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Archive for March 14, 2014

FOOD HOLIDAY: A Caramel Popcorn Pie For National Pi Day

caramel-corn-pie-kaminsky-230

Caramel custard popcorn pie with a caramel
corn topping. Who can resist? Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

 

March 14 is National Pi Day: 3.14 (get it?). And this is a very special National Pie Day: It’s 3.14. (actually, 3.14159265359, so next year will be the full-on Pi Day, 3.14.15). The next “double pi day” won’t be until March 14, 2114. So celebrate double pi day while you can.

Food enthusiasts have co-opted the day as “pie” day—any excuse for a piece of pie! (And for this special year, two pieces of pie.)

One of our favorite bakers, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, developed this terrific fusion: caramel corn atop caramel custard pie.

“For all the love that popcorn wins as a standalone snack,” says Hannah, “it strikes me as a huge failure of creativity that there aren’t more attempts at popcorn cupcakes, popcorn cookies or popcorn pies.

“Luckily, with a bit of custard and caramel, this is a problem we can fix. In this pie, notes of burnt sugar compliment a buttery undertone, accented with a good pinch of salt. If you’re craving popcorn, it might be a wise idea to think inside the crust.”

A tip from Hannah: The caramel corn topping takes a bit longer to bake than the pie itself, so your best bet is to prepare it in advance. Preheat the oven to 225°F and line a jellyroll pan with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat.

 
Note that you will be making two four-cup batches of caramel corn: one for the custard pie filling and one for the topping (and extra snacking).
 
RECIPE: HANNAH KAMINSKY’S CARAMEL CORN PIE

Ingredients For 8 To 12 Servings

For The Crunchy Caramel Corn Topping

  • 4 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/4 cup kernels—popping instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light agave nectar (or 1-1/3 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  •  
    For The Caramel Corn Pie Filling

  • 4 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/4 cup kernels—popping instructions below)
  • 2-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds, ground
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  •  
    Plus

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel corn (see popping tips below.) Then place the first four cups of popped corn in a large bowl near the stove.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, butter, agave and salt in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cook at a vigorous bubble while stirring continuously for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. It will foam and bubble angrily, but don’t just stand around and watch it: Make haste and pour the mixture all over the popcorn. Toss to coat each and every kernel, and spread the syrupy corn out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.

    3. BAKE for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. It will become perfectly crisp once cool, so despite the tempting aroma, resist the urge to take a bite until it reaches room temperature.

    4. REMOVE the popcorn from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 325°F.

    5. MAKE the custard filling by combining the second measure of popped corn with the milk in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 1 hour for the corn to soften and infuse into the liquid.

     

    popcorn-kernels-trio-230

    Sure, you could use pre-popped caramel corn. But for the freshest flavor, pop your own. Photo of heirloom popcorn kernels by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

     
    6. TRANSFER the popcorn milk to a blender or food processor and thoroughly purée. Process at least 5 full minutes at high speed to break down the kernels as much as possible, longer if necessary. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing to get all the liquid out. Discard the solids.

    7. POUR the popcorn milk back into the medium saucepan and vigorously whisk in all the remaining ingredients for the filling. When perfectly smooth, turn on the heat to medium and bring to a boil while stirring continuously, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent the mixture from burning. Once the mixture has thickened to the point that the bottom of the pan remains visible when you stir—without the filling immediately flowing back over the surface—turn off the heat and quickly transfer the filling to the unbaked pie shell.

    8. BAKE until the custard is set and browned on top, about 45-50 minutes. The center should still be a bit jiggly when tapped, much like a cheesecake. Let cool completely and top with a generous mound of the crunchy caramel corn topping before serving at room temperature.
     
    CORN POPPING INSTRUCTIONS

    1. PLACE the popcorn kernels in a medium-size brown paper bag. If you’re not sure if the bag is big enough, err on the side of caution and pop the corn in two separate batches. Use cellophane or masking tape to seal the bag shut, and put it in the microwave.

    2. SELECT the “popcorn” setting if available, or set the timer for 3½ minutes at full power.

    3. LISTEN carefully: When the popping slows to about once every 3 seconds, remove the bag. Open it very carefully, making sure your hands and face are out of the way—the steam can be quite hot. Sift out any unpopped kernels.

      

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    RECIPE: Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake


    Bit-of-Irish Cheesecake with Irish cream
    whiskey. Photo courtesy Kraft.

     

    We love cheesecake, we love cream liqueur. So how could we pass up this “Bit Of Irish” cheesecake, with Irish cream whiskey and a pecan crust to boot!

    It serves 16 in “sensible” slices.

    RECIPE: Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese,
    softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
  • 4 eggs
  •  
    Optional St. Patrick’s Day Garnish

  • Green sanding sugar, scattered or sprinkled over a shamrock-shaped template to create a shamrock design (see the photo above)
  • Shamrock cookie (made or bought)
  • Shamrock cut from green-colored marzipan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 325°F.

    2. MIX nuts, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the butter. Ppress onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes.

    3. BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and the flour in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add sour cream and liqueur; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

    4. BAKE 1 hour 5 minutes, or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

    5. ADD optional garnish just before serving.

     

    CREAM LIQUEUR VS. CREME LIQUEUR

    They’re not the same.

    Crème Liqueur

    A crème liqueur (pronounced CREHM) is a liqueur with a large amount of added sugar, which gives the liqueur a near-syrup (thicker) consistency—and a much sweeter flavor. Crème liqueurs contain no cream or other dairy; “crème” refers to the consistency.

    Examples include crème de cacao (chocolate), crème de cassis (black currant), crème de menthe (mint) and crème de mûre (blackberry), among others.

    Cream Liqueur

    A cream liqueur is a liqueur that includes dairy cream among its ingredients. The most popular is Baileys Irish Cream, which uses Irish whiskey and chocolate flavors. There are dozens of brands, including Carolan’s, Duggan’s and St. Brendan’s.

    Other types of cream liqueurs include:

     

    baileys-irish-cream-230

    The original Baileys Cream Liqueur—delicious sipping anytime! Photo courtesy Diageo.

  • Amarula from South African, based on marula fruits which provide notes of banana, caramel, chocolate cinnamon
  • Creme de la Creme Maple Cream from Canada, which adds maple syrup
  • Cruzan Rum Cream from Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, with a base of rum
  • Dooley’s Cream Liqueur from The Netherlands, which uses Belgian toffee and vodka.
  • Heather Cream from Scotland, with a base of Scotch whisky
  • Voodoo Classique Cream Liqueur from India (although the marketing harkens to Tuscany, Italy), which includes whiskey and “exotic ingredients”
  • Voyant Chai Cream from the U.S., which incorporates rum, black tea and spices (here’s our review)
     
    Here are even more cream liqueurs.
     

    DOES THE CREAM SPOIL?

    The manufacturer of Baileys Irish Cream says that its product has a shelf life of 30 months. It guarantees the flavor and consistency for two years from the day it was made, whether the bottle is opened or unopened, stored in a refrigerator or not.

    The only requirement is that the bottle be stored away from direct sunlight, and between 32°F and 77°F.

    The properties of other cream liqueurs may vary.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Popcorn Salad

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    Jalapeño Popper Salad with popcorn, a whole grain. Photo courtesy Just Salad | NYC.

     

    Popcorn in a salad? Well, popcorn’s a whole grain, just like barley, brown rice, corn and quinoa. So why not?

    Here’s a fun idea from Laura Pensierio, executive chef at Just Salad in New York City.

    Called the Jalapeño Popper Salad, it includes kettle corn, fresh jalapeños and mandarin oranges with lettuces.

    We used regular popcorn in our re-creation to avoid the that coats kettle corn (the sugar coating on the corn keeps it from getting soggy).

    But the popcorn’s just as good plain and less crisp. You can use cheese corn or other flavored popcorn, herbed or spiced, and add it after the dressing, as we’ve done below.

    And if you don’t like much heat in your food, pass up the jalapeños for a few grinds of fresh pepper. Or switch the jalapeño for chopped broccoli.

     

    RECIPE: POPCORN JALAPEÑO SALAD

    Ingredients

  • Your favorite greens
  • Minced jalapeños (remove ribs and seeds to limit the heat)
  • Mandarin or orange segments*
  • Radishes or anything else you like that’s red
  • Vinaigrette
  • Popcorn
  •  
    *“Mandarin orange” is a misnomer. Mandarins and oranges are different species. Here’s an explanation.
     
    Preparation

    1. MIX all the salad ingredients except the popcorn. Toss with vinaigrette.

    2. GARNISH with the popcorn. Serve immediately.

     

    RECIPE: VITAMIN C SNIFFLE-FIGHTING SALAD

    Chef Laura has also crafted a “Cold-Be-Gone” salad, focusing on ingredients with lots of vitamin C.

    Ingredients

  • Bell peppers
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemon† vinaigrette (substitute lemon juice for the vinegar in a 3:1 proportion of oil:vinegar)
  •  
    After we checked the list below, we added broccoli, snow peas and sundried tomatoes.

     
    †We prefer lime juice. According to WorldsHealthiestFoods.com, lemons and limes have the same amount of vitamin C.

     

    Spinach-230

    A bunch of fresh spinach, bursting with
    vitamin C. Photo by Stephen Ausmus | U.S.
    Agricultural Research Service.

     

    FOODS HIGHEST IN VITAMIN C

    Percentage of Daily Value‡:

    1. Guava has 628% DV per cup.

    2. Red bell peppers have 349% DV per 100g; yellow bell peppers have 306% DV and green bell peppers have 220% DV.

    3. Kiwi has 278% DV per cup.

    4. Strawberries have 163% DV per cup. Other berries: raspberries 54%, blackberries 50% and blueberries 24%.

    5. Orange has 160% DV per cup. Other citrus fruits: 1/4 pomelo 155%, lemon 74%, clementine 60% and 1/2 grapefruit 57%.

    6. Papaya has 147% DV per cup. Pineapple has 131%, cantaloupe has 108% DV, mango has 100% DV and honeydew has 53%.

    7. Broccoli has 135% DV per cup. Other cruciferous vegetables: Brussels sprouts 125%, green cauliflower 94%, white cauliflower 86%, red cabbage 85%, and green (white) cabbage 60%.

    8. Kale has 134% DV per cup. Other dark green leafy vegetables: turnip greens 55%, Swiss chard 18%, and Spinach 14%.

    9. Fresh green peas have 97% DV per cup. Cooked frozen peas have 59% and snow peas have 63% DV.

    10. Tomatoes have 91% DV per cup.

     
    ‡Information from Healthaliciousness.com.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Beer & Beer Nuts PB Sandwich

    Beer Nuts and PB Sandwich. Photo by
    Theresa Raffetto | Peanut Butter & Co. Food
    styling by Matt Vohr.

     

    For your St. Patrick’s Day consideration, how about a PB and Beer Nuts sandwich with your beer?

    Beer Nuts is a brand of peanuts with a sweet-and-salty glaze. They don’t contain beer. Rather, they were marketed as a more glamorous accompaniment to beer than the ubiquitous salted peanuts.

    In this concept, Peanut Butter & Co. founder Lee Zalben topped a piece of rustic whole wheat bread with his Smooth Operator creamy premium peanut butter, plus crunchy Beer Nuts.

    We prefer our PB with a kick, so we substituted his The Heat Is On peanut butter, blended with cayenne peppers, chili powder and crushed red peppers.

    The PB & Co. line is certified kosher by OU.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN BEER NUTS

    Classic beer nuts are sweet and salty, but you can tweak the recipe to add additional flavors: cinnamon for sweetness or cayenne pepper for heat. You can use Beer Nuts on a PB sandwich, ice cream, salad, yogurt, as a soup garnish and in many other ways—including straight snacking, of course.

    Ingredients For 4.5 Cups

  • 4-1/2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional spices: cayenne, cinnamon or other favorite
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING peanuts, sugar salt and water to a boil in a saucepan. Continue to boil until all liquid is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 300°F.

    3. SPREAD nuts on lightly greased jelly roll pan; sprinkle with salt and optional spices as desired. Bake 20 minutes.

    4. REMOVE from oven, gently stir and sprinkle with more salt as desired. Bake for 20 more minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

      

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