By Wanda Hanson
The pandemic has caused virtually all of our small town celebrations and fairs to be cancelled; we’ve had to give up a lot of our usual summer activities, but there’s one part of those fairs you can still enjoy! Make your own fair food! I’ve been choosing a different food to make each week. Here are a few of my favorites.
Cream puffs are versatile and easy to make. You can fill the cream puffs with whatever you choose. My personal favorite is the Boston Cream filling included here.
Cream Puffs Recipe
•1 cup water
•½ cup butter
•1 cup all purpose flour
Heat oven to 400º. Heat water and butter to a rolling boil over medium heat. Stir in flour and continuing stirring over low heat about one minute until the mixture forms a ball, pulling away from pan’s edge. Remove from heat and beat in the four eggs. Drop by ¼ cupfuls three inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes until puffed and golden. (They will look dry.) Cool away from drafts; cut off the tops and fill with your choice of filling. A recipe for an easy Boston Cream filling follows. I have used custard or ice cream as well. Dust with powdered sugar; drizzle with chocolate syrup if desired. These cream puffs can also be used with savory fillings such as chicken salad or seafood salad. Obviously, you wouldn’t use powdered sugar on them in that case!
Boston Cream Filling
•2 boxes instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz each)
•1 ⅔ cups cold milk
•8 oz. (2 cups) of fresh whipped cream or Cool Whip
Mix the pudding mix with the milk with a hand mixer for two minutes. (This is less milk than listed on the box.) Mix in the Cool Whip and fill your cream puffs.
I love the MN Renaissance Festival; it’s so fun with all the shows, crafts and costumes. The one must-have for me at the Festival is the King’s Nut Roll. You might be familiar with salted peanut rolls, but everything’s better with cashews! (If you prefer peanuts, feel free to use them instead.)
Cashew Salted Nut Roll
•1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
•2 ½ cups powdered sugar
•1 package (14 oz.) caramels
•2 tablespoons water
•2 cups or more cashew pieces (chop coarsely if desired)
In a large bowl beat the marshmallow creme and 1 cup of the powdered sugar until blended. Knead in enough of the remaining powdered sugar until the dough comes together and is easy to handle. Divide the mixture into four equal portions. Roll each portion into a ½-inch thick log. Then cut the log into 1 ½ inch pieces. (I actually made my logs larger and longer, but it is more difficult to handle when you make larger ones.) Place each piece on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze the logs for about 15 minutes or until firm.
While the logs are freezing, heat the caramels (I like the Fleet Farm caramels for this, but Kraft works well too.) and water over low heat until melted stirring often. (Or use your microwave, checking often and stirring.)
Working with about ¼ of the pieces at a time and leaving the others in the freezer, dip the logs in the caramel and then roll them in the cashews. Place them on parchment paper and return to the freezer until set. Store between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature. I did store these in the refrigerator when we had really hot temps this summer!
Funnel cakes are another great treat; maybe it’s because it feels like a chance to have a bit of the taste of the perennial Norwegian Christmas treat, rosettes, in the middle of summer! If you’ve made rosettes, these will be super easy! If you’ve tried to make rosettes, but had trouble getting the cookies to stay on the iron and form correctly, you’ll REALLY love these! All you do is drizzle the batter into the hot oil and fry!
•2 cups oil for frying
•1 large egg
•⅔ cup milk
•1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
•2 tablespoons granulated sugar
•1 teaspoon baking powder
•¼ teaspoon salt
•Powdered sugar for dusting
Heat oil in a large skillet until it reaches 375º. I used the Fry Daddy I had rather than a skillet, any other electric deep fryer would work too. In a medium mixing bowl mix the egg and milk. In a separate bowl mix flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, making sure it’s well mixed with absolutely no lumps. Pour some batter into a funnel (with your finger over the end of the funnel). I actually used an old pancake syrup bottle as well to drizzle the batter; a Ziploc bag with a corner nipped off would work, too. Drizzle the batter into the hot oil beginning in the middle and making a squiggly pattern. Cook for about two minutes, then flip it over and fry another two minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon when golden and place on a wire rack to cool. Sift powdered sugar on the funnel cake and enjoy!
I hope you take the opportunity to make some of these yummy fair foods and continue to find and make your own favorite fair foods too!
Photos by Wanda Hanson