While you’re watching the Oscars, Wolfgang Puck is preparing to feed more than 1,500 Hollywood big shots at the Governors Ball. Here’s his routine.
Believe it or not, Wolfgang isn’t a movie buff — he sees only one or two a year. He got the gig cooking for the Governors Ball 18 years ago because celebs had been heading to his restaurant, Spago, instead of the Academy’s official party. Wolfgang has been cooking for the ball ever since, but he doesn’t think about the menu until about a month and a half before the big day. The classics — mini Kobe burgers, smoked salmon and those famous gold-covered chocolate Oscars — are always on the menu, but for the rest, Wolfgang is a procrastinator. “I work much better under pressure,” he says.
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Some restaurants let you have your chocolate and drink it, too.
The Peninsula, Chicago
When The Peninsula needed a cocktail to complete its chocolate buffet spread, bartender Aaron Johnson developed three, and all of them ended up on the regular bar menu. This S’mores Martini (pictured above) causes the most fuss: Patrons smell the barkeeps toasting the marshmallow rim and can’t help but order one for themselves. 108 East Superior St.; peninsula.com
More chocolate cocktails »
1. Pick the right day: Avoid making fudge on humid days. It can actually absorb the extra moisture in the air, making fudge softer.
2. Test your thermometer: It’s important your candy thermometer is accurate. Testing this is simple: Place your thermometer in a pot of boiling water (be careful not to let the bulb touch the bottom of the pan); it should read 212 degrees F or 100 degrees C. If the thermometer is off, be sure to add or subtract the difference while cooking.
3. Use the right pan: Be sure to use a heavy-bottomed pan to prevent scorching while cooking. It’s also important to use the size pan specified in the recipe.
Beware of lingering sugar and have patience »
Chocolate lovers won’t just lick these bowls clean — they’ll eat them whole. To make some yourself, temper one pound semisweet chocolate. Dip the top of a partially inflated balloon in the chocolate, flip the balloon back up and twirl it to distribute the chocolate. Hold the balloon upright and let dry for about a minute. Repeat the dipping process two more times, then spoon some melted chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and center the balloon, bowl-side down, on the melted chocolate base. Repeat with more balloons, reheating the chocolate as needed (1 pound chocolate will make 4 to 6 small bowls). Refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour, then pop the balloons and peel them away. Store the bowls in a cool, dry place for up to three days.
Photograph by James Wojcik
Treat yourself to a road trip like no other: We found America’s best spots for chocolate lovers, from coast to coast.
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On game day, fake out your guests with this nacho platter from Food Network Magazine — it’s really dessert. Follow this easy step-by-step guide and whip up a nacho cheesecake in no time. While you’re at it, try your hand at another one of the magazine’s wacky and creative cakes.
Food Network Magazine has the recipe and tips for the Perfect Fondue. Here’s how to master the melting:
1. Use room-temperature cheese: Grate the cheese straight out of the fridge, then let it come to room temperature before melting.
2. Keep the heat low: Overcooked cheese is tough and rubbery. Melt it slowly, stir constantly and don’t let it come to a boil.
Melt the cheese on the stove and more tips »
Food Network Magazine found a year’s worth of wacky races that test your endurance — and your appetite.
Go Nut Donut Run, Greenville, S.C.
If you think running four miles is tough, try doing it after eating six glazed doughnuts at the two-mile mark. This event, held for the first time last January, was designed as a training run for the 2011 Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh, N.C. (Competitors at that famous seven-year-old February race have to eat a dozen doughnuts at the halfway point.) But the warm-up run was such a hit last year that organizers are making it an annual event. January 15; malonecoaching.net
International Pancake Day Race, Liberal, Kan.
While people in New Orleans are celebrating Fat Tuesday, locals in this Kansas town partake in a different Shrove Tuesday tradition: a pancake race. Since 1950, women in Liberal have been competing against a team in Olney, England, to see who will be the fastest to flip a pancake in a pan, run 415 yards on an S-shaped course while holding the pan and then flip the pancake again near the end. Right now, the score stands at 36 wins for Liberal and 25 for Olney — but who knows what will happen this year? February 21; pancakeday.net
More Dine & Dash races »
We’re not in the business of doling out financial advice, but we hear gold is up in value — all the more reason to buy some for your next batch of brownies. Get a booklet of “transfer” edible gold leaf (about $40 for 15 three-inch-square sheets; lagoldleaf.com), then brush the top of already-baked brownies with warm honey and, starting in one corner, place a sheet gold side down on top. Gently rub the paper until the gold transfers onto the brownies. An 8-inch-square pan takes about $14 worth of leaf — a downright bargain for a gift of gold.