Caramels - ☺♥
As shown below, this recipe is simple and good for making soft caramels. I found it in The Joy of Cooking© and I use it when making Caramel Nut Squares at Christmas.
More recently I modified this recipe to make the caramel component of the candy, Turtles. My modification was to use only 1/4 cup of light brown sugar and 3/4 cup of white sugar, all light corn syrup, and a bit more than 1/2 cup of heavy cream. The point is I was looking for a more blond type of caramel. The modifications worked great. If you are using this recipe with that type of end use then ignore the instructions later about pouring the caramel from the saucepan.
Overall, small variations in this recipe will produce different types of caramels, light vs. dark, mild vs. more intense in flavor. I suggest you think about the end use for the caramel and then decide how much of each ingredient to use.
1 stick of butter
1 cup of light brown sugar
¼ cup of dark corn syrup
¼ cup of light corn syrup
½ cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Put the butter, sugar and corn syrups into a heavy saucepan.
Heat on low, stirring until the sugar crystals are dissolved.
Use a candy thermometer and continue to heat the mixture on low until it reaches a temperature of 240ºF. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cream.
Return the saucepan to the heat. Stir gently until mixture again reaches 240º F. This may take ten to fifteen minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
If you are making regular caramels, then pour/spoon the caramel from the saucepan while it is hot and easily worked, ergo, quickly.
I suggest using a lightly buttered cookie tray and smoothing the caramel into a pool about 1/4" thick.
Allow it to set for five minutes, and while soft use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut/mark the caramel pool.
After the caramel is cool enough to hold a shape (15 minutes) then finish the cutting and wrap the caramels in waxed paper.
Here is an untested experiment: You might dust the caramels very lightly with powdered sugar and then wrap them in plastic wrap. The idea is the dusting product will keep the caramel from sticking to the plastic wrap.
Chocolate Coated Caramelized Walnuts - ?
I wanted a recipe for walnut caramels but found the one below that lends itself to a second step of coating caramelized walnuts with a high quality milk or dark chocolate. I will report back with results when I make the first batch. Note that this recipe should work well also with pecans instead of walnuts.
Yield: Makes approximately 72 pieces of chocolate coated caramelized walnuts.
2/3 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of salt
4 Tbsp. of milk
1 1/2 cups of sugar
4 cups of walnut halves
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 lb. of high quality milk or dark chocolate, chopped
Mix together the sour cream, salt, milk, and sugar in a medium size, thick-bottomed saucepan.
Heat the mixture on medium heat until the temperature reads 240°F on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally.
Add the walnuts and the vanilla.
Stir briefly until the walnuts are well coated and creamy.
Remove the pan from the heat and quickly spread the coated walnuts out on a waxed paper covered cookie sheet.
Separate the coated walnut pieces using 2 forks, as necessary.
Let the walnuts cool to room temperature to harden.
Chill the walnuts for 15 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave oven, starting with one minute on high power followed by mixing the melted and unmelted chocolate pieces with a fork. Repeat the heating and mixing but for only 30 seconds. Repeat as necessary but do not overheat the chocolate or it will be ruined. The idea is to barely melt all of the chocolate, and that will happen after a few heating and mixing operations simply by mixing the almost melted pieces with the melted chocolate.
Dip each piece of the chilled caramelized walnuts into the chocolate and coat it thoroughly, then place it on a piece of waxed paper to cool and harden.
Put the candy into an airtight container with waxed paper between the candy layers. Store the candy in a cool location.
Homemade chocolate coated candies should be eaten within two weeks.
Chocolate Covered Easter Eggs - ☺♥
Marie provided these recipes and she made all of these chocolate eggs … and they were great! I have modified the recipes with more detail and more modern procedures to assure success.
The three recipes below all use the same dipping procedure for the chocolate coating. You may choose to vary the mixture of chocolates, milk and dark, to what pleases you best. Typically coconut eggs are coated with dark chocolate, while peanut butter eggs are coated with milk chocolate. Fruit and nut eggs are good with a mixture of both types of chocolate.
You may or may not have the recommended brands of chocolate described in the coating/dipping procedure. If that is the case you may substitute using either Lindt® or Ghirardelli® high quality, high cacao content chocolate bars, noting that following that method is quite expensive. You are far better off ordering excellent quality chocolate in advance in bulk 11 pound blocks. I recommend the Callebaut® NV845 milk chocolate and one of their semi-sweet dark chocolate choices perfect for dipping, like No 811. You can buy the bulk chocolate blocks online via Amazon® to Worldwide Chocolates® with free shipping for roughly $5 to $8 per pound, depending on specific type of chocolate, and that is a terrific savings for a vastly superior chocolate. Leftover/excess blocks of chocolate are best stored vacuum sealed in a dark cool place to keep them perfectly fresh for later use ... even two years later!
½ cup of butter
8 oz. of cream cheese
2, one pound boxes of confectioners sugar
14 oz. of shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 tsp. (or more) of coconut flavoring extract
2 tsp. of vanilla
Melt the butter and the cream cheese in a large saucepan on low heat. Turn off the heat. Add the sugar, coconut, coconut flavoring extract and vanilla and mix thoroughly. You will find that mixing using your hands is the easiest way to blend all the ingredients once the sugar has been incorporated into the butter and cream cheese mixture. Put the mixture into a shallow serving dish and cover it with plastic wrap.
Chill the mixture ½ to 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Form the mixture into eggs about two inches long and roughly one inch in diameter in the middle and place them on waxed paper covered cookie sheets, slightly flattening the bottoms.
Dip the eggs in melted chocolate as described below.
Chocolate Coating Procedure:
Melt a mixture of one and one half to two pounds of small (roughly 1/2"x1/2"x1/4") pieces of Scharfenberger® or Callebaut® High Cacao Dipping Chocolate (Milk and/or Dark), gradually and carefully using a microwave oven on high heat in multiple steps with intermediate stirring/mixing, using a two to three inch deep, six to eight inch wide microwave safe plastic bowl. Do not use a narrow top/deep bowl as that will make the dipping process far more difficult. Do not use a glass or china bowl as they can easily overheat and destroy the chocolate.
First and foremost, reserve about 20 percent of the chocolate either grated or in very small pieces, like shavings. It will be added later to the melted chocolate described below to seed the chocolate for tempering.
For the other 80 percent of the chocolate, the heating period(s), followed by stirring and temperature checking are: one minute, then 30 seconds, then 10 seconds, then if necessary, additional periods of only 5 seconds, with thorough stirring after each heating period. Aim for a temperature of 108 degrees F to melt the chocolate but do not exceed a temperature of 110 degrees F. Use a good instant/quick read thermometer and careful stirring/mixing to assure an even and correct temperature throughout the melted chocolate. I saw a candy maker use a flat paddle as a stirrer so I tried it and found it to be perfect as chocolate that would cling to a spoon and be hard to remove during heating is easily scraped from a flat paddle stirrer back into the bowl.
Now mix in half of the reserved chocolate and stir very well until it is melted. You should notice the mixture becoming thicker as the reserved chocolate melts during stirring. When the temperature drops to 98 degrees F then add the remainder of the reserved chocolate and stir until it is melted. What you have done is seed the melted chocolate with crystals from the reserved chocolate and that will, along with reduction in temperature to below 94 degrees F re-temper the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool to 90 degrees F. This is aided by additional stirring. If the temperature drops below 85 degrees F prior to or during dipping then you may very briefly (5 seconds) microwave it and stir thoroughly, but try not to exceed 90 degrees F.
Dip the eggs into the melted chocolate individually to coat them, then put them on a waxed paper covered cookie sheet and let them rest until they have cooled and the coating is solid, or alternatively follow the "shock" procedure described below. Typically, small chocolate dipped candy is removed from the bowl of melted chocolate using an inexpensive plastic tool with a thin loop at the bottom. Larger pieces like the Easter eggs are easily handled using two wide meat forks, one in each hand, to rotate or flip the candy in the melted chocolate and then to get underneath it from both sides, lift it out of the chocolate, let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and finally transfer the coated candy to the waxed paper.
If you have freezer space you can "shock" the chocolate by putting the cookie sheet with the coated eggs into the deep freeze for 15 minutes immediately following coating. That procedure will help to produce a glossy surface. Then wrap each egg individually with plastic wrap and put them into a container with a top that seals well, then store the container in a cool, dark place.
Eat the eggs within one week for maximum quality. If refrigerated they will last up to three weeks.
Peanut Butter Eggs:
½ cup of butter
8 to 10 oz. of cream cheese
2, one pound boxes of confectioners sugar
2 1/2 to 3 cups of peanut butter
2 tsp. of vanilla
6 oz. of white chocolate
Melt the butter and the cream cheese and the 6 ounces of white chocolate in a large saucepan on low heat. Turn off the heat. Add the sugar, peanut butter and vanilla and mix thoroughly. You may find that mixing using your hands is the easiest way to blend all the ingredients once the sugar has been incorporated into the butter and cream cheese and white chocolate mixture.
Put the mixture into a large shallow serving dish and cover it with plastic wrap and chill ½ to 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Form the mixture into eggs about two inches long and one inch thick in the middle and put them on waxed paper covered cookie sheets with the bottoms slightly flattened.
Use the chocolate coating procedure shown above for the coconut eggs.
Fruit and Nut Eggs:
½ cup of butter
8 oz. of cream cheese
2, one pound boxes of confectioners sugar
1 cup of Chopped Nuts (walnut halves, roasted almonds or pecan halves chopped into roughly four pieces each)
1 cup of cut Maraschino Cherries (each cherry cut into four pieces and all pieces pressed between paper towels to eliminate wetness) or 1/2 cup of cherry pieces and 1/2 cup of crushed canned pineapple pieces processed to eliminate wetness using paper towels
2 tsp. of vanilla
Cut the cherries on a cutting board and spread the cherry pieces on a paper towel. Put another paper towel on top and press to absorb the cherry syrup into the paper towels. Fill a one cup measuring cup with the pieces. Set the cherry pieces aside. As an alternative recipe, you can instead use 1/2 cup of the cherry pieces and 1/2 cup of crushed canned pineapple pieces that have first been thoroughly de-wetted using the paper towel procedure used for the cherry pieces.
Melt the butter and cream cheese in large saucepan on low heat. Turn off the heat. Add the sugar, chopped nuts, cherry/pineapple pieces and vanilla and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is too sticky to handle then add additional powdered sugar and mix. Repeat as necessary until the mixture is not excessively sticky. Note also that you can dust your hands with corn starch to make handling of slightly sticky products easy.
Put the mixture into a serving dish and cover it with plastic wrap and chill ½ to 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Form the mixture into eggs about two inches long and one inch in diameter in the middle and put them on waxed paper covered cookie sheets with the bottoms slightly flattened. If necessary, first dust your hands with corn starch. If you find the product to be too soft to hold an egg shape during later dipping in melted chocolate then freeze the egg shaped pieces prior to dipping them in the melted chocolate.
Use the chocolate coating procedure shown above for the coconut eggs.
Clotted Cream - ☺♥
This recipe is another case of serendipity. While living in Europe Marie and I visited some restaurants that listed clotted cream as a topping for pastries and other desserts. A bit of research helped me learn that the Brits make it in a different way to how we make our whipped cream and with a very different result with less sweetness and much higher butterfat content. They spread it on scones.
We had it served generously on dessert while dining in Gruyere, Switzerland. Yes, that is the medieval town famous for creating Gruyere cheese. It is a nice place to visit. Anyway, their clotted cream was quite good, but it was not like the British Devonshire Clotted Cream.
Clotted cream is much thicker than our whipped cream, so I was wondering how they did that? Was a thickening agent like gelatin used? All I knew was that we are very careful not to over whip heavy cream when we make whipped cream else it will literally turn into butter and thin milky liquid, and that is highly undesirable.
So, the years passed without either of us doing anything to try to make clotted cream. Now the story of recent serendipitous results begins.
My wife’s son Keith bought a very small high speed food processor for me this past Christmas. He called it a “Tornado.” It has various size containers and the small one holds one cup of food, but it is very effective.
A few weeks ago I decided I was hungry for a dish of sliced bananas in whipped cream. I used some heavy cream (about ¾ cup) and some sugar (one tbsp.) and vanilla (1/2 tsp.) and I put all of it into the small food processor at the same time. That is not how we normally make whipped cream when we use an electric mixer … we wait until soft peaks form before adding the sugar and the vanilla. And the whipped cream normally expands to take as much space as it needs. But I only needed a small amount of whipped cream and using a large electric mixer would have been silly so I decided to experiment using all the ingredients at the same time in what I knew would be a very high speed mixing process.
To cut to the chase, I turned the small food processor on and stopped it after 15 seconds just to see what was happening inside. At that point the cream was not whipped so I turned the unit on again, figuring I would check a second time after another minute. Well, before the minute elapsed I heard a higher pitch sound from the food processor that indicated the blades were spinning freely, as in not in contact with any food.
I stopped the food processor and I wondered if I had created butter? No, I did not create butter. I created a form of clotted cream.
The clotted cream was quite stiff compared to our normal whipped cream and it worked wonderfully with the banana slices. It was delicious and with a texture similar to what we had in Europe. And it really held its shape.
How about that? Dumb luck, but now I know how to make a clotted cream. What is most interesting is that my method bears no resemblance whatever to how the Brits do it or how various Internet recipes describe the process.
One might argue that what I have created is not clotted cream at all because the butterfat content of mine is only 40%, not 50% and higher. One might also argue that I whip my product and the Brits do not, and theirs has a slightly scalded milk flavor from their process, so my version of clotted cream is too far removed from the original that it should not be called clotted cream. Well, why not? I have the texture right and the taste absent the scalded milk overtone. You can spread mine on scones or anything else.
Now lets look at the physical aspects of what actually happened when I made it.
If you think about it, the environment inside the running food processor was much more intense than what we would get using our typical electric mixer. The cream rapidly turned from liquid into a thick final totally emulsified state with some air incorporated but with very little room to expand. It never had a chance to go through a slower progression and take on a lot of air. Initially as a lighter material than the unwhipped cream it was pushed away from the spinning blades as fast as it thickened … leaving only the remaining liquid cream to be spun at high speed.
Thus, when the liquid was all converted into the clotted cream the blades began to spin at a noticeably higher speed, for there was nothing left for them to process. They had pushed all the whipped cream up out of the way as it was being formed and quickly ran out of space for more, so it compacted the whipped cream. It occupied all the available volume of the food processor. It was packed in tightly. This infers far less aeration. How neat! No butter! Lucky me.
Now you are lucky too, and you can have a lot of fun using my version of clotted cream to create special desserts where the clotted cream can hold a shape very nicely. All it takes is a bit of imagination as to where and how you want to use it and you will pleasantly surprise your guests. You will, however, have to keep in mind that the volume of the food processor container you use will have to be somewhat small relative to the amount of heavy cream you decide to make into clotted cream, and you will have to run it at the highest possible speed.
In my case 6 volume ounces of heavy cream, with a mere tablespoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of vanilla was allowed to expand only to 8 volume ounces of clotted cream. That expansion ratio is obviously small relative to what we get when we make whipped cream by our normal method. Have fun.
Fried Jumbo Virginia Peanuts - ☺♥
I purchased fifty pounds of raw jumbo blanched Virginia peanuts at $1 per pound from the Wakefield Peanut Company® in Wakefield, Virginia. After shipping the cost was $1.80 per pound, for shipping heavy items is expensive. (In 2012 the peanut price was increased to $1.75 per pound). Why did I do that? The reasons are pretty good. First, the final price including the shipping is far below what anyone will pay for jumbo Virginia peanuts in any other way. Second, I wanted to fry the peanuts myself and prove that they would be superior to anything I could buy. Third, I fill Christmas bags as gifts that contain a variety of special food items for close friends and family. Giving away many pounds of premium raw blanched peanuts, peanut oil and directions for frying seemed like a very inexpensive way to gift people with something very nice.
I learned about the peanut company from my Aunt Doris, whose husband, my Uncle Jim, used to buy the peanuts in bulk and give away five pound bags to his children and to his brothers. That is how I got to know just how great those fried peanuts could be, as my dad made them when we visited many years ago. I never forgot … and now some years after my Uncle Jim died, I found out where to get the raw peanuts. Now you know too.
I vacuum seal pound and half pound quantities of the peanuts to keep them fresh. I also purchase the thirty-five pound bulk peanut oil jug at Costco® and some eight ounce canning jars with lids and I made peanut oil a gift to be used with the raw peanuts. Finally, when I had the perfect frying and processing recipe figured out, I typed the recipe and printed many copies of it so that I could include the recipe with the peanuts and the peanut oil. It worked exceptionally well, and a lot of recipients raved about the great taste later.
Thus, this recipe is what I do to fry raw jumbo blanched Virginia peanuts. And they are very, very good. My recipe is for small batches suitable for two people and I do the frying in a small skillet. It is easy and the peanuts are always perfectly fresh. I simply go to my supply of one pound or half pound vacuum sealed bags of peanuts and open one. The vacuum sealing keeps the peanuts fresh literally for at least two years, and that was a most interesting discovery.
I like to use sea salt with freshly fried peanuts, and it is extra enjoyable because I take fine granular sea salt and crush it to the consistency of popcorn salt by using an old fashioned mortar and pestle. Most recently I have started processing the salt in very small containers with high speed food processors, similar to what I do to make powdered sugar from regular sugar.
1 lb. of jumbo raw blanched Virginia peanuts
1 cup of peanut oil (or more if the peanuts are not covered by the oil)
1 tbsp. of sea salt, ground fine (regular salt is fine also)
Put the raw peanuts and the oil into a small skillet with a thick bottom. Use enough oil to barely cover the peanuts, but allow enough space between the oil and the top of the skillet rim to avoid hot oil bubbling over the side … at least ¾". Heat the mixture on high heat, stirring lightly, until the peanuts/oil start to bubble.
Reduce the heat to low and fry the peanuts, stirring lightly every minute to keep them well mixed, until you detect the peanuts changing color from off-white or very pale tan to light tan in color. They will bubble a fair amount as they fry and you have to stir them to break up the bubbles to detect the color changes.
When they are a light tan in color, immediately turn off the heat and quickly remove the peanuts with a slotted spoon to a cookie tray that has paper towels on it two layers thick. Spread the peanuts out evenly with each spoonful so they are in a single layer. They will overcook and turn dark if left in a mound as retained heat from the frying process is considerable.
Frying peanuts in the above manner accommodates any size of peanut. It does not demand constant temperature control, for unlike many fried foods peanuts will not come out soggy if fried in lower temperature oil. Lower temperature frying is desirable for peanuts as you have better control over when to remove them … your response time window is longer. Peanuts actually have a very short frying time from the first bubbling until they are removed from the oil, anywhere from two to four minutes. It is up to the cook to decide when they are done frying. If you wait even one minute too long they will ultimately be too dark or even burned, even if they look okay as you remove them from the hot oil. You want to remove them when they appear to be too light in color, for they will finish frying outside the skillet and proceed to darken to a good medium tan.
Salt the peanuts with finely ground or even powdered sea salt. Let them cool to a comfortable temperature for handling.
Dispense the peanuts from the tray onto a large platter or into two shallow large bowls.
Let them cool for ten to fifteen more minutes so that the centers of the peanuts lose residual moisture and are then as crunchy as the outer parts. If you start eating them too soon the centers will be chewy instead of crunchy.
Hard Candy - ?
I have always enjoyed hard candy and I have seldom been able to make any that pleased me. The primary problem is one of flavoring, for only concentrated flavoring agents will work well. This morning while researching proper ways to remove chocolate candy from plastic molds I happened to see a simple recipe for hard candy that contained one very important piece of information. Specifically, the flavoring concentrates and food coloring, if used, are not introduced until the candy is done cooking but still very hot and syrupy.
I decided to put this recipe into Food Nirvana knowing that I will be buying the temperature resistant types of molds, primarily silicon molds, used for hard candy. And I have been wanting to make root beer barrels using the root beer concentrate used at home to make root beer as the flavoring agent. I will report back with results as usual, and likely I will have some recommendations for where to get candy flavoring concentrates inexpensively.
Let's experiment and have some fun ... There are many varieties of flavors and compositions to try. I am sure my grandchildren will be happy to critique my results, and who could be a better judge than children who love candy? Adults? Maybe. We'll see.
Ingredients: (Note the small quantity of ingredients. You don't need much when making little pieces of hard candy.)
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of hot water
1/3 cup of light corn syrup
Liquid food color as desired
Liquid flavoring as desired (candy flavoring works best)
Spray candy molds with vegetable oil spray, like Pam®.
Combine the sugar, hot water and corn syrup in a one quart heavy bottom saucepan.
Cook over medium-high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
Wash down the inside of the saucepan, to prevent the candy from crystallizing, with a pastry brush dipped in hot water.
Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and continue cooking.
Wash down the inside of the saucepan with the pastry brush once or twice more if necessary.
When the thermometer registers 300° F, carefully remove the pan from the heat.
The cooking time to accomplish the above steps is approximately 10 minutes.
Let the candy set until the bubbles disappear (approximately 2 minutes).
Add the flavoring (1/2 tsp. regular liquid flavoring or just a few drops of candy flavoring) and liquid food color if desired.
Use a candy funnel or pour the candy into prepared molds and add sucker sticks if needed.
Let the candy harden for about 10 minutes.
When it is hardened, unmold it by inverting the mold(s) onto wax paper.
Let the candy cool completely.
If the weather is humid, wrap the cooled candies in sucker bags immediately.
You have various other options, like dusting the candy with powdered sugar and storing it between small sheets of waxed paper in moisture-proof small candy tins.
Hot Fudge Sauce - ☺♥
Serendipity continues. Today I made a batch of Rocky Road ice cream, and I varied the method for processing the chocolate ingredients a bit from what is in the recipe in this book. Specifically, I gradually added cream to the chocolate ingredients that were almost melted in a saucepan on very low heat, but I decided not to add the vanilla. In all, I added one cup of heavy cream to the chocolate ingredients, along with ¼ tsp. sea salt and I let it heat while I stirred so that all the chocolate would be well mixed.
When I removed the pan from the stove there was a small amount of steam rising from the top of the mixture, indicating that it was at a scalding temperature, likely around 180º F. I put the pan into the freezer and returned to use the contents about 20 minutes later.
Everything was quite cold but not frozen. Actually, it was colder than I needed it to be but still workable when added to the sweet cream base for the ice cream. There was some of the cream and chocolate mixture left in the saucepan and I decided to taste it.
Lo, and Behold! I always wondered how to make a great hot fudge topping for a sundae that would rival/exceed the best of the commercial sauces. Now I know. Now you will know too. It was easy to beat even the best commercial sauces as they mostly use corn syrup (bad!) and often cheat on the amount of chocolate used, and they are stupidly expensive! Manufacturers and supermarkets typically cheat those too ignorant to grasp and to control the quality of their lives.
Ingredients: (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
8 blocks of Scharfenberger® 82% cacao dark chocolate (typically used for making chocolate candy) where each block is ½” x ¾” x 1 ½”. The weight is 2 ounces.
¼ cup of Hersheys® chocolate syrup (the primary ingredient is corn syrup ... yuck!)
1/3 cup of Ghirardelli® Double Chocolate cocoa mix
¼ tsp. of salt
1 cup of heavy cream (or a bit more after cooking to get the consistency you want)
Chop the chocolate blocks into small pieces and put them into a small saucepan.
Add the chocolate syrup, the cocoa mix and the salt. Mix well.
Heat the mixture on low heat while stirring until the chocolate pieces are completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat multiple times during that process to keep the contents from boiling. Gradually add the cream to the mixture while stirring and while continuing to heat the mixture on low heat.
Stir continuously during the addition of the cream and afterwards until the mixture is completely uniform and starts to emit steam but not boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the contents to cool to about 120º F. Then, if necessary, adjust the thickness by adding and mixing in some additional cream, but don’t overdo it. Dispense the final product into a one pint canning jar. Put a canning jar sealing insert lid on top and seal it with a screw-on lid. Store the fudge sauce in the refrigerator and keep it there until you are ready to use it.
A minute or in a microwave oven later (with the lid sections removed first!) will recreate the perfect hot fudge sauce for your hot fudge sundae or other dessert that calls for a hot fudge sauce.
Marshmallow Crème - ☺♥
Here is a simple recipe for making lots of great marshmallow crème at home. Why make it? The cost is far less and the quality much better than commercial stuff. It was quite difficult finding this recipe on the Internet … I had to go to the third or fourth Google® page of web sites to find one that wasn’t simply trying to sell the finished product! So, tell me why the retailers web sites are shown first even though my search specifically included the word "recipe?" Hmmm …
Ingredients: (makes approximately two quarts)
3 egg whites
2 cups of light corn syrup
½ tsp. of Salt
2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp. of Vanilla extract
Combine egg whites, corn syrup and salt in a large mixer bowl. Mix for a full ten minutes, first on medium speed for one minute, then at a higher speed. After ten minutes the mixture should look like marshmallow crème. Keep mixing and add the vanilla. Then reduce the speed and gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and then mix at a high speed for one or two minutes, or longer.
The actual volume of marshmallow crème that you get will depend on how long you beat it at high speed, for some air is incorporated and the longer you beat the product the more air you will get. Thus, the final volume can vary from 1½ to 2½ quarts.
Spoon the marshmallow crème into one quart canning jars, tighten the lids and refrigerate. I use a wide mouth canning jar funnel to keep the marshmallow crème away from the top of the canning jar while I am filling it.
The marshmallow crème is great on sundaes or in making ice cream, smoors, etc. It will keep well in your refrigerator for more than a month. Eventually some of the corn syrup will collect at the bottom of the jar … you can still use the product but I recommend making a fresh batch for optimum quality.
Some people add one envelope of dissolved Knox® unflavored gelatin to the above recipe to make a stiffer marshmallow mix suitable for placing on a cookie tray that has been coated with confectioner’s sugar. The stiffened mixture is dusted on top with confectioner’s sugar and cut into squares the size of marshmallows. Then the marshmallows are removed and dusted on the remaining sides with confectioner’s sugar and stored in a cool place. I prefer the marshmallow crème … just imagine a nice hot cup of cocoa on a winter day with a big dollop of marshmallow crème on top … Yum!
As you will see when you read my ice cream recipes, I use the marshmallow crème in two of them, and it is perfect for that use.
Your local supermarket will charge between $2.50 to $3.00 for a pint container of light Karo® syrup, which was the corn syrup I used to use to make this recipe and my recipe for butterscotch candy. Then I saw light corn syrup at Fisher’s Country Store® and the price was $4.84 for a half gallon! Need I say more?
Peanut/Almond Brittle - ☺♥
This is a great brittle and quick and easy to make, thanks to an unusually good Internet recipe. The only caveat is to have everything ready to use at once when needed, and to move as quickly as necessary, particularly at the end of the cooking process when the butter, vanilla and baking soda are used, right before the hot brittle is poured onto a cookie sheet. I have slightly modified the Internet recipe by adding more nuts and a small amount of vanilla.
The brittle is great. The recipe worked very well. A family member found this brittle in a bag of goodies given to the whole family at Christmas, and he proceeded to eat all of it at one sitting. I am not surprised.
1 cup of white sugar
½ cup of light corn syrup
¼ tsp. of salt
¼ cup of water
1 cup of roasted peanuts or chopped roasted blanched almonds
2 tbsp. of butter, softened
1 tsp. of vanilla
1 tsp. of baking soda
Put the sugar, salt, corn syrup and water into a heavy two-quart saucepan. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then stir in the peanuts or almond pieces.
Put a candy thermometer into the saucepan and continue cooking on a low to medium low heat until the temperature reaches 300ºF. Stirring is necessary as the final temperature is approached. Initiate some stirring around 260ºF and thereafter about once a minute. I recommend using a long, medium size wooden spoon.
A gradual instead of rapid increase in temperature is desirable especially as the final temperature is approached, so that it isn’t quickly passed by, resulting in too high a temperature, which can ruin the brittle and burn/darken the almonds.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, then the vanilla. Then add the baking soda and stir rapidly and thoroughly so the brittle can be poured ASAP from the saucepan before it cools too much and sets/hardens.
Pour/scoop the hot brittle out of the saucepan at once onto a cookie sheet, moving the saucepan quickly, to avoid having the brittle form a mound. Use the wooden stirring spoon or a spatula as necessary to flatten and form the hot brittle into roughly a rectangle about 14" by 12".
Let the brittle cool close to room temperature, for about 20 minutes. Then it is time to pry the brittle from the cookie sheet. You may have to pry the brittle from the cookie sheet using a kitchen knife or thin spatula on one end to get started, but in general it pops off the cookie sheet in one or more large pieces without much trouble. Snap the brittle into bite size pieces.
Note that the cooled brittle should be stored in an airtight container to keep moisture from the air away from it, else you will wind up with yucky goo that sticks together instead of peanut or almond brittle. This is a perfect example of a product that will remain fresh best if vacuum sealed.