Saturday, July 9, 2011

Harry Potter and the Fabulous Chocolate Frogs

The final Harry Potter movie comes out next week, and it's bittersweet for me.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published when I was in college, and I haughtily dismissed it as dreck that was aimed at tweens.  And did so until the first movie came out during law school.  One of my classmates wanted to go see it to make sure it was suitable for her kids to watch, and several of us tagged along.  I was highly skeptical.  Coming out of the movie theater, I remember telling my friends how I wanted to read the books right away.  The next day, I went to the bookstore and bought the first four books, Order of the Phoenix hadn't come out yet.  I was converted; I turned into somewhat of a Harry Potter fangirl.  Now, all of the books have been published, and the last movie is coming out in a few days.  As cliched as it sounds, it's the end of an era. 

Thankfully, I have friends with similar interests, and over last weekend, I had them over to watch Deathly Hallows Part 1 before we see Part 2 (at midnight!) when it comes out.  One of the foods that has always amused me in the Harry Potter books are chocolate frogs.  Margaret brought over some frog shaped candy molds and I quickly became obsessed.  Making frog shaped chocolate is remarkably easy.   I nuked a measuring cup full of broken Hershey's milk chocolate bars, poured it into the molds, and froze it for 15-20 minutes.  Then, I repeated with Hershey's dark chocolate.  The result were some adorable chocolate frogs!  Even though I froze them, they got a little melty on the plate.  So, I served them in a Pyrex dish filled with ice and topped with tinfoil to keep them cool.  I guess that once I heated the chocolate, it made it more prone to melting.  I made extra frogs and kept them in the freezer until all of these were eaten.  These were a fun way to eat chocolate.
These might not hop around, but they're still cute!




As I've mentioned before, my baking ability is somewhat limited due to my irrational fear of precise measuring.   But because I am a giant nerd, I wanted to make some desserts from the Harry Potter world, and my friend Margaret has a Harry Potter cookbook.  After looking through it, I decided that I wanted to make meringues.  I love meringues!  In France, I've devoured ones as large as my hand and wanted seconds even though my pancreas was screaming in agony.  I looked at the recipe, and there were only a handful of ingredients, I could definitely do this with minimal injury to myself.  I had everything I needed except baking parchment, which I completely forgot.  It turned out to be totally unnecessary.  On one baking sheet, I used my Silpat.  I greased the other one with butter.  No problem!  Here is the result, before I ate a few.  I had to cover them just to keep myself and my husband away from them before my friends arrived.  These were good. 

Light and fluffy meringues!


These are extremely easy to make.  I went for the "rustic" option, and used a spoon instead of a piping bag.  I think that the slightly messy look is more appropriate to something from the Harry Potter universe than a standard looking meringue from a piping bag.  I wanted to color them, but I don't want to eat synthetic food coloring and I haven't found any natural food dyes.  Maybe next time!  These are insanely addictive.  This bowl is pretty large, there are probably about 80 meringues in it.  They didn't survive the party, everyone ate them!  They have to cook for an hour and sit in the oven for an hour (after the heat is turned off), but it doesn't take much time to mix the eggs, sugar, cream of tartar, and vanilla together.  The recipe is at the bottom of the post.

Here is my complete Harry Potter dessert layout, with Margaret's awesome Pumpkin Pasties (made with canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling) and some fudge flies from her trip to the Harry Potter theme park (I'm still jealous).   It was an awesome night, I'd forgotten how much I loved Deathly Hallows Part 1.  I can't wait for Part 2!

Meringues
From The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
Makes around 80 meringues, depending on the size of your spoon.  This is a doubled recipe.

Ingredients
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract  (I used organic)
1 cup granulated sugar

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 225 and line baking sheets with either a Silpat or baking parchment.  Or, do it the old fashioned way and grease the sheets with butter.
2) Place the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Using a hand mixer on a medium high speed (I used setting 4 out of 10), mix until soft mounds begin to form.  Basically, this means that the mixture will thicken, and eventually, if you stick a spoon into it and lift it out, a peak forms.
3) Gradually add the sugar and continue to mix until the mixture becomes stiff, but still shiny looking.  The book warns that if your mixture becomes dry and cottony or looks curdled, it's ruined and you need to start over.  Thankfully this didn't happen to me!
4) Spoon 1 inch blobs of the mixture onto the baking sheets.  Make sure they're a little over an inch apart, in case they spread a little.  Bake in the oven for a total of one hour, rotating the pans and switching shelves halfway through.  Then, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in for another hour to let them dry out.

5 comments:

Realms said...

I LOVE IT! I am such a Potter geek too... had the ABC Family Harry Potter marathon on all day. Been wanting to have a themed party myself, just don't have many friends into the same thing. Guess I'll just have to do this just for myself then. :)

Michelle said...

WAY COOL!

To be technical, I don't think making chocolates counts as baking. It may fall more into the realm of candy-making, which is even more mysterious. Now, I DEMAND that next time you use a higher grade of chocolate. Hershey's is not worth your precious time and effort! :D

And then, OMG, send me some dark chocolate frogs, pleeeease?

Michelle said...

OOooh, also, you can use beets boiled in a little water to make a natural hot pink food coloring, and tumeric to make yellow. I *think* red cabbage can be boiled to get blueish. . . maybe. I'm sure google has more info.

Scienter said...

Realms, the chocolate frogs are easy and they keep for at least a week, I ate one today and it was fine. Michelle,I'd love to try some natural food coloring,I'll post pics. Do you think pomegranate juice would work?

Elizabeth said...

That's awesome! I need to read booksn5 through 7 still.

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