Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Other Holiday Turkey

There are times when, for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I bake two turkeys.

One is the two-legged kind, the stuff of wishbones and drumsticks--the kind whose rich broth makes possible classic holiday fare like homemade noodles and dressing and giblet gravy. The other is my famous Brownie Turkey Pizza.

The recipe for the latter has been a staple of my recipe box--and of our family holidays--for nearly twenty-five years. It came my way via my hometown newspaper sometime in the early 1990s, one of those things I clipped out because it looked like something fun that the kids might like.

Basically, the Brownie Turkey Pizza consists of a boxed brownie mix prepared according to package instructions and baked at 350 degrees on a round pizza pan for twelve or thirteen minutes. When it has cooled, icing, nuts, and candy pieces give it its "turkey" design:

As you see, brownie toppers consist of generous portions of pecan halves, chopped Butterfingers (or walnuts--or both), and M & M's (or Reese's Pieces). These are arranged into turkey formation atop a still-gooey layer of canned chocolate and vanilla (for the head and neck) frosting.

Forming the turkey's beak and wattle are a single piece of candy corn (or a pecan half will work) and a small length of some sort of red gummy candy. Among other choices, you can enlist a gumdrop or a gummy worm for this purpose. This year I sliced the center out of a gummy spider I found at the after-Halloween clearance sales.

A couple tips make the decorating process easier and the outcome more successful. One is to make a pattern (approximately 4" by 6") for the head/neck unit by folding a piece of paper double and cutting freehand until you get about the size and proportions you want. 

Then, lay the pattern on the brownie where you want the head to be, and trace around it with a toothpick. Finally, if you apply the white frosting first, it will not be so likely to get swirls of chocolate in it.

From experience, I have learned that, once the frosting is in place, it works better to add decorations from the outside in. Doing this gives you a better chance of giving your feather structure a round, rather than more oblong, appearance.

Finally, be ready for a fight over the gummy worm or whatever you use for the wattle. No matter how many delicious morsels of M & M's or Reese's Pieces you use, and no matter how thoroughly you saturate the empty chocolate icing spaces with crumbled Butterfingers, every kid at your party is going to want that one irresistible piece of gummy candy.

I have found this to be true through two generations of turkey-eating children, and nothing I have witnessed hints that a change is imminent. It is simply a rule of the universe, and you just have to accept it.

The recipe I clipped from the Sedalia Democrat newspaper (adapted from a source titled "My Own Creation!") so many years ago is yellowed and chocolate-stained. Nevertheless, it has provided the blueprint for more turkey brownie pizzas than I can remember.

This past Thanksgiving is no exception, and, for posterity, let the record show that this year it was Sooby who got the wattle.

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