It’s a Great Day for a Fair


Today was one of those perfect days to visit the great State Fair of Texas. It’s something we look forward to every year – we even get season passes!

 

I’ve been entering the cooking contests for over 5 years now, and I’m proud to say I’ve gotten my share of blue ribbons. It has been so busy around here I haven’t had a chance to enter yet, but I think there are some categories that are calling my name. Last year I won in the Tricks with Mix Category, and I’m thinking I may have to see if I can get Best of Show this year. Be sure to check out some of our award winning (and not award winning) entries on our Fair Foodies site.

 

Because of our love of the State Fair of Texas, we have collected some really unusual items from the fair. This is what makes the Lifestylist® touch so unique – not only great items, but items with a story and history.

Citrus Truffles

Are you looking for something easy and memorable to do for the special person in your life on Valentine’s Day?
These White Chocolate Citrus Truffles will be a gift to remember. I entered these in the State Fair of Texas this year and they were a huge hit.
INGREDIENTS:
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
Zest of 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 lbs. White Chocolate
1 Tablespoon Shortening
Combine zests and heavy cream in a small saucepan – simmer until bubbles appear.
Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, warm up again until bubbles appear.
Melt 1 lb. white chocolate, strain cream mixture and add to chocolate. Stir gently and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Roll ganache into 1 inch round balls, then put in freezer to set at least 2 hours.
Melt remaining white chocolate, and stir in shortening. Dip centers into chocolate, then garnish with orange zest.

Seize The Day, Not The Chocolate

There are some foods that you can hurry along, then there are others that you need to take your time with and make sure that you follow the rules. Melting chocolate is a great example – a little too hot, a little water – there are lots of ways that you can goof with chocolate and bring your masterpiece to a screeching halt.

My sister and her family invited me to dinner at Craft the night before the candy competitions at The State Fair of Texas.  I should have stayed home and worked on my entries, but I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity for an amazing meal. I had most of my entries done – all I had to do was dip my Citrus Truffles. Since I have been making molded chocolates and truffles for years so I thought it should be easy to do when I got home.

When you over-heat chocolate, it can “seize” or turn into one chunky mess. The same thing can happen if any moisture gets introduced during the heating process. As a Lazy Cook, I thought I’d just microwave the chocolate, dip the chocolates and call it a day but now such luck. I had forgotten that alcohol based flavorings can also make the mixture seize, so when I added an orange extract to the first batch -disaster. With the second batch I tried adding orange juice – same thing.

So at 6am I got up and drove to the grocery store since I had used up all of my ingredients and bought 3 more lbs. of chocolate. I was in a hurry and heated up 2 batches too quickly – again I goofed. Last chance finally worked!

The good news is that in the end I loved this recipe and how it turned out. Stay tuned to see the final results!

Terrific Toffee

One of my favorite, easy to make sweet treats is toffee. I’ve been entering variations in the State Fair of Texas for years and this is the version that everyone asks for.
The key to candy making is having a good thermometer, and when I invested in a digital one it made all of the difference in the world. As soon as the temperature gets up to around 250 degrees start watching very closely – it will get to the optimum temperature quickly and if it heats to even 5 degrees more than it should it will burn. Enjoy!
Texas Butter Pecan Toffee
Ingredients:
1 lb Texas pecans
1 lb butter + 2 tablespoons butter for pecans
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light Karo syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb chocolate chips
Directions:
In a skillet, stir butter and pecans together – cook over a low heat until lightly toasted. Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan combine the rest of the butter, sugar, water and Karo syrup. Stir until mixture comes to a boil, then continue to cook without stirring until mixture reaches a temperature of 290 degrees. Stir in half of the pecans to mixture and turn out onto a 12” x 18” baking sheet. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips and spread after they melt – then sprinkle rest of pecans on top and allow to cool. Break into bite sized pieces.