As promised, I’m bringing you the low-down on the savory-sweet dessert feast from Tasha DeSerio‘s Sweet Sparklers found in the Dec 2010/Jan 2011 issue of Fine Cooking magazine. All of the recipes are online so if you don’t have the mag (so sad since it’s always so good) find everything you need here (click on menu items near the top right of that page).
Today I’m reviewing three recipes that I made (almost) exactly as instructed. In this post: Apple, Fennel and Cheddar Cheese Straws. Also check out my review of Popcorn with Sweet Butter and Sea Salt and my review of Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Marcona Almonds.
I am ambivalent about these.
Pro: I made them a week ahead and froze them before baking. This worried me but it turned out that I had nothing to fear.
Con: Baking them and then having them dry in the oven for an hour on party day was annoying since the oven could have been used for other tasks (also not ideal to have an open oven when you have a toddler running around!).
Pro: They were twirly, long and gorgeous.
Con: I did most of them full length but cut some to half the size so they’d fit in fewer pans (I didn’t have much freezer space). For some reason, nobody took a long one. Were people worried that they would be too filling or were they concerned that they would shatter all over their party finery? I would probably do them all half-length next time. (I adimit that if they were all full-length guests would not have had a choice and might have taken them).
Pro: The fennel seeds’ licoricie-ness intrigued many guests but nobody (including me) detected the apple or cheddar. There was a hint of tang from the apples but I’m not sure it was worth the effort of making the carmelized apple puree (note that I used every last drop of the puree). Next time I would try store-bought apple sauce or I’d omit the apple entirely and toss the fennel seeds with a few drops of something acidic (lemon juice or cider vinegar).
Check out my recipes that were inspired by this menu: Salted Pineapple and Pecan Angel Slice, Rosemary-Orange-Lemon-Curd Slice, White Chocolate Bark with Blueberries, Pine Nuts and a Zest of Lemon, Spicy Maple Cashews, and Cranberry Ginger Brie.