This is my cookcabulary


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Candy category.

Candy Covered Pretzels

This year I opted for some more personal Christmas presents, and let’s be honest, more budget friendly.  Seeing as the only crafty thing I care to accomplish these days involves the kitchen – I knew I wanted to make and edible gift!

I headed off to JoAnn’s to find my inspiration. Lucky for me I started shopping weeks before Christmas and had found an overabundance of gifts to choose.  It all started with a rectangular tin.

Adorable right? And what was to go in this tin you might ask? Well, let me show you!

Oh yea! Now, I wont lie.  When I thought of the pretzel idea and saw this box, I was terrified! Look at how many different colors that Santa is made of! And he has pupils, PUPILS, people.

I saw the box, got scared, and ran away. But after circling the store about 4 times and not finding anything else – I realized this had to be it.  This was what I was going to buy and give as a gift – and it was going to be a challenge … but I was so ready. Bring it on little candy morsels, bring.it.on.

So I get home, unpack everything, and set-up shop.

Turns out the process isn’t as easy as the concept (I did have a reason to justify my early stages of terror!). Buuuuut, after several hours of beginning this adventure and experiencing intense back pain … I think I got the hang of it.

Basically you melt the candy discs (which are vanilla in flavor) in the piping bags in the microwave at 50% power for about 30 seconds and then 15 second increments, massaging the candy until its smooth.  You then cut the tip of the baggy and pipe away.

The tricky part was getting color where I wanted it. At first I just used one color, but then got more and more comfortable. You fill the molds half way (tapping the molds to release any air bubbles), insert the pretzel rod, and then fill the rest of the mold.

Sounds simple, but it took a lot of patience, time, and steady hand movement! Ha.

I ended up puting a white paper towel under the molds so as to be able to see all the little crevices – I have light countertops, but you may not have this issue.

Another kicker – you have to keep the candy warm! Otherwise the piping gets really hard to do – literally. As it cools it hardens, obviously.  I am pretty sure my microwave hated me this day – I was using it about ever 7 minutes I bet!

Once I started the little present molds, I fell in love! I don’t know what it was about that little mold, but piping in the ribbon became such an enjoyable challenge for me! Here is a view from the inside:

When you are done with your little molds, put them in the fridge to chill.  And let them hang out in there for a while.  They really need to set.  I pulled some out too early and two things happened: First – they fell apart, which is heart breaking, and secondly – the chocolate doesn’t dry to it full potential – shiny! If you don’t let them sit long enough they come out looking kind of … weird.

So after a few trial and errors, I got the hang of it and I was on my way to some fun home-made Christmas gifts!

I then sorted one of each style that I had made, along with an adorable mini gingerbread man cookie cutter, into the tins and voila!

The lefts overs I then put into cute little baggies, arranged in a vase – and had sitting out at our Christmas Party.

So there you have it – not so terrifying after all. :)

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone, I hope you all have a happy and blessed New Year!


A gluten free experiment

So the other weekend I had bought those cook books on sale right? And when I got home, one of the books had gluten-free recipes in the back, do you remember this? Well, I found a little recipe that I thought Sam would enjoy! Carmel Corn Flake bars.

This particular recipe called for GL Flour Mix.  Well it just so happens I was fresh out!

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But thanks to www.celiac.com I was able to log on and use their flour recipe.  You see, you can’t just substitute 2 cups regular flour for 2 cups brown rice flour, or whatever gluten-free flour you have. Sometimes its a combination of 4-6 types of flours, and sometimes it is just brown rice.  But it’s never an equal substitute of regular flour. And it’s always an experiment for me! You truly never know how it is going to turn out.  So, with this recipe, I thought I would give it a go.

Makes 12 – Pre heat oven to 375 F and proceed to line a shallow cake tin/dish/whatever you have on hand with baking parchment or wax paper.  (Allow paper to be wider than the tin so you can lift the finished product at the end).

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 6 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 cup cornflakes
  • option – confectioners’ sugar

We start by making the crust.  Melt butter in a pan, then remove from heat.  Combine sugar and flour in bowl and add beaten egg and melted butter and mix well.

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The mixture is not going to be like most traditional crusts you’ve made.  It’s more gritty and crumbly.  This recipe worked well in the fact that you didn’t have to add water until it was the appropriate consistency, so just follow the recipe and you’ll be fine.  When everything is combined, press firmly into your baking dish.

A hint I have: when using GF flour – thinner equals better. Which is REALLY hard for me.  I love nothing more than biting into something with crust, and the crust being thick and flaky and wonderfully butter-tasting.  But that is not the case with GF crust.  It cooks entirely different and the flavors are so unique, you really want to thin it out.  Otherwise it can come out cooked uneven and have the consistency of a yeast roll.  Which is just really awkward and disappointing. So – thin is in with the GF.

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Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown – and I like to hear a nice sizzle! :)

For the topping, heat syrup, condensed milk and butter over low heat for about 10-15 minutes.  Stir it occasionally and let it thicken up.  Be careful not to burn your milk! I have done this before and its AWFUL!  Keep the heat low and be verrry verrry patient.  Love your carmel sauce, work with it…

While that is heating, I took my cornflakes and smashed the crud out of them.  Ok, not really that much – but if you need to vent any built up frustration, this is a good point in the recipe for you.  I figured the corn flakes would go farther and feel better to bite into if they were smaller.  I didn’t smash them into super tiny pieces, I just squeezed and broke the flakes up a little bit.

When your sauce is ready, remove from heat and stir in the sour cream.  At this point your crust should be out of the oven, and you are ready to pour your sauce alllll over it!

My camera was not working with me on these steps (or I just didn’t know what I was doing.  Let’s be honest – I love photography, but my little Fuji Film just aint cuttin’ it!)

When you pour your sauce, sprinkle with the corn flakes and add the confectioners’ sugar if you so desire. And bada-boom – your done! Now, leave it to sit for a bit! Don’t go cutting into it right away.  That sauce needs to chill out.

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There we have it kiddo-s!

So, how did it taste you ask … a little “meh” for my liking…

I know! I’m disappointed! The cornflake and carmel-y sauce were an awesome combination, I really enjoyed the topping.  But both Sam and I agreed the crust was … too thick. Which is why I need to reiterate to make it thin.  Sometime i get excited and think I can make a nice thick GF crust, and I just cant.  Not with that recipe (from Celiac.com).  The GF Flour I used calls for a lot of brown rice flour and the rice was such a prevalent flavor that it was really all you could taste.  So, Sam and I just picked at the topping for a couple days; seeing as this baked good was not a treat to be brought into work!

But don’t you worry.  I made a pumpkin pie for Sam, for his work pie pitch in – with a GF crust – and it was amazing.  The crust was awesome. But that blog will be tomorrow. It’s my time to decompress, watch So You Think You Can Dance on my DVR, and cuddle with my man, Kimoni. Ha.

<3 

 


Showers and Meatballs

Hello friends! Sam started school this week (hes getting his MBA), and I can tell it’s going to be a long 18 months. Ugh. It will totally be worth it in the end, but I can’t help but feel for the guy.  I will just have to up my cooking and baking and dedicate more time to blogging! Ha.

So, as you know, last weekend I made doughnuts for Katy’s shower. Two of the other bridesmaids offered to help, as well as Katy’s mom. So we had a lot of food! But I felt like we needed something savory to go with all the sweet treats and sides we were having.  After brainstorming with my co-workers, we came up with meatballs – perfect! So all day Friday I researched meatball and BBQ sauce recipes.  I learned making meatballs was pretty simple, but making sauce was a little more difficult.  The more I looked for a recipe, the more I realized that BBQ sauce can be sweet, tangy, southern and all sorts of other variations! So, instead of trying to figure out the difference between all of them, I just got a recipe from that Food Network show, Cooking With The Neely’s. Which by the way is a really awkward show to watch.  It’s a married couple and all they do is make out.  The host refers to herself as the spice fairy in some episodes. Just cook people.  Anyway, heres a quick recipe for the meatballs.

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dried oats
  • Half of an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Some ground black pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl (if you use your hands, make sure the meat is room temperature – or your fingers will certainly freeze right off! Brr!) After everything is mixed together, I used my brand new ice cream scoop to form the beautful balls of meat.  Sam told me the portions were too big – I totally disagreed.

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 After you have them laid out on a baking sheet, toss them in the freezer for a few minutes. I then gathered some flour to dredge them with and got a pan screaming hot with some EVOO.  When that’s already, get the suckers out of the freezer and coat them (dredge) in the flour and place them in the pan.  The intent is not to cook them through here, although you certainly can – but I opted to cook them for a few hours in a crock pot with my BBQ sauce.  So, I just browned them – a few minutes each side.

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Once they were browned I took them straight from the pan and put them in my crock pot.

Then came the bbq sauce.  Ok, so this is the recipe I started with:

  •  2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar (I used dark)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (i just started with half a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

So I put all that in a little sauce pot and brought it to a boil – tasted it, and hated it.  It was sooo tangy! I couldn’t tell if I just didn’t like it or if I did something wrong – so I had Sam taste it.  He actually said it wasnt that bad, but I really really didn’t like the taste, it was almost too ketchup-y too. So, the first thought was that I needed to add more sweet … so I dumped about 1-2 tablespoons of honey in it.  I also added another tablespoon or two of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce that I had in the fridge.  I totally thought that would do the trick – but it didn’t.  I tasted it again and it was still tangy.  So then what did I do? What I always do at this point – called my mom! I immediately called her and told my situation, but I kept telling her it was too ketchup-y.  She then told me to add more apple cider vinegar, but only half of what the recipe called for – and when I did that and tested it again, I realized it was the vinegar I didn’t like.  Ha, mom was like – well then we shouldn’t have added MORE vinegar. Oops, my bad. Got my flavors confused.  I read what else the recipe called for to her and she told me to add more sweet.  So when we got off the phone, I added more brown sugar, more onion powder, and a quick squeeze of prepared mustard, and the other half of the lemon.  I gave it a few minutes and when I tasted it – it seemed to be getting better.  At this point I thought I should stop tormenting myself and give the sauce time to thicken and blend the flavors together …. so I dumped it in the crock pot – praying the two hours it had to simmer would be enough time to marry all the ingredients.  I then remembered I was combining this with MEATballs – and when I envisioned the flavor of the sauce on the meatballs, I felt a little bit better.  The sweet sauce and savory meat were starting to sound good. So, I left the crock pot on the counter and told it to works it magic.

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Marinade away my friends!!

And guess what – 2 hours later, I actually LIKED the sauce! And so did my guests, one guest even asked for the recipe! Yay. That’s always so flattering! By making this sauce, I learned that you really need to know what flavor of BBQ sauce you are going for – smokey, sweet, or tangy.  Then I would recommend just doing what I did. Find something basic and then add more of the flavors you enjoy to create the perfect blend for your palette! And have fun with it!

Before everyone came, I snapped a few shots of the doughnuts and meatballs all spread out and ready to be devoured.

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And dont worry – the shower was a success as well!

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Next weekend we’ve got Katy’s bachelorette party and Stephanie baby shower – so I doubt I will be making anything this weekend.

And on that note – whatever I make for Katy’s party may be X-rated.  I am warning you now … ha. What’s a bachelorette party without racy cookies – boring! So, I am just preparing you now. (Really, I am just preparing my mom since she reads this. :p ) I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do – but it’s sure to be fun and memorable!

Lex out.