nut-free but ohsoclose with a wormy feel ::::
There is a German word, Ohrwurm, the literal meaning is “ear worm,” that describes that song on virtual repeat in one’s mind. If you hear a tune, catchy or annoying, it may last you all day in your head, this Ohrwurm wiggling around in your brain. Sometimes those songs can last a lifetime, when stuck listening to a mix tape in my mind, especially when coming back to the original sources. A formative music time for me peaked in Atlanta, and I have had many an ear worm since then.
The first time I lived in Atlanta was in my early 20s, thriving on live music and open mics, learning guitar and writing songs, in graduate school, pre-medical school, and meeting my future husband. Music was an integral part of my life experience in that short but life-changing time. Today, I walk through the same haunts as I did almost 20 years ago, and I hear the same tunes in my head. I hear those songs that kept me afloat, that define certain memories. I listened to bands like The Refreshments (“Banditos”), The Verve Pipe (“The Freshman”), Third Eye Blind (“The Jumper”), Lisa Loeb (“Stay”), Umajets and their entire album Demolotion, and anything by the Gin Blossoms or Oasis. I remember hearing 311 everywhere. Bits of college bled over with dada’s dizzknee land and the la’s. The band Uncle Green changed its name to 3 lb Thrill and released a new, edgy album that I put on repeat while I cleaned my apartment on the weekends. I was happy studying at Neighbor’s bar in the Highlands on their open mic night lead by Tommy Thompson, seeing up-and-coming artists. This is where I first saw the amazing Doria Roberts, who still performs in Atlanta today. Eat and I went to the Eddie’s Attic venue to see a small local band open for a another local band which turned us onto their music forever. Soul Miner’s Daughter, the acoustic duo comprised of the guitar whiz Corey Jones and the then recent Agnes Scott College graduate, now-famous, Sugarland special Jennifer Nettles, were the hot group that night (who I also discussed in my post about her family’s recipe for impossible pie). We saw them perform at Starbucks. We attended shows with less than 50 people. My neighbor and I attended three different shows in three venues one night. Atlanta is just that vibrant in the music scene. I could never get enough.
Even now, I listen for these songs, even though the context is completely different. As I walk Sky-Girl in the stroller near the local fro-yo shop or in the Little Five Points area, I see playbills for some of the same artists, smaller font, less fanfare. There are also new names, offering new sounds. Some artists have fully vanished from the scene, my scratched CDs the only evidence of their existence to someone looking at my effects. I still have those welcomed Ohrwurm , squirming up memories of a formative time. There are contrasting scenes from the present to the years-ago when these songs surface, amidst screaming children instead of studying for Biostatistics, driving Peach to school versus taking MARTA to the Variety Playhouse, or hearing an old CD on Friday night, pajamaed and ready for bed at 9PM instead of hearing a live show on Friday night with a beer in my hand. Ohrwurm, you do not distinguish time or person, you infect whenever and whatever.
And these candies are a change in context from nut to seed, but with similar flavor. If someone you know cannot have nuts, these seedy but nutty-flavored “peanut butter” cups are perfect for your craving. I personally don’t mind the sunflower seed butter swap out for the peanut butter: the taste is a little more seedy but the nut flavor is rich and full. And chocolate is always a perfect match for nuts or seeds, this recipe not an exception. Be sure to use high-quality chocolate for the best flavor. I used a dark chocolate because that is my preference for flavor, but the milk chocolate is more reminiscent of the ubiquitous “Reese’s” cups. Peanut allergies abound these days, so this might be your fix for a craving long thought gone. Think of this as your gustatory and taste Ohrwurm : it brings you back to another time in a new context.
Happy Holidays. Have a great holiday eating chocolate — be back after Christmas.
One year ago: whole orange cake
This recipe is mildly adapted from the Mast Brothers Chocolate Cookbook — beautiful photos and great recipes. It’s highly recommended for a holiday gift for your favorite cook — or yourself.
- ½ cup sunflower seed butter
- 2 tablespoons butter (I like to use salted.)
- ½ cup powdered sugar (or less, depending on if your sunflower seed butter has some sugar already, and if you prefer a less sweet flavor, like me -- I've made this with very little sugar and liked it)
- ½ pound dark chocolate (I used over 70%; milk chocolate works well here too, but the tempering instructions are different. See below.)
- Special equipment: mini muffin tin, mini muffin tin liners (aka, candy papers), instant-read thermometer (only if tempering your chocolate).
- Melt the sunflower seed butter and butter together gently in a small saucepan. Low heat is important. Stir occasionally and watch. It can burn, and you'll have to start over (Yes, I did this. It messed up my whole day. #firstworldproblem). Stir in powdered sugar. Set aside until chocolate is ready.
- Temper your chocolate if you intend to allow these goodies sit out at room temperature to store. If you prefer to keep them in the refrigerator, just melt your chocolate over a double boiler, without worrying about the temperature.
- IF TEMPERING (mostly excerpted from my 6:46 minute caramel post): Bring about ⅔ of your dark chocolate to no higher than 115 degrees F (46 deg C) and milk and white chocolate to no higher than 110 degrees F (43 deg C). Caution on this method for desired results: don’t heat the chocolate too quickly, as the temperature will continue to rise even after removed from heat. Heat the double boiler water somewhat slowly. If you go too quickly and the temp is too high, then you may lose the window of tempering and end up with chocolate that is gooey at room temperature. Keep the candy in the refrigerator if this happens (or start over).
- When melted, remove chocolate from double boiler heat, add in the remainder of the chocolate and stir to melt. Keep the instant-read thermometer in the chocolate to watch the temperature.
- When the chocolate reaches below 84 deg F (29 deg C) — this may take some time so check and stir occasionally — remove any chocolate pieces that do not melt.
- Then, rewarm the chocolate over the double boiler, 88 deg F (31 deg F) for dark chocolate and 87 deg F (30 deg F) for milk and white chocolates. This goes quickly, so watch carefully. Do not exceed temperature over 91 degrees F. Chocolate should be smooth and satiny when cooled, and form a hard shell at room temperature, if properly tempered. *
- While your chocolate is melting and you are diligently checking your instant-read thermometer, line a mini muffin tin with mini liners. I use cheap paper ones without a problem.
- Spoon a small amount of prepared chocolate into each muffin liner.
- Spoon warmed sunflower seed-butter mixture into each, then top carefully with more melted chocolate.
- Allow to set in refrigerator. Pull out of fridge for about 15 minutes before serving. Makes 12 candies.