Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chocolate Bars Near and Far

There is something about a Chocolate Bar that can make your whole day better.

Just stop and think for a moment. You've had a long day. You're feet are aching, you know you shouldn't have worn those new shoes and they've cut into your feet, but you thought they looked so cute. You made a mistake at work. You're nervous about how people saw you, what they thought of you and you're worried about having enough money for groceries later in the week. A thousand things begin to pop into your head, but then you see it: Salvation. A chocolate bar just sitting there. It may be at the end of an aisle, the check out line at the store, in the window, or at home just waiting for you. Suddenly, with a single bite, things seem to melt away.

And you know what's even better? When you come to a new country, you're obsessing over if you're going to make friends, do well in school, see everything, not be broke in a few months, and the people you have just met offer you a chocolate bar.

That is the biggest confidence boost to being in a new country. I mean, just look at it (left). The lovely Hannah busts out this 4 pack of Wispas. We doodle about the name a bit and compare how we say things. But then you just have to dig into it. I mean, it's Cadbury and if I know anything about Easter candy I know that Cadbury is a name to know. So of course, I'm ready to dig in and my taste buds are dancing at the thought.

When you unwrap it, it looks just like a regular bar of chocolate. Yet it is the first bite that reveals it all. Not only is it a chocolate bar, but it is a light, fluffy, airy, beautiful chocolate bar. The texture feels like chocolate bubbles. If you look inside the bar after taking a bite you can see the bits of air blown into the chocolate to give it this airy texture. It made me feel like I was in Willy Wonka or something. Who knew of this bubbly, airy chocolate?

Okay, so people in London and the UK and apparently Canada. It was introduced in the 80s, but spent a period in 2003 where they disappeared. Yet, as always, the internet was our way of protesting and letting our love of food be known. A huge campaign started to bring Wispas back, and they were back by 2007. Now they are tickling taste buds with their bubbly milk chocolate daily.

And let me tell you, I have spent many a night craving a Wispa while I'm here and been tempted when I've seen them in check out lines. Plus it's fun to say. Wispa.
So if you're in Canada or the UK or wherever else and you see a Wispa: stock up.

Keep the chocolate bubbles coming.

- Mollie

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Leaving For London

Hello from Across the Pond!

I apologize for the delay in writing, but the past week has been a whirlwind of traveling, moving, meeting people, and soaking in all that is life in London. Meaning I have lots to write about, but very little time to do it in. Don't be afraid though, as soon as classes get started I'll have posts up more regularly tempting you with treats from the British Isles. Although I'll mostly stick to sweets, as per usual, I may wander off to show you some of the traditional meals and foods I couldn't help myself but devour. So stay tuned!

Before all that, I have to talk about the importance of a final meal in the states. My sister and I sat down the day before I left for the airport and she asked me, "What do you want to be your last meal in the US?" Of course, something popped into mind, but I wasn't sure if it was really what I wanted. But when she leaned forward and said "Giordano's?" I knew we both had the same thought.

If you don't know, Giordano's is stuffed pizza from the Gods. It is probably my favorite "Chicago Food" and the best thing to get for special occasions or if you're visiting Chicago. I knew there would be nothing comparable in London, because Chicago pizza is Chicago pizza. You just can't do it any other way. Plus, I hadn't heard the best things about London and pizza. So we made the order and went shopping for toiletries.

I don't know what could be better than being curled up on the couch with my mother and my sister, watching television, with a large slice of stuffed pizza with warm, melty cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms, and a fork. It did get better though when my sister helped me pack and when we finally finished packing (and were under the limit for weight!) and we busted out the celebratory dessert.

Beautiful right?

A Meijer triple chocolate tiger bar cake, which was surprisingly amazing with it's layers, and Cupcake wine. This wine though is my absolute favorite. Moscato D'anti (I hope I spelled that right) is probably the answer to me drinking wine. Usually it's too tart or dry or just makes me wish for something else, something sweeter, to drink. But this wine is a dessert wine and perfect for my sweet tooth. If you're looking for wine and love sweets, it's the one to try. Plus who doesn't like a wine titled "Cupcake"?

With that last taste of Chicago, I'm ready to dive right into everything British and everything delicious they have to offer.

- Mollie

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Zucchini Madness

My mom did a lot of renovation on her garden while I was away at college, mostly so it's smaller and she can actually take care of it. This summer her garden has grown gargantuan zucchinis. Seriously, they fill up the window sill above the kitchen sink. We have had piles of these zucchini sitting in the garden and in the window awaiting us to figure out what to do with them. Of course, that means zucchini bread is in order - especially after I found Cooking Light's "Lemon-Glazed Zucchini Quick Bread".

The recipe description says "the citrus-y glaze makes it special enough for dessert" and let me tell you there is no lie there. I have baked over 4 loaves (I've sort of lost track at this point) of this and it is devoured a little over 24 hours later. My mother brought one into work and they called it cake and kept coming back for more. One woman even dreamed of it and wanted to break into work to take the leftovers. And, I mean, just look at it:

All that should attest for the sweet, moist, delicious bread that I'm about to pass onto you.

Ingredients Include:
  • 2 1/3 cup whole wheat flour (I say whole wheat rather than their all-purpose, better for you and extra delicious)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or canola)
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Begin by shredding the zucchini if you haven't yet, this takes the longest unless you're actually grating lemon rind by hand (oh god, the tediousness), so make sure you have those two things done and ready to make the whole process less painful. My mixer had a great shredding attachment where I just pushed the zucchini through and it popped into the bowl all shredded - this is helpful.

Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Get a large bowl and add the whole wheat flour. Combine with next six ingredients (aka granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg) and once combined make a well in the center of the mixture.

In another, probably smaller bowl, combine the 2 cups zucchini, milk, oil, lemon rind, and egg. Get that all mixed up nicely so you have a moist mixture and add it to the dry flour mixture. Stir it all up until all of the flour mixture is moist. It'll look like a nice brown and green mixture and should taste really yummy - I end up licking the bowl just like I do with brownie or cake mix. Grease an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with the cooking spray (be sure to get the sides!) and bake at 350 for around 50 minutes. Long time, right? I usually set my timer for around 45 minutes and check up on it. If you double the recipe to make two loaves (which we did with our giant zucchini) it'll take longer, but 45 is a good time to check up on it. Using a toothpick to make sure the center is set and it comes out clean is the best way to really know.

Then be sure to cool the loaf in the pan for a few minutes (5-10 preferably). Then remove the loaf from the pan. It'll be a lot easier if you stick a butter knife all around the edges of the pan to make sure it's not sticking. Then flip onto a wire rack and cool completely. And I mean completely. I didn't let mine cool 100% and the glaze drooped a little more than it should have on the warm loaf. Be patient, it'll be worth it.

Once it's cool you can make your lemon glaze! Be sure to sift the powdered sugar, because that makes all the difference. If you want it a little less sweet or less glaze you can cut down on the amounts - I did that for later batches to cut back on calories. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice, whisk, and drizzle all over the loaf. I was happy with the cracks in the top of my loaf, because it let the glaze seep into it and create a cool look. Then you have your beautiful zucchini bread to enjoy, share, and feel good about. I mean, it's only 190 calories for a slice and has 3 grams of protein. So don't feel bad about having a sweet zucchini dessert.

- Mollie