Clear Pumpkin Pie Mixes Seasonal Comfort With Molecular Gastronomy

Allen Hemberger, Alinea
Allen Hemberger, Alinea

Some home cooks can’t tweak their Thanksgiving pumpkin pie recipe without their family members accusing them of sacrilege. But at Alinea in Chicago, chefs are nixing the dessert’s distinctive orange filling altogether. As Vogue reports, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant is serving up a version of the fall staple that’s perfectly clear.

The miniature slice of see-through pumpkin pie shares a few similarities with the traditional dish. It’s built on a pie crust foundation and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. But the content of the pie itself, which would normally be a rich orange-brown color, is a made from transparent gelatin. The true magic of the dish comes when you taste it: The course evokes that same warm, nostalgic experience as a slice of pumpkin pie that grandma would make.

That’s because the bite actually has pumpkin in it, even if you can’t see it. To create the dish, Alinea executive chef Mike Bagale and chef de cuisine Simon Davies prepare a “pumpkin pie stock” by making a conventional pumpkin filling, mixing it with water, and distilling the liquid in a rotary evaporator. This process gives them condensation that’s “basically pure aroma,” Bagale told Vogue. After seasoning the concentrated liquid and setting it in clear gelatin, the chefs have a bizarre-looking dessert that is, in essence, pumpkin pie.

Presenting familiar flavors in innovative packages is nothing out of the ordinary for Alinea. Opened by chef Grant Achatz in 2005, the restaurant has included on its menu helium balloons, interactive potato soup, and edible works of art painted directly on diners’ tables. To try the newest viral creation to come out of the kitchen, you must be willing to shell out a couple hundred bucks for the full tasting menu. Suddenly your family’s pumpkin pie recipe may not sound so boring after all.

[h/t Vogue]

KFC's New Firelog Makes Your House Smell Like Fried Chicken

KFC
KFC

The classic yule log has received updates from Star Wars, Nick Offerman, and Lil Bub over the years. This holiday season, why not stoke your fireplace with a log from the folks at KFC? As KRON reports, the fast food chain has produced its own firelog that releases the scent of Kentucky fried chicken when ignited.

The KFC 11 Herbs and Spices log is the best way to fill your house with delectable fried chicken smells without ordering takeout. Made in collaboration with Enviro-Log, it contains 100 percent-recycled materials and burns for up to three hours. KFC warns buyers that burning the log "may result in a craving for fried chicken," and that it "may attract bears or neighbors who are hungry." Despite the mouthwatering aroma, the KFC firelog is not safe to eat.

KFC and Christmas may seem like an odd pairing, but it's an annual holiday tradition in other parts of the world. In Japan, KFC has been a Christmastime staple for decades, with customers placing orders for buckets of "Christmas chicken" months ahead of the holiday.

The KFC log went on sale for $19 on Thursday, December 14, and it's already sold out from the online store, but keep checking back to see if they've restocked them.

It likely won't be the last scented novelty product we see from the brand: KFC has previously released a candle, nail polish, and sunscreen all made to smell like its famous fried bird.

[h/t KRON]

Where to Score Free Treats For National Cupcake Day

iStock.com/RuthBlack
iStock.com/RuthBlack

December is a magical time of year, and not just because of all the winter holidays. A few days on the calendar this month cater to those of us with a sweet tooth, and we can’t say we’re complaining. National Cookie Day fell on December 4, followed by National Brownie Day on December 8, and we still have National Cupcake Day to look forward to tomorrow, December 15. Because if you’re already planning to indulge in Christmas cookies and cake, why not go all out?

The icing on the cake is that a few bakeries across the country will be handing out free cupcakes tomorrow. Sprinkles Cupcakes will be giving away a limited edition strawberry cupcake with rainbow sprinkles to the first 100 visitors at each of its bakeries, which are located in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C. The bakery will also be doing “impromptu cupcake drop-offs” around New York City tomorrow.

Baked by Melissa also promises customers a free cupcake of their choosing at any of its 14 outlets in the New York City region, according to Metro. The company will also post information about a cupcake giveaway to its Instagram page tomorrow, and you can participate by tagging a friend in the comments. Two winners will receive a “Superstar” pack of 50 cupcakes.

If you happen to live in Cleveland, LaBella Cupcakes is taking a unique approach to the holiday and launching a scavenger hunt at 10 a.m. tomorrow. It will take participants to 10 historic locations around the city, and the person who solves the clues the fastest will take home a dozen free cupcakes. Check out the company's Instagram and Facebook pages for more details. 

There’s also a chance one of your local, non-chain bakeries will be hosting a promotion, so it’s worth visiting their website or social media pages to see if there are some freebies you can take advantage of. 

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