By Abbie Ruzicka | Wednesday, May 30, 2012
May 31, 2012
BOSTON — A little more than a year ago, roommates Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer began a food blog with the idea of cooking the medieval recipes from the "A Song of Ice and Fire" (Game of Thrones) series by author George R.R. Martin. The two started testing out the medieval foods they read about in the series by searching for the recipes online and through medieval cookbooks and altering the recipes for modern-day palates.
Their blog, "Inn at the Crossroads," became wildly popular amongst Game of Thrones fans. With the blessing of George R.R. Martin himself, Monroe-Cassel and Lehrer have turned their food blog into a new book: A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook.
Elizabethan Lemon Cakes
Recipe excerpted from “A Feast of Ice and Fire”
Makes 36 small cakes
Baking: 15 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed
2 cups granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
Grated zest from 2 lemons
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and granulated sugar. Cut in the butter, then add the zest and the whole egg and yolks. Mix thoroughly, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is no longer sticky and can be easily shaped by hand.
Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch across and place them on the prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, giving them room to spread as they bake.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops are just slightly golden. Allow the cakes to cool for a minute before moving them to a cooling rack.
Mix the confectioners’ sugar and milk to a smooth consistency. Once the cakes have cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cookies.
For the icing:
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/3 cup lemon juice, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
Yellow food coloring (optional)
Garnishes such as candied orange peel, pomegranate seeds or decorative sprinkles (optional)
Mix the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice together in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring all the while. Stir in the butter. Mix until the icing is a nice, smooth consistency, suitable for pouring. Add more juice, if necessary. If you would like, tint the icing yellow with food coloring.
By Allison Aubrey | Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Friends and Members of WGBH gathered at One Guest St. to celebrate Valentine's Day. They sampled wines paired with Chocolee Chocolates, located in Boston's South End. (Photos by Volunteer Phil DiPrima)
Yes, you CAN try this at home! Below is the list of wine and chocolate pairings our guests sampled. Give them a try:
Wine: Pacific Rim Organic Riesling **voted favorite pairing of the evening
Chocolate: Valrhona Ivorie “Feves” (35% cacao)
Chocolate: Valrhona Guanaja “Feves” (70% cacao)
Why: Lean and off-dry, this Riesling is refreshing and crisp and is often paired with spicy Asian dishes. Start the night with an experiment from one end of the chocolate spectrum to the other, and see which you find to be the better match!
By Cristina Quinn | Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Feb. 14, 2012
REVERE, Mass. — Many of us are familiar with the scene in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" where Mr. Wonka opens the door to the chocolate room … and the camera takes in a cascading chocolate waterfall, gummy-bear trees and perfectly landscaped edible terrain.
In real life, there’s a special candy haven in Revere, at the Necco factory. There's no chocolate river or cupcake mushrooms, but the smell of cocoa, cream and sugar is so intoxicating, it’s almost dizzying.
Necco and Valentine’s Day go hand-in-hand: For more than a hundred years, Necco has been making the edible love notes with sayings like Call Me. Be Mine and True Love that are passed around for real and for play, in kindergartens and offices.
With 8 million pounds of Sweethearts sold during Valentine’s Day season, it’s Necco’s biggest holiday.
A business misstep
Not every decision is sweet. In 2009, Necco endured a storm of criticism from consumers when they changed the recipe of their iconic wafers to all-natural ingredients. They have since switched back to the original recipe, but sales remain flat.
So how does a candy company with a foothold on tradition find a way to grow without making its fans sour?
"We’re really trying to appeal to a newer audience with newer products but not forget where we’ve been," said interim CEO Al Gulachenski.
One way to appeal to a newer audience is via social media. This month, Necco launched a Facebook campaign with CVS to crowdsource ideas for sayings to be printed on their Sweethearts for Valentine’s Day 2013.
Forward and back at the same time
While thinking about next Valentine’s Day may be hard to grasp right now, Necco, a company more associated with the past, has a steady gaze on the future.
"They’re a nostalgic piece. People who have grown up loving them continue to buy them," said Gulachenski. However, "people who’ve never heard of them don’t buy them."
And it’s those people Necco is trying to reach out to.
So what does a candy company better known for evoking nostalgia than trendy novelties do to attract a newer audience? Innovate — or make a product that children will like.
This year, Necco is taking a leap and launching a bunch of new products geared toward kids. One of them is … Zombie Food.
"There’s three pieces: there’s a foot, there’s a heart, and there’s a brain," Gulachenski said. "Brain’s on the top of the zombie food chain. And they’re chocolate and filled with gooey red caramel. So you see the red goo oozing out of the brain."
The challenge of brand identity
Production in the candy industry operates on a different calendar. While you may be eating from a heart-shaped box of chocolates right now, the people at Necco are excited about Halloween. Marketing candy to children is nothing new but this move marks a departure from the safer brands they’ve been putting out there — brands with a distinctly older feel like Sky Bar, Clark candy bars and Mary Janes.
Jeff McKenna is a senior consultant at market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey. He said that when companies like Necco create new products, they run the risk of working against the brand identity they’ve built for themselves.
"I think about these niche brands and these brands that have a long history. And you see it in all industries — beverage, snacks — where you’ve got a product line that’s been around for 50 to 75 years and it doesn’t appear to have updated. And that in and of itself becomes part of the brand identity," he said. "As marketers, we’re always trying to talk about the rational side of consumer behavior — of the purpose that people have. But really, when you get down to it, everything is driven by emotions."
Those emotions date back to the hard candy your grandmother handed out to you as a child, or the candy bar your dad would occasionally bring home after work. So how does Necco tap into those emotions and gain a newer audience without compromising the loyalty of its longtime fans?
Kids' sense of discovery
For store executives, that question is crucial.
"What we’ve seen be successful is when traditional brands bring something new and exciting to the brand — something different from what they’ve had before," said Rachel Bishop, vice-president of daily living strategy and business development for Walgreens. She said the nostalgic component just doesn’t do it for kids … who haven’t been around long enough to develop a sense of nostalgia.
"They want to discover something before anybody else, and so finding something that your parents already have or that other people know about isn’t as exciting to them as that discovery — finding something new and interesting," she said. "That can be as simple as a packaging innovation or it can be a completely new innovation in a product."
While there will always be room for Sweethearts and nostalgia, sometimes the recipe for innovation calls for some cocoa, sugar and a little red goo. And brains. Lots of brains.