Game of Thrones: The Cookbook

By Abbie Ruzicka   |   Wednesday, May 30, 2012
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May 31, 2012

medieval lemoncakes
You don't need a spit or a cauldron to make these cookies inspired by "Game of Thrones." (Abbie Ruzicka/WGBH)

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
1 egg
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. 

Does A Chocolate Habit Help Keep You Lean?

By Allison Aubrey   |   Wednesday, March 28, 2012
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We Heart Wine AND Chocolate!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
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Feb. 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!

Wine: 2009 Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc / Carménère blend
Chocolate: Hazelnut Bark with White Chocolate (70% cacao)
Chocolate: Valrhona Jivara “Feves” (40% cacao)
Why: This very unique wine blend – 85% white grape, 15% red grape! – offers citrus and minerality on the nose, followed by spice and earthiness on the palate. Try it with the Dark on Dark Truffle for a pleasurable match that’s just as unexpected! Then try it with our one milk chocolate of the night for – maybe? – a more middle-of-the-road experience…

Wine: Chilensis Carménère
Chocolate: Valrhona Manjari “Feves” (64% cacao)
Chocolate: Valrhona Guanaja “Feves” (70% cacao)
Why: The previous wine’s 15% Carménère is the perfect segway to the 100% Carménère of this Chilensis wine. The Chilensis, a deep ruby wine from Chile, offers lots of fruit (strawberry, plum, red cherry) to go along with more subtle notes of chocolate and spice. Try both Valrhona dark chocolates of the night – one with slightly more cacao than the other – and see which one captures the chocolate note of the wine.

Wine: 2010 Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon
Chocolate: Valrhona Jivara “Feves” (40% cacao)
Chocolate: Valrhona Guanaja “Feves” (70% cacao)
Why: This wine gives you bright cherry, dark, plum, and toasted oak. But it also serves as a perfect platform to repeat the same tasting of chocolates as the previous pairing, except this time with Cabernet Sauvignon instead of Carménère. Which of the two dark chocolates works better with Cab? And is it the same or different than with the Carménère?

Wine: H&G Cabernet Sauvignon Chalk Hill
Chocolate: Valrhona Guanaja “Feves” (70% cacao)
Chocolate: Valrhona Jivara “Feves” (40% cacao)
Why: The ripe, concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma offers black fruit and hints of mocha on the nose. Let the mocha of the wine go head-to-head with the espresso of the chocolate, then ease back into the Valrhona milk chocolate for a more subtle experience.

Wine: Calville Blend 2010 from Eden Vermont Ice Cider Company 
Chocolate: Milk Chocolate Bark with Assorted Nuts, Dried Fruits and Wasabi Peas (70% cacao)
Chocolate: Carmelia Valrhona
Why: This sophisticated dessert wine has a complex, balanced flavor and a long finish. It is made from 100% Vermont apples, concentrated before fermentation using natural winter cold weather. In addition to traditional New England favorites Macintosh and Empire, Russet apples provided full bodied sweetness, Calville Blanc apples provided acidity and citrus notes for balance, and Ashmead's Kernel apples provided natural tannins for structure. Pair the cider first with the heat of the Spiced Poblano Truffle, then contrast it with the smooth milkiness of the Carmelia Valrhona.

Wine: Noval Black Port
Chocolate: Dark Chocolate Almond Bark (70% cacao)
Chocolate: Carmelia Valrhona
Why: The Port offers juicy red fruits and sweet spice, a more-than-able partner to the unusual chocolate toasted almond bark. Then shift gears for a more traditional, end-of-evening pairing of Port with caramel.

You can find these romantic goods at Gordon’s Fine Wine & Liquors in Waltham, Whole Foods Markets in Cambridge and Dedhm, and Chocolee Chocolates in Boston.

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Thanks for attending! Thanks as always to our volunteers! Visit Cryptogram to make your own heart. Use #WGBHFoodie on Twitter to keep in touch!

A Candy Company Tries Again

By Cristina Quinn   |   Tuesday, February 14, 2012
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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.

Learn how Necco and its fans come up with Be Mine, Tweet Me and other sweet sayings.

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.


Watch the Necco factory in action.