i know the below posting looks nothing like dot candy. or anything that should be posted on a blog dedicated to candy making because it’s such an unfortunate showing. but…candy making is tough (at times – don’t get intimidated!). it is not the easiest thing in the world to do (i think the first clue was the necessity to handle boiling hot liquid sugar in pretty much every instance) but the rewards are worth it. if you can give your family, best friends, or even potential future ex-boyfriend/girlfriend homemade candy i think (hope) that they will be willing to overlook appearance flaws. baking up a cupcake has become pretty common fare that is relatively easily executed, but if you hand someone a bag of homemade candy corn (yes i’ve made this) i’d like to think that they would really see it’s your way of telling them that you care enough to step outside of the box and even maybe fall down a little. because to be honest, at least for me, the falling down is going to happen every now and then regardless of if comes in the form of tripping over my heels or in the form of burning some caramel.
Soundtrack: San Diego Super Chargers song. kidding. but the colors are unintentionally those of my hometown football team.
Supplies: parchment paper or silicone mat candy thermometer pastry brush with water measuring cups/spoons 1qt saucepan stainless steel spoon Ingredients: 1 c sugar 3 Tbs cream 2 Tbs water 1 tsp butter 5 drops flavoring extract (less if dividing syrup) 3 drops food coloring (less if dividing syrup)
measure out sugar, cream, and water. combine in saucepan and stir – washing down sugar crystals that form
cook without stirring until mixture reaches 240degrees
remove from heat and stir in butter – continue stirring for about a minute while mixture thickens. i just cut off small pieces of butter and smooshed them into a teaspoon to get the correct amount, since there is no teaspoon measure on a stick of butter package (unlike tablespoon markers). if you are only doing one flavor batch this is when you would stir in extracts and food coloring.
i decided to make 2 different flavors – vanilla and peppermint.
alright. this looks horrible but honestly it’s what happened when i tried to artfully spoon the syrup onto the silpat like the recipe suggested. the syrup cooled really fast and i ended up using two spoons to try and drop it on the mat like you would do with cookie dough. the top few ‘dots’ in the middle row of vanilla were the only ones that looked anything like the traditional strips of candy dots that you think of. these were the first few i was able to get out of the bowl and only the mat while the syrup was still super hot and everything after that turned crumbly with a dull appearance.
i tried to microwave and restir but was never able to get the mixture to liquify in the correct way.
then i tried to put hardened candy back into the pan in flavor batches and this is what happened. the sugar heated up again too much and changed the color, and hardened the syrup into a hard caramel consistency. the kind that ruins teeth.
(i felt pastel worked in the poor appearance candy’s favor)
- probably just do one flavor batch at a time, i think pouring the hot mixture into a cold bowl and adding in the food coloring and extract flavor cooled the syrup too quickly.
- spoon syrup onto silpat quickly!! the first few i did look so far superior to the dropped balls that followed and i was never able to recreate that initial consistency.
Review: even though the final product looked so far off from what i was going for, the candy itself tastes pretty good. the small amount of butter used carries through in each individual piece and works well with vanilla and mint flavorings. initially the consistency is a bit granular but melts quickly into how (at least what i remember) candy dots taste. not something i would give as a gift unless i can master the presentation.
Currently Screening: An American Werewolf in London
i love macarons, and have had the extreme pleasure to have enjoyed them from one of the very best candy stores in the world (Sprungli, Zurich). my favorite type, were i to chose, i think would be fleur de sel caramel. though i didn’t get to make this particular flavor combination, the cooking class taught me how to make almost perfect looking macarons with a variety of fillings. the cookies look like little vividly colored jewels and, while not candy, they were far too pretty and i enjoyed making them far too much not to post.
Menu: Lavender Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache – Lemon Macarons with Lemon Buttercream – Coconut Macarons with Cocoa Custard – Mint Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache
by the end of the filling process the group started experimenting with different flavor combinations (ie – we got the bags mixed up and just decided to go with whatever was handy)
the process of making the cookie is pretty involved – including multiple siftings, vitamix grindings and something called macaronnage, but i figured i would just include the general recipe because the texture and taste of these cookies is so interesting that it’s hard to tell what comprises it. macarons are made with almond flour – a lesson, unfortunately, learned by a girl in my class with a nut allergy who was forced to look on during the entire process, though she did get in some good ganache making practice.
Basic Macaron Ingredients: 7oz powdered sugar 4oz almond flour 4 large (4oz) egg whites, room temp pinch cream of tartar 3 and 1/2oz granulated sugar Additions: Lavender - dried lavender, purple food coloring Lemon - lemon extract, yellow food coloring Coconut - desiccated (super dried) coconut, brown food coloring Mint - peppermint extract, green food coloring
Soundtrack: Everyday is like Sunday, Morrissey
Supplies: 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper candy thermometer pastry brush with water measuring cups/spoons 3qt saucepan heatproof silicone spatula handheld mixer, or ziplock bags and mashing implement standup mixer with whisk attachment Ingredients: 1 jar (7oz) marshmallow fluff 2 c sugar 1/2 c water 2 Tbs light corn syrup 1/8 tsp salt 1/2 tsp vanilla 3/4 c finely crushed peppermint (about 6oz)
cut sheet of parchment paper big enough for 8in square pan, it will sink down to fit inside the pan once you pour in the divinity so don’t worry about getting it to fit for now
empty out jar of marshmallow fluff into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. it is easy to get the fluff off of the spatula if you wet your fingers first and swipe it off into the bowl
pulverize candy canes – about 40 small.
as you are chopping up the candy canes hit bottom of container on counter every now and then to bring unchopped candy cane pieces up to the top – making it easier for mixer grind into a powder.
measure out sugar, water, corn syrup and salt into saucepan. stir constantly over medium heat until sugar dissolves – it won’t turn into a clear fluid but it will liquify a bit
(awkwardly) move water soaked brush just above where mixture is coming to a boil to wash down sugar crystals – just until sugar is dissolved.
bring water, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil. cook without stirring until candy thermometer reads 250degrees about 20-25min
slowly pour hot syrup mixture over marshmallow fluff with the whisk running on slow. add in vanilla. once incorporated increase speed to high and mix until divinity begins to hold it’s shape 2.5 to 3 minutes
stir in pulverized candy canes – i didn’t use it all, maybe only mixed in a scant half cup
the still warm divinity is not sticky like marshmallow, it has more of a crumbly dense consistency
pour on to parchment paper lined square pan – pressing down with folded over parchment paper to create a level sheet. let cool then cut into pieces
Lessons Learned: (i’m going to do this part with photos from the first batch i messed up so badly…)
- watch the temperature of the syrup!! i let this get too hot and it turned into a dark caramel which not only affected the color but also made for rock hard final product. seriously a knife couldn’t even score the block of candy let alone cut a piece off.
- make sure whisk is in the correct position to mix before switching machine on, lest you fling hot sugar silly string all about your kitchen and person.
- i tried to mash up the candy canes by putting them in a ziplock and smashing with a spice bottle. the bag was quickly riddled with holes and got peppermint dust everywhere, which i can assure you will wind up (painfully) in your eyes. this still kind of happens if you mash them with a handheld in an open container but this round i wore glasses.
- line baking dish with parchment paper rather than trying to butter it, getting the divinity (or any candy that gets poured into a baking dish) is so so so much easier
Review: very sweet, almost confectioner sugar tasting. much prefer marshmallows to divinity but it’s a beautiful candy that some people have a huge fondness for. i’d like to try it with a recipe that doesn’t start off with using marshmallow fluff because it seems a little weird to me, but i’m assuming greatly cuts down on the time it takes to make this candy. sort of crumbly end product that doesn’t cut easily into uniform pieces but that never really bothers me.
today i will be undertaking my second attempt at peppermint divinity. there were many lessons learned with the first batch, most notably the importance of being fully present during the candy making process. trying to squeeze in a quick recipe while juggling multiple other tasks is a, well, recipe for disaster…
from my understanding this is nothing what the finished product should look like – fingers crossed i will be posting an impeccable version later today. i was only able to remove the rock hard mass with the help of some hot water soaking and a very determined friend.
Screening: It May Look Like a Walnut (Planet Twilo), The Dick Van Dyke Show
had a lovely thanksgiving with the family – didn’t have time to whip up some confectionary delights as my time was allocated to the traditional holiday turkey and (awesomely excessive numbers of) side dishes.
did, however, make Gingerbread Cupcakes with Orange Frosting – a Barefoot Contessa recipe. her dishes never fail as crowd pleasers and this one was no different. the cupcakes had more of a molasses flavor than gingerbread but this worked really well with the dense moist cake. the frosting wasn’t too sweet, but for someone who admittedly isn’t a buttercream fan (if anything i prefer marshmallow frosting) i found myself trying to think of other things i could put it on top of – pancakes? cinnamon sugar pita chips? a spoon…?
as i’m trying to keep this a candy only focused blog i’m only posting a link to the recipe rather than a step-by-step, but i for sure will be attempting candied fruit (inspired by the candied ginger topping) in the future.
Soundtrack: Kickstart My Heart, Motley Crue
more inspiration from the Yosemite trip – vintage stained glass ceiling in hotel elevator. i swear i can’t keep candy off my brain these days, not like i ever could…i’m thinking glass candy (brightly colored pieces of hard candy that look like large glass shards) post thanksgiving project that will be perfect for the holidays
Venue: Soho House, West Hollywood
went to a Honing Your Hosting event last night, anticipating the holidays and curious about their tips to improve upon my themed endeavors. first station was homemade truffles.
as opposed to the soft consistency of the chocolate base from the rum balls i had recently made (i blame the sour cream) – the base they started us out with just had equal parts chocolate (dark) and cream. this made for candies that held their form nicely during the rolling process and had a uniform looking final product.
step: chop up chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl. pour warm cream over it – off of heat and stir to combine. at this point when you’re adding in the hot cream you can apparently add in a splash of a booze of your liking. the combined mixture is chilled and then scooped into small amounts to be rolled – wear latex gloves.
dip chilled chocolate balls into plain melted chocolate – they did this using a toothpick which made it easy to shake off the excess. sprinkle on edible gold leaf for super fancy looking truffles. or roll in chopped nuts (they had pistachios and walnuts on hand), graham cracker crumbs mixed with some melted chocolate (to form a crumble), cocoa nibs or cocoa powder. the coating of chocolate hardens nicely after you let the candies sit for a bit after rolling.
since my preference was (and is always) the champagne tasting portion i just watched and learned how to make the featured drink – Grey Goose La Poire Almond Froth.
Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 parts Grey Goose La Poire Flavored Vodka 1/2 part brandy 1 part unsweetened almond milk 3/4 part agave nectar
in cocktail shaker filled with ice add all ingredients and shake vigorously. strain into glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. happy entertaining.
amazing weekend in Yosemite – came home with ideas for making candies that incorporate the flavors of s’mores. even without the benefits of a roaring fire and fuzzy ear muffs. homemade vanilla marshmallows coated in dark chocolate rolled in graham cracker crumbs?…yes please.
Soundtrack: chatting with a friend
Supplies: 8 in square pan measuring cups/spoons small saucepan heatproof silicone spatula blender/food processor/handheld blender (i used a handheld) Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cups semisweet choc chips - divided 1/4 c sour cream 1 Tbs honey 1/4 tsp salt scant 1 c ground graham crackers 1/2 c confectioners sugar scant 1/2 c ground nuts (i used peanut/almond mix just cause) 1/4 c melted butter 1/4 c rum
measure out honey, sour cream, salt (i combined the salt in with the sour cream), and 1 cup chocolate chips
somehow i forgot to take a pic of this next step!! i’m blaming good conversation with an even better friend
combine ingredients in small pan and melt over low heat. pour into 8 inch pan (honestly this could have just been poured into a freezer safe bowl). let freeze for 30 min.
roll chilled chocolate mixture into balls – return to freezer when the chocolate starts to cool and get melty until it hardens up again otherwise it will be too soft to roll into balls. i used food safe rubber gloves since this is a pretty messy step. also – i stopped using the teaspoon after the first couple because i found it easier just to pinch off a general idea of how big i wanted the chocolate balls to be. the chocolate kept getting stuck in the teaspoon so it was only useful to use once to get a general idea of the sizing.
finished chilled chocolate balls
grind up graham crackers, nuts and chocolate chips (if you haven’t yet). the hand held mixer worked, but make sure to use your hand to cover the blending container because the ingredients have a tendency to fly out and everywhere
ground up toppings – graham crackers, almond/peanut mix, powdered sugar, chocolate chips
combine cracker crumbs, sugar, nuts, butter and rum. place ground up chocolate chips in a big enough container that you can drop the coated balls in and cover in chocolate chips. the graham/rum coating is pretty wet and sticky so make sure you have enough ground up chocolate chips. this may mean curbing snacking on chips prior to grinding process…
dip (frozen-ish) ball in graham/rum mix – trying to get on as much coating as possible. immediately drop in and roll in ground chocolate chips. put in fridge until ready to eat.
- using a hand held to grind the chocolate chips was challenging – they do not grind easily and kept flying out of the container. also it took a lot of shaking and re-grinding to get a good consistency
- rolling the chocolate is way easier the colder the chocolate mixture is – keep it in the freezer for as long as possible before rolling and keep returning to freezer to re harden as you are rolling if it starts to get soft
- i went heavy on the rum and lighter on the butter for the topping mixture, playing to my audience – however this did effect the coating consistency
- the graham/rum coating was pretty wet, it is easier to coat the chocolate balls in it and then immediately drop in ground chocolate chips and roll around to make sure as much graham/rum coating sticks as possible
Review: strong rum taste which was what i was going for, i’ve been partial to rum as the weather has cooled off lately. the candy making process took a long time overall because of the re-freezing process during the initial candy rolling step, but not a hard recipe to master. the chocolate balls need to stay cool because they seem to melt and don’t hold their shape, which would make it difficult to package as a gift in any other way than an even layer – and even then the bottom part of the ball seems to level off a little bit. still pretty fancy looking though.