Tag Archives: candy

Peanut Butter and Chocolate-Mint Fudge

I know it seems like I’m a bit fudge obsessed lately but it’s the easiest sweet I can make with pantry ingredients I have right now.

And, I’m still ticked off at the thought of paying $16 a pound (check Amazon if you don’t believe me) for something anyone can make at home, without a candy thermometer. And for someone who has candy making issues, that’s a strong statement.

So, on Friday, I made Peanut Butter fudge. I wonder what substituting the peanut butter with Nutella would taste like? Anyone want to give this a try? Maybe just a half recipe.

I know it’s not pretty but I recycled an aluminum foil loaf pan cause it was the only thing I had that was the right size. There’s a block of vanilla fudge in the picture for a colour comparison.

Peanut Butter Fudge – makes about 3 pounds

2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix brown and white sugar with the milk in large pot; bring mixture to a boil. Stir in peanut butter and butter, reduce heat to medium and bring the mixture back to boil (stirring constantly). Remove the pot from the heat once the temperature has reached 115 C/239 F or the soft ball stage. Let cool for 5 min.

Add vanilla to the mixture; stir vigorously until the fudge looses its glossy sheen. Pour fudge into a buttered 8×8″ pan. Let cool and cut into 1 inch pieces.

Trial 2: (10/20/2016) Made a half batch of the original recipe. Melted ingredients at medium-high and once it started boiling, I reduced the heat to medium (5). It only took 6-7 min. of boiling to get to the soft ball stage. Stirred for a few minutes and then put the pan into a sink with an inch or so of cold water and in a few minutes more of stirring, it was thick enough to pour. Pour FAST and scrape out with firm spatula so you get most of the stuff on the sides and bottom into your pan.

And yesterday, I made Chocolate-Mint fudge using the vanilla fudge recipe as a base. This is the best textured batch of fudge I’ve made to date.

Chocolate-Mint Variation: After letting the fudge cool, for 5 minutes, I added 1 oz of finely chopped high cocoa fat chocolate to the mixture and 1 tsp of mint extract and beat it until the chocolate had melted and the fudge had lost its sheen while still being pourable.

You can use the basic vanilla fudge recipe to make many variations by adding different extracts, food colourings to part or all of it, nuts or dried fruits. A Black Forest variation with well drained maraschino cherries and a pink fudge layer comes to mind.

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Perfect Vanilla and Crumbly Maple Pecan Fudge

This weekend I stopped in at the new city market and did some browsing. With less than $5 cash in my wallet, all I was looking for was an avocado.

They didn’t have any avocados at either the regular or organic garden fruit and vegetable kiosks but they DID have a kiosk  with Dutch apple pies etc and one with raw chocolate and fudges. It was early and there weren’t a lot of customers there yet so I struck up a conversation with the owner of the fudge stand. Even though I ‘hinted’ that I wasn’t in a position to buy on THIS visit, she offered to let me try her samples. I stuck with two, chocolate chili and chocolate cherry. They were ok, but honestly, I’ve had and even made better. I didn’t ask the price per pound/kg but it wasn’t cheap … $8 for the pre-cut and wrapped blocks which I estimate weighed ~150 gm.

In any case, I got a fudge craving so after a Saturday of watching the dough I had made with a new pineapple sourdough starter not rising, I dug out my recipe for vanilla fudge and made a batch. I haven’t made fudge for over three years, so I was a bit nervous about the process.

One thing you NEED when making fudge is an accurate candy thermometer. Mine claims water boils at 87 deg C/188.6 deg F so I use the soft ball test. I may have jumped the gun ‘just a bit’ when I took it off the heat and started cooling and then beating, but it looked good when I let it cool overnight. And the remnants of the fudge left on the pot tasted very good.

This morning, I dug the slightly soft vanilla fudge out of the aluminum pan I had poured it into, and threw it in the fridge for a half hour or so cause I wanted to get a nice clean cut.

Perfection … melt in your mouth, creamy smooth and delicious.

Vanilla Fudge – makes ~1 pound/500 gm

300 ml milk ( >1 cup, use homogenized milk, half and half is even better)
350 g granulated sugar ( 1 1/2 cups)
100 g unsalted butter ( 1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
unsalted butter for pan

Butter an 8″x8″ square glass pan, or line it with a sheet of parchment paper which has some overhang on 2 opposing side. (Your fudge will end up VERY thin so try to use a smaller pan with sides.)

Put the milk, sugar and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted. Bring to the boil and boil for 20-25 minutes, stirring all the time.

When the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (115°C/239°F on a candy thermometer), remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. (You may see some brownish bits suddenly appear in your fudge just before the temperature is reached. This happens if you miss stirring the MIDDLE of the pot because the fudge WILL stick.)

Leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes in the pan.

Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes until the fudge starts to thicken and the gloss disappears.  Pour into a prepared pan and leave to set at room temperature (do not put it in the fridge).

Once set, cut the fudge into small squares and store in a sealed container.

Maple Pecan Variation: Replace the white sugar with brown sugar and add 3 tbsp of maple syrup. Stir in 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans at the same time you add your vanilla.

Of course, I pushed the limit and made a batch of maple pecan fudge too. I over-cooked it cause I kept cooking past the soft ball to the soft crack and then I transferred the fudge (the butter was separating as I stirred) into a large metal bowl where it started to get all crumbly. I scraped the fudge into my prepared pan, and learned it was too big for the amount of fudge I had. So, I shaped the fudge into a rough rectangle using the parchment paper and let it cool. The crumbly bits aren’t grainy in your mouth, though, and are tasty as well.

Fudge at start and towards the end of the cooking when you want to start your soft ball test.

 

 

Lesson Learned: Even a less than perfect fudge is delicious.

Ham, Potato and Corn Chowder, Chicken Breast Duo and Honeycomb

It’s fall time again and with the nip in the air, and my kitchen, I’m planning more substantial cooking projects that will warm me up.

Like this ham, potato and corn chowder I found on someone’s blog. The ingredients are similar to a previous soup I’ve posted, other than using a roux to thicken it up to the consistency of a chowder. You can add whipping or half and half cream if you want to add richness to the dish. And don’t mind the extra calories.

In the meantime, however, I thawed out the last of the boneless, skinless chicken breasts from my freezer (1 pound in total) and turned them into chicken and kale pesto spaghetti

… and a fast and tasty marinated Middle Eastern dish on skewers called chicken tawook.

Both are dishes I’ve made before so no recipes.

I recently got a late afternoon craving for something sweet and whipped up this variation on a peanut brittle. Honeycomb is a nut free toffee in which, similar to a brittle, baking soda is added to a caramelized sugar mixture. The sugar used and, most importantly, the amounts of baking soda added vary. The extra baking soda used in the honeycomb creates lots of bubbles resulting in a sponge-like texture that shatters in your mouth as your crunch down on it. I started with a brittle recipe but added an additional teaspoon of baking soda. Next time, I’ll make a traditional honeycomb with brown sugar and molasses in place of the white sugar and corn syrup I used.

NOTE: DO NOT disturb your molten sugar mixture once you’ve poured it out onto your buttered or greased baking pan in order to even it out. You’re flattening out all of those lovely bubbles if you do so.

Cracker Jack/Caramel Corn

I haven’t made caramel corn in years!

And when I went looking for my mom’s roasting pan, it was nowhere to be found. I hope I didn’t give it away in the basement clearance, but I’m afraid that I did. So I had to halve the recipe below to fit into the largest baking dish I have with a raised edge. And then I remembered the aluminum foil roaster I used when I made the two babkas. Unfortunately, it was the same size as the baking dish … just barely large enough to hold the halved batch of popcorn. Since I couldn’t STIR the popcorn every 15 minutes as the recipe requires, in order to dry out the popcorn and the caramel coating, I ended up transferring the popcorn between the two baking dishes.

Caramel Corn – makes ~16 cups popcorn

1 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups brown sugar, packed firmly
1 cup butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
1/2-1 tsp baking soda
2 cups unsalted, roasted and skinned peanuts (optional)

Spray a roaster with a capacity of about 20 cups with cooking spray or oil lightly.

Air pop the popcorn kernels and place them in the roaster. For the Cracker Jack version, stir the peanuts through the popcorn.

Preheat the oven to 250 deg Fahrenheit.

In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt to a boil, stirring continuously for 5 minutes. It will foam up and bubble vigorously so make sure you have lots of head room.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla and baking soda.

Pour caramel over the popcorn trying to distribute it as evenly as possible. If you have an extra pair of hands helping, have the other person stir to distribute the caramel as you pour, while it is still hot and liquid. It will harden very quickly and be impossible to redistribute.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to break up the clumps, until done. Transfer to another container to cool.

Break apart any remaining clumps and store in an airtight container.

PS: Before I scrapped my sourdough starter, I took some pictures of the gluten strands in the glass jar. They looked very artistic, or is that artsy? What do they look like to you?

Pine Nut Brittle and a Break

I  think I’m going to take a bit of a break … not sure how long though so I’ll leave you with a quick candy recipe post. This will give anyone reading a chance to catch up on earlier posts which they may have missed (hint) and give ME a chance to come up with some ideas for what to make during my two months of summer break.

POSSIBLE projects are mostly rehashes of things I haven’t made in ages … like cannoli shells, potstickers, pastas (I’ve been meaning to try a beet puree for colouring), yaki onigiri. (I may add more ideas here as they come to me. Right now I’m too hungry to think clearly.)

I had a brittle craving a while ago, but the only nuts in the house were pine nuts from my freezer, so that’s what I went with. Not cheap to make compared to something like a peanut brittle, but OH SO GOOD.

Pine Nut Brittle

A very simple basic brittle recipe using equal amounts by weight of sugar (100 g /1/2 cup sugar, 100 gm/1 cup pine nuts, 1 tsp butter, a pinch of baking soda, a pinch of sea salt and a few finely minced fresh rosemary leaves).

I made a second batch in which I doubled the sugar and halved the nuts. It was good too and more economical on the nuts if that’s a concern. Here’s a picture of the two versions for comparison. At least I could spread out the 2nd batch of brittle more thinly on the sheet.

Meal Round-up

Breakfast of sourdough starter pancakes topped with macerated strawberries and maple syrup, eggs over easy and LOTS of bacon.

Various chicken dishes: a disappointing chicken kebab recipe which was transformed into a chicken shawarma wrap, a couple of ways to serve leftover shredded chicken mole

Leftover pea-meal bacon roast, mac and cheese and peas … all from the freezer

Potato salad with hardboiled eggs with my home made blender mayonnaise.