Archive for the ‘Candy and Fudge’ Category

Cooking Up a Storm (in Gifts)

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

I have been busy this December. I’m trying desperately to finish proofreading my forthcoming rhubarb book (with a little help from my friends), working a temporary retail job to pay for holiday presents, and OF COURSE shopping and cooking for the holidays.

As always, I have prepared several edible gifts. This year’s favorites (well, every year’s favorites!) include chili peanuts, sweet-and-spicy mustard, and curried cashews.

On Mass Appeal today, I prepared the cashews, as well as a favorite confection from my Pudding Hollow Cookbook, penuche. The recipe originally came from my wonderful matriarch of a neighbor, the late Mary Parker, known to all of us kids as Gam.

Penuche is a brown-sugar-based fudge that tastes a bit as though it has maple in it. It’s EXTREMELY rich and sweet—so much so that even I, sweet lover that I am, can’t eat too much of it. A tiny morsel is delicious, however.

Readers, what is your own favorite holiday gift? Please leave a comment below to let me know. (I’d love recipes if you’re willing to share them with me as a holiday present!)

And please have a wonderful holiday season. I wish you peace, joy, and a of course new rhubarb book in 2018….

Gam’s Penuche

Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream
1 pound light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
a generous splash of vanilla

Instructions:

Combine the sour cream and the sugars in a heavy, medium-size saucepan, and place the pan over low to medium heat.

Stir the mixture constantly until it comes to a boil; then cover it for a minute or two to wash down the sides of the pan. Uncover the mixture, and cook it, without stirring much, until it reaches the soft-ball stage (234 degrees). Remove from heat.

Add the nuts (if you want them) and the vanilla, and let the mixture cool for a few minutes without stirring it. Don’t let it get cooler than lukewarm; optimally, it should be a bit warmer than that.

Beat the warm fudge until it becomes creamy and thickens slightly—in other words until it begins to seem fudgy. Quickly pour it into a buttered 8-by-8-inch pan, and let it cool before cutting it into squares. Store the fudge in an airtight container.

Makes about 36 squares, more or less, depending on your cutting. Penuche is best when eaten within 24 hours. Happily, it rarely lasts that long.

And now the video:

Even More Apples

Friday, October 20th, 2017

The weather outside is getting nippy in Massachusetts—but I’m keeping the house warm with food and laughter. It’s still apple month so I have stocked up on crisp, local apples and sweet cider.

I love the variety of apples available at my local orchards. Last week at Clarkdale Fruit Farms I sampled a new (to me) apple, the Esopus Spitzenburg. I first fell in love with the name—and then with the flavor.

This heirloom variety was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apples, according to apple grower Ben Clark. Our third president did have good taste.

The Monticello website quotes A.J. Downing, whom it dubs “America’s foremost nineteenth century pomologist” (another great term) on this apple. Downing called the Esopus Spitzenburg “a handsome, truly delicious apple … unsurpassed as a dessert fruit” and considered it “the first of apples.”

I have a lot of apples in the house—but next time I go to Clarkdale I’m going to pick up a bag of Mr. Jefferson’s apples. I have a feeling they would be great for cooking as well as eating.

Meanwhile, on Mass Appeal this week I cooked with what I had in the house: cider and honey-crisp apples.

Franklin County’s annual Cider Days are on the horizon so I made a pot roast with sweet cider.

In cool weather my mind frequently turns to pot roast. I have written before about my go-to pot roast, but this version is also appealing, simultaneously sweet and savory.

After the pot roast, I looked ahead to my favorite holiday, Halloween, with caramel apples festooned with chocolate and other goodies. King Arthur Flour generously sent me both caramel and chocolate. I invited small neighbors over to pre-test the apple recipe below, and they were hugely enthusiastic. So were the youthful hosts on Mass Appeal.

The video below doesn’t show Danny New dumping nuts and sprinkles on our apples (he dumped after the cameras were turned off), but those embellishments are a fun part of any apple decoration.

My Facebook friend Nancy gently admonished me for giving the small neighbors chocolate and sprinkles rather than just nuts—but they made that decision themselves. The nuts, although delicious, are a more adult garnish. 

Whether you’re a sprinkle person or a nut person, do try these recipes. Happy apple month!

Cider Pot Roast

Feel free to add more liquid and spices if you like lots of juice in your pot roast—and maybe to add carrots after the first hour of cooking. Carrots are in season right now, and they complement the other flavors in this dish nicely.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups cider
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 whole cloves
1 3-to-4-pound pot roast
flour as needed
canola oil as needed

Instructions:

Combine the cider, the sugar, the salt, the cinnamon, the ginger, and the cloves. Pour this marinade over the beef, and let it stand, covered, in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Turn and baste from time to time. Remove the roast from the marinade; sprinkle it with flour.

Heat the oil, and brown the meat in it in a pot or Dutch oven. Lower the heat, add the marinade, and cover tightly. Simmer for 3 hours. After the first hour, be sure to turn the roast every half hour or so, and to add more cider if the meat looks a bit dry. When ready to serve, thicken the gravy with flour if desired. Serve with noodles. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Caramel Apples Plus

Ingredients:

3/4 pound caramel (or as much as you like) in block form
1/3 pound milk chocolate, cut up
1/3 pound white chocolate, cut up
4 medium apples
festive seasonal sprinkles, chopped nuts, or any other topping you like (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 200, and bring water to a boil in the bottom of a double boiler. Place the caramel in the top of the double boiler, and place the milk chocolate and white chocolate in oven-proof bowls.

If your caramel needs it (the package should tell you), add a little water to it. Melt the caramel in the double boiler over low heat, stirring occasionally. While it is melting put sticks in the cores of the apples.

When the caramel has melted, place the bowls of chocolate in the oven. Dip the apples in the caramel, gently swirling to cover them. Place the dipped apples on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Take the chocolates out of the oven, and stir to confirm that they have melted. (Melting them takes 10 to 15 minutes in the oven.) Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the apples.

If you wish for extra bling, throw a few sprinkles or nuts on top of the apples before the chocolate hardens. Then wait for it to harden before digging in. (Waiting is the hard part!) Makes 4 delicious apples. These are best consumed cut into segments.

And now the videos:

Tinky Makes Cider Pot Roast on Mass Appeal

Tinky Makes Caramel Apples Plus on Mass Appeal

A Holiday Gift

Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Chef Deborah Snow, who created this brittle, loves her restaurant home, the warm and colorful Blue Heron.

Chef Deborah Snow, who created this brittle, loves her restaurant home, the warm and colorful Blue Heron.

My sister-in-law Leigh and I are busy making confections for holiday gifts. We were looking for something slightly different from our usual penuche and decided on this recipe, which comes from Deborah Snow, the chef at the Blue Heron in Sunderland, Massachusetts.

I hadn’t made brittle in a couple of decades so it was lots of fun to make—and of course we HAD to taste a little before packaging the rest to give away.

Deborah makes her brittle look extremely elegant (see photo below). Ours was a little less gorgeous; we slightly overcooked the brittle so it didn’t spread very well. But it was utterly delicious.

Another time I think I would probably make the brittle with peanuts (less expensive than the nuts used here) or cashews (since they come already skinned!). The hazelnut-almond combination does work wonderfully for those unconcerned about budgets and schedules, however. The hazelnuts in particular pop beautifully.

For other gift-able confections (including fudge, chocolate-covered strawberries, and chocolate bark), try my blog’s “candy and fudge” category.

Happy/merry to you and yours…..

brittle for gifting web

 

Blue Heron Brittle

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts (for notes on toasting see this helpful page!)
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds (I used blanched slivered almonds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

Line a heavy large baking sheet with a silicone baking sheet.

Stir the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, and boil without stirring until a candy thermometer registers 260 degrees, about 20 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Mix in the nuts, butter, and salt (the mixture will be thick and nutty), and cook until the thermometer registers 295 degrees, stirring constantly, about 15 minutes.

Quickly stir in the baking soda. (This makes the brittle easier to chew.)

Immediately pour the candy onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it as thinly as possible. Let it stand until hard; then break the brittle into pieces.

Makes at least 7 to 8 cups of brittle.

Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas to all!

Woof!

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

 
I was making chocolate bark on Tuesday for a couple of my long-distance Valentines when I realized that I had never posted my bark recipe on this blog. The omission HAD to be rectified! Chocolate bark is one of the easiest and most popular gift treats in my kitchen.
 
I was given the recipe by my neighbor in Hawley, Massachusetts, Philip Keenan. Phil is a selectman, a chef, and a builder—and he’s good at all three jobs. I made the bark a few years back on a Valentine’s Day broadcast on my local public-radio station.
 
In case you’d care to listen, here’s the link, courtesy of WFCR. (My favorite baritone, Don Freeman, and my favorite pianist, Alice Parker, joined me in the serenade at the end. I couldn’t let Valentine’s Day go by without a love song!)
 
Feel free to vary this recipe. Tiny jelly beans make nice filler at Easter, and crushed candy canes are Christmas-y, but the cranberries and almonds are my favorite add-in.
 
As I said on the broadcast, I recommend using the highest quality chocolate you can get. If you can’t handle three double boilers, just use two kinds of chocolate as I did in the picture below and on the radio.
 
Do not double the recipe unless you have two cookie sheets. I tried doing it on one sheet this week. Although I’m sure my Valentines won’t complain (well, I hope they won’t complain) I thought the layer of chocolate was too thick for optimal flavor and texture. 

Have fun!

 

Sweetheart Chocolate Bark 

Ingredients:
 
butter as needed
1/2 to 1 cup blanched almonds (according to your taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries (again, to taste)
1/3 pound milk chocolate
1/3 pound dark chocolate
1/3 pound white chocolate
 
Instructions:
 
Butter a cookie sheet. Place the almonds on it, and toast them in a preheated 350-degree oven for 8 minutes. Toss the almonds around on the sheet, sprinkle the salt on them, and toast for an additional 2 minutes.
 
Remove the nuts from the oven, and put them on a paper towel to drain and cool. When they are cool, sprinkle them on a parchment- or silicone-covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle the cranberries on as well.
 
In each of three separate double-boiler pans (or their equivalent), boil an inch or two of water. While the water is coming to a boil, separately chop the milk, dark, and white chocolate into fairly uniform pieces. Place each chocolate in a pan on the top of one double boiler, turn off the heat below the boiled water, and stir the chocolates as they melt.
 
When the chocolates have melted, place alternating teaspoonsful of each on top of the cranberries and almonds. Swirl or splatter them together to make a pleasing pattern. Set the chocolate aside to cool and harden. (Do not refrigerate it.) This is best when eaten within 48 hours. 

Makes 16 large or 32 small pieces of bark.


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Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

strawberrychocweb

 

 

Like many sweet lovers in Franklin County, Massachusetts, I make a pilgrimage each year in June or early July to Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield for chocolate-covered strawberries. The store indicates that the strawberries have arrived by setting a giant fake fork spearing an equally fake strawberry on the front lawn.  

 

The strawberries at Richardson’s are delectable. They feature a layer of filling between strawberry and chocolate that is particularly appealing. Of course, these treats have to be eaten within 24 hours—but my family never seems to have trouble with that rule!

 

The version below omits the filling since I have no idea how Richardson’s manages to put it inside the chocolate. The recipe merits making nonetheless. How can you go wrong with strawberries and chocolate? 

 

I apologize for the vagueness of the list of ingredients. Basically, one uses as much chocolate as one likes (or has). I had a lot so I used about 1-1/2 to 2 ounces per strawberry, which was definitely excessive. Since I only make these treats once a year I don’t mind a little excess. But you may definitely use less chocolate than I did.

  

I suggest using good chocolate rather than chocolate chips. The chips fit around the berries very well since they have extra ingredients that make them congeal. Plain chocolate tastes a little better, however. And if you use white chocolate, make sure it is indeed white chocolate and not some white “confection.”

  

Ingredients:

  

strawberries to taste (you really don’t need more than 1 or 2 per person)
chocolate to taste—milk, dark, white, or a combination

  

Instructions:

  

Gently rinse the strawberries and drain them thoroughly.

  

In the bottom of a double boiler boil an inch or two of water. If you don’t have a double boiler, use a wide shallow pan such as a frying pan. Find a heat-proof bowl or saucepan to put inside. (Obviously, if you are using more than one chocolate, you will need more than one double boiler and/or set of pans.)

  

While the water is coming to a boil, chop the chocolate into small fairly uniform pieces. Turn off the heat below the water, and place the chocolate in a pan or bowl on top. Stir the chocolate as it melts over the hot water.

  

When the chocolate has melted, remove it from the water, carefully wiping the outside of its bowl or pan. Let it cool for a few moments so that it won’t make your strawberries go bad before you get a chance to eat them!

  

Carefully dip each strawberry in the chocolate, holding it by the hull. Place the covered strawberries on a silicon- or wax-paper-covered plate to cool. As soon as they are at room temperature either eat them or pop them into a covered container to cool in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them.

  

Enjoy within 24 hours.

 

strawberriesweb

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