Sea salt penuche taffy

Apparently 3 is not the magic number, or this would be a picture of penuche fudge instead of penuche taffy.

Until this failed to set, I had high hopes that I had finally achieved penuche fudge, which as I mentioned yesterday, is a childhood dream of mine. Alas I did not achieve fudge, but I did achieve something, and it has the faint taste of penuche, like a dream gone past recall. I am so close!

I wonder if this is how my sister Chocoholic used to feel.  For years when she made fudge it never set, it just slowly slid to one end of the pan. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious, but there is something annoying and humbling about being unable to make fudge.

I followed the traditional penuche recipe from Old Tyme Fudge. I’m going to try it again today.

I read a lot of online candy recipes, and often find comments that say, “This recipe sucks, I followed it exactly and it didn’t work”.  That’s a pretty conceited way to look at it. If it doesn’t work, the problem must be the recipe? It can’t be your ingredients? Or your equipment? Or your lack of technique?

I used to do tech support, I’m okay with admitting the recipe is fine and the problem is the user. If you try 3 different recipes of the same thing and it doesn’t work, the only common denominator is you.

Notice how it’s still pretty glossy? I suspect that is the problem. It’s stretchy, and when you take a bite it retains a perfect imprint of your teeth, so I think the problem is that I didn’t beat it enough after it cooled. (I was conservative during beating because I didn’t want another rock-hard lump of penuche.)

And yet…

… it wasn’t a total loss. Look at that gorgeous colour!  It mostly held its shape. Boyfriend carefully sliced each piece for me. (Okay, I couldn’t slice this, I tried. After jumping up and down leaning on the knife and not getting anywhere, he rescued me.)

I tasted one, and it was good. I added a little sea salt and wow. Even though this isn’t the final result that I wanted, I liked this a lot, but I’m not sure I could make this again even if I tried.

I’ve read that beating fudge by hand takes around 10 minutes and I had no interest in making my arms sore, so I used my KitchenAid and beat it for 1 minute (20 seconds on Low, 40 seconds on Med-High.) It was so thick I stopped. If you are interested in recreating this penuche pseudo-taffy, instead of making actual fudge, follow the recipe above and under-beat. I have no idea if you’ll get the same results so good luck!

Cookies ‘n cream fudge

Creamy and smooth, and one of my personal favourites, I have not tasted cookies ‘n cream fudge in over a year. Imagine! I decided to make my own. But can you make fudge successfully when you can’t find one of the main ingredients?

Oh, I guess you can. I suppose that would be more of a cliff-hanger question if I didn’t follow up with the picture of the finished product. Oh fudge! (Hah!) This recipe comes from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is on Amazon.com. Am really digging this book so far.

Good to know before you start:

The recipe calls for “marshmallow crème” and “Nestlé white morsels”, whatever that is. I couldn’t find it.

After unsuccessfully scoping both the baking aisle and the junk aisle at the store, I called my mother, who consulted her neighbour, and they determined marshmallow crème is marshmallow fluff, and I should find it with the pre-made chocolate sauces for ice cream. (Thanks Mom!)

I couldn’t find a 7 oz jar of fluff, but I did find a 7.5 oz jar, and I emptied the entire jar except for about two spoonfuls. Not sure how to measure ounces.

I used white chocolate baking squares instead of Nestlé morsels.

I used 12 double-stuffed Oreo cookies.

I did not use the jar of Oreo crumbs in the background.

Time required: 2 hrs

Yields: 48 pieces

Cost per piece: $1.60

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $30.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • food processor
  • baking pan 9″ x 9″
  • tinfoil

Ingredients:

  • 3 C granulated white sugar
  • ¾ C butter (1 and a half sticks)
  • ⅔ C evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces white chocolate (12 squares)
  • 7 oz marshmallow fluff
  •  ½ C finely pulsed Oreos (4 cookies)
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 C quartered Oreos, chop them loosely (8 cookies)

Instructions:

1. Line baking pan with foil, and set aside the following ingredients for later:

  • pulse four Oreos into fine crumbs using a food processor (use the entire cookie plus filling, not just the wafer)
  • chop eight Oreos into rough quarters using a sharp knife
  • use sharp knife to quarter each square of white chocolate

Double-stuffed cookies are messy to chop, but the pieces are not supposed to look even, so that was fine. Interesting fact: when you pulse Oreos the filling becomes invisible. Why? Who knows!

2. Combine in a large sauce pan on medium heat: sugar, butter, and evaporated milk. Heat to a rolling boil while stirring constantly. Continue to boil and stir for 3 min, then remove from heat.

See those dark flecks? That is burnt sugar from the bottom which happened because I don’t have a heavy-bottomed pan. :/

3. Immediately stir in: white chocolate, marshmallow fluff, vanilla, and crushed Oreos.

I waited until the white chocolate and fluff had been combined before adding the crumbs.

Ooh it’s starting to get exciting! Well, you might not agree, but I was pretty excited.

4. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Are you feeling proud because the surface is so smooth after you fussed endlessly over it? Waste of time, it’s going to become lumpy in the next step.

I actually don’t have a 9″ x 9″ pan, this is 8″ x 8″ so it will be a bit higher than it should be.

5. Sprinkle the chopped Oreos on the top, and use a butter knife to lightly swirl the cookie pieces into the fudge. You are not trying to hide the pieces entirely, just poke them down a bit, parts should stick up.

6. Chill at least 1 hour before slicing.  See how parts stick out? Neat-o.

Sorry about the lighting here, it’s dark out now.

Verdict: Creamy! Stupendous!

After I took the final picture I approached Boyfriend.

“It’s done! Want a piece? I cut them big for the photo shoot, we could split a piece.”

“Geez! How about we have dinner first? That’s huge. I’ve never turned down fudge before but…  that’s huge!!”

Humph.

Won’t try my fudge, will you??

That just won’t do.

I took the pieces back into the kitchen and carved them smaller, then we sampled, and both agreed they were delicious. Making Oreo fudge was a lot easier than I anticipated and it turned out perfectly.

Next time I might skip the double-stuffed and just use regular Oreos.

What is your favourite type of fudge?

Playlist: screaming Brazilian fans (Boyfriend is watching UFC, ugh)

Candied bacon

Are you trying to win an argument, or earn forgiveness? Perhaps somebody in your life had a bad day? Do you ever just look at a situation and think, “I wish people would just smile.”?  I have two suggestions for you.

Make candied bacon. All sorrows will be forgotten.

Make chocolate-covered bacon. You will be elevated from mere mortal to goddess.

Tonight I made brown sugar candied bacon, maple syrup candied bacon, and chocolate-covered bacon. I did this heinous thing because Boyfriend had a bad morning, and I wanted to put a smile on his face. Oh, did I ever!

Before I got to work on this, I consulted my bacon guru M, who introduced me to Epic Meal Time, and loves all thing bacon. (Actually M coached me through cooking my first tray of bacon.) After listening to his sage advice on the questionable art of candying bacon, I got started.

Time required: 1 hr

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $18.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • large cookie tray
  • tin foil
  • cooling rack
  • basting brush

Ingredients:

  • package of bacon
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 4-6 TBSP dark brown sugar
  • 1 square semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 177°C / 350°F. Line the baking sheet with tin foil, and place the cooling rack on top of the sheet.

2. Place the bacon onto the rack and don’t let the pieces touch.  Pictured above the tray are dishes of brown sugar, chocolate, and pure Nova Scotia maple syrup.

3. I used a large spoon to sprinkle sugar onto the first two strips, and pressed down with the spoon to get it flat.  The middle strip is plain, because it’s getting coated in chocolate later.  The two strips on the right have been basted on both sides with maple syrup, although you can’t tell.

4. I baked it in 6 stages:

  • 8 minutes, flip and reapply sugar and syrup
  • 8 minutes, flip and reapply
  • 5 minutes, flip and reapply
  • 5 minutes, just flip
  • 5 minutes, just flip
  • 5 minutes, just flip
  • after 36 minutes you’re done, remove from oven
  • blot both sides of the plain pieces (but not the others), and let all the pieces sit to cool

If you were thinking of skipping using tinfoil, don’t. By this point the caramelized sugar started smoking. I wasn’t positive that it had cooked long enough but after letting it sit for a few minutes it felt very crisp.

5. Once the bacon has cooled, melt the chocolate and use a spoon to coat one side of the plain strip. Let it sit for  awhile before picking it up by the edges to flip, and coat the other side. I re-heated the chocolate so it would be easy to work with.

My plan was to use milk chocolate, but it seized. Boyfriend requested bittersweet chocolate but we are out, so he got semi-sweet instead.

6. After coating the second side, let it firm up. Once it’s as hardened it’s ready.  I let it sit around 30 minutes so it was still a bit soft. If you want more of a candy bar feeling I imagine you’ll need to let it sit a lot longer.

Verdict: I made this for Boyfriend because his morning got off to a bad start and he was in a foul mood for most of the day – until he walked in the door. Once he saw what I was making, I had to beat him off with a spoon.

First we tasted the brown sugar pieces. Boyfriend said, “Hmm. It’s good… it’s pleasant…it’s nice. Not too crunchy, but not chewy. I don’t know if I can describe it.”

Next we tried the maple syrup pieces, which tasted just like regular bacon, albeit more maple flavoured.

We finished with the chocolate, which I thought was vile, but as soon as he took a bite, Boyfriend said, “Oh yeah! Oh yum! We have a winner!”

Once his raging taste buds calmed down, Boyfriend said , “I really liked the brown sugar but – actually no, I’m going to say the chocolate is my favourite.”

I thought the chocolate-covered bacon had a strange texture, and a smokey after taste, which was not present in the other pieces. Not being a bacon fan, I did find the brown sugar pieces tolerable, and kind of interesting to eat.

Playlist: Bambi – Little April Showers

Chocolate caramels

Last night I ventured into bold new territory: the art of candy making.  Chocolate caramels dusted with coarse sea salt are probably not the best breakfast, but this is from the girl who used to eat brown sugar for breakfast so really, what did you expect?

I adapted this recipe from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is on Amazon.com. My last few attempts to make caramel failed miserably, so let’s see how this goes.

Good to know before you start: Caramel can be a dangerous item to make. You must heat sugar to a very high temperature and hot sugar is like napalm, it will burn you terribly.

Before you begin, fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes, and in the event of a burn, immediately submerge the injured arm into the cold water.

Minimize the risk of burns by wearing a heavy long-sleeved shirt, use long oven mitts, and do not put your face near the pot. Be aware that caramel will bubble up like lava once liquid is added, use a deep pot and a long-handled spoon to stir. Stir slowly, avoid splashing.

You need at least 45 minutes in the kitchen uninterrupted.  You cannot walk away from the stove, so pre-measure your ingredients and only start caramel when you have the time to do it, don’t try to rush it or you’ll be sorry.

The original recipe uses two packets (each 1 oz) of Nestlé Toll House CHOCO BAKE pre-melted unsweetened chocolate flavour. I have no idea what that is, and I substituted with cocoa powder and two extra tablespoons of butter.  If using the Choco Bake stuff you only need 1 C of butter.

Time required: 1 hr, plus over night to set

Yields: about 28 pieces

Cost per piece: $1.21

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $34.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • candy thermometer
  • baking pan 8″ x 8″ and one larger one
  • tin foil
  • plastic wrap
  • mini muffin cups
  • ice cubes

Ingredients:

  • 18 TBSP unsalted butter (2 sticks + 2 TBSP), melted
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C corn syrup
  • 414 mL sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 TBSP cocoa
  • 1 TSP pure vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt

Instructions:

1. Line baking pan with foil and grease.

2. Measure out condensed milk and cocoa, set aside.

3. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add: butter, white and brown sugars, and corn syrup. Cook over Medium heat, stirring constantly.

Mix it all up…

4. Once mixture is boiling, add cocoa powder and condensed milk. Reduce heat to Medium-Low and stir often (almost constantly).

The goal is to obtain a temperature of 118°C / 245°F which should take at least half an hour. Once it’s been bubbling that long, check with a candy thermometer, which is soft ball stage.

Stirring in the cocoa took awhile, it kept floating up and not blending. After 5 min or so it started to look like this:

5. As soon as you reach correct temperature, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

6. Immediately pour into prepared pan, be very careful not to splash yourself.

(In the back is my candy thermometer sitting on the big spoon thing.)

Place dish into cold water bath, this will lower the temperature so the caramel does not keep cooking into the hard ball stage.

7. After the water is no longer cold, remove from water and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it on the counter overnight to set.

It’s easier to handle if you use plastic wrap instead of your bare hands. Cut with a sharp knife.

8. Set into muffin cups, and sprinkle with salt.

Verdict: These were good. Eventually I want to progress to making real caramel without corn syrup but this is a good start. The last few times I’ve attempted real caramel with just sugar and cream and vanilla it was a disaster but this turned out very well.

I tried one without salt, way too sweet though.

Playlist: Jem & the Holograms soundtrack