A few years ago, a New York restaurant opened called Dirt Candy, a reference to vegetables. I always loved this name. Then our first intern at food52, Helen -- you remember Helen! -- showed me how to make real candy out of dirt candy.
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Dirt candy was a trick Helen learned while working as a cook at Prune in New York City. There, they would cut butternut squash into tiny cubes, shower it with sugar and let it sit for a few days.
Indeed, as Helen showed us, over the course of a few days the tiny cubes let go of their moisture and raw flavor and shrunk, yet retained their crisp snap.
I've tried the recipe with both raw and white sugar. Conventional white works best. I've also extended the trick to beets and carrots, which work well, although the butternut squash sweeps the dirt candy field.
Adapted from Helen, who adapted it from Prune restaurant in New York City
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.