What's on your menu this Sunday? It's easy to throw together a halftime-themed spread for this year's Super Bowl XLVII: all you need is spicy Red Hot Chili Peppers Chili and sweet, gooey homemade Bruno Mars Bars.
Of course, you could buy your Mars bars, but what's the challenge in that? If refrigerator-sized men are willing to hurl themselves at double-stacked washer-dryer-sized men for hours on end just for your couch-side, Trumer-swilling enjoyment, shouldn't a little adventure in the kitchen be in order?
We found a surprising number of homemade Mars bars recipes out there, the most dedicated ones coming, unsurprisingly, from the U.K. along with the far-flung members of the Commonwealth, where the original Mars bar has been part of the confectionary landscape since 1932. The British Mars bar is a lot like an American Milky Way, with a thick, fluffy layer of whipped chocolate-malt nougat topped by a slick of caramel and wrapped in a milk chocolate coating.
Iron Whisk, a food blog written by a Canadian college student, spends a lot of time lamenting the overly hardened caramel of a failed first attempt, due to a faulty candy thermometer. But once his whinging has run its course, writer Ilan admits to good results on subsequent trips down the nougat-caramel highway. If you've got your basic candy-making skills down pat, the recipe itself looks clear and fairly easy to follow.
Of course, once you've made these in honor of the fine young Mr. Mars, you can go one (perhaps alcohol-fueled) step further, and deep-fry them. Ah, the deep-fried Mars bar, the stuff of Scottish pub legend since 1995. Food Network Canada supplies a no-frills recipe, involving a simple flour/cornstarch/baking powder/club soda batter, a handful of frozen Mars bars, and a vat of seething hot oil. Or this deep-fried candy bar recipe from the Cooking Channel, in which the bars are dunked, appropriately enough, into a beer batter.
As for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, just about anything fiery and chile-spiked will do. You can cover both the Super Bowl and the advent of the Lunar New Year with Florence Fabricant's a Chinese Chili, pepped up with both tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns and tongue-tingling fresh habanero peppers, as well as beer, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and five-spice powder. She recommends serving it with fermented black beans and the guilty pleasure of crunchy, greasy Chinese fried noodles, the ones that arrived like tortilla chips in the suburban Cantonese joints of my youth, always served alongside little dishes of duck sauce and hot mustard. Also in the New York Times is former Chez Panisse chef David Tanis's Spicy Lacquered Chicken Wings, also with an Asian bent, and baked instead of fried. Fired up with cayenne pepper and fresh hot red chiles, marinated in soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic and five-spice powder, they come shiny red and ready to be prettily arranged over a bed of sliced navel oranges, topped with a salad-ish mix of cucumber, scallions, sesame oil, and peanuts, and finished with plenty of cilantro.
Right here on Bay Area Bites is Stephanie Hua's Massive Pot of Chili, fired up with four tablespoons of chili powder and two of sriracha sauce (although, given the 12 pounds of meat and 7 pounds of beans involved, you might want to triple or even quadruple the single measly jalapeno pepper she recommends). Denise Santoro Lincoln offers a fine 3-Bean Vegetarian Chili spiked with jalapeno, chili powder, smoky chipotles, and both coffee and beer. Or, there's Jacques Pepin's pressure-cooker chili, very similar to the recipe he picked up from the warden of San Quentin Prison.
To drink? Why, Jerry James Stone's Roasted Grapefruit and Habanero Margarita, of course, strong, spicy, and tangy-sweet with a lick of salt around the rim.