Buying gifts for gamers can be a real challenge. They are constantly picking up the newest games, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering might as well be foreign languages. So the Castles & Cooks brain trust joined forces to come up with 25 fantastic holiday gifts in a variety of price points.
Chocolate Dice – $8
If you need a stocking stuffer for any tabletop player, get them a delicious treat in the shape of a set of dice. It’s cheap, adorable and delicious. Available in white, 6o% and dark chocolate.
Bag O Zombies – $10
This is a bag of 100 zombies for $10, how is that not awesome? Any self-respecting DM can find a reason to use these, but when don’t you need a bag of zombies? It doesn’t matter if you play ZOMBIES or not – and they come in regular zombie gray or glow-in-the-dark!
LEGO Gandalf Arrives – $13 Lord of the Rings holds a special place in almost every geek’s heart, but as a desktop decoration, they don’t get more perfect than this. Gandalf’s cart is adorable and full of fireworks and a LEGO Frodo may be the cutest thing in the world.
Cookbooks are a weird business. How can you tell when one is good? Is it because the recipes are new and innovative or because the directions actually make sense? It gets even weirder when cookbooks are inspired by works of fantasy. But that didn’t stop The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook from seeing print.
Long time readers of Castles and Cooks know we’ve dabbled in our own Harry Potter inspired recipes, like Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer. So when I received this book as a gift, I was quite excited to open it up and discover what secrets it held – especially in comparison to my own recipes! Would their Butterbeer be similar to mine or a completely different take?
That’s when the first realization of this book sunk in: this book takes almost every mention of food from the Harry Potter series and has recipes for them. But that includes the most mundane and muggle recipes, like mashed parsnips, buttered peas and fried eggs with bacon. These aren’t the recipes I’m after – how would you cook a blast-ended skrewet? Or what about all those fantastical ice cream flavors at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour? Hell, one of the recipes is just crispy fried bacon. While another recipe is a gammon of bacon and another is scrambled eggs with bacon. I love bacon, but how many different times do I need to see it? Read the rest of this entry »
The lovely ladies, Ginny and Dana, of Not Literally have returned with their newest song that has been months in the making – Sorted This Way! A parody of Lady Gaga (it disturbs me that we already had a tag of her), this shows off exceptional production values and almost makes this Slytherin want to change houses – almost.
Either way, who wants to have a Harry Potter dance party? I’ll bring the butterbeer!
Reddit user jennywren15 and friends crafted a stunning copy of Hogwarts out of delicious cookies and candies for the holidays! Be sure to check out the whole album, because this is both delicious and nerdy.
He felt it was a better use of his time to eat his way steadily through his steak and kidney pie, then a large plateful of his favorite treacle tart. – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This has got to be on the mind of most people who read Harry Potter and don’t live in the UK – What is treacle tart and why does Harry love it so much? Treacle isn’t quite molasses but is a syrup made during the process of refining sugar that just doesn’t seem that popular in the United States. It’s basically corn syrup and Treacle Tart is basically pecan pie without pecans. It makes sense why Harry would love it seeing as he was rarely given anything sweet by his aunt and uncle besides that single lemon popsicle.
Treacle (or golden syrup) can be difficult to find in the states. But Amazon seems to sell nearly everything, though it’s probably at a premium. So check locally. If for some reason you absolutely cannot find treacle, you could try mixing molasses and corn syrup, which will be close but not quite right. Read the rest of this entry »
A pasty (or pastie) is a name given to a folded pastry crust that is filled with all manner of ingredient and baked. The most famous being the Cornish pasty – a meat and vegetable filled pasty product hailing from the southern portion of England – which may have its origins dating all the way back to the early 1500s. Though traditionally a savory delight, sweeter versions are not uncommon these days especially in the southern United States where the pasty has a very rich following, taking on appearances like the turnover.
With origins in the Middle Ages, they may have been some of the first “foods on the go”, becoming a handy alternative for travelers or those who could not readily afford utensils. Certainly a better alternative than Go-Gurt and cereal bars.
In the world of Harry Potter the pumpkin pasty is another concoction (along with the Cauldron Cake) sold aboard the Hogwarts Express. Though never explicitly stated as being a sweet, when sold amongst candies and other dessert like pastry, we can only assume that it was not quite the same traditional savory pasty. Though given the versatility of the dish adapting it for either sweet or savory applications requires very little effort.
The pumpkin pasties took center stage at our Potter Party, being the most substantial component that also wasn’t entirely made of sugar. Plus, the pumpkin is both a fruit and a vegetable so there’s at least a bit of nutrition there. Read the rest of this entry »
What she did have were Bettie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life. “ – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
With this moment, Harry is off on his first trip to Hogwarts. Buying an entire cart’s full of treats, he returns to share them with Ron, further cementing the friendship that will eventually be tested like few others. There among the menagerie of sweets, is the cauldron cake, one of the more notable desserts in the franchise.
Though never explicitly described, the name is evocative enough that Jesse and I didn’t need to use that much imagination to devise the recipe. Usually devils’ food cake as the base, the cakes provide versatility enough for almost any filling. A chocolate mousse is called for here, but any sort of filling could be used. The cake itself is sponge-like and takes well to absorbing flavors from liqours or glazes that are applied.
There’s an additional comment on the bottom of the recipe, but it should be noted that the chocolate mousse used here calls for raw eggs. Jesse, coming from Maine, assures me that the eggs we used were fine, apparently he knows the chickens who laid them personally. I’m told this is not an unusual occurrence in Maine, no matter how strange it might sound.
With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II coming closer and closer, I figured it was time to revisit my shots after the astounding popularity of the Harry Potter Sorting Shots, Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice. So finally here are the latest rounds of drinks inspired by the series!
The Rubeus Hagrid “Technically, I’m not allowed to do magic…”
3 fingers of Scotch or whiskey
A drop of pink food dye
A pink umbrella for garnish
Pour three fingers worth of scotch (either neat on on the rocks) into an old fashioned glass. Add a drop of dye to make it pink and garnish with with a pink umbrella. Read the rest of this entry »