Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Middle of the Week Treat


Pumpkin Petit Four from Amelie’s. Enough said.

Of course I am not serious. I think that something deep down inside me would be seriously disturbed if I just posted a picture and a seven word caption. However, the pumpkin petit four from Amelie’s is certainly good enough to deserve that kind of a spotlight, a big picture with just a few words. The attention to detail in the layering is what makes this one superb and seasonal petit four.The top layer has the most pumpkin flavor that hits your taste buds first but is very smooth, almost like a less sticky caramel. Then, there is a cream cheese layer that is fluffier and has a slight tang to balance the sweetness of the other layers. Next is a spice cake layer that is truly has lots of spice but is not dense or too sweet. Rounding out the petit four, on the bottom is a graham cracker cookie crust that is buttery with a slight crunch. The textures in this multilayered cake confection are perfectly matched. You probably know that I am generally obsessed with pumpkin; but, regardless of this obsession, this petit four is truly remarkable and worth a try if you are in the NoDa neighborhood. Also, this two or three bite small treat is very satisfying and will only cost you just over $2.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sweet Potato Truffles

Sweet potatoes + truffles, where can you go wrong?

First of all, I love sweet potatoes! Fun fact: these vitamin-packed tubers are my favorite vegetable! Second, truffles (as in the chocolate confection, not the very different but equally delicious fungus) can be the perfect little treat to satisfy a chocolate craving. They are creamy and chocolate-y and normally have a fun filling (I once had a divine white chocolate Kahlua truffle from 20 Degrees Chocolates). So, why not combine the two?

This week I wanted to make a snack for a club and as usual wanted to try something new. This club advocates for and tries to engage students in making responsible consumption choices. My thought process was as follows: “I have local, organic sweet potatoes in my room (from the Bowers house and as mentioned in the past blog post) and I want to find something that is easy and fast to make. Hmmm… Healthy Home Market is a few minutes away and they have delicious fair trade, organic chocolate that I haven’t had in a while. How can I combine the both of these?”

Several Google searches later, I had a base recipe for my sweet potato truffles. Below is my recipe, very responsibly made, delicious (they were a hit at the meeting!), and fairly ugly (but I would like to think the first two descriptions make up for this).


Orange Sweet Potato Truffles

Inspired by Ginger Beat

Yield: 12-15, depending on the size


1/2 cup chocolate chips (dark chocolate is best)

1 cup mashed sweet potato

1-1/2 cups raw chopped walnuts (pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, or pistachios would work here too; also, toasting the nuts would give a nice flavor)

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons orange essential oil (orange zest would work well, but use 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons)


1/4 cup cocoa powder

chopped nuts

Chop walnuts and set aside. Place the mashed sweet potato in a glass bowl. Add chocolate chips and microwave for about 45 seconds (more or less depending on the microwave) until the chocolate chips start to melt. Add nuts, salt, and orange essential oil to bowl and mix together by hand.** Smooth mixture out and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.

If using, place cocoa powder or chopped nuts in a shallow bowl or dish. Use a spoon to scoop out a tablespoon of mixture. Roll by hand into a ball shape and then gently roll in cocoa or nuts until covered.

Place on cookie sheet and store in the refrigerator until serving.

**For more uniform and truffle-like balls, you can combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth (no need to microwave chocolate chips). Then, roll truffles out in the same way as mentioned above.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

New Blog Design

Well, one thing lead to another and instead of doing homework I redesigned my blog. Tell me what you think and leave a comment! (It’s okay to be honest, I can take it.)

Digging Sweet Potatoes, a Davidson County Adventure

When asked what my plans were for this weekend, I responded that I was going home to dig sweet potatoes. I got quite a few strange looks and unsure “that’s cool”s. Some of my friends are from Charlotte or Chicago or South Korea and have probably never seen a sweet potato in a context other than on their plate. However, my family treasures our garden. During the summer it is a bounty of fresh produce and provides hours of enjoyment through picking and watering (I understand that this only constitutes “fun” to a certain segment of the population).
Our family garden’s growing season extended a bit longer than usual last summer when I bought six sweet potato plants on a whim. My rationale was that I like sweet potatoes and that we probably had a place to put them, so why not? Sweet potatoes are meant to be dug up before the first frost (according to my 93 year old great-grandmother whom I trust more than most gardening authorities). Therefore, last year my parents dug up the little plot of land in which we had planted the 6 plants in beginning-mid October. I think they were initially surprised to find way more than six sweet potatoes and were surprised that they were of any size since we had literally ignored them. But, the whole bed was filled with sweet potatoes, and some were really huge (like bigger than a football). Unfortunately, I was studiously occupied at Davidson during this inaugural digging of sweet potatoes. Fortunately, I was able to enjoy sweet potatoes until well into the spring. This year, I helped plant the sweet potatoes again. The only change from last year was that we planted more sweet potatoes and one time I sprinkled chili powder around the perimeter of the sweet potato patch (deer or rabbits had been eating the leaves off of the vines and I wanted to deter them but I can’t really confirm how well this worked). I have to say that digger sweet potatoes was way cooler than it sounds.  Ripping away the leaves and vines to see sweet potatoes bulging up out of the earth, with many more hidden below the surface is a way of seeing what nature can produce and connecting this back to what you eat.
Jerry and Dad cutting away the vines
Me holding up some small sweet potatoes
Our bounty of sweet potatoes, stored in the basement on newspaper these will last for a LONG time

Below are a few things I learned from digging sweet potatoes:
-the ones on top are the easiest to spot and dig up (obvious, but true)
-the ones that you can’t see at first are prime targets for shovels or trowels to slash into or for me to snap in half while trying to pull out (oops!)
-digging sweet potatoes can be a good excuse for playing in the dirt, a trowel or shovel is not necessary as long as you use your digits
-don’t discriminate; oddly shaped and broken in half sweet potatoes are still perfect for making sweet potato butter (recipe here)
-scrubbing the dirt off of sweet potatoes is messier and more time-consuming than it seems
-sweet potato butter is right up there with pumpkin butter and apple butter in terms of deliciousness
The above mentioned sweet potato butter on top of a healthy pumpkin cake. I have also found the sweet potato butter delicious in oatmeal!
Enjoy this fall weather and please eat something with pumpkin or sweet potato, lots of spice, and everything nice!