candy bars used to be when I was a kid (Don't you think they've gotten smaller?), had a stronger flavor, but had a softer texture.  You still get the crunchiness, but they don't get stuck in your teeth as much as the original. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Baker October 2011 - Povitica

Before I start, this wonderful sweet bread, spelled povitica is pronounced po-vi-teet-sa.

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

And, best of all, not too hard to make.  And once you taste the povitica, you have to learn t make it.  These bad boys go for $27 apiece online!  The hardest part was making and rolling out the dough, and this one was pretty easy to work with.  And pretty tasty to eat.  This was one of those things you have to sneak a taste of everytime you pass through the kitchen.  It didn't make it through the weekend.

Here's the recipe that Jenni put together. NOTE: The amounts referred to in the instructions do not match the recipe amounts.  Jenni's original recipe made FOUR loaves!

Povitica (Makes one loaf 1.25 lbs/565 grams)

To activate the Yeast:
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2¼ gm) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Warm Water
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/3½ gm/0.125 oz/½ sachet) Dry Yeast

1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) Sugar
¾ Teaspoon (3¾ ml/9 gm/0.17 oz) Table Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tablespoon (30 ml/30 gm/¼ stick/1 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided
To Make the Dough:

3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.
6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.
8. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)

9. Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.

Filling Ingredients (enough filling for one loaf)
1¾ Cups (420 ml/280 gm/10 oz) Ground English Walnuts
¼ Cup (60 ml) Whole Milk
¼ Cup (60 ml/58 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 Egg Yolk From A Large Egg, Beaten
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/4 oz) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/1 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) Cinnamon

To Make the Filling
10. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:

16. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
18. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.
19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
20. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
21. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
22. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
23. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.
24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
25. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.
27. Brush the top of loaf with a mixture of ½ cup (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
28. Cover pan lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
31. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
33. Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
34. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.

35. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

The money shot!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Taste of Atlanta 2011

Have you been to the Taste of Atlanta?  If not, you need to go next year! 

The Taste of Atlanta is our favorite fall food festival.  It's a weekend full of fantastic food -- more than you can even think about eating in a  single afternoon.  This year was the tenth anniversary, and over 80 restaurants were featured.  With your general admission ticket, you receive 10 "taste tickets" which you can redeem at the different booths for samples of their yum yum yummies.  To get the most of our taste tickets, the Artist and I always go in with a plan:

1.  Scope out the entire festival.  Who's got the good stuff, and how many tickets is it? 
This step is crucial, it's way to easy to use up all of your tickets before you even get through the first block!  I mean, really!  Sublime Doughnuts and Jim 'n Nick's BBQ met us at the entrance gate!

2.  Have a tasting strategy.
We usually share things that are more than a bite or two.  That way, we don't both fork over 3 or 4 tickets for the same thing.  Also, it's hard to do, but don't load up on desserts first.  I speak this one from experience.  Last year, I was stuffed...uncomfortably so, and way before I was ready to go home!

3.  Plan to buy more taste tickets!
Because really, 10 tickets is not going to be enough

Seafood Bisque


Orange Dream Doughnut

Soft Pretzel w/Beer Cheese Dip

Lamb Slider

Banh Mi

Mississippi Delta Tamale

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

Orange Kissed Frozen Yogurt

Lemon Pepper Wings and Fries

Even going in with a plan, there's always something you want to taste but don't.  Ri Ra's line for fish and chips stayed a block long for the entire afternoon!  I wanted to try the arroncini, but 1 tiny rice ball wasn't really worth 2 tickets, was it?

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