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Monday, November 1, 2010

When a Recipe Goes Bad

Yesterday I tried to make a new recipe for a casual get together with friends, and it was a total fail. What I wanted to make was this Tipsy Maple Corn, a sort of grown-up version of Cracker Jacks with bourbon and maple in the syrup, plus crispy pancetta augmenting the salt of the peanuts. Sounds great, right? And I'm sure it is, if you can manage not to let the warm syrup shrivel your popcorn, and then burn the whole thing when you're trying to crisp it back up in the oven.

I, however, was not so skillful. My corn was sad. And a little nasty. But I had friends coming over to watch Clue! and Young Frankenstein (our traditional Halloween movies) and I had to serve them SOMEthing. Luckily I'd also planned to make Ina Garten's foolproof hit, a homemade French onion dip that always gets raves. (If you want to try that one yourself, I highly recommend it, but cut the oil and butter in half--you don't need as much as she calls for.) So once I cut up some cucumbers and washed the carrots and snap peas, we had savory snacks taken care of.

And for the sweet stuff, I decided to adapt the Tipsy Maple Corn into a sundae. Starting with the recipe's reduced bourbon, maple syrup, and butter concoction, I added extra sugar and cream to thicken it up. Then poured it over vanilla ice cream with the crispy pancetta and the dry-roasted peanuts as toppings. Success! Totally fun and delicious, I'd make this sundae again anytime. I'm almost glad I failed at the other recipe.

Anyone else have stories about salvaging a recipe screw up?


I made one of my favorites, a chocolate sour cream pound cake. I knew something was wrong though when the cake started to rise and rise and spill over the top of the pan and burn on the bottom of the oven. It was as I pulled out the cake, turned off the oven, cleaned the oven, and finally put the cake back in with a pan underneath that I realized I used self-rising flour. Luckily (amazingly) the cake turned out tasting okay but looking terrible. My solution? I cut up the cake into bite-size squares and made a trifle layering cake and whipping cream with toffee bits.

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