Ask Addie: What is coffee flour and how do I use it?

Have you seen coffee flour in stores yet?

Coffee flour looks like a mix between a flour and a spice. Some bakers use larger quantities of it in recipes to amp up the nutritional value, while others use just a little in addition to cinnamon or other spices. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I first encountered it — in a barrel in the bulk section — at Sprouts, but you can also find jars of it at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere.

Earlier this week, the proprietors of CoffeeFlour, which owns the trademark on the name and the production process, were in Austin for a food innovation competition called FoodBytes. (The local cricket company Aspire won one of the prizes.)

CoffeeFlour didn’t win, but it’s a product already on my pantry shelf and a product with lots of blog posts dedicated to it, so they are kind of already winning.

Here’s the idea: In order to make coffee, you have to discard the outside of the coffee bean. It’s the flesh of a fruit that rots and puts off methane and has all the other problems associated with food waste.

But this company dries out the fruit, or cherry, of the coffee plant and then they turn it into a powder that’s a mix between a flour and a spice. This fruit has nearly as much antioxidants as blueberries, and it also has some fiber and other good-for-you-nutrients.

Trader Joe’s is one of the grocers that sells coffee flour now. It’s a good-for-you product that reduces the waste produced during coffee production. Contributed by Trader Joe’s.

The company suggests replacing 15 to 25 percent of your flour with the coffee flour, but Food52 experimented with this and found that, unless you want a significantly stronger flavored product, it’s not wise to use quite so much. The sugar cookies made with the coffee flour were much darker and they compared the taste to molasses or gingersnaps. They said there was a slight graininess, too.

On Epicurious, they tried 3/4 cup of it in a pound cake, which make the cake look like it had been baked with chocolate. That baker concluded that she’d use coffee flour for the health benefits, but the taste was slightly bitter without the addition of any additional sweeteners, such as actual chocolate.

Coffee flour has about as much caffeine as dark chocolate, so you might notice a perkiness after eating a whole cookie or a slice of cake, but I think I might fall into the camp of bakers who will use coffee flour as a spice to add complexity to breads, muffins, cakes and cookies.

Earlier this week, I used coffee flour in a maple oatmeal raisin skillet cookie, and it was one of my favorite treats I’ve ever baked. I wasn’t sure if it was the coffee flour or the dates that I also threw in at the end, but the cookie had a rich undertones that reminded me of figs and chocolate, and some of that had to have come from the coffee flour.

Because it’s still a new-ish product, you’ll find coffee flour in different forms and that will evolve as the product evolves. You’re most likely to find it in a grocery store with a natural or health focus, and maybe even a bulk section. Trader Joe’s sells theirs in the baking section.

This skillet cookie is made with oats, raisins, pecans, dates and coffee flour. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Maple Oatmeal Raisin Skillet Cookie

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon coffee flour (optional)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cups chopped dates
1/2 cup pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and stir frequently until the butter browns. Stir in the brown sugar and maple extract. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 8 minutes. (You want the pan to be warm but not hot.)

Crack an egg into the skillet and whisk into the mixture. Add the cinnamon, salt and baking soda and stir until combined. Add flour to the skillet and stir slowly until incorporated.

Add your mix-ins: oatmeal, raisins, dates and pecans. Combine and pat evenly into the skillet with a spatula or your hands.

Top with raw sugar if desired. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 14 to 18 minutes, until set. Serve warm with yogurt if desired.

— Adapted from a recipe by Baker Bettie, bakerbettie.com

RELATED:
How to make a S’mores Skillet Brownie (even if you hate camping)

WATCH: How to make an upside-down peach cake

 

Last-minute food fun: Les Dames d’Escoffier hosting live auction at Barr Mansion

If you’re in the mood for small bites, a live auction and mingling with local chefs and food business owners, you’ll want to know about an event tonight.

The local chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier is hosting its annual “En Garde!” fundraiser Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Barr Mansion in Northeast Austin.

The event will raise money for the local nonprofit, and it’s also where they’ll also announce the recipients of $10,000 in scholarships and grants. Guests will get to sample food from Alcomar, Andiamo, Barley Swine, Barr Mansion, Buenos Aires Café, Bullfight, Juniper, L’Oca d’Oro, la Barbecue, Odd Duck, Second Bar + Kitchen, Taco Flats, VOX Table and Wu Chow, as well as a live “Chopped”-style competition between chefs Janelle Reynolds of @t Large catering and Jennifer Costello of The Bonneville.

There’s also a VIP ticket that includes even more food, drinks and entertainment. Tickets cost $65 at the door and $85 for VIP. You might still be able to snag a slightly cheaper ticket online at ldeiaustin.org/food-fight.

Are pasture-raised chickens better than cage-free? Let’s watch dueling ads to find out

Vital Farms’ new ad campaign doesn’t mince words: Most egg advertising is (expletive.)

But a new Sanderson Farms ad says the same thing: Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks when it comes to eggs.

These are companies with different chicken-raising standards, different products (eggs and chicken meat), different farmers and different customers, but the ads look surprisingly similar. Same visuals. Same tone (silly meets warm agrarian life). And, for some viewers, the same WTF reaction that I had.

“With common sense here and some hearty food here, here a chicken, there a chicken, everywhere a happy chicken,” is one of the lyrics from that Sanderson Farms ad, which has a whole satirical website — oldmacgimmick.com — to support the campaign that pokes fun at the feel-good environmentalists who want to see the entire industry take better care of chickens.

Vital Farms, the Austin-based company that sells a dozen eggs for more than $5, is playing hardball for organic grocery dollars. It has expanded quickly in the past few years, signing on lots of smaller farms that can get top dollar for their free-roaming chicken eggs.

The latest Vital Farm commercial touts all that room while calling out other companies for using labels like “cage-free,” which can be confusing to customers. “Our chickens get 108 square feet per hen. How much room does a cage-free hen get? About one. One square foot per hen,” the farmer in the Vital Farms ad says.

A rep from Vital Farms: “‘Cage-free’ eggs are laid by hens that are restricted to giant indoor barns, with little more than 1 square foot per hen. Vital Farms pasture-raised and Certified Humane hens, by contrast, enjoy at least 108 square feet of open space each and can roam and forage outside whenever they please.”

In the ad, Vital Farms doesn’t specifically call out anyone for using “free-range,” which is now a different category of eggs that falls between “cage-free” and “pasture-raised.” It’s a third category that consumers need to know about it they are assessing all the options. These birds get only two square feet and access to the outside, but they aren’t primarily housed outside.

RELATED: Natural, organic and cage-free: Decoding labels for meat, dairy, eggs

What’s a consumer to do? My answer: Think critically about all advertising, not just the ones from the companies you already like or dislike. Yes, it’s important to know that cage-free doesn’t mean that chickens are frolicking around in a field, but it’s also important to know that conventional farming might not look like the horror stories you’ve seen in activist documentaries.

I don’t think that either of these ads are winners — the Sanderson ad is too dismissive of the environmental concerns about raising chickens in confined spaces, and the expletives make the Vital Farms ad seem off brand for a company that has gone for wholesome imagery — but I mostly thought it was interesting how similar they are and how marketing firms are using the same advertising techniques, no matter which side of the story they are trying to tell.

CORRECTION: This post originally misstated the number of square feet per chicken at Vital Farms. The number is 108 square feet per chicken.

 

 

Honoring my grandma’s legacy of peach pies, goulash and community service

The world lost a great goulash-maker two weeks ago.

My dear grandmother died after a long summer of falls and failing health. She lived to be 87 years old, and for 60 of those years, she was the comfort-food-maker-in-chief of Aurora, Mo. She made lemon cakes for people who needed a little sunshine in their day and goulash — a casserole of ground beef, canned tomatoes and dried macaroni — if they were in mourning.

I was always particularly close to my grandma, especially after I became a mom and a writer, which gave me an excuse to ask her even more questions about her life.

My family and so many people in her tight-knit community back home have been in mourning, but we’ve also been celebrating a woman who wasn’t a stranger to this food section a few states away.

In these pages and in real life, I called her Gaga, and I first told you about her in 2008 in my second column as a food writer. I wrote about how she always used to make peach pie when I traveled to Missouri for a visit to my hometown and the resiliency she showed when the pie she made for our photo shoot didn’t turn out exactly right.

Gaga taught me how to make her famous peach pie in 2008, when I first started writing about food for the newspaper. Ricardo Brazziell / American-Statesman

I would always ask her for her favorite recipes, ostensibly for research on a column, but really I just knew that it was a gateway into getting her to tell stories about when she used to make a certain dish, where she got the recipe or the lives of the people she was feeding.

I complained once that I couldn’t find a lemon bar recipe that I liked online. She went straight to her pile of clipped recipes and pulled out one she’d cut from Guideposts. “This is Gaga’s internet,” she said as she handed me the recipe. It was exactly the one I’d been hoping to find.

For another column, I told the story of our family’s immigration to America through a 130-plus-year-old bread knife and rolling pin that came with our ancestors from Sweden in the 1890s. I wrote about her moosebread (our family’s funny term for lemon poppy seed bread), the orange glaze rolls she used to make by the dozen at Christmas and a coffeecake that came from her mother, a first-generation Swedish American.

Until just a few months ago, Gaga was still showing up every Saturday morning to make sack lunches at church. Her weekly effort to feed the community inspired me to pick up a Meals on Wheels route five years ago.

Carolyn Cook was the matriarch of our Missouri family, keeping all of us connected to the small town she called home since the 1950s. Every member of the family was there to remember her at her funeral two weeks ago. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

As her health declined over the past few years, I wrote about the changing roles in their home, where my parents were her caregivers and I was the one who would show up to surprise her with an upside-down peach cake.

Last year, my sister and I traveled to Sweden because we wanted her to get to see us go back to the ancestral homeland. We ate cinnamon buns and texted her selfies from the small island village where her grandmother was born. Last Christmas, I surprised Gaga with a Skype call with Swedish cousins she never knew existed.

All of my uncles, aunts and cousins gathered a few weeks ago to remember stories like this for her memorial service. We ate barbecue and potato salad, quiche and, at the funeral luncheon, not one but two kinds of cheesy potatoes, plus more chocolate cake and cookies than we could have eaten all week.

I’m grateful for the many years we had together, especially when food became an opportunity for us to deepen our conversations and our relationship. Ever since she and I made that imperfect pie together, I often channel her when I’m cooking something that feels like it’s gone awry. That moment when she just pieced together the cracked pie crust and didn’t throw her hands up in despair when things fell apart stuck with me. She fixed what she could, without apology, and moved on.

Gaga’s warmth, humor and good nature stuck with her until the end. For decades, she would quietly send newspaper clippings and birthday cards (and St. Patrick’s Day cards and Valentine’s Day cards) to a long list of relatives and friends.

Gaga requested that her collection of dachshunds were set up at her funeral, so people could pick out their favorite to remember her. A few weeks ago, my mom and two sons helped her pack them up to take them to the church. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

She was the only person I knew who used the word “larapin” to describe delicious food, and she had this quirk of collecting hundreds of dachshund figurines, which she wanted given away at her funeral. (Her wish was fulfilled, including the one wearing the cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.)

Once, I stopped by the dentist office she’d worked at for years as a dental assistant to get fitted for a guard so I wouldn’t grind my teeth at night. The dentist, one of the countless friends in town who might as well have been family, wouldn’t let me pay him. “Tell your grandma she can just send one of her lemon cakes.”

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread (Moosebread)

Lemon poppyseed bread, aka “moosebread,” is a favorite recipe in my family, which has been a little obsessed for all things moose for more than 30 years. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

This poppy seed loaf, which half of our family calls moosebread and the other half calls moose food, is easily one of the most treasured treats in my grandmother’s recipe box. Her recipe calls for butter extract and oil instead of butter, which gives you an idea of when the recipe was likely developed in some unknown Midwestern kitchen. To honor that legacy, I’ve kept them in this modified version. The only real change in my version is swapping out orange juice in the glaze for lemon juice. You’ll need two loaf pans for the batter.

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons butter flavor extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest
For the glaze:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter flavor extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine baking powder, flour, salt and poppy seeds. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, milk, oil, extracts and zest. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans. Bake for about 1 hour until middle of the bread has set.

During the last 10 minutes of baking, make the glaze by heating the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for a few minutes, and then turn off heat.

Right after you remove the loaves from the oven, slowly pour the glaze on top of each loaf. Once the loaves have cooled, remove from pan and wrap in plastic wrap. Serve slices of bread at room temperature or warmed slightly. Makes two loaves.

— Addie Broyles

Like so many cooks from her era, my grandma diligently kept up a handwritten recipe collection with cards that she continued to use whenever she cooked. As she grew older, she baked fewer lemon cakes, but she will be remembered for her community service, which included years of making sack lunches at church and dropping off goulash for families who had lost a loved one. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Recipe of the Week: A cozy braised chicken for a rainy fall night

With the start of fall upon us, it’s time to break out those recipes we’ve been saving since the summer.

Coq au vin is a traditional French dish of braised chicken in red wine, but it’s a dish that Americans have loved for generations. Contributed by Kristin Teig.

This spin on coq au vin — a braised chicken dish we undoubtedly associate with fall and winter — comes from Annemarie Ahearn, the chef behind Salt Water Farm, a cooking school in Maine. She has a new cookbook, “Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm: Recipes from Land and Sea” (Roost Books, $35), which includes many of the dishes she teaches and serves at the school.

Long ago, this kind of wine-braised chicken was only made with old, tough birds, but Ahearn uses young, free-range birds, too. Don’t worry about using nice wine in this dish. She calls for Burgundy, but any rich red wine will be suitable.

Annemarie Ahearn runs a cooking school in Maine called Salt Water Farm. Contributed by Kristin Teig.

Red Wine-Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Bacon and Herbs

3 cups Burgundy red wine
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 peeled garlic cloves, 1 whole and 2 chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 (5- to 6-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
8 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
20 cipollini onions, peeled and quartered, or 3 yellow onions, peeled and cut into eighths
1 pound mushrooms (creminis, oysters, chicken of the woods and/or chanterelles), cut into quarters
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley

In a medium-size saucepan, bring the wine, peppercorns, whole garlic clove, celery, carrot and yellow onion to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool, then pour over chicken in a large bowl. Cover and marinate the chicken for several hours or overnight in the fridge.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Tie the parsley, bay leaves and thyme together with kitchen string; set aside. Remove the chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain solids from the marinade and reserve both solids and liquid. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon and fry until meat begins to crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a bowl. Increase heat to medium high.

Working in two batches, brown chicken pieces for 6 to 8 minutes, flip them halfway through, then transfer to a plate. Add reserved marinade solids to the pot and cook until the vegetables are soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the reserved marinade liquid, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining garlic, chicken stock, shallots and salt and pepper to taste. Nestle the chicken and herb bundle in vegetables. Cover and bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour.

While the chicken is baking, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cipollini or remaining yellow onions and sauté until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Combine the onions with bacon in bowl. Melt remaining butter over medium-high heat, add mushrooms, and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

To serve, arrange chicken pieces on a large platter and top with sauce, bacon, onions, mushrooms and chopped parsley. Serve family style. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm: Recipes from Land and Sea” by Annemarie Ahearn (Roost Books, $35)

World’s largest ramen expo is coming to Austin in October

Ramen is having a decade.

The number of ramen restaurants in America has exploded in the past five to 10 years, and it’s become such a big deal here that the largest ramen event in Japan is hosting its 10th annual Ramen Expo in the U.S. this year, and the organizers picked Austin as the host city. (I can’t find a larger ramen expo out there, so I’ve decided it’s probably the world’s largest, too. LMK if you know otherwise.)

For its 10th annual Ramen Expo, the organizers in Japan decided to host the conference in a different country, and they picked the U.S. Austin will serve as the host city on Oct. 9 and 10 at the Travis County Expo Center. The event is free to attend if you’re in the restaurant and food industry, but ramen enthusiasts can buy a general admission ticket for $40. Contributed by Ramen Expo USA

RELATED:
Ramen Tatsu-Ya helps usher in Austin’s ramen craze
Cultural exchange: Excellent Kemuri Tatsu-Ya mashes up Texas and Japan

On Oct. 9 and 10 at the Travis County Exposition Center,  7311 Decker Lane, in East Austin, a few thousand distributors, buyers, manufacturers, markets, restaurant owners and more from all over the world will gather for the convention that is hosted, in part, by the Japan External Trade Organization. According to the website, “This event is aimed to help build future business opportunities for ramen industry companies from Japan, by introducing them to those who are already established in the United States, and to others who are looking to start.”

Ramen from Marukin, a Japanese restaurant with two locations in Portland and a number in Japan. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The event is mostly business-to-business, but they are selling a public tickets online for $40 (or $50 at the door, if not sold out) that will let you tour the exhibit hall from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. If you are involved with the restaurant/catering industry as a distributor, owner, purchaser,
member of the media or a food blogger, the event is free to attend if you register online.

You can check out their Instagram @ramenexpousa for updates and find more info at ramenexpousa.com.

How to make a S’mores Skillet Brownie (even if you hate camping)

S’mores are always in season if you live in a place like Texas where you can camp all year.

There are all kinds of ways you can make s’mores at home to get a taste of that camping experience, but over the weekend, I went a step further and make a s’mores brownie in a cast iron skillet.

S’mores inspired this marshmallow-topped brownie with a graham cracker crust. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I’ve been working on skillet cookies for an upcoming store, but this one was just too good not to share right away. The original recipe came from “The Perfect Cookie: Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Cookies, Brownies & Bars” by America’s Test Kitchen, but I baked it in a cast iron skillet instead of an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan. I did use their trick to line the pan with aluminum foil, and you’ll definitely want to spray your knife with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick to the marshmallows.

RELATED: The curious history of why Americans love s’mores

I also discovered that there’s a quirk to circle-shaped desserts: Even though you might be tempted to cut this brownie like a pie because it is in that easy-to-carry skillet, it’s best to cut it as a bar, so people who eat it will be encouraged to eat it with by hand instead of with a fork, which sticks to those marshmallows. Other skillet cookies are fine to slice like a pie, but keep this one in squares or rectangles.

These s’mores brownies are best when cut into squares, not slices, so you can eat them one bite at a time. No one will mind the small, irregular shapes on the edges. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

S’mores Skillet Brownie

For the crust:
6 whole graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (3/4 cup)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
For the brownies:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup (3 1/3 ounces) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups marshmallows

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cast iron skillet with aluminum foil. (You can use an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan lined with two sheets of aluminum foil so you can lift the bars out of the pan when they are finished.) Spray the foil with cooking oil.

Using your fingers, mix together the crushed graham crackers, butter and sugar. Press into the bottom of the pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

While the crust bakes, melt the butter and chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Heat the mixture for about 30 seconds and then stir, repeating for about 90 seconds to two minutes. Let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs and vanilla, and then add the chocolate mixture to combine the wet ingredients. Pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.

Pour the batter on top of the graham cracker crust and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 to 27 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and turn on broiler. Sprinkle brownies with marshmallows and place under the broiler to toast lightly, about 1 to 3 minutes. As soon as they are just a little brown on top, remove pan from oven and let cool for at least two hours before slicing. Spray a knife with cooking oil before using to keep the marshmallow from sticking to it.

— Adapted from a recipe in “The Perfect Cookie: Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Cookies, Brownies & Bars” by America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen, $35)

 

From the archives: The curious history of why Americans love s’mores

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on May 26, 2010.

Sylvester Graham would roll over in his grave if he knew about s’mores.

Homemade graham crackers and homemade marshmallows for s’mores. Laura Skelding / American-Statesman

The 19th-century minister and diet reformer who invented graham crackers dedicated his life in the early 1800s to teaching “Grahamites” about the health and moral benefits of a meat-free diet of simple, unseasoned food. Roasted marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between two of his namesake crackers is exactly the kind of indulgent food Graham preached against, but despite his healthful lifestyle, he died at age 57, several decades before that first curious camper took a bite of what has become summer’s sweetest guilty pleasure.

Memorial Day kicks off the s’more season, when millions of Americans will tear into bags of marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers, forage around the campsite for just the right roasting stick and debate among themselves how much char is too much to make the perfect s’more.

No one knows for sure who first thought to heat up marshmallows over an open fire and squish them with chocolate and crackers, but the first recipe for a “some more” — as if you needed one — appeared in a Girl Scout handbook in 1927. It’s likely that people first started making them in the late 1800s, which is when all three ingredients were first readily available.

Marshmallows date back to 19th century France, where candymakers used the sap of the mallow root to make a fluffy confection. You can make them from home with the right equipment. Laura Skelding / American-Statesman

Around the same time Graham was spreading his health food gospel, French candymakers on the other side of the Atlantic discovered how to create a fluffy white sweet confection from the sap of the mallow root, which had long been used to treat respiratory ailments and sore throats. By the time the cylindrical-shaped puffs were invented a century later, the natural mallow was replaced with gelatin. (Another reason Graham would disapprove: Gelatin is made from animal parts.)

No s’more is complete without chocolate. Even as Americans’ palates for different varieties of chocolate has matured, Hershey’s milk chocolate remains the standard.

You can make s’mores with so many different kinds of chocolates, marshmallows and even crackers. Laura Skelding / American-Statesman

Upgrading to artisan chocolate bark or bars, including those from local companies such as Fat Turkey, Viva Chocolato, Arte y Chocolate, Innocent Chocolate or Chocbite, is an easy way to spiff up your sandwich, or you can replace regular chocolate with candy bars like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Kit Kat bars. Bored with graham crackers? Skip them altogether and use Oreo or Nutter Butter sandwich cookies instead.

But for a really lavish treat, try making your own marshmallows and graham crackers. Marshmallows are slightly trickier to make only because they require heating a mixture of corn syrup, sugar and water to a soft ball candy stage (about 235 degrees), but after you’ve tried a homemade one that tastes like a Mexican vanilla-flavored cirrus cloud, the store-bought ones seem like hockey pucks.

Not a fan of vanilla? Swap it with another flavor extract like orange, lemon, coconut or even peach. (Exotic extracts are available at cake supply stores or online.) With just a few drops of food coloring, you can make marshmallows of just about any color of the rainbow.

Store-bought graham crackers today aren’t exactly the health food Sylvester Graham intended them to be, and your homemade ones, even those made with whole wheat flour, won’t be either. True graham crackers are made with graham flour, a combination of fine-ground white flour and coarse-ground wheat bran and germ, but most recipes simply call for whole-wheat flour and a lot of butter and brown sugar. Unlike the dry, stick-in-your-teeth crackers from a box, homemade grahams have a delicate texture, thanks to the butter, and a complex, slightly savory flavor which offsets the sugary overload from the marshmallows and chocolate.

Homemade marshmallows melt differently than store-bought ones, but they can make for a memorably gooey s’more. Laura Skelding / American-Statesman

A warning about roasting homemade marshmallows: Because they don’t contain the stabilizers found in packaged marshmallows, they heat up and melt much more quickly. They are likely to fall off your stick before catching on fire, but even lovers of charred marshmallows won’t mind when they lick airy, warm marshmallow cream off the side of a homemade s’more.

You can make s’mores indoors on a gas stove, in the microwave, inside a toaster or even on a grill (wrapped in aluminum foil, Hershey’s suggests), but playing with fire is half the fun of making them. A handful of restaurants and coffee shops, including the downtown coffee shop Halcyon, offer tabletop-contained fire units for roasting marshmallows for s’mores, but it’s hard to beat the smoke-in-your-face challenge of roasting them in a real fire.

Hot coals provide a more even and often hotter heat than the flicking flames above the wood, but make sure you have extra marshmallows on hand in case you drop some in the fire. Long metal kebab skewers are good for roasting, as are sticks, of course, but avoid wire coat hangers, which are often coated in plastic.

S’mores aren’t exactly a sophisticated dessert, but they’ve made their way to the White House. At the state dinner for Mexico’s president last week, chef Rick Bayless served chocolate-cajeta tart with toasted homemade marshmallows, graham cracker crumble and goat cheese ice cream for the president and his dinner guests. No roasting stick required.

abroyles@statesman.com; 912-2504

 

Marshmallows

3 pkg. unflavored gelatin (a small box, such as those sold by Knox, usually contains four packages)

1 cup ice cold water, divided

12 oz. granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

Nonstick spray

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with either a whisk or beaters, pour a half-cup of the water and stir in the gelatin. (It will congeal while you heat the sugar mixture.)

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and continue to stir and cook for approximately seven to 10 minutes until the mixture reaches soft ball candy stage, between 235 and 240 degrees. (Don’t guess on this step. Use a thermometer, preferably a candy thermometer.) Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes white, thick and lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add vanilla during the last minute of whipping. (You can substitute other extracts, but note that some, such as peppermint, are stronger in flavor and won’t require the full amount. This is the stage where you also can add a few drops of food coloring.)

While the mixture is whipping, prepare a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan. In a bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray and add the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Shake the pan from side to side to move it around and coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

After the sugar syrup and gelatin has formed an airy cream, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. (You might need to re-sift the combination to ensure even coating.) Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit, uncovered at room temperature, for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

When you’re ready to cut the marshmallows, loosen the sides and bottom of the solidified mixture with a spatula that has been dusted with the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board that has been dusted with sugar and cornstarch mixture and cut into squares using a pizza wheel or a long serrated knife dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

­- Adapted from a recipe from Alton Brown’s Food Network show ‘Good Eats’

 

Graham Crackers

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (reduce salt to 1/2 tsp. if using salted butter)

1/4 cup dark or light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup honey

Sift together all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and honey on medium until well-combined, about a minute. Add half of the dry ingredients and combine fully before adding in the rest.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking sheet such as Silpat or parchment paper.

Put half the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares or rectangles and use a spatula to transfer them to the baking sheet. Gather the scraps and add to the chilled dough. Using a fork, pierce each rectangle or square with two rows of holes, and place the pans in the oven. Bake for 13-16 minutes or until the crackers are golden brown. (They will darken slightly as they cool.)

Using a spatula, move the crackers to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Makes about three dozen crackers. Stored in an airtight container, the crackers will keep for about a week.

­- Adapted from ‘The Craft of Baking’ by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox (Clarkson Potter, 2009)

WATCH: Does this new spray can latte actually work?

For weeks, I’ve been seeing this commercial for International Delight’s One Touch Latte, which I have been calling — with great curiosity — “spray latte.”

International Delight’s new spray creamer helps customers make lattes at home. Contributed by International Delight

It’s not actually a spray latte; it’s the International Delight creamer in a can packed with so much pressure that it shoots out at a speed high enough to whip a foam on top of your coffee. A neat idea to make a latte-like beverage at home, but does it work and how does it taste?

I tried one of these newfangled coffee sprays in today’s Facebook livestream, and since I was talking about coffee, tasted a sweet cream cold brew from Stumptown and a draft latte in a can from La Colombe.

[cmg_anvato video=”4176193″]

I also mentioned this chilaquiles story by Claudia Alarcón and this pumpkin spice challah recipe, just in time for Rosh Hashanah.

Don’t forget to share your home cooking pics by adding #Austin360Cooks to your posts on social media! (#Austin360Eats is for restaurants, food trucks and the like.) We are gearing up for prime fall cooking, so I’m looking forward to seeing what you’re making this season.

RELATED: Brunch lovers, keep an eye out for this Houston-based chilaquiles sauce

Food bloggers, bakers raise more than $20,000 for Harvey relief at citywide bake sale

Recipe of the Week: Snickerdoodles inspire this cake-like treat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to find prehistoric Texas food today? At a gala, naturally

What is traditional Texas food?

Queso, barbecue and tacos might come to mind, but what if you went further back to prehistoric Texas, when the ingredients you might use to make a meal would include acorns, pecans, deer, dove, persimmons or prickly pear?

Prickly pear cactus and nopales are two ingredients commonly used through Texas’ long history, even before European settlers arrived. Larry Kolvoord/American-Statesman

Honoring the long history of Texas, particularly before European settlers arrived, has been the mission of the Texas Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center in Goldthwaite since it opened in 2014, but supporters of the garden (and soon-to-be-under-construction museum) have been raising money every fall with a swanky dinner up in Mills County.

The Texas Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center has been hosting a fall Prairie Experience gala for the past seven years, and this year, the event returns to Goldthwaite with Austin chef Jesse Griffiths cooking the meal. Contributed by Legacy Plaza

I went to one of the Prairie Experience gala dinners many years ago that was prepared by the chef of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, but this year’s eighth annual event on Oct. 7 will showcase the locavore talents of Dai Due owner Jesse Griffiths.

Dai Due chef Jesse Griffiths is in charge of the menu at an upcoming fundraising dinner in Goldthwaite, which is less than two hours northwest of Austin. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Through Griffiths’ New School of Traditional Cookery , he hosts classes and guided hunts to help food lovers learn more about where their food comes from, as well as the original foodways of Texas. At the dinner in early October, he’ll prepare each course using venison, wild boar, catfish, dove, nopales and many other native Texas ingredients.

In addition to the dinner at Legacy Plaza’s Pavilion, at the corner of U.S. 183 and Second Street in Goldthwaite, Texas guests will have a chance to bid on lots of auction items, including several from Dai Due and its hunting and cooking school.

The event starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, and tickets cost $150. If you don’t want to make the 90-minute drive to Goldthwaite, you can catch the shuttle from Austin for an extra $50. All the proceeds will help cover the costs of the educational programs at the garden and interpretive center and the museum, which should break ground soon. You can buy tickets by calling 325-642-7527 or emailing contact@legacyplaza.org by September 25.