Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Candyland




If you live in Atlanta, can I make a request?  Would you PLEASE invite me to dinner at your house?

That's because no one ever does.  For some very strange and sad reason, people are intimidated to cook for me.  C'mon, I'm just human.  I'm not a professional chef and I like to eat just as much as you do.  Anything you cook for me would be gratefully appreciated.  My friend Scott Peacock (who is one of the best chefs ever) once said he didn't care if someone invited him to dinner and served beanie-weenies; he just appreciated the opportunity to sit down at a table with friends and share a meal.  I concur.

So thank you Shawn and Michael (along with Finn, Aidan and Tristan).  You invited us to dinner and it was awesome.  It could have been beenie-weenies and that would have been just fine.  Instead, you served up bruschetta with gorgeous tomatoes, succulent grilled pork tenderloin, watermelon salad with feta and Kalamatas, mango salad with corn, cilantro and lime and orzo salad with lovely tomatoes (from your garden) and avocado.  I can't think of a better summer supper.  And I loved that we ate it at your kitchen table because your dining room table was covered up with a jigsaw puzzle!  Oh, and we didn't mind that amazing bottle of Silver Oak cab either...

If you invite me to dinner, I will (of course) bring dessert.  Way too much of it, I might add.  If one dessert is good, then two are better.  Nah, don't stop there, Liz.  How about five?

Given the fact that Finn, Aidan and Tristan are growing boys, I figured my peanut butter bars would be a slam dunk.  They were.  If you missed the recipe, here's the post for it:

http://nevertrustaskinnycook1.blogspot.com/2010/06/good-times-bad-times.html

I also made oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies, but that's a subject for another post.  This one is all about candy.  What kid doesn't love it? So in that spirit, I made marshmallows, salty caramels and peanut brittle.  Something for everyone!


MARSHMALLOWS

Have you ever made these?  If not, you should because they are SO fun to make.  They start with just a little blob of stuff in your mixer and they end up being fluffy and light.  Pure magic....make them with your kids.

24 gelatin sheets (this translates into 5 1/4-oz. packets of unflavored gelatin)
1 1/2 cups cold water
3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Place gelatin in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and pour the 1 1/2 cups water over to soften.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, remaining water and vanilla in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and continue to cook until mixture reaches 238-degrees (you will need a candy thermometer for this).
Pour hot mixture over the gelatin mixture in the mixing bowl. Turn speed to "high" and beat until mixture turns white and the bowl is cool to the touch.  This will take 10 - 15 minutes. (A word to the wise here - drape your mixer with plastic wrap until the mixture gets thick, otherwise the stuff will end up all over your kitchen and result in a big, sticky mess.  Not fun).

Turn the marshmallow mixture out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and coated well with cooking spray.   Oil your hands and spread the mixture out into an even layer.  Cool, then dust liberally with confectioner's sugar.  Wrap in plastic until needed.

When ready, cut into squares, using a serrated knife.  Dip each square into confectioner's sugar to coat, then dust off.  Store as needed for up to 3 days.

Yield:  24 squares


When I worked at Star Provisions, we used these marshmallows to make S'mores.  Let me know if you want details.  Also, if you want to purchase gelatin sheets (I prefer them to the powdered version), here's where I buy them:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/sheet-gelatin-20-sheets


SALTY CARAMELS (From my food maven, Ina Garten)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel (French sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper to overhang the sides.  Grease paper lightly.

In a deep saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then continue to boil until the caramel is a warm golden-brown color.  Do not stir - just swirl the pan to mix.  Watch carefully as it can burn quickly at the end.

In the meantime, bring cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel to a simmer in a small pan over medium heat.  Remove from heat and set aside.

When the caramelized sugar is the right color, slowly add the cream mixture to the caramel.  Add the vanilla extract.  It will boil up violently.  Cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 248-degrees.  (Note to self - keep it on medium heat.  If you cook it over high heat, you will burn both the mixture and your pan beyond repair.  I know, because I didn't follow the directions and ended up throwing both the mixture and the pan away.  Learn from my mistakes, people!).

Pour the hot caramel mixture into prepared pan.  Refrigerate until firm
When caramel is cool, use the parchment paper to pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board.  Starting at one end, roll the caramel up tightly until you have rolled up half of the sheet.  Roll up the second half in the same manner, then cut the sheet across in the center where the rolls meet.  You will end up with (2) 1 x 8-inch logs.  Sprinkle each log with additonal sea salt, the cut each log into 12 pieces.

Cut parchment paper into  6 x 4 1/2 inch squares.  Wrap each caramel in a paper, twisting ends.  Store at room temperature.

Yield:  24 pieces


PEANUT BRITTLE

This recipe is ridiculous, as in it's so easy.  I'm not a big fan of microwaving anything, but it works for this recipe.  Please forgive me for this shortcut but in truth you should thank me because this recipe is so simple yet so good.  At least it doesn't involve a cake mix! (there are depths to which I will NOT sink).

2 cups roasted, salted peanuts
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda

Stir the nuts, sugar and corn syrup in a large microwavable bowl (preferably Pyrex).  Microwave, uncovered on high until mixture is light brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir well, halfway through.

Remove nut mixture from microwave (be careful, it will be hot) and stir in butter and vanilla.  Return to microwave and cook on high for another 2 -4 minutes until mixture becomes caramel-colored.

Use oven mitts to remove the mixture from the microwave.  Add the baking soda and stir quickly until mixture is light and foamy and baking soda is mixed in.  Pour onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or greased parchment paper and spread out with an offset spatula.  The mixture will be thick, so work quickly.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes.  Break into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week, depending upon humidity.

Yield:  16 - 25 pieces

Those sweet boys (picture to follow in another post) LOVED  these desserts!  Of course, we felt like the bad grandparents in that we provided a complete sugar overload, then left the parents to deal with those sugar-infused kids.  Haha, such fun and we didn't have to suffer the consequences!  Shawn and Michael, please forgive us!

3 comments:

  1. Liz,

    Next time you are in St. Pete I will cook for you. Yes, I will be imtimidated, but I will survive. Come on down, and bring Henry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Liz,
    These candies look awesome! I'm excited to try to make the marshmallows--they look a lot better than the store-bought kind! The s'mores recipe you mentioned sounds great too--I'd love to see you post that.

    Thanks again for the peanut butter bar recipe! I made them for a party the other weekend and they were a huge hit!

    Thanks!
    Amy

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