Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mmmmmmm....Chocolate-Covered Zucchini!

Today at a meeting my boss made us introduce ourselves by giving our name, job, high school graduated from, the mascot of said school, and our favorite candy bar growing up. It made the intros less painful and I learned stuff about people I work with I did not know....and that I'm not the only weirdo when it comes to candy bars.

I think most kids love candy, and will stoop to even mints, ribbon candy, and those white and pink hard lozenge thingies that are made out of the same stuff conversation hearts are, strictly due to the fact that they are made of sugar. I loved Necco Wafers...I have since broken up with them because after becoming an adult and gaining a more discriminating palette, I determined that I was hooked on the cane monster and would eat something that I now realize tasted like what a poker chip covered with toothpaste would. Especially the "chocolate" ones...why, as a kid, would you eat pretty much anything that was brown thinking it would taste like chocolate? Blech.

Once again, I suspect my parents used weird candies as a kind of evil torture they could snicker about when they were locked in their room...what ELSE would they be doing in there for heaven's sake? I remember my dad sharing pieces of Callard & Bowser candies with me - stuff like horehound, black licorice and something that looked like amber or that soap you used for zits...but they came in a cool box that looked just like a cigarette hard pack, and was a solid brick you had to break pieces off of. I can recall a little muslin bag that hung from a yellow drawstring that swung from one of the myriad of knobs on the green station wagon with fins on the back fenders that I was SURE was full of delicious multi-colored candy until the day I snuck in and tried it. I then determined that if that WAS candy (it was actually tobacco they used in the olden days for air freshener), I was ready to quit cold turkey. Do you KNOW how many days little pieces of tobacco will surface in your mouth after just a little pinch? I do...

My favorite was not an easy pick - I loved Rocky Road, filled with marshmallow, a few nuts and chocolate that more resembled brown wax, Payday because it was like eating chips AND candy at the same time, and the 7-Up bar that had 7 sections, each with a different flavor filling. Once a friend and I devised a plan to get even with my little brother who would sneak into my room and eat my stash when I wasn't around, and we carefully cut the bottom out of one of the sections, removed the filling, then packed it with black pepper and sealed the bottom back on. Brilliant, but of course he never took the bait, and eventually I re-opened it to find a fine mist of mold over the entire candy bar EXCEPT the pepper section. Go figure.

So, the answer you ask? It was the cherry Mountain Bar. As I explained to those who were under 40, a Mountain bar was about yay big (approx. the size of a goose egg...a Leggs egg...shit, it was about the size of a computer mouse) and looked a lot like a big turd but with pink filling. It had a nougaty, cherry flavored filling, and was coated with chocolate mixed with chopped nuts. They also had vanilla and peanut butter, but it was all about the cherry for me. It's still a fave flavor...nothing like red fake cherry taste to make you enjoy koolaid, popsicles, nyquil and ludens cough drops. I had one a few years ago and came to the conclusion that those stories we heard about rat hairs in 'em would have been a did we ever make it through childhood?

So this has absolutely nothing to do with the recipe I am about to post - the only connection I can think of is that there is cocoa in this, a dab of sugar and the sweetness of butternut squash. Back then if I had two pieces of candy and one fell on dog poop and the other on squash, I would probably have only picked one up and eaten it, and it wouldn't have been the one on the squash....but I have become decrepit and my tastes have changed. Now that I am eating healthier, I am striving to find and try recipes I would never have dreamed of giving a shot before, and have found some real winners - this is one! And I LOVE mole' - the spiciness and subtle chocolate flavors are so warm and appealing to me, and squash carmelized in the oven where the natural sugars are given a platform to really shine TRULY blows my dress up. Simple but delightful, and surprisingly complex in flavor, it also comes in at 3 Weight Watchers Plus Points for an entire 3# squash....and SO filling! O freakin LE!

Butternut Squash Mole

1 butternut squash, approx. 3#
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (you know I'm a wimp and just sprinkled a tiny bit on...and it was HOT)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon - use the mexican kind if you have it
1 T. sugar
1/4 C. cocoa powder (I use a wickedly extra-dark kind I find on a website...see below)
Olive oil spray or mist

Heat oven to 375. Generously spray a cookie sheet with olive oil spray. Peel entire squash, and it's a pain in the arse - squash is really hard. Cut off ends, quarter and scoop out guts/seeds with metal spoon, then cut in 1" chunks. Or you can go to Costco and buy a tub of it already cubed up if you have nothing better to spend 7 bucks on. Put in large bowl, spray liberally with olive oil spray, toss and spray again, then add pepper, cinnamon, sugar and cocoa powder and stir or toss until evenly coated. Spread coated cubes over the oiled cookie sheet, making sure you scrape every bit of cocoa-ey goodness out of the bowl, and pop in the oven and roast for 45-60 minutes, or until fork tender. I have fantasized a bit about getting my hands on some roasted salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) to chop a bit and sprinkle over the top, but it's more points, I don't need it, and I don't know if I can still get those at Winco. But since pumpkin seed are normally ground up and put in a traditional mole sauce, it makes sense, si?

Let me know what you think - now I'm getting an urge to make a chicken mole's freakin' cold today and anything turned into soup sounds like the next greatest thing to me. With the exception of Cherry Mountain Bars and Necco Wafers. GROSS. Don't live to eat, eat to live....but have a candy bar once in a while!

*I get my extra dark Ramstadt-Breda Rich Dark Cocoa from - they are in Idaho, and have TONS of amazing stuff!

1 comment:

  1. See, I *like* when you try so-called weird recipes. Now you have to cook this for me next time I visit.