I was pretty whimsical this past week: on two separate occasions, I randomly decided to make chocolatey treats. The first thing I made was a batch of chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting and chocolate sprinkles. I had found a delicious-looking chocolate cake recipe online, and since I had all of the ingredients for it already, I obviously had to try it out. This cake was different from any other cake I had prepared before – the batter was very watery (in fact, the instructions state to add a cup of boiling water to the batter after beating the rest of the ingredients together), and the mixture itself was a little bit grainy from the sugar that hadn’t dissolved. I was a little skeptical about how the cake was going to turn out since it was so soupy (I thought it was going to be a gummy mess), but it turned out light and soft and incredibly rich! I brought most of the batch to my weekly Pathfinder game, and they seemed to go over pretty well with my fellow gamers :D
I had to get the batter into the cupcake liners and into the oven quickly, so I didn’t get a chance to snap any pictures of the cupcakes before they were baked, but I filled the cups up about three-quarters of the way with batter before I popped them into the oven. I even had enough batter to make three little cakes in individual ramekins, and I ended up topping those with the same frosting and some shredded, sweetened coconut because I ran out of sprinkles (the cakes tasted very similar to German chocolate cake, but without the pecans). I also didn’t take pictures of the frosting-making process because there was too much to do so quickly, but it was this recipe if you’re curious (and the blogger’s claim about it being the best frosting ever actually holds some merit!). Don’t worry, though – there are plenty of shots of the final product :)
Later on in the week, I was struck with the compulsion to recreate the Zebra chocolate popcorn (or what we affectionately termed “Zebra Corn”) that my friend Jim brought to the Game Day hang out session that my friends and I had last week. It was some of the most delicious popcorn that I’ve ever had in my life, and I just couldn’t get the stuff out of my mind! Again, I had some of the ingredients lying around to make something similar to it, so I went ahead and tried. I didn’t bother following a recipe (which I probably should have considering my results, but I can be stubborn when it comes to freestyle food creation sometimes :P) and instead just utilized my (admittedly limited) knowledge of candy making to make a batch.
I started by popping some plain white popcorn in the microwave (note to self: do not try to pop more than 2 tablespoons of popcorn at a time in the microwave, otherwise you might start a fire that’s difficult to put out in such a confined space…).
I then melted down some caramels that I’ve had in my pantry since Christmas in a pot of melted butter.
After it melted, I added some sugar and cooked it until it got to the hard thread stage. The mixture cooled very rapidly, so I had to try to coat the popcorn with it as quickly as possible. After it had a chance to sit for a little while, I broke the larger chunks up into smaller ones and spaced it out to coat it with chocolate. The coating ended up being more like a thick toffee than a light, crunchy shell, but it still tasted good :)
I melted down a large bar of Dove milk chocolate (I probably should have gotten dark chocolate to match the original Zebra popcorn, but I just really like Dove’s milk chocolate) and tempered it until it was as smooth as I could make it. Because I had to work with it while it was still hot, I drizzled it over the popcorn right away.
I let the chocolate harden, then removed the Zebra Corn from the foil and placed it into a container for everyone to enjoy (if they felt so inclined to, that is :P).
Next time I will probably add more butter and not let it cook for so long, but it was still pretty good! Reminded me of a Heath bar, actually.
I also made a delicious peach cobbler for a BBQ I went to over the weekend (among other foods), but that’s reserved for another post :)