Tuesday, January 27, 2009

candy chat- part 3

Dark Chocolate Orange Fudge has been my Christmas candy stand-by for, I don't know, at least 10 years. It is always a hit and was a great recipe find. I can't even remember where I found the original recipe... maybe in a magazine ad somewhere?? It called for semi-sweet chocolate chips and chopped walnuts but since I really, really love dark chocolate I had to try it with the Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips. It was also back then that I discovered orange oil and decided it must go in as well. It tastes like a dark, gourmet version of those foil wrapped chocolate oranges you buy at the holidays and break apart. The orange oil, rather than extract, is really key. It is made from the peel of oranges and tastes like the real deal. The only brand I am aware of, though there may be others, is Boyajian. You can find it at gourmet kitchen stores and online.

One thing is, I'm sure some may scoff at this not being "real" fudge. Yes, it contains chocolate chips and melted marshmallows, and doesn't use a candy thermometer. BUT, it is so much better than any "real" fudge I have ever had. It is very creamy and rich. Not gooey and overly sweet.

There are recipe variations listed at the end of the recipe. I like the peanut butter one, and really, you can experiment with just about any kind of chip and flavor. Let me know if you discover another "keeper" flavor combo. Oh, of course this is a great treat for Valentine's Day too. :)

Dark Chocolate Orange Fudge

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2/3 cup undiluted Carnation Evaporated milk
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups (4 ounces) mini marshmallows
1 ½ cups (9 ounces) Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 teaspoon orange oil

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and measure and place into pan the chocolate chips followed by the marshmallows. This way when it is time to pour the chips and marshmallows you are ready to go (no waiting) and the marshmallows hit the hot sugar mixture first, which is key, because they take longer to melt than the chocolate chips.

Combine butter, evaporated milk, sugar, and salt in medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 4 to 5 minutes (for my stove 4 1/2 minutes makes the creamiest fudge), stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in marshmallows, chocolate chips, and orange oil. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into foil-lined 8” square baking pan. Chill until firm.

Variations (replacing bittersweet chocolate chips and orange oil):
* 2 cups milk chocolate chips and 1 tsp vanilla
* 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup semi-sweet
* 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chips and 1 tsp vanilla
* 2 cups butterscotch
* 1 ½ cup mint chocolate chips

OR replace orange oil with any other extract

Sunday, January 18, 2009

candy chat- part 2

I made homemade marshmallows for the first time this fall from a recipe I got from Bon Appetit written by Molly Wizenberg, of the fabulous blog Orangette. I was surprised at how truly easy they are to make. And though I enjoy a good Jet-Puffed marshmallow, these treats will make you wonder if they are even in the same recipe family. Homemade marshmallows are so light- and they melt in your mouth- and are so light... I decided to experiment a bit with the original recipe and add coconut. These turned out so well that they made it into the holiday goodie boxes and a spot on the "for years to come" list.

I also made a batch of the original marshmallows and added 1/2 teaspoon of good peppermint extract. I wanted them to look like the peppermint marshmallows you can buy at fancy grocery stores. Those don't seem to actually have swirls of colored marshmallow, just a swirl of very dark red right on top. So, after I put the marshmallow mixture in the pan, I dipped a toothpick in some red food coloring gel and dragged the toothpick in a pattern across the surface. It turned out pretty well, I think, though I'm curious if there any tricks anyone knows of, because it wasn't exactly easy, and it disrupted the surface of the marshmallow a little too much for me. Still, they were pretty and very tasty in a cup of hot cocoa.

If you try this recipe, let me know if you come up with any other great variations!

Homemade Coconut Marshmallows
Based on the recipe from Bon App├ętit July 2008 by Molly Wizenberg

These can be layered between sheets of parchment and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

7oz package flaked coconut
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup cold water, divided
3 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup potato starch*
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Spread flaked coconut in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil.

Coat foil lightly with nonstick spray. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.

Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over mediumlow heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240°F, about 8 minutes.
With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and coconut extracts and beat to blend, about 30 seconds longer.

Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top with wet spatula. Sprinkle the toasted coconut evenly across the surface of the marshmallow. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours.

Stir potato starch and powdered sugar in small bowl to blend. Sift light dusting of starch-sugar mixture onto work surface, forming rectangle slightly larger than 13x9 inches. Turn marshmallow slab out onto starch-sugar mixture; peel off foil. Sift more starch-sugar mixture over marshmallow slab. Coat large sharp knife (or cookie cutters) with nonstick spray. Cut marshmallows into squares or other shapes. Toss each in remaining starch-sugar mixture to coat. Transfer marshmallows to rack, shaking off excess mixture.

*A food thickener made from cooked, dried, ground potatoes, this gluten free flour is also known as potato flour; available at most supermarkets.

Monday, January 12, 2009

post-holiday candy chat

I realize that no one is in the mood to make candy right now; you've probably sworn off the stuff for a while. However... I never got around to posting what I made this year and thought it would be fun to open the discussion up to more people. Email me what you like to make every year (along with the recipe of course!!), or something new and fantastic you tried this time (with a picture if you have it) and I will post for all. Or, you can just post it all in the comment section.

I am going to post a different treat every day or so until I get through all the sweets I made. Here is a picture of the box I gave to a few people:

The first recipe I'll share is one I posted last January, and will be one of my staples from now on. It makes so many and seems to be well received.

You should sift the spices over the caramel mixture as you stir at the end. If you dump them in you will end up with pocketfuls of spice and it is not very fun to try to distribute the mix when it is already on the sheetpan- trust me. Also, I find you can cut them a bit smaller than suggested. I think I cut maybe 160 or even 192 from the batch this year and could have even made them a little smaller. I find parchment works best for wrapping. Cellophane falls off; waxed paper sticks too much. Just store them in an airtight container for a few weeks. I gave some of these as gifts in those small organza drawstring bags you can get at craft stores in packages of 8-10. ABout 8-10 caramels inside fit perfectly and and is a nice size treat for a friend.

Gingerbread Caramels

Makes about 12 1/2 dozen

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream
2 cups light corn syrup
4 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


Coat an 18-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on short sides. Coat parchment.

Bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and molasses to a boil in a large pot over high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan, and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 248 degrees (firm-ball stage), about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla, salt, and spices. Immediately pour onto prepared sheet, without scraping pot. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.

Coat a large cutting board generously with cooking spray. Pull up parchment to unmold caramel, and invert onto the cutting board. Remove parchment. Cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper. Caramels can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.