Rum balls are the
perfect adult indulgence for as their name implies, 'rum' balls
contain rum and since we do not bake these cookies the alcohol taste
and content are not lost during baking. more
are a sweet and chewy,
no-bake confection made from a combination of crushed vanilla wafers,
confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, chopped pecans or walnuts, held
together with a little corn syrup and bourbon.
Fruit and Nuts Balls
(Sugarplums) are a delightful mixture of nuts and dried fruits binded
together with a splash of Grand Marnier or orange juice.
chocolate cake is like making your own chocolate bar. No baking
is involved and it contains only four ingredients; chocolate, butter, nuts,
and digestive biscuits. more
Bite into a slice of
Panforte and you may be surprised to find how chewy it is. This chewy
texture comes from mixing the fruit, nuts, spices, and flour with a
boiled syrup made from sugar and honey. more
Meringue Mushrooms are
made with a meringue that is piped into shapes that look like mushroom 'caps' and
'stems'. They are sweet tasting with a melt-in-your-mouth
truffles, with their wonderfully smooth and velvety texture,
highlights the flavor of the chocolate.
This Old Fashioned
Chocolate Fudge is made by boiling sugar syrup to the soft ball
stage. It is often described as a "grained caramel". Delicious. more
are cake crumbs mixed with
frosting, formed into balls, and covered with a crisp outer shell of
colorful candy coating.
Candy. The very word conjures up so many wonderful images: caramels, lollipops,
chocolate covered nuts, marshmallows, fudge, taffy, chewing gum, citrus rinds,
cotton candy, and candy bars. Carole Bloom in her "The International Dictionary
of Desserts, Pastries.
Confections" defines 'candy' as any of a variety of
confections made with sugar and often combined with chocolate, fruit, and/or
Of course, you can buy all the candy I mentioned above, but making
your own is so much fun and it gives you a real sense of accomplishment. Eyes
light up when you present someone with a homemade batch of caramels or
fudge. If you are a little tentative about candy making, start with
easy recipes; things like chocolate truffles, fruit and nut balls,
hazelnut Ganache cups, white chocolate candy bars, or peanut butter
balls. All of these recipes just require mixing ingredients together.
Then, when you feel more confident, try the recipes (buttercrunch
toffee, caramels, caramel corn, fudge, marshmallows, and peanut brittle)
that use cooked sugar. Cooked sugar is where sugar, along with water and
other ingredients, are boiled to a certain temperature. As the sugar
mixture boils, water evaporates from the mixture, making a dense syrup.
The longer the mixture boils, the denser the syrup will be. There are
various stages of Cooked Sugar: thread, soft ball, firm ball, hard ball,
soft crack and hard crack. (See
'Stages of Cooked Sugar' Table) Each stage has a corresponding
temperature range, and at each stage, when you drop a spoonful of the
cooked sugar in cold water, it will behave in a certain way. How it
behaves at each stage also tells us how the candy will eventually set.
For example, at the soft ball stage (234 - 240 degrees F) (112 - 115
degrees C) the sugar, when a little is dropped in cold water, will be a
soft, sticky ball that is perfect for making caramels, fudge and butter
creams. However, this water test can be tricky and oftentimes, for the
inexperienced candy maker, by the time you do the water test and figure
out what stage you are at, the sugar has cooked too much. Luckily there
is another way to tell the stage of the cooked sugar. And that is with
an accurate candy thermometer. This tool eliminates any guesswork.
candy thermometers. It is very important to buy a good
mercury or digital candy thermometer with a metal clip so you can fasten it to
the side of a heavy saucepan. The thermometer should measure, in 2 degree
increments, from 100 - 400 degrees F (35 - 200 degrees C in 1 degree
increments). When using a candy thermometer make sure the bulb of the thermometer
does not rest on the bottom of the saucepan as this can cause an inaccurate
temperature reading. It is also important to read the temperature at eye level
and you may have to wipe the steam off the thermometer first in order to read
the numbers. If you think your candy thermometer may be inaccurate, you can test
its' accuracy by placing it in a saucepan of boiling water. The temperature
should read 212 degrees F (100 degrees C). If you find your thermometer is off
by a degree or two, simply adjust your recipe to take this into account. Another
thing about candy thermometers is that they are fragile so after each use place
in hot water (not cold) to dissolve the sugar coating. Never place a hot
thermometer into cold water as this can cause it to break. And be sure to store
your thermometer away from other kitchen utensils so it won't get banged around.
Lastly, cleaning the dirty saucepan can be a problem. The best way to remove all that
hard caramelized sugar is to fill the saucepan with water and bring it to a
boil. Turn off the heat and let it sit until the sugar dissolves.
There are a few other things to
know when making candy. One is that the weather conditions are important. Heat
and humidity can negatively affect the outcome of your candy. So it is best to
make candy on a cool dry day or have adequate air conditioning. Also, before you begin making any candy
make sure you are familiar with the recipe, have all your equipment ready, and
all your ingredients
measured and within easy reach. Now, this is the important part. Sugar Crystallization
is the biggest problem in candy making as it will turn a smooth sugar syrup into
a grainy mess. This is caused by the formation of sugar crystals which can start
a chain reaction of crystallization (the process of sugar particles clinging
together) that makes the mixture grainy. So, to prevent this from happening, stir the ingredients constantly until they reach the boiling point
as this ensures that the sugar has completely melted. Then, as per your recipe's
instructions, you either brush down the sides of the saucepan with a heatproof
pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water to remove any sugar crystals
that may have formed on the sides of the saucepan, or you place a tight fitting
lid on the saucepan and let the sugar syrup boil this way for a few minutes
(this allows steam to form which then condenses and washes off any sugar
crystals that have attached themselves to the sides of the saucepan). Then
remove the lid and clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan.
Normally the mixture is not stirred as it cooks, as introducing a wooden spoon
to the mixture as it boils can cause crystallization. But follow your recipe's
instructions as sometimes you do need to stir the mixture. One reason you can do
this is that there are ingredients; such as corn syrup, honey, fat, lemon juice
and/or cream of tartar that help to inhibit crystallization.
Amendola, Joseph & Lundberg,
Donald. 'Understanding Baking Second Edition'. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New
Bloom, Carole. 'The
International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections'. Hearst
Books. New York: 1995.
Friberg, Bo. 'The Professional
Pastry Chef'. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York: 1996.
Greweling, Peter P. 'Chocolates
& Confections'. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York: 2007.
Rinsky, Glenn & Rinsky, Laura
Halpin. 'The Pastry Chef's Companion'. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken
New Jersey: 2009.
Rodgers, Rick. 'Christmas 101'.
William Morrow. New York: 2007.
Rombauer, Irma & Becker, Marion
Rombauer & Becker, Ethan. 'The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking'.
Scribner. New York: 1997.
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