Thanksgiving sides and desserts
Cocoa-Roasted Butternut Squash
adapted (mostly to shrink quantities--the original recipe would feed an army) from a recipe printed in Oregonian FOODday, November 16, 2010
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t salt
pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
scant 1/4 t cinnamon
1 t granulated sugar
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into one-inch chunks
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
1/4 C toasted slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 375. Combine cocoa, salt, sugar and spices in a small bowl. Toss squash with the oil, then with the cocoa-spice mixture. Arrange squash on foil-lined baking sheet, then roast for 40-45 minutes or until tender. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with almonds.
Perhaps I ended up with a particularly flavorless squash, but this didn't taste like mole sauce (as the article had promised). If I were to try it again, I would use less cocoa and swap the teaspoon of white sugar for a couple tablespoons of brown.
The dessert was a much less equivocal success. A few years back, a friend sent me a recipe, originally from Fine Cooking magazine, and I finally got around to making it.
Chocolate-Glazed Peanut Butter Tart
adapted from Fine Cooking Winter 2005
1 C cookies ground in a food processor (about 25 chocolate wafers, 8 whole graham crackers, 35 Nilla wafers)
2 T granulated sugar
3 T unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350. Mix crumbs, sugar and butter until well blended (I do it all in the food processor to avoid dirtying another bowl). Press crumb mixture into a 9.5-inch tart pan, using a straight-sided steel measuring cup. Bake about 10 minutes, then let cool.
1 1/2 C whole milk
1/4 t salt
3 egg yolks
1/3 C light brown sugar
4 t flour
1/2 C creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 t vanilla
Bring milk and salt to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, and flour until well blended. Slowly add hot milk, whisking constantly. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a full boil. Boil one minute, then remove from heat and whisk in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour hot custard into the crust and spread evenly. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, at least two hours.
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 C unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 T light corn syrup
Melt chocolate and butter in a double-boiler or bain-marie, then whisk in corn syrup until smooth. Carefully remove plastic wrap from filling, then drizzle the glaze over the filling and spread to cover whole surface of tart. Refrigerate until glaze is set, at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.