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FOOD FUN: Blooming Marshmallows For Your Hot Chocolate

First there was blooming tea: a specially tied bundle of tea leaves and flower petals that opens into a flower when placed in hot water.

Now, there’s the blooming marshmallow, from innovative pastry chef Dominique Ansel.

Blossoming Hot Chocolate—more accurately, blossoming marshmallow—is a thin marshmallow, cut like a flower, and bunched up to resemble a closed flower bud. Some dabs of white chocolate keep the bud closed.

When placed in a cup of hot chocolate, the chocolate melts and the bud expands into the flower.

Check out the videos from Ansel, then the fan recipes (we like the poinsettia the best), in the videos below.

Make plain versions (all white or tinted pink marshmallow) before you try more elaborate colorations.

TIP: Ansel added a small chocolate truffle to the center of the flower. The flower itself is anchored in chocolate. We think that’s a lot of chocolate!

Instead, we’d use a small pecan cookie ball (a pecan sandy), a ball of cookie dough, a piece of caramel hand-rolled into a ball, or a small hard candy ball (as in the photo at right).

 

Blooming Marshmallows

Drop the “bud” into hot chocolate and watch the “flower” open (photo courtesy Dominique Ansel).

 

WATCH THE MARSHMALLOW “BLOOM”

THE RECIPE

PIPE BEAUTIFUL SNOWFLAKE MARSHMALLOWS

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Red Licorice For Chocolate-Covered Anything Day

Christmas Twizzlers

Chocolate Covered Licorice

Christmas Candy Cake

[1] These Christmas Twizzlers are available at Target and elsewhere (photo courtesy Candy Warehouse). [2] You can buy the artisan version from confectioners. These are sold on Etsy by Nicole’s Treats. [3] Wowsa: a kid’s fantasy Christmas Cake from Cake Whiz. Underneath: a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

 

December 16th is Chocolate-Covered Anything Day.

We love chocolate-covered apples-on-a-stick, bacon strips, berries, citrus peel, cookies, dried fruit (apricots and figs are our favorites [sorry, raisins]), graham crackers, gummies, ice cream pops, maraschino cherries, marshmallows, nuts, orange segments, popcorn, pretzels and potato chips. You can buy them or make them.

What we haven’t tried:

Chocolate-covered baby octopus, calamari, carrots, insects, Cheetos, corn dogs, edamame, garlic, jalapeños, jerky, kimchi and seaweed (from Korea), mashed potatoes (a Paula Deen recipe), onions, pickles, roses (real roses on their stems!), Slim Jims and wasabi peas.

One source even recommended dipping these latter items in chocolate fondue!

So today’s proposal, chocolate-covered licorice, should not sound far out. For licorice lovers, it’s quite a tasty variation.

While it’s the week before Christmas and we propose a red-and-green theme, you can use this easy recipe for any holiday where the licorice stick colors work (black, brown, green, orange, purple, red, yellow-green, etc. (Check out the colors at Candy Warehouse.)
 
CHOCOLATE-COVERED CHRISTMAS LICORICE

Twizzlers makes red, green and white twist (photo #1), which you can find at Target, Candy Warehouse and elsewhere.
 
RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COVERED LICORICE
(OR OTHER CONFECTION)

Ingredients

  • Red licorice sticks (soft, not stale)
  • White chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate bar
  • Green food color
  • Optional: red and green sprinkles, confetti or other decorations (we had gold and white dragées at hand)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the licorice sticks in half. You can skip this step, but the half-sticks are easier to eat, and more size-appropriate when covered in chocolate.

    2. MELT the white chocolate in the microwave. We used a pie plate, which makes it easy to dip the licorice.

    3. TINT the white chocolate green. If you like, you can keep some of the batch white for drizzling over the green chocolate.

    4. DIP the licorice and set on wax paper to dry.

     
    TIP #1: We used sugar tongs. Ours have a serrated gripping edge.

    TIP #2: If you plan to store the licorice for a few days or longer, cut the wax paper in sizes that fit into the container. Then, just lift the wax paper and pop the sheet(s) into the storage container.

    5. DRIZZLE the optional white chocolate or add the sprinkles promptly, before the chocolate sets. If not using the same day…

    6. STORE in an airtight containe. We used our Le Creuset red rectangular baking dish, which makes a beautiful presentation; but you can use any baking pan and plastic wrap. Store at room temperature.
     
    WHY IS LICORICE PRONOUNCED LICORISH?

    The Scots pronounce it “licoriss,” from the Old French “licoresse.” In England and the U.S., it is “licorish.” Here are two theories as to why:

  • The phoneme may have shifted from /s/ to /sh/, as happened with the words “pressure” and “sugar.”
  • A 1685 spelling of “licorish” in England leads to speculation is that this pronunciation originated in a regional dialect of English, which changed many final “s” sounds to “sh.”
  •  
    The history of licorice.

     
      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Swedish Gummy Horse Stocking Stuffers

    Gummy Horses

    Swedish Gummy Horses

    Dala Painted Horse

    [1] and [2] Swedish Gummy Horses, the best thing since Swedish fish (photos courtesy Candy People). [3] The painted wood horse that inspired the gummies (photo courtesy Scandinavian Butik).

     

    We love gummy candy. Our entire family does.

    That’s why it’s so easy to give them what they really want: different types of gummies, which, we might add, are pretty inexpensive.

    We found these luscious Dala Horse gummies at Ikea (in the store, but not online). We just put in a big order for more.

    The Dala Horse is inspired by the famed Swedish folk art, Dalahäst (Dala horse), a painted wood horse that originated in the early 1800s in the Dalarna Province of Central Sweden. They are still handmade there.

    At the time, the toy horses crafted in Dala began to be decorated with bright colors and painted flowers. The flower patterned saddle design derived from a Biblical story in which Jonah sat outside the city of Ninevah; the Lord caused a kurbit, or gourd vine, to grow up beside him to protect him from the desert sun.

    The Dala Horse gained worldwide recognition at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, where a giant version welcomed visitors outside the Swedish Pavilion. The following year, 20,000 Dala horses were produced for shipment to New York.

    BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CANDY?

    Dala Horse gummy candy is imported from Sweden. We like them even more than Swedish Fish.

    In fact, we can’t get enough of the gummy equines. They’re:

  • Pineapple, citrus, and raspberry, in natural colors and flavors.
  • Gluten free, gelatin free, GMO free, HFCS free.
  • Sold in 5.3 ounce bags.
  • Great stocking stuffers: 3 bags are $13.95, 6 bags are $23.95.
  •  
    But we went whole hog (actually, whole horse) and bought the 15-pack for $49.95, $3.33 a bag.

    In addition to holiday tips, we’ll be gifting everyone gummy horses, with a bow tied through the opening at the top.

    Dala Horses are sold at all Ikea and World Market stores (in-store only) and online at Amazon.com (links above).
     
     
    MORE GUMMIES

    Check out the Chocolate Covered Gummy Bears and Worms from Baron Chocolatier. Heaven!

     

     
      

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    RECIPE: Peanut Butter Fudge

    Peanut Butter Fudge

    Three-ingredient peanut butter fudge (photo courtesy Justin’s).

     

    November 20th is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day.

    An American confection, fudge was a happy accent in the 1880s, created by a woman trying to make caramels.

    Read the history of fudge and you’ll see that it wasn’t so easy to re-create the accident.

    Over time, however, recipes and techniques were perfected. The original recipe(s) used cream and butter. Today, everything from sweetened condensed milk to non-dairy milks are used.

    You need just three ingredients to make this peanut butter fudge from Justin’s, the artisan specialist in nut butters.

    RECIPE: PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (substitute cream)
  • 3/4 cup honey peanut butter (substitute the PB you have)
  • Optional mix-ins: chocolate chips, honey-roasted peanuts
  • Preparation

    1. BRING the sugar and almond milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

    2. MIX in the peanut butter. You can add the optional mix-ins and stir, or use them as a topping, pressing lightly. Spread into a greased 8″ x 8″ pan and refrigerate until set. Cut into squares.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF FUDGE

    THE HISTORY OF PEANUT BUTTER

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Jim Beam Caramel Apples (Or Other Favorite Whiskey)

    To celebrate its Apple Bourbon—available year-round but especially popular in fall recipes—Jim Beam has stepped beyond cocktails to caramel.

    Yes, you can dip your caramel apples into an easy homemade caramel that incorporates a cup of Jim Beam Apple Bourbon.

    No time to buy Jim Beam Apple Bourbon? Use what you’ve got on hand (including another whiskey) and pick some up Apple Bourbon when you can. You’ll definitely want to make another batch of these!

    RECIPE: BOURBON CARAMEL APPLES

    Ingredients For 10 Caramel Apples

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces cold half and half
  • 8 ounces Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
  • 10 Granny Smith apples on thick wooden skewers
  • Optional garnish: 4 cups chopped salted peanuts, honey roasted nuts or other garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a large pot over medium high heat until a light boil begins. Whisk in the half and half and the bourbon and continue to whisk until the caramel sauce reaches 248°F. Remove from the heat.

    2. DIP each of the apples into the caramel, coating on all sides. Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If desired, coat apples on all sides with chopped salted peanuts.

    3. ALLOW the caramel to cool before serving.
     
    MORE CANDY APPLE, CHOCOLATE & CARAMEL APPLE RECIPES

  • Classic Red Candy Apples
  • Easter Candy Apples
  • Matcha White Chocolate Granny Smith Apples (for Christmas or St. Pat’s)
  • Modern Art Chocolate Apples
  • Sugar-Free Red Candy Apples
  •  
    You can also host a candy apple party!

     

    Jim Beam Caramel Apples

    Jim Beam Apple Bourbon

    [1] Bourbon caramel apples. The caramel is made with [2] Jim Beam Apple Bourbon (photos courtesy Beam Suntory).

     
    CANDY APPLE HISTORY

    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century, buy inexpensive toffee and caramels for all became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence dates soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner. Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born.

    The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.

      

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