Candy



It’s cookie season.  It’s cookie exchange time. I love seeing what everyone makes.  I love that there are twelve days of cookies on Foodtv.com.  Ironically I don’t even love cookies.  I just love the opportunity to get into the kitchen.  I love trying something new.

My mom and my brother’s girlfriend get together every year around this time to spend a whole day in the kitchen and make winter goodies.  It’s the winter equivalent of “putting up” the harvest by canning in the fall/summer I suppose.   This is one of the recipes they had tried together.  My mom was telling me that I “had to try” to make them.  That they would be so easy and you just couldn’t go wrong with them.  Perhaps she was right…but it took me way longer to make these than it would have taken me to make regular cookies, and in my oh, so humble opinion they were waaaaaaaaay more labour intensive than drop cookies.

That being said, they aren’t really cookies.  They are more of candies.  Almonst a chewy Almond Roca.  I thought my mom had created these, but upon some internet searching, I believe it was Giada De Laurentis’ recipe.  As usual, I reviewed and looked at ways to put my own spin on them.  I opted to roll them in chopped up toasted almonds.  Building on the almondy goodness.

As I munched on my one tester.  I think I would do them differently next time.  I think the idea is right, but the texture needs a little work.  The caramel centre is a little confused.  It is kind of chewy, and kind of brittle.  I feel like it needs to be one or the other…otherwise my jaw might need strengthening if I was to eat these on a more regular basis…come to think about it, perhaps it is a good idea that you can only eat one or two at the most at a time.  IF I was to make these again, I think I would make my own caramel.  I would add the almonds to the silicone liners and then ladle in the almond roca caramel mixture into the cups, cool and set, and then dip in the choclate and roll in the crushed almonds.  Basically creating little Almond Roca bites, rather than the bark I made a few years ago.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) toasted slivered almonds
24 individually wrapped caramel candies (about 6 ounces)
1 cup (about 6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips
4 to 6 tablespoons cream, room temperature, divided
1 cup (about 6 ounces) white chocolate chips

1 cup toasted chopped slivered almonds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease the mini-muffin tins with vegetable oil spray. If you have silicone mini muffin liners or the pan, use that instead and you won’t need the oil.
  3. Place 1 teaspoon of slivered nuts in each of the muffin cups. Unwrap the caramel candies, cut each candy into quarters and place 2 quarters (1/2 candy) in each of the muffin cups, in the bottom, add the nuts and then add the other 2 quarters on top of the nuts in a single layer. Bake in the oven until the caramel is just melted and beginning to spread, about 8 minutes. Be careful not to over melt the caramel or it will bubble, burn, and become too hard. Place the mini muffin tins in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to cool. Remove the nut clusters from the tins and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. Whisk 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream into the chocolate to slightly thin the chocolate for coating the clusters. Dip half of the nut clusters in the bittersweet chocolate , remove exand place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Return the clusters to the refrigerator to harden, about 30 minutes.
  5. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. Wisk 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream into the chocolate to slightly thin the chocolate for coating the clusters. Dip remaining half of the nut clusters in the white chocolate and place on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet with the other chocolate-covered clusters. Return the clusters to the refrigerator to harden, about 30 minutes.

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For Easter Dinner I volunteered to bring a dessert…suprise, suprise!  As part of the dessert topping I wanted to make little pink bunnies as the decoration.  As I had mentioned a few months back, I had stacks and stacks of magazine’s lying around, finally went through them and saw these little cuties.  I think it was originally from Martha Stewart Living.

My piping skills certainly leave something to be desired, and working with marshmallow is not the easiest thing I have ever done, but to a 2 and 5 year old, I think they will be a hit.  Especially with “lil miss V” who loves all things pink!

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Ingredients:

Marshmallow:
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar

Detail Work:
1 cup sugar
1 drop pink food colouring
Brown gel food colouring
Blue gel food colouring

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/3 cup water.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water with sugar over medium high heat.
  3. Stir until dissolved. Stop stirring and place a candy thermometer into sugar.
  4. Wipe the sides of pan with a wet brush if sugar crystals have splattered up.
  5. Boil sugar until temp reaches the soft-ball stage (238F)
  6. Remove syrup from heat, add to gelatin mixture.
  7. Hand stir the mixture until it cools.
  8. Beet on medium speed with mixer until soft peaks from and marshmallow mixture holds shape: 8-10 minutes.
  9. Transfer marshmallow mixture to pastry bang, fitted with a 1/2 inch tip.
  10. Fill a rimmed cookie sheet with coloured sugar (one drop of food colouring into 1 cup of sugar… mix with your hands and you have coloured sugar)
  11. Pipe 1 and 1/4 inch mound, 1/2 inch tall onto sugar.
  12. Pipe a small mound on one side for tail, and a larger mound on opposite side for head.
  13. Pipe the ears, starting at the head onto the body (this was the hardest part for me)
  14. With a damp finger pat down the spikes formed by piping the various mounds.
  15. Work quickly so the marshmallow surface doesn’t dry out, use a spoon to cover the whole body with sugar.
  16. With a skewer pipe on the faces with the gel (the recipe called for royal icing, I didn’t want to make icing when I needed so little).
  17. Place in a parchment-lined Tupperware container until ready to serve, up to 2 weeks.

August is always a crazy month for me. Getting ready for classes to start again, and for the return of students I still am amazed how fast the month flies by. So while I haven’t been posting, I have been busy, and busy with lots of food related stuff.

We went to the family reunion in the Okanagan, and brought back with us, some peaches, pears, cherries, tomatoes and peppers…and so I have been busy canning some new stuff (to be posted later when I get a decent picture of the jars in natural light).

As I was sitting at the table looking at the freshly canned Roma tomatoes, I started to think about how I could have walked about 50 feet to the little grocery store practically out my door and picked up a tin of tomatoes for a measly buck something, there is something so satisfying doing it myself.

Then, as it often does, my mind wondered away and I started thinking about random things I could try to make from home…. I am not sure if anyone has ever watched “How It’s Made“, but it tends to be something that catches my attention, perhaps because it helps me think about how I could make things that we so often run out to the store to buy. I just love the challenge of trying to make something at least once…and so came the ah, ha moment when I thought, why don’t I make my own gummy candies. Truly I have never desired to do it, but I figured the kitchen is already a mess, why not!? The result is below… not exactly the same as the junk you can buy at the corner store, but still kind of fun. We made the recipe below twice, first raspberry flavoured and then lime. I’m looking forward to trying to make these with my nephew!

Ingredients:

1 package flavored jello
6 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, mix both the flavored and the unflavored gelatin.

2. Stir the gelatins up. Pour cold water in mixture and stir with a spatula until you have a gloppy-chunky blob not unlike play-doh.

3. Turn heat stove top burner on medium and melt blob.

4. Stir the blob constantly until melted.

5. Spray molds very lightly with a vegetable spray like Pam.

6. Pour the melted mixture into miniature bear molds, or other small candy type molds.

7. Place filled molds in freezer for 10 minutes to cool.

** I don’t have candy molds but I do have silicon shapes ice cube trays from Ikea…and as a result, flowers and puzzle pieces. Voila!

Recipe from Marianne Dambra