Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Microwave Hard Candy

I found this recipe several years ago when I purchased some oil flavoring for candy making. This is SUCH an easy recipe. Three ingredients, a microwave, and about 8 minutes plus cooling time. That's it! My kids are begging to make more tomorrow.

1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 dram (1/2 tsp) flavoring oil (or as desired)

Food color - optional
Powdered sugar - optional

Thoroughly mix sugar and corn syrup in a 4 cup microwave safe glass bowl or measuring cup.

Cover with plastic wrap.

Microwave on high for 3.10 minutes. Remove from microwave and carefully remove plastic wrap.
Quickly stir the sugar mixture and then cover with a NEW sheet of plastic wrap.

Microwave on high for 3.10 minutes. Remove from microwave and carefully remove plastic wrap and stir. (Use caution to avoid rising steam).
Stir in coloring and then flavoring.

Pour syrup quickly, but carefully, into lightly oiled lolipop molds, onto greased cookie sheet, or a cookie sheet covered with a layer of powdered sugar.

Just before candy has completely cooled, score or use large knife and cutting board to cut the candy into squares. OR wait until it has thoroughly cooled, and then simply break it into bite sized pieces.

Let candy cool until hardened. Do not put in refrigerator.

Dusting with powdered sugar keeps it from sticking.
Store in airtight container.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Easy Fudge

As a kid, I was involved with a summer home economics entrepreneurial  program.  We made foods, and then tried to sell them. As we tried to brainstorm about what to make, one of the kids in our group suggested fudge.  I thought it was a marvelous idea - who doesn't love chocolate or fudge?  We stirred it and stirred it until the gloss lost it's luster, and set it out on paper plates for sale.

The whole class set up in front of the local KMART on a very hot summer morning.  Shortly thereafter, our fudge began to melt. I don't think we made a dime.  The kids next to us with the lame snow cone machine made a fortune though!

The moral of the story is that I've been afraid of fudge ever since.  No matter how easy people tell me it is, it never seems to be.

Things have finally changed.  This week I bought marshmallows (the cheap generic kind because they were on sale) to make rice krispy treats for my kid's class.  On the back of the marshmallow package, I found a recipe for 'Easy Fudge'.  So I figured I'd give it a try (I seem to try a new recipe at least once a year and am always disappointed) and enlisted my daughter's help.  It turned out great!

Hallelujah!  I've finally found a great fudge recipe that IS easy, and turns out great.  Thank heavens for recipes on generic marshmallow bags!

Here it is for any fudge challenged people out there (and my future posterity)

2 T. Butter
2/3 c. evaporated milk (5.33 oz)
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt (if using salted butter, I only add a couple of dashes of salt)
2 1/2 c. miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chipes
1 c. chopped walnuts, or nuts
1 t. vanilla

Combine butter, milk, sugar and salt in medium saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat.

Boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring.
Remove from heat; stir in marshmallows, chocolate chips, nuts and vanilla.

Stir vigorously until chocolate chips and marshmallows are melted.

Pour into foil lined or buttered 8" square baking pan.
Sprinkle with additional nuts if desired.

Chill until firm.

Makes approx. 2 lbs

Monday, December 20, 2010

Butter Spritz Cookies

Many years ago, someone gave us a spritz cookie press.  We tried it out, but it was a dismal failure, and got stored away in the cupboard for a future try.

For that fateful first attempt, I used the recipe that came with the cookie press...I hoped to eventually find a recipe that would work at that we liked.  Fast forward to today - we finally found it!   

Today, my kids and I spent the afternoon playing with the cookie press using the following recipe from Paula Deane courtesy of Food Network.  

So cute - even without all the sugar and chocolate drizzles
Prior to making these, we spent some time on youtube watching different videos on how to make spritz cookies.  One of the most important things we picked up was that the first few will most likely always be globs...just keep going, they'll get better, and the dough can be recycled.  We also learned that the best way to decorate them is prior to baking them, rather than afterwards.  My kids went kind of crazy with the colored sugar - but then, that's what it is all about anyways.  I followed up with some white and then mint chocolate drizzles after they had baked and cooled.
This recipe turns out melt in your mouth yummy, and will be added to our traditional Christmas cookies list.  We had to triple the recipe to have enough to share with our neighbors and friends.

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • Sprinkles for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the sugar and the butter. Mix until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extractsand mix to incorporate. Sift together the baking powder and the flour. Add the flour mixture. Mix until combined. Using a cookie press, press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets. Top with the sprinkles of your choice. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until firm, but not yet browning.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Trinidadian "Doubles"

My husband had the opportunity to work as a missionary for our church on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago several years ago. There, he fell in love with a street vendor dish titled "Doubles". A couple of years ago we went back to visit and he introduced me to this awesome dish. I woke up this morning craving them, and thanks to the mighty internet, was able to find a great recipe for them, which I slightly modified according to my taste.  Thanks to for this great recipe.

These are called "doubles" because they are eaten almost like a hamburger or sandwich, with two slices on the outside. They are filled with channa - a chick pea/garbanzo bean reduction, and topped off with a chutney.

Barra (the bread) Recipe
4 c. flour
2 t. saffron powder
1 t. ground cumin (roasted is better)
1 T. yeast
1/2 t. sugar
1.5 t. salt

Oil for frying

Place 1 c. lukewarm water in a small bowl, and add sugar and yeast. Allow to proof until twice it's size.

Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl.
Add yeast mixture and 1 1/4 c. water to flour mixture. Mix into a slightly firm dough. Try to handle the dough as little as possible. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

Form dough into 36 small balls, and let rise for another 10-15 minutes.

Pat a ball of the barra dough into a flattened 4 inch circle with both hands. (If dough sticks to hands, moisten hands with water)

Fry immediately after shaping in hot oil, turning once. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool to room temperature.

Channa (Chick Peas or Garbanzo Beans) Recipe
1 (16 oz) can chick peas or garbanzo beans. Drained and thoroughly rinsed.
1 t. ground coriander
1 T. ground cumin - roasted
2 T. oil
1 small onion - diced
4 garlic cloves - diced
2 T. chives - diced
1/2 t. turmeric powder
1/2 t. salt (to taste)
1/2 t. pepper (to taste)

Heat oil in large pan, add onions and saute over medium heat until the onion begins to carmelize.

Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Add enough water to cover beans by 1 1/2 inches, then boil until very soft. Water may need to be added during this process. Some liquid must be left in pot when beans have finished cooking.

Mango - Cucumber Chutney Recipe
1 ripe mango - peeled and diced
1 large cucumber - peeled, and 3/4ths of it diced
1 T. cilantro - diced
1 T. chives - diced
1 habanero pepper (optional)
4 garlic cloves - diced
2 T. fresh key lime juice
1/2 t. salt - to taste
1/2 t. pepper - to taste
1/2 - 1 t. cumin - to taste
2 t. brown sugar

Mix mango and cucumbers together. Shred the remaining 1/4 cucumber and add to the mixture to add moisture to the chutney.
Add garlic, cilantro and chives, and habanero - adjusting the quantity of the habanero according to taste.

Add lime juice, salt and pepper, and cumin.

Allow to sit 15-20 minutes prior to serving so that the juices begin to run and combine.

To assemble, place a small amount of channa on top of a barra and then add any type of chutney desired.  Top with an additional barra.
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