Tag Archives: candy

Helping Out the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny is really slammed this time of year.  His to-do list goes on for pages, his calendar is jam-packed, the battery on his smartphone won’t stay charged, he’s bitten his nails down to nubs, and the poor little fellow has circles under his eyes from lack of sleep.

I figured he could use a hand…or is it paw?  Anyway…I knew I could help, at least when it came to supplying the Easter baskets of some of my friends and family.  I was also pretty sure I could do better than the bagged candy I see in the store.

Now, my husband loves peanut butter and chocolate and really scarfs up the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so I know the Easter Bunny was planning to give him some again this year.  But, what if I made them instead…And, what if I made them more suitable for adult palates and used dark chocolate? And how could I forgot the bourbon?  Hmmm…what if?

Peanut Butter Cups for Grown-Ups
Makes about 2 dozen miniature cups

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp bourbon
3 – 4 cups dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (premium is best)

I used a miniature muffin tin lined with paper cups as my molds.  Prepare this in advance so it is ready to go when your ingredients are.

In a bowl, combine peanut butter and powdered sugar.  When you have a smooth, uniform mixture, add the vanilla extract and bourbon.  Stir to blend well – it should be a pretty thick mixture that is firm enough to form into balls.  You may need to add just a tiny bit more powdered sugar, if it is too soft.

Take about 2 to 3 teaspoons worth of peanut butter and using your hands roll into a ball.  Then, lightly press into a patty/saucer shape.  Place the formed balls onto a wax paper surface, and repeat until you have about 24 balls.  You may need to adjust the patties so they are all about the same size.

Now to melt the chocolate.  If you don’t have a double boiler, then set a heat-proof bowl over a pot of boiling water.  Turn down the heat to low and add the chocolate to the bowl.

Stir gently as it melts.  It should only take a few minutes to completely melt.  Turn off the heat and now the chocolate is ready to turn into candy.

Take a muffin liner paper, and add a spoonful of chocolate.  Then, using back of your spoon, spread the chocolate around so that it completely coats the inside of the paper cup.  Once it is coated, set it back into the muffin tin.  Repeat until all the cups are completely lined with chocolate.  You need to move very quickly before the chocolate firms up again.

Now, drop in the peanut butter patties, and press down very gently.  You don’t want them to push through the chocolate, but just be flattened a little bit.

Still working briskly, add another spoonful or more of chocolate to each cup in order to cover the peanut butter filling.  Use the spoon again to spread the chocolate around the top and completely cover the peanut butter.

Set the finished cups back into the muffin tin and let firm up at room temperature for about four hours.

Store up to two weeks (as if they will last that long) in an airtight container.  Don’t refrigerate.

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Stale Marshmallows

I hate Peeps.  However, I have several friends that seem to adore them.  I cannot in good conscience let this behavior continue.  I feel obligated to provide them a quality product.  I mean, Easter only comes once in a year, why waste good sugar on bad candy?

Taking matters into my own hands, I decided to craft a homemade version of those stale, artificial tasting creations…

Homemade Peeps
Modified from The Kitchn

cooking spray
3 packets (each packet is typically about 2 1/4 tsp) unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp lemon extract
6 – 10 drops of yellow food coloring (depends on how vivid you want your candy)
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Let me start this recipe by telling you that you need a stand mixer with a whisk attachment to do this.  The handheld mixer will not be powerful enough.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray, ensuring that there is a thin film of spray on every inner surface and corner.  Set aside.

Now you need to bloom the gelatin, or prepare it for use.  Gelatin needs to be pre-moistened to prevent clumping in your recipe.  I just do this in the bowl of my mixer, removed from the base.  Add the 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp of cold water and lemon extract to the bowl and sprinkle in the 3 packets of powdered gelatin.

Whisk the powder and water together with a fork to break up clumps.

It will start to resemble the consistency of applesauce, this expansion earns it the name of blooming.  I add the drops of yellow food coloring at this point, but you don’t need to stir it in yet.  Then, attach the bowl to base of mixer and move on to next step…

Combine the 3/4 cup of water with the corn syrup, salt, and sugar in a 4-quart saucepan.  Cook on medium heat on stovetop and bring to boil.

As it is coming to a boil, you will notice sugar crystals forming on the sides of the pot.  This can make your mixture gritty, and you have a couple of ways of counteracting this.

You can wet a pastry brush in warmish water and brush it down the sides of the pot to dissolve the sugar crystals.  Or, you can just cover the pan for 2 minutes once it starts to boil and the steam can wash the sides of the pot.   Do not stir the sugar mixture once it starts to boil, however, or it may crystallize further.

Now clip on a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and continue to boil the sugar mixture until it reaches 245 degrees F.

Turn off the burner and remove the candy thermometer.  Turn on the mixer to medium speed with the whisk attachment, and then using hot pads to protect your hands, slowly and carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl of gelatin.  The mixture may foam a little so just take your time adding the syrup.

When all the syrup has been added, cover the bowl with a towel and increase the mixer speed to high.  I use the towel to prevent any sticky splatters in my kitchen.

Whip for 10 – 12 minutes, until it looks like glossy meringue.  Check on the mixture a couple of times during this period and you can add any extra food coloring now if you need it, while the whisk is still turning.

Turn down the mixer speed to medium low and slowly lift the arm of the mixer so that some of the marshmallow mixture can spin off into the bowl.

Turn off the mixer completely and using a stiff silicone spatula scrape the marshmallow mixture into your greased pan.  It will be very stiff and sticky.  Try to work quickly before it starts firming up.

Lightly moisten your fingers with water (so the marshmallows won’t stick) to smooth down the top and even out the mixture within the pan.  Let it sit uncovered for 12 – 15 hours to completely set and cure.

Once your marshmallows have cured, turn them onto a cutting board.

You can cut them into squares with a sharp knife, or use holiday cookie cutters, like I did.  I chose a bunny and chick.

NOTE: Cookie cutters will not likely use every single inch of your marshmallows, so you can trim the remainders into square shapes so as not to waste any goodies.

Marshmallows typically need to be coated in a mixture of (1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 cup cornstarch) so they will not stick together when stored.  To make Peeps, I modified this recipe slightly.  First, I took about 1/2 cup granulated sugar and blended in about three drops of yellow food coloring.

I always have some marshmallow mixture on  hand stored in a lidded plastic container, so then I added about 2 Tbsp of that to my yellow granulated sugar and mixed well.  I used this yellow sugar mixture to coat my homemade Peeps.

These Peeps will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks.  Leftover marshmallow coating can be stored in an airtight container indefinitely.

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Bar Stool Fridays – Rock Candy Cocktail

So, we’ve really enjoyed the homemade cinnamon candy around here.

Mr. Cook in a Bar and I knew we could increase our enjoyment by combining the sweet and spicy candy with alcohol.  Now, big surprise here…we went with bourbon.  Yeah, we’re a little preoccupied.

The drink came together pretty easily for us and we both slurped it up quickly, but we struggled with a name.  Luckily, our friend Kate was willing to sample the drink and after only one round she came up with a name that we found both amusing and clever…

Red Headed Goldilocks
Makes 1 drink

ice
2 oz bourbon (we used Knob Creek)
1 oz Goldschlager
2 dashes Peychauds bitters
cinnamon rock candy

Put cinnamon rock candy in plastic bag and crush finely with rolling pin.

Moisten rim of rocks glass and coat with crushed candy.

Fill cocktail shaker with ice.  Add bourbon, Goldschlager, bitters.  Shake well.

Strain into prepared glass.  Try not to drink too many.

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Sweet as Candy

A few weeks back I was surprised by a fellow blogger, Sabrina of eat. drink. and be merry.  She bestowed upon me a One Lovely Blog Award.

I was quite flattered by the honor because Sabrina has a great blog herself…lovely pictures and some fun recipes.  Thanks, Sabrina!  (More on the award later in this entry.)
Sabrina’s sweet gesture inspired me to make some homemade candy in one of my favorite flavors…cinnamon.   This recipe uses cinnamon oil, which is available in many health food stores, but I was able to order it from Amazon.  Be sure to get cinnamon oil that is food-safe.

Cinnamon Rock Candy

Makes about 1 1/2 pounds

cooking spray or butter

1 cup water
3 ¾ cups sugar
1 ¼ cup light corn syrup
1 ½  tsp red food coloring
2 tsp cinnamon oil
confectioners’ sugar
Line a 15x10x1 inch baking dish with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray or coat with butter; set aside.  I just used a glass casserole dish.
In a large heavy pot (that has a lid), combine water, sugar, corn syrup, and food coloring.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Then, cover and cook for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar crystals.  The lid will help capture some condensation on the sides of the pan and can prevent re-crystallization of the sugar.  Otherwise, your candy could be gritty.
Uncover; cook on medium-high heat, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 300 degrees F (hard crack stage).  It took me about 20 minutes, but don’t wander too far from the stove, you need to keep an eye on the mixture.  Also, keep in mind this is really hot and if the hot sugar mixture touches your skin it will burn you.
Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the hot burner.  Then, stir in the cinnamon oil.  It is a really strong odor so don’t put your face directly over the pot.
Immediately pour into the lined and greased dish.
Let the candy cool completely, about 45 minutes.  Break into pieces using the edge of a metal mallet.  I started to get nervous about breaking the glass dish, so I wrapped the candy in wax paper and moved it a cutting board to keep pounding it with the mallet.  Next time, I might try to score the candy with a knife (grease blade first, though) while it is still slightly soft to make it easier to break in pieces.
I recommend you sprinkle the candy with confectioners’ sugar and make sure both sides are lightly coated so the pieces will not stick together.  Store in airtight container.
If you can keep from eating it all, this candy should last about 6 months.
Now, more about the One Lovely Blog Award…
Part of the fun of the award is sharing it with other bloggers.  There are a few instructions that come with accepting this One Lovely Blog Award:
1.  Post the award on your blog with the name of the person who bestowed it and include their blog link.
2.  Share the love.  Nominate 15 other bloggers, whose blogs who admire to receive this award.
3.  Contact the blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.
I select…drumroll, please….
NOTE:  I think that the logo for the One Lovely Blog Award is a bit feminine.  I nominated several male bloggers, but I believe their blogs are worthy of recognition so I hope they aren’t put off by the rose-festooned logo.  If they are, I apologize.

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