Black-eyed pea cookoff returns, and so do tamales


Black-eyed pea cookoff returns to William Chris Vineyards in Hye

If you’re a black-eyed pea fan, you need to know about William Chris Vineyards’ annual black-eyed pea cookoff on New Year’s Day. This event in Hye brings together people who love to cook black-eyed peas and people who love to eat them to help bring good luck into the new year. Tickets cost $25 and include samples of the entries and a New Year’s toast. For those of you who want to enter your best Hoppin’ John, you can enter the cookoff for $50. The winner gets $500 and a case of wine, which would not be a bad way to start the year.

Tickets and more details about the event and how to enter the cookoff are available at The party starts at 1 p.m. at the vineyard and will feature live music from Trace of Gold, with wine available for purchase and plenty of black-eyed peas. The deadline to enter the cookoff is Dec. 26.


Fancy Fluff now selling organic sugar cotton candy in artisan flavors

A local cotton candy company is bringing a taste of the holidays to the Trail of Lights this year.

Fancy Fluff, a relatively new Austin company that is usually only available for private events, has developed a line of seasonal flavors to sell at the upcoming Trail of Lights, which kicks off on Friday with a preview night and then is open to the public until Dec. 23. In addition to eggnog cotton candy, Fancy Fluff is selling organic spun sugar that tastes like gingerbread, apple cider, candy cane, sugar plum and pumpkin pie.

I tried all six of them in my Facebook livestream this week and was impressed with both the light and airy texture of the cotton candy and the intensity of the flavors. Some of my colleagues thought they were too intense, but for $3 and $5 for small and large sizes, it’s not too expensive to try one for yourself. Owner Jessica Morrow Halich has more than 50 gourmet cotton candy flavors available, including mango-chili-lime, chai tea, toasted coconut, watermelon-cucumber and cardamon-pear.


Where to find stollen, fruitcake, other holiday breads

In America, we might associate the holidays with decadent, buttery sweets, but in many cultures around the world, Christmas and other winter holidays are the time to break out the specialty breads.

Throughout Europe and the U.S., you’ll find families serving slices of fruitcake, German stollen or Italian panettone dotted with candied fruit all month long. In Sweden, where St. Lucia Day (Dec. 13) is one of the most beloved days of the season, saffron buns and vörtbröd are found around every table. Where can you buy these baked goods in Austin?

Upper Crust Bakery, 4508 Burnet Road, is well-known for the challah it sells only on Fridays, but during the holiday months, you can also buy stollen and gift-wrapped stollen. Sweetish Hill Bakery, 1120 W. Sixth St., sells stollen this time of the year, and it’s also one of the few places that will make the Swedish holiday bread limpa, which you have to call (512-472-1347) in to order ahead of time.

The Austin-area locations of Central Market and Whole Foods also sell stollen and panettone that are made in-house, as well as fruitcake.

At Easy Tiger, David Norman, the head baker and author of a forthcoming book on European breads, is selling stollen through Christmas Eve, and vörtbröd, a Swedish holiday rye bread with cloves, ginger, the peel of Seville oranges and “wort,” the malt and hop mixture that would be brewed into a strong porter ale. You’ll have to order them 48 hours ahead of time by contacting or 512-614-4972.


Bill Miller BBQ now selling tamales by the dozen

It’s officially tamales season in Texas, but making them from scratch isn’t necessarily a project that everybody wants to take on.

Dozens of restaurants sell them this time of year, and here is a list of some of them: Tamale House East, Chumikal’s Cafe, DK Maria’s Legendary Tex-Mex, Uncle Julio’s, Mellizoz Tacos, LeRoy & Lewis, Guero’s Taco Bar, Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon, Stiles Switch, Rosie’s Tamales and Mi Ranchito Taqueria in Manchaca. For the first time, the local popular Texas barbecue chain Bill Miller BBQ is now selling tamales either by the plate or by the dozen.

Did I leave off your favorite place? Leave a comment or email me at, and I’ll update the post online.


This marshmallow fudge recipe is an oldie but a goodie

In last week’s food section, we shared the recipe for Velveeta fudge, but for a Facebook livestream that day, I also made marshmallow fudge to see which one people preferred. Most people who tried with fudge made with Velveeta loved it, agreeing that if I hadn’t said it had Velveeta in it, they wouldn’t have been able to tell.

However, this marshmallow fudge recipe was universally praised for a richer flavor and more traditional fudgelike texture. You might know this as Fantasy Fudge, which was the name of the recipe printed on the side of the marshmallow cream container, but mini marshmallows are a little easier to measure and work with.

If you’re using regular-size or jumbo marshmallows, cut them into pieces with scissors so they will melt quickly in the hot butter. The same is true of the chocolate. Large chunks won’t melt thoroughly and will leave a grainy texture. You can use cooking spray instead of butter when preparing the pan.

Marshmallow Fudge

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more, room temperature, for brushing

1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk

1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

9 ounces (1 3/4 cups) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Lightly brush an 8-inch baking pan with butter, then line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Lightly butter parchment. In a medium saucepan, combine remaining 2 tablespoons butter, sugar, evaporated milk and salt.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, then cook for 3 minutes more, until pale golden and thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows until mostly melted, then add chocolate and vanilla. Stir until chocolate and marshmallows have melted completely and mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pan; smooth top with a spatula.

Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Remove parchment with fudge from pan and cut into 36 squares. Fudge can be stored refrigerated, covered with plastic, up to 1 week.

— From Martha Stewart Living

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