Fiona and I got back a couple hours ago from Latkefest, an annual Hanukah-related party thrown by my friends Kris and Sarah. The first year I went I remember it being awesomely tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary – latkes, apple fritters, and jelly doughnuts (please don’t make me look up the actual name, I really can’t come close to spelling it).
Then they started frying things you normally have to go to a street fair for, like candy bars and Oreos. Then one year Kris made the Potatorator, an electric drill-powered potato chip slicer.
So what could they possibly do to top that? Well, this year they added the “You Buy It, We Fry It” contest, looking for “the most mind-bogglingly wrong thing that turns out to be delicious when deep fried.”
I knew I could be a contender. I went to twitter for ideas, and twitter did not disappoint. Now, a lot of the suggestions were either things that Kris and Sarah had fried before, or things that would surely be delicious, but were also rather ordinary. So they were out.
But there were some inspired ideas. These were the ones I seriously considered:
@selfishmom Peanutbutter and Jelly sandwich. Used to get them all the time back at the Ohio State Fair
— Stephen Harvey (@Harvey_S) November 21, 2012
@selfishmom Kool Aid Balls. Supposedly at the state fair this year. What do you think?
— Lisa Myles (@BLLJMyles) November 21, 2012
@selfishmom kool aid balls
— KristinaLevy (@KristinaLevy) November 21, 2012
@selfishmom Cool Whip. Flash fry a frozen ball of Cool Whip.
— GingerSnaap (@GingerSnaap37) November 21, 2012
I liked the peanut butter and jelly idea immediately, and the Cool Whip. The Kool-Aid balls sounded promising, but when I went in search of a recipe I discovered that instead of being some kind of crazy experiment in frying a liquid, it was basically kool-aid flavored doughnuts. And while that would probably be tasty, I wouldn’t get points for it being that unusual.
I decided to try the ideas out at home before bringing them to the party. I was worried that with both the Cool Whip and the peanut butter, they might just dissipate in the oil if not prepared properly. So, last night I mixed peanut butter and jelly and dropped it in spoonfuls, and then also made blobs of Cool Whip. I froze both of them overnight, which made it easier to make them into nice round balls.
FYI: when you take a metal pan out of the freezer, use a potholder. It got so cold it actually felt like it was burning my fingers.
I coated the pb&j in Ritz Cracker crumbs, and tried it out in the fryer. Unfortunately, even though I gave it a really good coating of crumbs, they did not stick well and the peanut butter started disappearing into the oil. Hmmm. I made some pancake batter and that at least looked better:
All of the pb&j stayed inside, so technically that one worked, but it just didn’t taste all that exciting. I think this one has promise, and needs more experimenting: I need to add more things to the peanut butter. Another day.
Next I tried frying the Cool Whip, coating it in Corn Flake crumbs. Same as the pb&j: the crumbs fell off almost immediately. I’ve deep fried other things coated in different kinds of crumbs, but I think both the Cool Whip and the pb&j just got soft too fast to hold onto them long enough.
I tried the Cool Whip in batter, but that didn’t work either. It’s really hard to get a good seal with even a thick batter, and a lot of the Cool Whip melted out, causing the shell to collapse.
So, it was now party time and I didn’t have anything to bring. In a panic I grabbed last night’s leftover spaghetti and tried frying that. Much the pb&j, it worked, but didn’t taste all that exciting.
Then I remembered how yummy my banana tempura had been. I sliced up one of the frozen pb&j balls, put it between banana slices, held the whole thing together with a toothpick, and dipped it in batter. It was good, but I needed to lose the jelly. I tried again with plain peanut butter, I had a winner!
The peanut butter stayed in!
I quickly prepared some to go, and off we went.
Latkefest was in full swing when we got there.
Kris, working the deep fryer
Sarah on Latkes
Yes, someone even brought Star of David pasta
I had some stiff competition in the frying contest, and the judges were tough: the winner would be decided by all of the kids. Some of the contenders were cookies, key lime pie, kale soup (!), and kimchi (!!). In the end, the winner was battered, deep-fried carrot cake. And I have to agree with the kids on that one, it was amazing.
I am disappointed, though, that I missed out on the prize, a light-up laser dreidel that plays the dreidel song while it spins. Oh well.
And for next year? Kris wants to get a hold of some liquid nitrogen. So those Cool Whip balls might be a possibility after all. :-)
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