Friday, August 27, 2010

Fire Crackers (version 2), Cherry Bombs and Grape Grenades

Cherry Bomb!
On Saturday, my friends from Hot Heads (the guys who make the very addicting Pepperspread) will be at Cayenne Kitchen in Longmont, talking to people about their product.

Since I'm their pet pepperhead, I'll be there with them, handing out samples of some of the spicy creations I've made that use their product.

First, there will be the ever-popular Cherry Bombs, which proved to be so popular when I first blogged about them that David Lebovitz put a link to my blog on his FaceBook page, and according to Site Meter, I got a visit from the Executive Office of the President of the United States.

I'd like to think that the White House Chef was looking for recipes, but my husband pointed out that it's more likely that the word "bomb" prompted a visit from a government security bot.

Fire Crackers, Version 1
This time, I'm using cream cheese instead of goat cheese in the Cherry Bombs, but the basic recipe remains the same. I'm thinking about trying a slightly different technique for pitting and stuffing the cherries, as well. We'll see if it's an improvement or not.

The second sample will be my famous Fire Crackers. These little guys surprised me when I found an optical illusion in one of the photos I took.

I revised the Fire Crackers recipe for Saturday's demo, tripling the amount it makes and adding more Pepperspread for a spicier cracker. I also decided to use my stand mixer for kneading.

If you like spicy food, give the new version a try. They've got a good kick when you eat them plain, but you can tone them down depending on what you top them with.

Atomic Tomato
Last, I decided that I wanted to play with some grapes. Sweet and spicy is a good combination.

For the trial version, I used the same turkey injector that I used for my Atomic Tomatoes, but this time I injected nothing but Pepperspread into some green grapes. You can't inject a whole lot of Pepperspread into a little grape, but that stuff packs a lot of heat, so a little is all you need.

To fix the problem I had with seeds getting stuck in the injector, I strained the Pepperspread through a medium sieve and the problem was solved. Easy peasy.

For an extra contrast, I tested some of the injected grapes frozen. The texture of the frozen grape is like a Popsicle, and the contrast of cold and spicy is interesting. The downside is that the grape flavor is muted when they're frozen. So if you're thinking about making them, try them both ways and see what you think.

Fire Crackers (version 2)

Fire Crackers - they look innocent, but they're spicy.
1 1/4 cups room temperature water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Hot Heads Pepperspread
3 1/2 cups (15 3/4 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, and set aside until the mixture becomes foamy. Add the Pepperspread, flour, and salt, and knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add the olive oil and continue kneading until all the oil is incorporated. Form the dough into a ball, drizzle with a little olive oil, and return it to the bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until it has doubled, about an hour.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Flour your work surface, and knead the dough briefly. (You might consider wearing gloves for this. Your choice.) Divide the dough into three pieces.

This rolling pin makes divots in dough.
Roll the first piece to approximately 12 x 15 inches. It should be about the thickness of a dime. It's easiest to move the dough to the parchment at this point. You can trim the ends so the dough is square, or leave it uneven - it's up to you.

Use a fork, a dough docker, or whatever pointy object you like to poke holes all over the dough so it won't puff too much during baking. I have a rolling pin that I use for this, but a fork is just fine.

Using a pizza cutter, pastry cutter, knife, or whatever else you like, score the dough into the size and shape of crackers that you like. There is no need to separate the pieces; they will snap apart crisply when the crackers are baked.

There's no need to let these rise, they go into the oven right after they're formed. Roll out the second and third pieces of dough in the same way.

Bake at 325 degrees until the crackers are browned and completely dry and crisp. I find that the first ones will crisp up after about 25 minutes, and after that I check them about every 5 minutes, removing them as they're done.

Let them cool completely before you store them. If they're at all warm when you seal them up in a bag or container, they'll get soft and weird. Once they're completely dry, they store well for a long time. If they last.

This has been submitted to YeastSpotting.