Archive for the ‘Candy and Fudge’ Category

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.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider taking out an email subscription to my blog. Just click on the link below!

Subscribe to In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens by Email.

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

If you enjoyed this post, please consider taking out an email subscription to my blog. Just click on the link below!

Subscribe to In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens by Email.

Ballpark Food III: Cracker Jack

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

 
Today’s tribute to baseball food falls on the 85th birthday of Yogi Berra, the colorful player and manager whose propensity for malapropisms has made him the Sam Goldwyn of Baseball.
 
My favorite, of course, is food related: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Happy Birthday, Mr. Berra!
 
As a chanteuse I can’t do a series on ballpark food without alluding to baseball’s signature song, the 1908 hit “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
 
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
 
Historians make much of the fact that neither the lyricist, Jack Norworth, nor the composer, Albert Von Tilzer, had ever attended a baseball game when they came up with the song.
 
I’ve never seen a professional baseball game in person, but I still understand the place of the sport in American culture—and clearly so did Norworth and Von Tilzer.
 

Nowadays few Americans recall that the song has verses. Here they are as they appeared in the 1908 sheet music (along with the more famous chorus, of course!) in an early Edison cylinder recording.

 
Cracker Jack predated the song and this recording, making its mass-market debut in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. (It was then called “Candied Popcorn and Peanuts,” not receiving its name for a few more years.)
 
I love caramel corn—and CJ is nothing but caramel corn with a hint of molasses.
 
I’m afraid you’ll have to provide your own prizes……..
 
 
 
Ingredients:
 
2 quarts freshly popped popcorn
1 cup roasted shelled peanuts
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, VERY firmly packed
5 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 generous tablespoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon salt
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Mix together the popcorn and peanuts and place them on a large jelly-roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) in the preheated oven.
 
In a small saucepan combine the remaining ingredients. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid reaches about 260 degrees. It should form a definite but pliable ball when inserted into cold water.
 
Remove the popcorn and peanuts from the oven. Quickly but gently pour the caramel mixture over them and stir. Return the pan to the oven.

Cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes and making sure that all of the solid material is covered with the coating. If it starts to stick to the pan earlier, remove it from the oven; you’re aiming for Cracker Jack, not peanut/popcorn brittle!
 
When you remove the pan from the oven, transfer the Cracker Jack to sheets covered with waxed paper to cool. Store in an airtight container.
 
Makes about 2 quarts of candy-coated popcorn with peanuts. Don’t forget to add a prize or two!
 

This 1907 Cracker Jack postcard featured President Teddy Roosevelt (Courtesy of Yellowstone National Park)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider taking out an email subscription to my blog. Just click on the link below!

Subscribe to In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens by Email.