Friday, December 21, 2012

Sponge Toffee Candy

This recipe is for a special childhood treat that is like the inside of a Cadbury's Crunchie candy bar. [I wonder if those only sold in Canada?] It is light as air and tinged with honey flavor. Dipped in chocolate or plain, this was yummy as well as fun to make. Words of caution: Make sure you are strong enough to lift the pot and its contents. I used a heavy dutch oven to make this and when it came time to dump it into the pan, I found myself struggling with the pot - filled with scorching hot sugar - because it was so heavy. Thankfully, I manoevered it without any injury, but next time I would definitely use a second pair of hands to help with this step.

Sponge Toffee Candy or Seafoam Candy1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda, finely sifted
chocolate, for coating (optional)

1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey, and water, and using a wooden spoon, stir constantly over low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.

2. Put candy thermometer into the mixture to monitor temperature, increase the heat and boil mixture to exactly 270 degrees F (132C).

3. Reduce heat to as low as possible and maintain the temperature 270F for exactly 15 minutes.

4. It is very important that the temperature of the mixture does not fluctuate; if the temperature begins to rise, remove the pan from heat occasionally to reduce the heat.

5. After the temperature has been maintained for 15 minutes, remove the pan from heat, take out the thermometer, and allow the bubbles to subside.

6. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in finely sifted baking soda.

7. Immediately and quickly pour the mixture into a large oiled baking dish.

8. (Please note, important: the pouring step requires strength and you'll be handling extremely hot liquids; if you're not strong and agile enough you might want to leave that step to a strong and able assistant.) When candy has completely cooled, remove from pan and break into pieces and dip into chocolate if desired.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Maple Walnut Bars

I am officially a married woman as of December 1, 2012!!! The wedding went beautifully and it was everything I had ever wanted in a wedding. Despite it being in December and having the forecast say 90% chance of rain, the clouds parted and the sun shone through just in time for our photos and our ceremony.

Now that the stress of wedding preparations is behind us, I will have more time to devote back to my dear little baking blog. I've missed baking all these months and hope to dive right back in for the holiday season!

These bars are a cousin of pecan pie. They start out with a shortbread crust then are topped with a similar filling but instead of pecans you use walnuts and instead of corn syrup, you use maple syrup! They are perfect for potlucks, bake sales or just for eating.

Maple Walnut Bars
Makes 9" square pan

1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Make the crust: Whisk together 1-1/2 cups flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar; then cut in softened butter. Using a standing mixer, or a fork if you're working by hand, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal, dry and crumbly. Press mixture into the bottom of a greased 8- or 9-inch square pan. Bake 15 minutes.

3. To make the topping, combine 3/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup brown sugar, beaten egg, melted butter, cream, vanilla, 1 tablespoon flour, and salt. Beat well; then stir in nuts. Pour batter carefully over half-baked crust.

4. Return crust and topping to the oven. Bake until set, about 35 minutes. Cut into small bars and remove from pan to cool.