I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Showing posts with label candy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label candy. Show all posts

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cherry Mash, and Holiday Traditions

I set out the appetizers: labnah and pita, cucumbers with creme fraiche, chili spiked mango slices, and popped the champagne. A large French press full of coffee stood at the ready. As the doorbell rang I fired up the Christmas station on Pandora.

It was time for the third annual Christmas candy making party with my girlfriends. Each year we gather together, each one bringing the recipe and ingredients for two holiday treats. We spend the day catching up, testing our sugar cooking skills, and snacking, all the while turning out rounds of sweets. By the end of the day, when we think we just can't dip another thing in chocolate, we divvy up the bounty to bring joy to countless circles of friends and hope desperately that we will be able to fall asleep that night through the sugar high.
Though the tradition is a fairly new one, it brings me joy and a sense of home each time we come together and I cross my fingers that it will be something we continue for many years to come.

Through most of the year I ache to try new things. Yet around the holidays my desire turns towards the familiar. I'm sure it stems from years of repetition centered around Christmas. My parents actually "ooing" and "awing" as we first lit up the lights on our decorated tree. Christmas Eve snacks shared with customers at my uncle's country/feed store. Then getting dressed up for candlelight service at the Lutheran Church and more snacks afterwards at my grandmother's house. Home before Santa arrives, with the chance to open JUST ONE gift before bed. My little brother and sister tiptoeing into my room sometime around 5am whispering, "Santa's been here!" to wake me up before shaking my poor parents out of bed (who probably fell asleep around 3am after a late-night wrapping frenzy). Presents unwrapped, the cousins calling to find out why we weren't at grandma's yet. A big, giant breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy, piles of bacon, all to be consumed downstairs, hiding from the parents (which we still do as adults, even though some have kids of their own). Presents, naps by the fire, running to play outside. The same thing, comforting and consistent, every year.

It's been a few years since I've made it back for these holiday traditions, so the husband and I have created our own. We nibble on fondue every year as we deck out our tree, eat cinnamon rolls and Baileys spiked coffee as we peak into our stockings Christmas morning. Often we will see a movie in the afternoon, followed by a fancy dinner prepared at home (with lots of wine and cocktails along the way). These little actions, repeated each year, help it feel like we aren't quite as far away from family and friends. It's all part of what makes us feel at home here in the big city.

What are the traditions that you had in your childhood? Any that you carry through with today? What are the new traditions you've started with your family now that you are an adult? Whatever your plans, I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.

Cherry Mash
This is another recipe from my grandmother. She always serves this up at my uncle's store for the Christmas Eve celebration for customers plus she saves some back for us to indulge in at her home on Christmas Day. They are a version of the old-fashioned candy bar and the recipe is adapted from a newspaper article my grandmother clipped back in the '70s. My girlfriends and I whipped up a batch at our candy making party this year and I can't help but feel at home every time I bite into one. This recipe makes quite a large batch of the candy.

16 oz. jar maraschino cherries
2 lbs. powdered sugar
2 cans cherry frosting (strawberry frosting will also work in a pinch)
1 stick melted margarine
2 t. vanilla extract
1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 lbs. salted peanuts
3 (12 oz.) bags chocolate chips

Drain the cherries very well and dice. Mix cherries, sugar, frosting, butter, vanilla and milk well. Chill for 1 hour (it may help to freeze the mixture for a bit of time to help it really set up).

Shape into small balls (about 1-1 1/2" in diameter) and chill again for another hour (again, depending on consistency of mixture, it may be best to freeze the filling before dipping).

Finely chop the peanuts. Melt chocolate chips and mix in the nuts. Dip the cherry filling into the chocolate to completely coat, then place on a wax paper lined sheet pan. Refrigerate to cool.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Candy Making

For years now I have wanted to get together with a group of friends around the holidays and spend the whole day making candy. Every year, though, the season passes in a whirl of busy days and next thing I know the holiday has passed. This year a few girlfriends and I finally nailed down a date that we were all (relatively) free in the crazy weeks before Christmas and got down to business making candy.

We decided to each choose 2 recipes and bring the ingredients we would need for those. We also brought 3 copies of each of the recipes so we could all take them home. We ended up with mounds and mounds of lovely treats. Plus it was a great excuse to get together, chat, drink far too much coffee and prosecco (which, when combined with far too much sugar, causes some crazy reactions). For lunch we had a spread of cheeses, meats, crackers and tapenade.

The bounty:
Analisa Cookies (recipe below)
Pecan Clusters (recipe below)

Peanut Brittle
Apple Cider Caramels 
Oreo Truffles
Spiced Pecans
Christmas Biscotti

I had a wonderful time and am hoping that we can make this an annual tradition.

Analisa Cookies
(recipe from my friend Mary's family)
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. real butter
1 egg
2 tsp. almond extract
3 1/2 c. sifted flours
chopped slivered almonds

2 1/2 TB very soft butter (not melted)
1 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 TB milk
1/2 t. almond extract

Cream together sugar and butter. Add egg and almond extract. Beat well. Stir in flour, mix well. Refrigerate overnight, or until dough is stiff.
Roll the dough out to 1/8" thickness (using flour when working the dough). Cut with two cookie cutters (one slightly larger than the other. You will want 1/2 slightly larger and 1/2 slightly smaller cookies). Place the larger cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and add a small amount of lingonberries to center. Put the smaller cookies on top and lightly seal the edges. Bake at 375 degrees until slightly brown, 5-8 minutes. Cool before frosting.
Mix the frosting ingredients together. Use to frost the cool cookies, then sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Pecan Clusters/Pecan Critters
(recipe also courtesy of Mary's family)
1 (11 1/2 oz) Pkg. chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter
1/8 t. salt
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 c. coarsely chopped pecans
pecan halves

Over medium heat melt chips and butter with sweetened condensed milk and salt. Remove from heat once melted and stir in nuts and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper lined baking sheets. Top each one with 1 pecan half. Chill. Store tightly covered in a cool area.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grown-up S'mores Tart

I never knew you could make marshmallows at home. I always figured they were lots of weird fake-y type ingredients and needed some sort of crazy processing. Then I saw all of those posts from the wonderful Daring Bakers a while ago and knew I had to try my hand at these myself. The food blogging community is always great about teaching me something new.

I decided I wanted to do something a little different with these marshmallows and decided to go for a little savory mixed in and made them rosemary flavored. I really liked the flavor of them, but a couple of people that tried them thought it was a little strange. But I love pairing up fresh herbs in sweet desserts so it was right up my ally.

But, what to do with rosemary flavored marshmallows? I had a few ideas, but ended up deciding I wanted to make them into something resembling s'mores for a more sophisticated palate. The result: graham cracker crust, creamy white chocolate raspberry filling, and the rosemary marshmallows bruleed on top.
Rosemary Marshmallows
(recipe slightly adapted from Alton Brown)
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
4 sprigs rosemary
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt and rosemary sprigs. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat and remove the rosemary sprigs.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Grown-up S'mores Tart
2 t. unflavored powdered gelatin
3 c. heavy cream
3 TB sugar
1 1/2 t. raspberry extract
1/2 lb. white chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt

8 oz. graham crackers, crushed
1 stick melted butter
1 TB sugar
rosemary marshmallows

In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over 1 1/2 TB cold water and let sit until the gelatin is softened.
In a medium saucepan heat the heavy cream, sugar, and raspberry extract over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Add the white chocolate and a pinch of salt. Allow to sit until the chocolate softens and melts and then stir until smooth. Cover the white chocolate mixture with plastic wrap (making sure it is touching the surface of the mixture) and allow to cool for 1 hour.
Mix together the crushed graham crackers, melted butter, and sugar. Press into the bottom of a greased 8" spring form pan. Wrap the bottom of the spring form pan with a couple of layers of foil to keep the chocolate filling from leaking. Place pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour to chill the crust.
After allowing to sit for an hour, pour the white chocolate filling into the crust. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours uncovered, until firm. Top off the tart with rosemary marshmallows.
Right before serving use a brulee torch to heat and crisp the marshmallows.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

In Honor of "Harry Potter"

When the 6th book in the Harry Potter series came out, Joe and I decided to throw a party celebrating our favorite wizard. This time around we didn't have the time to have people over, but I wanted to post some of the recipes we used last time in case anyone ever gets an urge to host their own Harry Potter Party. Some of these recipes came from Mugglenet, others from a different website (that I can't remember for the life of me), and a couple were created by others and just had a name-change to put them in the Harry Potter mood.

8 oz. root beer
1 shot of butterscotch schnapps
Mix together and serve chilled.

Parchment Scrolls
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2 Tbs pesto
¾ c shredded cheddar cheese

Spread pesto evenly over pastry, then spread cheese on top. Roll ends in to each other (looks like a big scroll of parchment) and cut into 1 ½” pieces. Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and cook at 425 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Snape's Stuffed Toadstools
2 lb. Large Mushrooms
2 cloves garlic finely diced
1/4 cup butter
8 oz. bulk pork sausage
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
Remove stems from mushrooms, reserve caps. Finely chop stems and saute' in butter with garlic until both are golden. Add sausage and saute' until brown. Stir in bread crumbs, cheese and parsley. Stuff each cap with mixture. Place in broiling pan that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Broil 3-5 minutes until mushrooms are bubbly and brown.

Magic Wands
large pretzel rods
Just open the package, arrange in a glass or vase, and tell your guests to cast a couple spells before eating them!

Cauldron Cakes
Your favorite devils food cake recipe, made into cupcakes black string licorice
Bake your cupcakes according to the instructions, without using paper cup liners. Slice off the top of the crown of each cupcake so that when it is turned upside down, it sits flat. This gives you more of a cauldron shape than a cupcake shape. Cut the black string licorice into small pieces and poke them into the cupcakes as cauldron handles. (I like to put frosting on these so it looks like the potion bubbling out).

Ton Tongue Toffee
1 c. butter
1c. sugar
3 Tblsp. water
1 Tblsp. light colored corn syrup
3/4 c. semisweet chocolate pieces

Butter sides of a heavy 2 quart saucepan. In saucepan melt butter. Add sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 280, soft crack stage (about 15 minutes). Watch carefully to prevent scorching. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Pour candy into a greased 13X9" pan.
Let candy stand about 5 minutes or till firm; sprinkle with chocolate. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes. When chocolate has softened, spread over candy. Chill till firm. Break toffee into pieces and serve.

Dragonheart Dip
Use your favorite artichoke dip and serve with chips and "magic wands".

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oreo Truffles and Coffee Panna Cotta

Last weekend one of Joe's coworkers invited us to his beautiful apartment in Brooklyn Heights for a dinner party. They provided dinner which was a wonderful beef bourguignon that Des made. David bought a variety of excellent cheeses from Stinky's (and I'm looking forward to the day that David takes me there: http://www.stinkybklyn.com/). The other guests brought the wine, so I decided to make dessert.
I've been craving oreo truffles, so I decided I had to make those. Then I wanted to make something that was a little lighter and would go well with the rest of the meal. I came across this recipe for the coffee panna cotta on allrecipes.com. This recipe is so easy and it tastes amazing.

Oreo Truffles (from Kraftfoods.com)
1 pkg. (1 lb., 2 oz.) OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
CRUSH 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
DIP balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
REFRIGERATE until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

Costa Rican Coffee Panna Cotta with Bittersweet Chocolate Rum Sauce

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup dark rum
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons dark colored corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon dark rum
8 sprigs fresh mint for garnish
Sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over 1/4 cup of dark rum and allow to soften for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together 1 1/4 cups of whipping cream, brown sugar, and espresso powder in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until brown sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, then whisk in gelatin mixture until dissolved.
Whisk in the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream until smooth. Evenly divide the mixture between eight 3/4 cup custard cups or molds, cover each with plastic wrap, and chill at least 4 hours to overnight.
Bring 3/4 cup whipping cream and corn syrup to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, remove from heat, and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of rum and set aside.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of each mold, then set each cup into a shallow bowl of hot water for 10 seconds to loosen. Invert the mold over a serving plate and remove the panna cotta. Spoon chocolate sauce around each panna cotta and garnish with a sprig of mint.