Harvest Heaven

by Allison Yan ’19

Sometimes, after a grueling day of classes and office hours, all you need is a good dinner to make everything better. Annenberg definitely came through Thursday night with the New England Harvest dinner, presented as a precursor to National Food Day on October 24th. The menu, consisting of Maine lobster bisque, mussels in white wine and local marinara, and gnocchi with sage brown butter and diced butternut squash, to name a few, seemed like items off the menu of a cozy restaurant that I could bring my parents to for Parents’ Weekend. In short, my taste buds have never been so satisfied with an Annenberg dinner.

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I decided the best way to go about the fare was to sample a bit of everything. I greedily loaded one plate with herb roasted all-natural chicken hailing from New York, scalloped potatoes from Maine, and mussels. Before I sat down, I told myself I would be rational about this and not force myself to stomach everything if I was full, but I cleared my plate quickly. The chicken was juicy and richly flavored, with just the right amount of saltiness. The potatoes were surprisingly soft and easy to bite into,. Eating the chicken and potatoes in little bites back and forth was such an amazing combination. I finished that plate by nibbling on the mussels I had scooped up, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the general positive opinions on New England seafood were true. The mussels were tangy and chewy, and balanced the hearty taste of the potatoes and chicken well.

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My second plate consisted of Maine-based tomatoes, which I paired with the dining hall’s rice (a surprisingly good compliment to the tomatoes!) The tomatoes were fresh and well-cooked, bringing together the natural sweetness of the fruit with the salty flavorings.

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I finished off my cafeteria quest with a bowl of lobster bisque soup and a breadstick. In all honesty, I nearly wept when I found that the breadstick was soft and warm – it was the best side to the bisque soup, which was one worthy of New England restaurants anywhere. It was creamy without being too thick, and definitely not too watery. I complemented the soup and breadstick, and everything prior, with a generous serving of warm apple cider.

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The food doesn’t end there: in the Annenberg seating area were more options that I couldn’t resist. After cleaning my two plates and soup, I went for the wonderful spread of crackers and cheddar, pepper jack, and goat cheeses. The cheese was filling and a classy, appreciated additions to such a hearty meal. The freshly made gnocchi I went for after was equally great, and a total treat for my taste buds. I told the kind chef who was scooping the gnocchi that I was so full, but would love to try the gnocchi for the Crimson Crave, so he scooped a tiny bit (re: two little pasta pieces) for me. After I took my first bite, it was all over: I asked for a full serving. The gnocchi was a treat, far superior to the daily Annenberg pastas, with the perfect amount of butter and squash to balance the pastas.

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Finishing off my extensive yet great meal was a sundae bar with Richardson’s Dairy Ice Cream. The sundae bar was just as extensive, boasting creamy and textured ice cream and a variety of toppings to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.  I had one scoop of butter and one scoop of vanilla ice cream, lightly topped with caramel syrup. The ice cream had a firm yet creamy consistency that definitely surpassed typical soft serve. It all goes to show that Massachusetts knows how to do their ice cream.

12My Annenberg dinner was a blessing and a truly great day to relax from a long day. While I’m probably just as uninformed about National Food Day and what it means, I’m now very informed about the godsend that is HUDS’ New England Harvest dinner. I’m looking forward to it in the years to come.

Salted Caramel Candy Corn Bark

by Caroline Gentile ’17

For me, bark is usually something that I don’t make until Christmas.  It makes a great gift, and is always a quick and easy treat to whip up at the last minute during all of the holiday craziness.  Melt some chocolate, let it set, sprinkle on toppings. That’s all it takes.  Perhaps the best thing about bark, besides the fact that it is delicious and easy to make, is how versatile it is.  Basically, you can make bark with any kind of chocolate and whatever toppings your heart desires.

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I love salted caramel and I love candy corn, but I couldn’t think of a way to combine the two.  And then it dawned on me- bark! Make it into bark!  So I did, and the result was perfection.   I used milk chocolate for the bottom layer, homemade salted caramel for the middle layer, and of course, candy corn on top. The sweetness of the candy corn was offset by the saltiness of the caramel, and the smooth milk chocolate layer balanced out the chewy caramel and crunchy candy corn.  This bark is definitely my new favorite Halloween treat.

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For the chocolate layer:

1lb milk chocolate, chopped (or dark chocolate, depending on your preference)

 

For the salted caramel layer (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction):

1 cup granulated sugar

6 T salted butter, cut into 6 pieces

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

 

For the candy corn layer:

1 bag of candy corn

Line a 9×13 baking dish with aluminum foil.  Make sure that foil is hanging over the sides. Set aside. Melt all but 3/4 cup of the chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water.  Stir using a wooden spoon until melted, heating in intervals of 10 seconds on the heat and 20 seconds off.  This may take time, but you really want to make sure that you do not burn the chocolate.

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Once it is all melted, remove from heat and add the remaining chocolate into the melted chocolate.  Stir until all of the chocolate is melted.  Pour all of the chocolate onto the foil in the baking dish. Using a spatula, spread out the chocolate across the bottom of the dish.  Allow to set for 30 minutes at room temperature. Do not cheat and put it in the refrigerator! This will cause the chocolate to become too hard. During this time, make the salted caramel!

Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to ensure that the sugar does not burn.  The sugar will eventually form clumps and turn into an amber-colored liquid as you stir.

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Once the sugar is entirely melted, add the butter immediately.  Be careful! The melted sugar will boil rapidly once the butter is added.

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Stir the butter into the sugar until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.

Very, very slowly, add the heavy cream.  Again, the mixture will bubble vigorously and may splatter, so be extra careful.  Allow to boil for 1 minute.  The mixture will rise in the pan as it boils.

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Remove from heat and add the salt. Stir.  Allow to cool before using.

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Once the salted caramel is cool, pour over the hardened chocolate layer (make sure that the chocolate layer is hardened before adding the caramel!)  Immediately sprinkle the candy corn over the salted caramel, pressing each individual corn into the caramel. Allow the bark to set for 30 minutes to an hour.  Enjoy!

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Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

By Victoria Piccione ’16

As a native New Englander, the end of September and the whole of October have always had a special place in my heart. As much as I love watching the leaves turn and feeling a bit of a nip in the air – at last, an excuse to don cozy sweaters and curl up in soft blankets! – I think it’s really all of the desserts that make fall my favorite time of the year.

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I can’t remember a single year growing up when we didn’t pile into the car in late September for our annual apple picking trip. As kids, we used to eat our weight in apples, but the real treat was always the fresh cider doughnuts that followed. A perk of having two younger siblings is that the childhood activities don’t stop even when you cease to be a kid. So last year, once again I piled into the car with my family, we ate (maybe half) our weight in apples, finished the day with cinnamon sugar cider doughnuts, and left with not one, but two half-bushel bags of freshly picked apples.

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During the glory days of living in DeWolfe, baking was a weekly occurrence, so it seemed reasonable to bring back a half-bushel of apples for my own use at school. In the beginning, though, I thought I’d been blinded by ambition. Even after making two different kinds of apple crisps and an apple cobbler, it seemed like I hadn’t even begun to make a dent in the apples. Things were going to have to get creative, so I searched my favorite baking blogs for interesting alternatives to the standard apple pie, apple crisp, and baked apples. And thus began my beautiful love affair with salted caramel apple crumb bars.

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I only had to make salted caramel sauce once to become completely obsessed. Chocolate chip cookie bars, buttercream frosting, pumpkin bread, I find an excuse to put caramel on and in everything. In these bars, the cinnamon-y, perfectly sweetened apple filling combined with the buttery crust and crumb topping are divine on their own, but the toasty saltiness of the caramel cuts through the apples and makes for a mouthwatering combination.

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Though the recipe has three major steps – making the shortbread-like dough, preparing the apple filling, and making the salted caramel – it’s fairly straightforward, and the shortbread is used for both the crust and the crumble on top. Additionally, store-bought caramel would serve just as well. Preparing the caramel first gives it time to cool and thicken, and then preparing the apples gives them time to soak up all the sugary cinnamon-y goodness. The best part of this recipe? Apples are plentiful in the dining hall year-round, so even if you didn’t go apple picking or even if it’s the middle of February, these delicious salted caramel apple crumb bars are only ever a few dhall apples away!

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Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Salted Caramel Sauce

2 cups granulated sugar

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces*

1 cup heavy cream, room temperature*

1 tablespoon fleur de sel or kosher salt

(1) Before starting, make sure all of the ingredients are measured and ready to use so that once the caramel reaches the appropriate stage you can add them without hesitation. *Also, it’s essential that the butter and cream be at room temperature; if they are not, when you add them to the melted sugar, the sugar may harden rapidly into a nearly unusable mess that should be delicious caramel sauce.

(2) Heat the sugar over medium-high heat in the bottom of a heavy (relatively big) saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. The sugar will clump; just keep mixing. Once the sugar is melted, stop mixing and swirl the pan vigorously.

(3) Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Watch the pan closely so that you don’t overcook the caramel. If you have a candy thermometer on hand, cook the caramel until it reaches 350°F.

(4) Once the caramel reaches the right temperature/color, carefully add the butter. I’ll usually add one piece at a time and continue whisking vigorously until it’s fully combined. Just keep whisking. Be aggressive with the whisking.

(5) Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream, whisking as you pour. Whisk until the cream is incorporated and the caramel is smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel or kosher salt.

(6) Let the caramel sauce cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes.

Note: this recipe makes a lot of caramel sauce! It can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for the next time you make cookie bars or decide to indulge in an ice cream sundae.

For the Apple Filling:

5 cups peeled and diced apples (I use Cortland or Granny Smith)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the crust:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the Apple Crumb Bars:

(1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

(2) Place the apples in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the apples and mix until the apples are coated entirely. Set aside.

(3) In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Use your fingertips to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients until a few small chunks of butter remain.

(4) In a separate bowl, mix the egg and vanilla together. Add into the flour and butter mixture and stir to combine. The dough will be crumbly and a little dry.

(5) Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the bottom crust.

(6) Generously drizzle salted caramel sauce over the apple filling, at least ¾ cup. Crumble the remaining dough over the apple caramel layer and pat gently.

(7) Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Cool completely. Cut into squares and drizzle salted caramel sauce.

Note: You can also find cinnamon and nutmeg where they keep spices in the dhall!