Homemade Raw Butterfingers

Nestle's Butterfinger. (Photo: Evan Amos.)

Nestle’s Butterfinger. (Photo: Evan Amos.)

butterfingers-1

Homemade Butterfinger.

— by Challah Maidel

Healthy butterfingers are candy bars that defy all logic. They are perhaps one of the most underrated chocolate candy bars in the market. Many people claim that they are palatable and nothing more.

My homemade raw butterfingers have the same toffee-like crunch as do the commercialized butterfingers, but unlike the original version, these butterfingers candy bars are whole grain, high in iron, and completely void of high-fructose corn syrup. Plus, the filling does not stick to one’s teeth as much.

Learning how to make homemade butterfingers is not a far stretch from making homemade snickers bars. The methods are quite similar and the flavors are comparable.

This vegan butterfingers recipe does not get any easier. Unlike many vegan butterfingers recipes, mine does not require any cooking. Peanut butter and peanuts are recommended for this recipe, but you can use almonds and almond butter if you have a peanut allergy.

Ingredients for 8 to 10 bars:

  • 1 1/2 cup of bran flakes, corn flakes, or dried white mulberries. (You can use rice cakes, although the texture would not be as authentic.)
  • 3/4 cup of peanut or almond butter
  • 1/2 cup of pitted, soaked  dates
  • 1/3 cup of chopped peanuts or almonds
  • 2 tablespoons of agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Pulse the bran flakes, corn flakes, or dried white mulberries in a food processor until crumbly.
  2. Add the remaining six ingredients and pulse until large, sticky clumps form. Add more agave or syrup if the dough is not holding together.
  3.  Pour the dough and spread it out evenly onto a prepared 8×8 pan.
  4.  Cover and freeze for 15-20 minutes, or until firm.
  5.  In the meantime, melt chocolate chips, in a microwave or over a double boiler, and set aside.
  6.  Remove the dough from the freezer and cut into bars while they are still in the pan.
  7. Gently pour melted chocolate over each bar.
  8.  Return them to the freezer and freeze for an hour before serving. Store them in the freezer if you wish to retain their crunchiness.

Challah Maidel blogs about healthy kosher eating.

A Juicy, Tender Brisket

Brisket by Scottgaspar

Brisket photo by Scott Gaspar.

— by Elana Horwich

Brisket is incredibly easy to make and pretty hard to mess up: You can add a little too much of this, or a bit too little of that, but as long as you have a few basics, all of the flavors will meld perfectly with time in the oven to bring you a delicious, juicy brisket.

The problem with many briskets, however, is that they are either too sweet, too dry and/or too fatty. Furthermore, they can be both too dry and too fatty.

The brisket cut of meat is historically poor man’s food; it cost less than tender cuts of meat like filet mignon, but if cooked long enough will be just as tender.

[Read more…]

The Ultimate Brownie

browniesWe have been having a tough time in Israel these past weeks. Sirens have had us rushing to shelters, and the country is in turmoil.

Let’s face it, when we are stressed out, food is a great comfort. When we are talking comfort food, how can chocolate not immediately come to mind?

Chocolate brownies are a great way to deliver the king of all sweets. I have been through many brownie recipes.  Some I like because they are very quick to make, others, because they are just decadent and over the top. Recently, I found a recipe that I think has to be the Holy Grail of brownie recipes. It is everything a real classic brownie should be. It uses lots of chocolate and then a little more, and the result is one of the most chocolaty, lush, rich brownies you will ever eat.

So for times like these, as well as for times that are less stressful but just call for a good brownie, here is my recipe for Lush Chocolate Brownies.

Lush Chocolate Brownies

  • 275 g (10 oz) dark chocolate
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter or margarine
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (225 g/8 oz) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 115 g (4 oz) or just under 1 cup self raising flour
  • 115 g (4 oz) chocolate chips (dark or white)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat till smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla, and then stir in the melted chocolate.
  4. Fold in the flour, chocolate chips and pecans.
  5. Line a 30×20 cm (12×8 in) baking tin with baking paper, and spray with cooking spray. Pour the mixture in and bake for 35-40 minutes. Do not over-bake if you want a gooey brownie.
  6. Leave to cool and then cut into squares.

Makes 12 large brownies.

Salt Water Taffy: Summer In A Candy Wrapper

By Ronit Treatman

Nothing says summer at the Jersey shore more than a mouthful of sticky salt water taffy.

Salt water taffy originated in Atlantic City in the summer of 1883. That year, a powerful storm caused flooding, soaking all the taffy for sale in the shops along the boardwalk. As the storm subsided, children still wanted to purchase taffy. One enterprising store owner named David Bradley jokingly told them he could sell them “salt water taffy.” When the customers tasted the ocean-soaked candy, they loved it. A Jersey shore summer tradition was born.

You can make your own salt water taffy at home. You won’t need any ocean water, just some sea salt.

Cherry Taffy by Monica Nguyen

Cherry Taffy by Monica Nguyen

Salt Water Taffy

Adapted from The Exploratorium 

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • A few drops of grape juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, or blueberry juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Place the sugar and cornstarch in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the water, sea salt, corn syrup, and butter.
  3. Keep stirring the mixture until it begins to boil.
  4. Continue cooking the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 270 degrees Fahrenheit (check with a candy thermometer).
  5. As the taffy is cooking, dip a pastry brush in warm water and paint the inner sides of the pot with it.
  6. When the taffy reaches a temperature of 270 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pot from the fire.
  7. Mix in a few drops of fruit juice for color, and the vanilla extract, and baking soda.
  8. Pour the hot taffy onto a buttered cookie sheet.
  9. Once the taffy is cool enough to be handled, butter your hands.
  10. Pull the taffy for about 10 minutes to aerate it.
  11. Roll the pulled taffy into a rope.
  12. Butter a sharp knife, and cut the rope into candy-sized pieces (about ½ inch).
  13. When the salt water taffy has cooled completely, wrap each piece in wax paper, twisting the ends.

Food Chat With a Seitan Master

— by Hannah Lee

Michael Cassady changed his diet in 1979 and got his niche in life.  He first thought eating only Chinese food would be healthy, but he did not know about the MSG used in restaurants.  He later tried the macrobiotic diet, but then he discovered the miracle of making seitan by hand.

Made with only flour and water, the glutinous mass is rinsed repeatedly — with cold and hot water, alternatively — to get rid of the starch, until only the protein remains.  First developed in China, seitan, also known as wheat gluten, is a healthy, low-calorie source of protein for vegetarians and vegans alike.  Herbs and spices can be added to simulate any ethnic dish in place of meat.

More after the jump.
Home cooks could use a short-cut method using vital wheat gluten (certified kosher, available in local stores such as Whole Foods), but both Michael and Fernando Peralta of Vgë Café in Bryn Mawr agree that it makes a tough product.

Michael now uses a Hobart mixer to turn out 240- to-250-pound batches of seitan at a time.  He recently switched to using smaller 50-pound bags of flour, to spare his back from the constant weight-lifting.  He uses a special bowl that’s perforated with holes.

The process requires a continual flushing of water.  Alas, the plumbing in his former-delicatessen space in Florence, NJ limits the speed of production.  Michael thinks he would be well-served by a French drain, which is sometimes still seen in old houses on the Main Line as was in mine.  (A French drain has perforated hollow pipes along the bottom to quickly vent water that seeps down through the upper gravel or rock.)  Between daily delivery runs, he keeps 15-hour days, because he kneads in the savory spices by hand.  Michael says, “You can’t rush the process.”

Michael supplies seitan to a variety of Philly restaurants, some of which also sell meat, such as Interstate Draft House in the Fishtown neighborhood, Sketch Burger on Girard Avenue, Monk’s Café on 16th and Spruce (which offers Belgian beer on tap), and POPE (for Pub on Passyunk East) in South Philly.  

He also supplies nine branches of Whole Foods, including the stores in Wynnewood, Callowhill, and Plymouth Meeting, which he says is the largest store in this area.

Michael lived in Florida for 16 years, making seitan by hand for friends and cancer patients, but he returned to the Philly area when his father got sick (he has since died).  Now, he lives in his childhood home and takes care of his ailing mother.  He dreams of running a vegetarian restaurant, much like Peralta’s Vgë Café, which relies on his seitan.

On June 20, he will be participating in a fundraiser for Philabundance, to be held at the Market Place Design Center.  He will be the only vegan chef in attendance.

Curry Masala Seitan (adapted from Michael Cassady‘s recipe)
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp minced ginger
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 lb seitan, drained and cut into small pieces
  • Salt, about 1 tsp or to taste
  1. Heat a skillet over high heat; pour in oil and fry the cumin and cloves.  
  2. Add the ginger and garlic.  Saute for one minute over a medium-high flame.  
  3. Add the tomato and onion.  Stir-fry until the tomato is almost pasty and the onions are translucent.  
  4. Add the remaining spices and let the mixture cook for 10 minutes.  
  5. Add the seitan and heat for 10 minutes.  
  6. Add salt to taste.