Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Black and Gold Baking
Over the weekend, Pittsburgh bakeries, grocery stores, and Eat'n Parks cranked out seemingly enough black and gold sweets to fill a football stadium. Bakery workers in Johnstown worked overtime. By Friday my grocery store was sold out of individually packaged yellow food coloring, and a friend told me she couldn't find yellow sprinkles anywhere.
Despite our local enthusiasm, I don't really associate the super bowl with baking. While many newspapers run a super bowl themed food section, they tend to focus on savory items. All of the Post Gazette's reader recipes were savory, and I noticed that most of my friends/coworkers preferred purchasing Steelers baked goods to making them.
In some cases, it makes sense that savory super bowl fare outshines the sweet; i'd much rather eat wings, pierogies, and sauerkraut than oversized sugar cookies and artificially colored cupcakes. Still, I think some people avoid baking for a crowd because they assume it is difficult and expensive and yields a mediocre product. And sometimes it's hard to resist the novelty of a storebought cake shaped like a football field.
Two days before the super bowl, I felt a rush of Steelers fever and decided to find some simple recipes that would be appetizing, even if I had to spend extra money for the multi-pack of food coloring. I have an aversion to black food coloring, so I picked recipes that used cocoa for color contrast.
I added yellow food coloring to a plain batch of rice krispie treats and to the plain batter in this tried and true recipe for marble cake. The chocolate rice krispie treats are from Lora Brody's Chocolate American Style. The recipe is a simple but potent variation on the traditional one. Be sure to use a good-flavored cocoa as it really impacts the taste. I used dutch-process cocoa from Penzey's.
If you're hungry for more black and gold baking, check out these black and gold pastries from Jean-Marc Chatellier, or the "Steelers Cupcake" flickr results.
Chocolate Cereal Treats
adapted from Lora Brody's Chocolate American Style
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 10oz bag of mini marshmallows
2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
6 cups rice krispies (or 4 cups + 2 cups cheerios)
1/2 cup dried sweet or tart cherries (optional)
Butter a 9x13in pan. In a large saucepan or pot, combine the butter and marshmallows. Cook and stir over low heat, until the marshmallows are almost completely melted. Add the cocoa powder and stir until the mixture is smooth and even-colored. Turn off the heat and stir in the cereal. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and use a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap to smooth the mixture in the pan. Sprinkle the cherries over the cereal and use the paper or plastic to press them in gently.
When fully cooled, turn the contents out of the pan onto a cutting board and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
at 10:32 AM