Homemade Applesauce and Chocolate Bark Recipes
I know. (Do I sound like someone who's primed for receiving Jewish guilt, or what?!?)
Chanukah ended. 27 days ago. It's 2011 now.
Exciting distractions like work (and work, and work, and work) got in the way. I never quite finished my self-imposed Chanukah recipe challenge.
Plus I needed, some time to gather the unabridged tale of my Grandma Gertie's Applesauce.
So. Let's plunge ahead and get to some food, shall we?
The second recipe in this post is actually something that I've been making for Christmas gifts and New Year's party but it translates well as a flexible, multi-purpose holiday treat. Chocolate bark, a silly yet visually appropriate name for a thin sheet of hard chocolate mixed or dotted with an endless variety of surprises, is a simple project for those newer to the edible gifting world. Toy with it and perfect it all year, and by next Chanukah you can gift friends and party hosts tins of your own version, respoendent with blue and white sprinkles or perhaps tart dried fruits.
It being a Chanukah Recipe Fest and all, I'd also intended to share the creation of this,
the perfect partner for these ubiquitous Chanukah delights.
And while it's a bit late for the holiday this year, I hear that this Internet thing-a-ma-bob should be around for a little while, so bookmark this for next year. Or make it now as a fresh and sweet compliment to winter's heavy braises, stews, and all around warmth-inducing rich dishes.
Applesauce is universally found on grocery store shelves in large jars (or more creative packaging for the under-11 set). However, it's quite easy to produce yourself, not to mention more nutritious and fresh-tasting.
When I asked my father, the family's current resident applesauce maker, to tell me how he earned this title, he told me that a large crew of friends were heading to his friend Henry's camp to create a variety of apple dishes with the current harvest. My father brought along the foley food mill that my folks had inherited from my maternal grandmother. Device in hand and pounds of fruit at the ready, but no knowledge of how to actually churn it in to sauce, he turned to an age old solution. "Ma, how do I make applesauce?" (Though calling ones' mother from your cell phone somewhere in the woods is more of a decade-ish old solution than age old one...)
My grandmother imparted her wisdom and recipe as follows.
Chanukah Recipe #7
Homemade Applesauce as dictated from my father
1) Quarter and core about 5 lbs of apples (cortland, empire, macoun)
2) Boil 2 cups of water in large pot, dump in apples and juice of 1 lemon.
3) Boil until soft.
4) Put apples through foley food mill to remove skins and pulverize apples.
And what if you don't have the fabled foley mill, I inquired?
"Without a mill, you need to peel first. In that case you could use a blender or food processor."
I will note that I, lacking the fancy equipment of a foley mill and being too lazy to peel (I pass the laziness off as truly wanting to preserve the nutrition inherent in produce peels!), I like to just leave the peels on, cut out the core, and mash the finished sauce with potato masher, and serve it pleasantly chunky. The photo shows my Dad's, milled and peeled version.
Don't forget to keep the seeds from the lemon out of the pot.
This has, of course, endless variations. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and or honey to taste. Serve cold as a snack, with yogurt and/or granola for breakfast, warm over cake and/or under cream (whipped or not) for dessert. They are, of course a natural with friend potato pancakes, and they do compliment, I hear from the land 'o carnivores, a nice pork chop.
Chanukah Recipe #8
Chocolate Bark with endless variations
16 ounces, or 2 cups of chocolate- chopped or chips (use dark- and check the label- to keep it vegan or pareve, or use white or milk to your taste)
For double-layer bark, get 12 to 16 ounces of extra chocolate
Approximately one cup of your choice of toppings, chopped small
Crushed candy canes on a double layer bark- dark chocolate first, them white next
Shredded coconut and a dash of nutmeg for a beach-themed party (pictured below)
Chopped dried fruit
Mini marshmallows (try with peanuts for Rocky Road style or with crushed graham crackers for S'mores style
Sprinkles (color coordinated to various holidays and theme parties, of course)
1) Line a standard size cookie sheet with a lip with parchment paper (or very lightly grease the sheet) and keep at the ready. Get a small flat spatula or big spoon ready too.
2) Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 45 seconds at a time, stirring between runs, until smooth, shiny, and spreadable.
3) As soon as it's smooth and melted, pour chocolate on to the parchment-lined cookie sheet and immediately spread with the spatula all over the sheet. Don't worry about getting it exactly to the edges or making the edges neat. You just want a thin and even layer of chocolate.
For a double-layer bark, chill the pan, and when it's totally solid repeat Steps 2 and 3 with the second dose of chocolate.
4) Working quickly, sprinkle your toppings all over the chocolate. If they're chunky press them in ever so lightly. Alternatively, you could stir the toppings in to the melted chocolate before pouring it on the sheet. That creates a harmonious flavor with each crunchy bit fully enrobed, though I prefer the sheer prettiness of a sea of colors and textures on top.
5) Chill til firm then break in to irregular pieces and serve or package for gifts.