Bring Fair Food Home: Dark Chocolate Orange Funnel Cakes
We all love it, we all hate it – we all love to hate it. I’m talking about fair food, people. The doughnut burgers, the fried Girl Scout cookies, and yes – the fried butter. The stuff that you know is so bad for you but you just can’t bring yourself to avoid it. After all, the fair only comes once a year! It’s like Christmas; calories don’t count!
We all have a memory associated with fair food. Sometimes it’s the feeling of biting into a corndog while you watch the sun set behind the Ferris wheel. Sometimes it’s the memory of throwing up said corndog after you went on the tilt-a-whirl one too many times. But I promise that no matter how many times you had to run to the trash can, almost everyone can still conjure up a good, nostalgic memory associated with the taste of something you can only get at a fair.
My personal favorite fair food is the funnel cake. Sickly sweet, crunchy yet chewy, and easily split among the whole family – is there even any wonder why it’s the best? It’s my mom’s favorite thing to get at fairs and festivals, and I have so many memories from my childhood of licking powdered sugar off of my fingers after she let me have a bite. Never mind that the plate was stained with oil after you were done; that ish was good, man. Funnel cakes definitely hold a special place in both my heart and my stomach!
That’s part of why I was so bummed that I missed the Kentucky State Fair this year. I’ve been so busy with work and life that I never just took a day off to enjoy this crazy spectacle that shows off the best and the worst that our state has to offer. To top it all off, no fair means no fair food which means no funnel cake! At least, that’s what I thought until I picked up Twist by Martha Collison.
I’m kind of on a mission to collect cookbooks from all of my favorite contestants from “The Great British Bake-Off,” and Martha was definitely high on the list. At 17, she was the youngest baker to ever appear on the show in 2014. Her season is labelled “Season 1” on American Netflix (though it’s actually the fourth season of the competition in general), and I definitely recommend you go watch it. In fact, watch everything Netflix has to offer. Then when you can’t get enough, call me and I’ll hook you up with the rest of the seasons. Sometimes living in America means learning how to come across foreign shows that we can’t get on DVD here; it’s a fact of life, don’t question it and just roll with it.
Anyways, Martha’s first book Twist was released in America this summer, and you can bet I took my butt down to my local bookstore the day it came out to get a copy! I’ve read the recipes front to back, but it’s taken me this long to actually try one. And let me tell y’all: this recipe does NOT disappoint! I was afraid that something like funnel cakes would be too difficult for me to try on my own, but the way that Martha writes her recipes makes me feel like it’s easier than I expect. It turns out that frying batter on your stove isn’t any more difficult than frying an egg; there’s no magic secret that makes it too difficult for an average person to master. I was pleasantly surprised!
The “twist” part of Twist is when Martha encourages you to take basic recipes and make your own variations on them. While her original recipe was for lime and chocolate, I decided to go with dark chocolate and orange as my flavors. If you’ve ever had an orange chocolate bar, you’ll understand why. Something about the way the bitterness and sweetness play off each other is just irresistible!
Alright enough about the recipe, just get to it already. Trust me, these almost didn’t even make it to the end of the photoshoot. I broke one apart to get a better picture of the inside, and well…the rest is history. Give it a shot, and let me know in the comments if there’s any other flavors of funnel cake you’d want to try!
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Dark Chocolate Orange Funnel Cakes
For the funnel cakes
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup milk (whole milk preferred, but I used coconut)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- zest of 1 orange
- vegetable oil
- powdered sugar
For the ganache
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels
For the funnel cakes
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and milk until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the baking powder, flour, and sugar. Make a little depression in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it before mixing well to get rid of any lumps. Add half of the orange zest and mix again, to incorporate.
- In a skillet, heat about an inch of oil over medium-high heat. To check if it's ready, drip a bit of batter in and see if it sizzles and hardens. When it's ready, pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Drizzle the batter into the oil, starting with a circle and filling it in with a zig-zag pattern. Cook the cake for a minute on one side until the edges start to brown. Using tongs, carefully flip the cake over and cook for two minutes or until the underside is well browned. Remove from the oil and set on a plate covered in paper towels to dry. Repeat with the remaining batter for the rest of the cakes.
For the chocolate ganache
- Place the dark chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. Heat the heavy cream on the stove or in the microwave until it boils. For the microwave, this is 2 minutes on high. For the stove, set on high heat and watch for the boil. When it's hot enough, pour it into the bowl with the chocolate and whisk vigorously until well combined and thick. Drizzle it with a fork over the tops of the funnel cakes, top with powdered sugar and the remaining orange zest, and enjoy!
- This recipe is adapted from one found in Twist by Martha Collison, which can be found on Amazon or at your local bookstore!
- IMPORTANT: When disposing of the oil after you finish frying the funnel cakes, let it cool before pouring it into a sealable container and throwing it in the trash. You can also see if areas around you have recycling programs for cooking oil. This article should give you some good ideas on how to safely dispose of oil. Whatever you do, just don't pour it down the drain!