Tag Archives: candy

Recipe: Gingerbread Caramels

21 Dec

Christmas, oh Christmas.

I’m not religious but Christmas is  my guilty pleasure. I love the holiday season in general-that magical time between Halloween and New Year’s makes me all gooey. It’s probably all of the alcohol and baked goods you’re encouraged to imbibe. (Hey-o!)

Since my fiance joined me on the east coast a year ago, we’ve only gone back home for one holiday a year, which means picking between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year we went home for Xmas. This year was Tgiving. And so, schmoops and I will be celebrating Christmas with our cat this year. Honestly? I’m really excited about it. I’m making epic Christmas brunch, we’re going to lay around in our pjs, open presents, and maybe go to a movie. Our theatre here has a bar inside of it so, because it’s Christmas, I’ll probably splurge and buy us movie-themed adult beverages to enjoy. You know. Live it up.

The downside of spending Christmas (almost) alone 3,000 miles away from the rest of your family is that Christmas presents begin to pose a problem. Add to that the fact that you’re broke and you’ve been unemployed for 5 months (guilty…) and you see what I’m talking about. This called for creativity. What could I send loved ones that would be inexpensive, easy to mail (to three different countries), and universally well received?

CANDY!

Specifically, caramel. Gingerbread caramel. Thank you, Ms. Martha Stewart.

Gingerbread Caramels

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

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

A quick note about the corn syrup-I really didn’t want to use it. I’m a giant hippie deep down inside so I think corn syrup is the devil. Also, my best friend’s little daughter is allergic to it and I wanted her to be able to eat these things. However, at the last minute I got lazy (and I had a random bottle of the stuff) that I wanted to use. If you’re interested in corn syrup substitutions, there are lots of suggestions on the ol’ interwebs. The best ones I found were to make a thick simple syrup  from water and sugar, or to use honey. I think you can also use tapioca syrup and/or agave syrup.

ONWARD.

Prepare your pans. This is what you will be pouring the hot caramel into to cool. The recipe suggests using a 12×17 inch rimmed pan, but I didn’t have one of those so I just used what I did have, and made sure that the sum of their measurements matched. The caramel is crazy sticky, so you have to grease the bottom and sides of all the pans. Then, line the pans with parchment or wax paper, and grease the paper as well. Trust me on this. You want to do it.

Bring the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and molasses to a boil. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until it reaches 248˚F. The amount of time it takes to do this will vary depending on your altitude and what you put in the caramel. I swear it took me almost an hour. The thing is-it is very important that you reach that 248˚ mark. If you don’t the candy won’t be thick enough and it won’t harden properly.

Boiling boiling.

Once it reaches 248˚, turn off the heat and stir in the spices, the salt, and the vanilla.

Pour the mixture into your prepared pans. Allow to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. This is to make sure the caramel cools completely. Also, I would recommend that you lightly cover the pans with a clean dishcloth. Caramel is sticky. You don’t want any dust or..whatever else getting in it.

The next day, get yourself a cutting board and a knife. I used my pizza cutter, which, incidentally, I have never used to cut a pizza. Grease the cutting surface and your cutting implement. Turn the caramel over onto your prepared surface. You might have to use a knife to loosen the parchment overhang, but if you greased properly this should be easy. Then you’ll have to peel the paper from the back of the caramel.

Cut the caramels into 1″ pieces. I actually used a ruler and traced a light grid onto the caramel before I cut them. You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to, but I found it helpful.

Wrap the individual pieces in wax paper or parchment paper.

Twist the sides to make them look like real candy.

If you’re giving them as gifts, you can put them in fun little cellophane bags. I used a free template to print those stickers, which can be found here.

The whole process was really quite easy, if time consuming. I hand-wrapped over 100 caramels, you guys.

❤ stef

Advertisements

Recipe: Marshmallows!

8 Feb

I know you were probably hoping for cheese. Sad day. But I got distracted yesterday when I realized that I had all of the ingredients for marshmallows in my cupboard (yeah, this is what happens when you cook a lot. You end up with random bits of foodstuff, like envelopes of gelatin and corn syrup from that one time you made that cake/pie/candy thing).

So as I was saying, I was sitting around thinking about how much I wanted some hot chocolate, but we all know that hot chocolate isn’t really worth it unless you’ve got some whipped cream or at the very least some marshmallows and I didn’t have either of those things and I didn’t want to go to the store. So I lay despondently around in total depression (tiny violin playing in the background) until I remembered that I could actually make my OWN marshmallows.

Yes.

This is the full recipe, but I actually cut everything in half. I also stole the recipe from Alton Brown. It’s ok though, he’s used to it.

3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

1 C cold water, divided

1.5 C granulated suagr

1 C light corn syrup

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 C powdered sugar

1/4 C cornstarch

Nonstick spray, or olive oil.

Put the gelatin and half of the water in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the corn syrup, sugar, salt and the rest of the water in a saucepan, cover and heat over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Uncover, and using a thermometer heat the mixture to 240˚ F. I used my super-spiffy meat thermometer.

You can do the same, as long as you have a thermometer that goes up that high. You just have to be careful that the thermometer tip is not touching the saucepan at all, or it will mismeasure the temperature. I employed the use of a rubber band.

Once the mixture hits 240˚, take it off of the heat immediately. While you wait, grab a pan (mine is 8″x8″) and grease it all over using the cooking spray or olive oil. In a separate dish, mix the cornstarch and powdered sugar. Coat the pan using the cornstarch mix, and reserve the leftovers for later use.

Now, you’re going to combine the gelatin with the sugar mixture by slowly drizzling the heated sugar mix into the gelatin, while you constantly whisk it all together. This is super-easy if you have a stand mixer. I do not. In fact, I don’t even have a hand held electric mixer, so I used my whisk and MY HANDS. My shoulder kind of hurts, but I have fabulous muscles.

Any way you choose to mix, it takes between 10 – 14 minutes to reach the correct consistency. It will get really fluffy.

And then, it will start getting super-glossy and very difficult to whisk. That’s about when it’s done. You want to add the vanilla in the last 2-3 minutes of whisking.

Pour into your prepared pan, using an oiled spatula (or spoon, what have you) to evenly distribute.

Sprinkle the top with enough of the cornstarch mix to cover, again reserving the rest.

Let the marshmallows sit uncovered for at minimum 4 hours. Once this time has elapsed, turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting surface and cut into squares. You might need to coat your knife with some of the cornstarch mix.

Coat the cut marshmallows with the remaining cornstarch-sugar mixture.

You can store the finished marshmallows in an airtight container for up to three weeks. Enjoy!

❤ Stef