|Marshmallows (with tie) and Caramels |
packaged up for my niece & nephew.
Friends and family aren't complaining, though, because after my husband and I eat a couple/few pieces of my experiments, I package up the rest and mail 'em out. With the summer approaching, I'm going to have to take a break, and only do this when I have a special occasion to cook for, but it has been a blast - all two weekends of it.
It started out innocently enough. Several weeks ago, I stumbled across a book on Amazon and wishlisted it: Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar. When I have a chance to get myself a small treat, it's usually a book, so a wishlist is a great way to see what I want (in case I forgot) and what's on sale, etc.. So, when I had the opportunity to pick out a new book, this was it.
|My first caramels, using Hungry Girl's recipe.|
My attempts to procure a candy thermometer could almost earn their own blog post! In just a little over a week, I have owned four thermometers, three before the Sugar Baby book arrived and I just followed her recommendations and got a classic Taylor Thermometer (around $10 at my "local" grocery (local is relative in the country)). The first one broke in the utensil cup of my counter-top drain rack before it could be used once. The second one, although found with the caramel apple-making supplies at a concession-supply store,** was really for meat and the temperature did not go nearly high enough. Number three would go high enough, but was digital and I got it wet somehow when I rinsed off the probe (should have just wiped it down, yes?). It's what I used for the first attempt, but it was a little glitchy.
It turns out that we own pretty decent pans for candy-making: heavy-bottomed stainless steel. I didn't think I could get the Demerara sugar called for in Hungry Girl's recipe (turns out I didn't look closely enough), so I used Turbinado sugar and dark corn syrup instead. Despite have a glitchy thermometer, I actually managed to get my first batch of caramels done on the first try! They were the perfect (to me) consistency/texture, and the flavor was deep and rich. We had a couple pieces each, and the rest went to family & friends. (I posted a message on Facebook, offering up caramels to anyone that wanted them (in the US -- I wasn't sure about mailing them internationally.) The folks that chimed in got a package of sweets in the mail.) They were pronounced "yummy," and it was good.
Then, the book arrived. Being a
|One batch of Marshmallows. I actually got|
a plate dirty to take the picture.
|Fleur de Sel Caramels, poured and salted. (Next time, |
I'll measure the salt for the top!)
|Cutting the caramels. (That's a pizza cutter, not a machete.)|
They hardened up pretty quickly and that, along with the
butter, kept the pieces from sticking until wrapping.
It became immediately clear that I had to get most of those caramels out of my house! I went through a rough patch recently, and several people helped cheer me up by sending surprises in the mail (and email - knitting patterns are a great pick-me-up!), so I made cute little bags out of gift wrap and put together little "Thank You" packages for several of them. A few people commented on the pictures on Facebook again, so some packages went to those folks as well.
PS: There's a companion blog for the cookbook, with extra photos, video tutorials, etc.: SugarBaby Cookbook.
*As fun and cute as they are, I don't count melting those candy discs and pouring them into molds as making candy. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not knocking it, and my collection of molds is staying put -- but it's a different thing altogether.
**I need to write about that. Fun times!