Buttered, Fried, and On a Stick: Regional Fair Food


8/22/13

In the summertime, Milwaukee can  be expected to smell like popcorn, funnel cakes, and sweet corn. It is the land of festivals: from Festa Italia! to Bastille Days, every culture is celebrated through dance, music and most importantly food.

I went to a number of these festivals, but the most popular by far is the Wisconsin State Fair.

If you’re expecting to have fresh and organic food at a fair, don’t bother. It doesn’t exist. Even at Greek Fest, the most popular food item was a deep fried pastry–Not exactly the most authentic Greek food. But we all need our fix of fried food once in a while; this is where to get it.

State fairs may not be the place to go for healthy food, but it’s certainly the place to go to eat interesting concoctions of fried things on a stick.  The newcomers every year always make people talk. This year at the Wisconsin State Fair, some of the interesting creations included a Thanksgiving Waffle, fried gelato on a stick, and a Krispy Kreme Burger with Spicy Pig Candy. Now that’s kicking it up a notch!

But, every state fair has a famous staple food that everyone has to get.  For 89 years in Wisconsin, it’s the Cream Puff: a delectable fluffy puff pastry with soft cream in the middle. This sought after item even has its own drive-thru window.

The one thing that all of these festivals and fairs had in common was the fact that beer was everywhere: cheap beer sold for a small fortune.

Festivals and fairs are all about binging on food that isn’t good for you, but it’s delicious all the same. And in college, you have those days where you need to eat food that’s exactly that. State fairs may only last a week or two, but here’s a way to bring a little bit of the fair into your college apartment.

Wisconsin Cream Puff

Puff Pastry:

1 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

4 Large Eggs

2 Tbsp. Milk

1 Large Egg Yolk

Cream Filling:

2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream

1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

1/2 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/8 Tsp. Cream of Tartar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400°. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at once and stir until a ball forms. Remove from the heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
  2. Drop ¼ cupfuls of the puffs onto baking sheets. Combine milk and egg yolk; brush over puffs. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape.
  3. As they cool, beat the Heavy Whipping Cream with until it begins to thicken. Add sugar, vanilla and cream of tartar Split cream puffs; discard soft dough from inside. Fill the cream puffs just before serving. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

Published in College & Cook Magazine.

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