Saturday, October 25, 2008

Giada Treats Us To Sweets

Giada at home with Giada De Laurentiis

Tricks or Treats
Chocolate-Dipped Nougat with Dried Apricots
Halloween Popcorn Treats
Halloween Spice Cake

It’s Halloween at Giada’s. There’s Witch’s Brew and lots of candy at a big table outside. And she’s making a Halloween spiced cake.

I admit I’m not too thrilled by these recipes. Who needs to make a bunch of junk? Oh, the new beginning is good (I haven’t watched last week’s yet) with lots of scenes of Giada, Jade and Todd. Seriously, Giada is gorgeous. I guess it doesn’t really matter what she makes.

Giada walks into a candy store with Jade in a stroller. Jade is big and awfully cute. No trick or treating for her this year, Giada says. Wait a sec…she’s buying candy in a fancy candy store for trick or treaters?!! I hope she’s not giving out loose candy. Oh, I think it’s for her party.

She starts the Spice Cake. She measures 1½ cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder in a bowl with lots of spices. (They’re in fancy steel cans). A little salt goes in with 1 tablespoon cinnamon, as Giada needlessly explains that spice cake doesn’t mean spicy HOT. She adds 2 teaspoons of ginger, ½ teaspoon of nutmeg, (why isn't she grating it herself?), ¼ teaspoon of allspice and cocoa. Hmmm, the cocoa powder is interesting. I’ve never done that. I really like that idea. She mixes the dry ingredients together.

In a separate bowl, Giada beats 2 eggs. They should be at room temperature, so the batter doesn’t seize up. Good point. Okay, maybe this show isn’t so bad after all. She adds 1 cup of sugar, ¼ cup of light brown sugar and 1/3 cup of applesauce, which keeps the cake moist. She stirs in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2/3 cup of vegetable oil. which is in a fancy cork-stopped bottle. Safflower oil would be good here.

Giada beats the wet ingredients with the sugars quickly with a hand mixer. She beats in half the dry ingredients, then adds the rest and beats them in. She pours the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan and then puts it on a baking tray and into the oven. She never says why it's on a baking tray. Usually it’s because you want more heat on the bottom of the pan. But why would she do that here? No idea.

Giada goes on to the nougat. May I just say that it’s a complete total outrage on the Food Network website that you can't link to all the recipes from a given show on EACH recipe's page? You have to go back to the home page of the episode to get all of the recipes. It is soooooooooooooo ludicrous!!!!!!!

She stirs 2 cups sugar with ¼ cup honey...hmmm...and ¼ cup water in a saucepan. She is going to cook it to 315°F on a candy thermometer.

Ewww, there’s a disgusting commercial for Smooth Away. First she rubs it on her underarms and then over her lip. Really gross! It’s $14.99 with a second one free with only $400 for shipping and handling.

Thankfully, we’re back. The cake comes out. She lets it cool…on the hot baking tray that we have no idea why it’s there anyway.

Giada is still boiling her caramel. She puts 2 room temperature egg whites in the mixer and beats them until fluffy. Her white KitchenAid is gorgeous.

She removes the thermometer and warns us about how hot the caramel is. She carefully beats it into the whites with the mixer on low speed. After it’s all added, she beats it on high speed until smooth and shiny. 1 teaspoon of vanilla goes in while she snacks on A gummy bear. She chops 1 cup of apricots. The whites are not super-stiff. They're thick, but not like meringue-stiff. She mixes in half the apricots.

Giada pours the mixture into a loaf pan, which has been lined with two pieces of wax paper and Pam-ed. She’s excited. She sprinkles the rest of the apricots over the top. She covers the top with the overlapping wax paper and refrigerates it until it’s stiff.

Nougat is not my favorite, but this looks like it would be fantastic. It looks particularly good, since Giada adds only apricots and not all the usual nasty candied fruits. Who discovered angelica anyway?

Next up, Giada melts 6 cups of baby marshmallows with 3 tablespoons of butter. She pours that over popcorn. OMG! How yummy is that?

Giada sprays a bowl with Pam and adds the popcorn and melted marshmallows and butter. She uses two spatulas to mix it together. Then she spreads it out on a Pam-ed baking sheet. She looks desperate to lick the spatula, but she restrains herself.

She's using some of her fancy candy from the store to add to the top of the popcorn. She sprinkles over orange and brown M&M type candies. She presses in chopped up candy bars and chocolate chip cookies. YUM! I don’t think I can watch this anymore. Lastly, she adds chopped salted almonds. She lets it sit to dry out a bit and get less sticky.

Giada lifts the nougat out of the pan onto a cutting board. Oh my, that is beautiful. I am so making this. She sprays a serrated knife with Pam and cuts the nougat into pieces. It’s not that easy to cut. It kind of compresses as she does it.

THEN she dips each piece in melted semi-sweet chocolate and lays it on wax paper. Honestly, I thought it was going to be garbage-y and yucky. But no, it’s sweet, gorgeous and absolutely delectable.

A lot of cute kids arrive (with their gorgeous parents). Face painting ensues. Trick or treaters come. She lets them chow down too. I guess when you go to Giada’s house, it’s okay to eat unwrapped candy.

Note: The fabulous candy store Giada visits is called Candy Alley in Brentwood. You enter through the Pulp and Hide stationary store and the candy store is in the back.


Emiline said...

MMM, those treats sound good. The popcorn sounds like a rice crispy treat.

Michelle said...

I love your recaps. I don't have cable (!), so I'm totally without my Food Network and will have to live vicariously through your descriptions of the episodes!

Is Giada finally filming her show in her own house or is she still renting someone else's house?

DebCarol said...

Snacks on A gummy bear lol. Great review. I am especially interested in the Spice Cake. My Spice Cake recipe was passed down to me by my Mom - she used a brown sugar caramel icing. But Giada's sounds tempting. One more thing .... I agree with your gripe about the Food Network website. There are ALOT of problems with the site. It could (and should) be much, much better.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the name of the candy store? My kids and I want to visit. I'm trying every recipe in this show. I was salivating every minute......especially for the nougat dipped in chocolate!

Sue said...

Yup, it is kind of like rice crispy treats, except she presses all that galump INTO the surface of the popcorn, rather than mixing it throughout.

Thanks, Michelle,
Poor you. Actually, you might like all those annoying videos that are on the FN website.

I doubt that's her house. I think they find a house to use for the season and go with that.

Hi Debcarol,
Thanks. I love the sound of that icing.

I really do hate the new website, but I guess we have to remember that the old one was terrible too and they were probably trying to improve it. (It didn't work, but should we, at least, give them a C for effort?)

This week's recipes were really good.

Look at the note at the end of my post. I watched the show frame by frame to find out the name for you.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

It looks like Giada is going back to actually making food from scratch again. Is it possible that FN paid attention to the fact that she was getting a bit to Rachael-Sandra-esque in her preparations?

SayGrace said...

Okay. So I made the spice cake on Sunday... twice. It never came out anything remotely like the one on the show. My dough was dense and viscous much like that of zucchini bread, etc. As a result, the center wasn't nearly done in 45 minutes, so I upped the time until it wasn't cratering on the top, but by then the bottom and sides were dried and nasty. Additionally, the color of mine was far lighter than what hers looked like. I doublechecked the measurements and procedures and tried it again and found exactly the same results... I'm sad and stuck with yummy ginger stuff for my chickens, but nothing worthy of human consumption... any ideas?

Sue said...

Hi Rachael,
Maybe Giada was rushing at the end of last season to finish before Jade popped out too much. Let's hope the cooking from scratch streak continues.

Say It Grace!
That's disturbing that the cake didn't turn out. I just looked at a similar recipe from the great James Beard and he says one hour for a cake in a loaf pan with 1 1/2cups flour. So that's problem number one. Here are the reviews of that recipe:

Some folks had your problem number two of parts of the cake not getting done, some folks didn't. If you think it's worth making again, I would try baking it in an 8 inch square baking dish. It should bake a lot more evenly that way.

Sue said...

PS to Grace,
Your chickens ate it?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

I think your suggestion to bake the cake in an 8 x 8 pan is a good one, although it might sink in the center (that's where icing can help). But it will certainly cook through better. Another issue might be how everyone measures flour a little differently -- especially when the recipe doesn't specify how to do it.

I can't say the cake sounds too appealing to me, I'm a butter cake person (except for carrot cake, and I use a mixture of vegetable oil and walnut oil in it). My current favorite is from Lisa Yockelson's Baking by Flavor (p. 480), which has great texture and flavor, with or without the icing. I recommend the book too, there are some fabulous things in it!


SayGrace said...

My chickens didn't eat all of it. My dogs have figured out that when I walk out the back door with food in hand and the bbq isn't at the ready, that I'm giving "their" snacks to "those" fowl... and they're not pleased. So, the girls got half a cake (they're molting now and need all the fat on their scrawny little chicken bodies that they can get!) the dogs each got a nice little bite and the rest went out for the turkeys!

Thanks all for the feedback. I love Ms. Giada's recipes and have never had a lick of trouble with them, (I love that about her... so reliable), so may keep using your tips to tinker until it works!

Sue said...

Hi Tom,
I have to check out that book. And I LOVE walnut oil. What a great idea to add it to the cake.

Hey Grace,
Good luck with the recipe. The Joy of Cooking has a wonderful pumpkin bread recipe that needs no tinkering.

onno david said...

I love the food network. It combines the best of many worlds food, great hosts, and gorgeous kitchens. I like halloween spiced cake. I made this for my sons 3 days ago yeah, i am a big fan of yours and they love it. Thanks so much for sharing.