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Archive for Candy & Confections

TIP OF THE DAY: Vietnamese Cabbage Slaw, a.k.a. Cole Slaw

Asian Slaw

Classic Cole Slaw

Red Boat Fish Sauce

Top: Vietnamese slaw, made with a fish sauce-accented vinaigrette. Center: Conventional American cole slaw with mayonnaise (photo courtesy Blu Restaurant | NYC). Bottom: Vietnamese fish sauce (photo courtesy Red Boat).

 

So many slaws, so little time! On summer weekends, we try different slaw recipes and different potato salads.

When made without mayonnaise, cole slaw is a very low calorie food, and cabbage is an antioxidant-packed cruciferous vegetable. That’s what you’ll find in the Asian-style slaw recipe below.

Today’s tip also highlights a relatively unfamiliar ingredient to Americans, fish sauce. But first:
 
WHAT’S A SLAW & WHY IS IT “COLE?”

Long part of the culinary repertoire, “koolsla,” short for “koolsalade,” means cabbage salad in Dutch; Dutch travelers to the New World made the dish with local cabbage. Instead of being torn into bite-size pieces like lettuce salad, the cabbage was thinly sliced or shredded.

Cabbage, the “kool,” is pronounced “cole.” “Sla” is short for “salade.” The term got anglicized in the 18th century as cole slaw (and sometimes, cold slaw).

In English, “slaw” came to specify a salad of shredded vegetables. Over time, shredded cabbage slaw was joined by carrot slaw and more recently, broccoli slaw and shaved Brussels sprouts slaw.
 
WHAT IS FISH SAUCE?

Called nam pla in Thai and nuoc mam (“salted fish water”) in Vietnamese, fish sauce is an amber-hued condiment prepared from fermented anchovies and salt. An umami flavor lauded as “the fifth taste” after sweet, sour, bitter and salty, fish sauce is a major ingredient and condiment in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.

Numerous brands are imported to the U.S., including Red Boat Fish Sauce.
 
Umami, The Fifth Taste

Fish sauce provides a flavor known as umami, often explained as savory or brothy.

We consume “umami foods” every day: anchovy paste, asparagus, beef stew, bouillon, cured ham, ketchup, lamb shank, miso sauce and soup, MSG, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, ripe and sun-dried tomatoes, soy sauce, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce, among others.
 
European Garum & Colatura Di Alici

Umami and fish sauce are also part of Western culture. Beginning in Greece and appearing in nearly every ancient Roman recipe as early as the 7th and 8th centuries B.C.E., garum, a fermented fish sauce, was the universal condiment used to add flavor to food.

As ketchup (and more lately, hot sauce) is to American fare, as soy sauce is to Chinese cuisine, the favorite condiment in ancient Rome was garum, an anchovy sauce. It involved into colatura di alici, juice of anchovies, still popular in Italy. It’s also called anchovy sauce or anchovy syrup; the latter is inaccurate, as a syrup is a thick, viscous liquid.

As strange as “anchovy juice” may sound, colatura is an aromatic condiment that enhances any dish, adding flavor without fuss.

 
Ask any great Italian chef, and you’ll probably find that colatura di alibi is their secret ingredient. Chef Lidia Bastianich uses a touch of colatura instead of salt.

Colatura (the word comes from the Latin colare, to strain) is made by curing anchovies with salt and extracting the free-run liquid that drains from them. It’s a laborious and painstaking process to create a truly artisan food. Different brands are imported from Italy.

Things came full circle in the 19th century when a British sea captain Henry Lewis Edwardes (1788–1866) brought the recipe for a fish sauce condiment home after travels in India. It somehow got to John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, two dispensing chemists (pharmacists) in Worcester, England, who created the first “umami sauce” (Worcestershire Sauce) sold commercially in England, in 1837.

Here are more uses for fish sauce, colatura di alici, or whatever you choose to call it.

 

RECIPE: VIETNAMESE CABBAGE SLAW

This recipe was created by Gail Simmons for Pure Leaf Tea. She pairs it with Sweet Honey Green Pure Leaf. We paired it with Unsweetened Green and Unsweetened Lemon Flavor Pure Leaf.

Ingredients For 4 Servings

For The Dressing

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large shallot, finely sliced
  •  
    For The Slaw

  • 1/2 head small red cabbage
  • 1/2 head small Napa cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 4 radishes
  • 2 mini seedless cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples
  • Garnish: ¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing so the shallots have time to marinate. Whisk the ingredients except the shallots in a large mixing bowl. Then add the shallots and set aside.

    2. FINELY SLICE the cabbages, radishes and cucumbers using a mandolin or a food processor with the slicer and grater attachments. Grate the carrots and separate the cilantro leaves.

     

    Asian Cabbage Slaw

    Apple-Infused Coleslaw in a Jar-nestle-230

    Top: Thai Cabbage Slaw. You can add an optional peanut garnish (photo courtesy ACommunalTable.com, which added coconut). Bottom: Use your Mason jars to serve slaw (photo courtesy Nestle).

     
    3. CORE the apples and finely slice them into thin half–moons. Place everything into the mixing bowl with the dressing and toss together well. When ready to serve, top with the peanuts and extra cilantro leaves.
     
    MORE SLAW RECIPES

  • Apple Cole Slaw With Lemon Ginger Yogurt Dressing
  • BLT Slaw
  • Dijon-Vanilla Broccoli Slaw
  • Pear & Cabbage Slaw
  •   

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    RECIPE: Chocolate Covered Raisins

    March 24th is National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day, honoring a confection that dates well before the introduction of Raisinets in 1927.

    You need only three ingredients to make chocolate-covered raisins: raisins, chocolate and coconut oil. The oil thins the chocolate so it adheres better.

    We loved this suggestion from TheRoadNotProcessed.com: Add a bit of spice to elevate the recipe.

    You can coat the raisins in dark, milk or white chocolate using chocolate chips. But the better the chocolate quality, the tastier the results. We chop up a Lindt bar.

    Look for jumbo raisins you can find. You can substitute jumbo sultanas (golden raisins) as well.

     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COVERED RAISINS

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar
  • 1/2 tbsp virgin* coconut oil (substitute vegetable shortening)
  • Optional: 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or cloves (if you like heat, add chipotle)
  • 1 cup jumbo raisins
  •  
    ____________________________
    *Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, like vegetable oil. Virgin coconut oil is fresh-pressed, unrefined coconut oil—superior to refined coconut oil. Here’s more about coconut oil.

     

    National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

    Jumbo Sultanas

    Top: Homemade Raisinets. Photo courtesy TheRoadNotProcessed.com. Bottom: Jumbo sultanas, golden raisins. Photo courtesy CandyMax

     
    Preparation

    1. MELT the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler or microwave for 30-seconds, then at 10-second intervals as needed, taking care not to scorch it. Stir well with a whisk, adding the optional spice(s).

    2. ADD half the raisins and mix well to coat them all; then add the rest of the raisins and do the same. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Harden in the refrigerator and break up the hardened pieces. For faster hardening, use the freezer (they’ll be ready in 5-10 minutes).

    6. BREAK up the hardened pieces into individual pieces or raisin clusters. Refrigerate any leftovers.
     
    THE HISTORY OF RAISINETS

    Raisinets, raisins in chocolate shell, is a movie theater staple and the third-largest selling candy in U.S. history.

    To make the candy, raisins are coated with oil and spun in a hot drum with milk chocolate or dark chocolate. They’re then polished to a shine.

    Raisinets are the earliest brand of chocolate-covered raisins on record, introduced by the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company of Philadelphia in 1927 (the brand was acquired by Nestlé in 1984).

    The Blumenthals did not originate the concept. Hard chocolate was invented in 1847, enabling confectioners to develop all types of chocolate candies (the history of chocolate), including chocolate-dipped fresh and dried fruits.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easter Candy Apples

    M&Ms Caramel Apple

    Easter Chick Chocolate Apple

    Easter Candy Apples

    TOP: Roll a caramel apple in M&Ms (photo Amy’s Apples). Center: Turn the apple into a chick with yellow sprinkles (photo Amy’s Apples). Bottom: You can make a hard candy coating like the red Halloween apples, switching the red food color for pastels. Photo courtesy Rose Bakes.

     

    Candy apples have a strong association with Halloween. But the treat, which adds a good-for-you apple to the candy components, can be embellished for any occasion.

    It’s the first full day of spring and a week from Easter, so what are you waiting for?

    Join confectioners across the nation who make seasonal apples, typically caramel or caramel coated with chocolate. White chocolate can be used as is or tinted in Easter and spring colors.

    You can also use a milk or dark chocolate coat, but some decorations look better against white. However, if you’re totally covering the apple with coconut or M&Ms, the color of chocolate underneath doesn’t matter matter.

    You can also make a hard candy apple coating like the red Halloween apples, but with pastel spring colors instead of red. Here’s how.

    You can use any candy apple, caramel apple or chocolate apple recipe.

    The apples of choice are sweet-tart varieties: Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith.

    If you’re using chocolate, you can melt baking chips; but if your palate is sensitive to the difference, spring for Lindt bars or other well-priced “premium” brands.
     
    WHERE TO BEGIN

    Click the links to take a look at different approaches to decorating Easter apples. Most are very easy to make; adding bunny ears does take some technique.

    Popular decorations include:

  • Colored chocolate shavings or baking chips.
  • Himalayan pink sea salt. For a sweet and salty apple you can use 100% pink sea salt or blended with pink sparkling sugar), lavender sparkling sugar, etc.
  • Mini candy Easter eggs or jelly beans, placed around the stick end of the apple. First add with other decorations like sprinkles or green tinted coconut.
  • Pastel candy pearls.
  • Pastel sprinkles and confetti. Wilton has a nice Easter mix.
  • Pink or mixed color sparkling sugar (a.k.a. decorator sugar and sanding sugar).
  • Something exotic, like pink bunny sprinkles, or an actual marshmallow Peep sitting atop the decorated apple (the stick is pushed through it).
  •  
    CANDY APPLES 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) probably date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century. Inexpensive toffee and caramels became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence confirms 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.

    Later, coatings evolved to include caramel and chocolate, along with candy decorations ranging from simple to elaborate.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Inside-Out Homemade Peppermint Patties

    Inside Out Peppermint Patties

    Conventional Homemade Peppermint Patties

    Gourmet Chocolate Bars

    Top: Hannah Kaminsky’s Inside-Out Peppermint Patties. Middle: Conventional Peppermint Patties recipe from SafeEggs.com. Bottom: Chop up some good chocolate bars for the mint centers (these are from DeBrand.com).

     

    It’s National Chocolate Mint Day. You can make a cool chocolate peppermint pie, warm chocolate mint lava cakes, have some mint chocolate ice cream or chocolate peppermint patties.

    How about your own, homemade peppermint patties—with a reverse approach: creamy chocolate on the inside, white mint coating on the outside?

    Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog who created this recipe, gives us the reason:

    “The only thing that could be improved [in a peppermint patty] is the ratio of chocolate to peppermint, which is why I decided to flip the classic patty inside-out.”

    RECIPE: INSIDE-OUT PEPPERMINT PATTIES

    Ingredients For 30-34 Patties
     
    For The Chocolate Centers

  • 6 ounces 70% cacao chocolate*, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  •  
    For The Mint Coating

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 100% cocoa butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil
  •  
    ____________________________
    *As always, the better the chocolate, the better the result. Look for two quality 3.5-ounce chocolate bars (Green & Blacks, Lindt, etc.) or consider buying a pound of the chocolate disks (wafers) that confectioners use.
     
    Preparation

    1. FORM the centers: Place the chopped chocolate and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 60 seconds. Stir vigorously; continue to heat at intervals of 30 seconds, stirring well each time, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a Silpat mat or piece of parchment paper, and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

    2. ROLL out the chilled chocolate mixture to about 1/4-inch thick and use 1-inch round cookie cutters to punch out the candy pieces. Should the chocolate become too soft or difficult to work with, just toss it back in the fridge for another 15-30 minutes. Once all of the center are cut, place them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before getting making the coating.

    3. PREPARE the coating: Place the cocoa butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1-3 minutes until it completely liquefies. Whisk in the sugar and peppermint oil, stirring vigorously to completely dissolve.

    4. REMOVE the semi-frozen patties from the freezer and dip each into the mint coating, one at a time. Place them back on the Silpat, allowing the coating to set. This top coat is thinner than the standard pure chocolate shell, so you may wish to double-dip once the first layer has solidified.

     
    5. SHARE the result with loved ones and raise a cup of tea (or whatever goes with peppermint patties) to National Chocolate Mint Day.
     
    FREEZE THE PATTIES IN SUMMER

    February 11th is National Peppermint Patty Day, February 19th is National Chocolate Mint Day. How can you celebrate in the summer?

    “Especially in the heat of summer,” says Hannah Kaminsky, “peppermint patties are one of my favorite treats. Best stashed in the freezer for full cooling effect, I love the way the chocolate shell shatters upon impact, releasing its soft, creamy center with minty-fresh flavor.
     
    IS IT PATTY OR PATTIE?

    Whether it’s candy, meat or veggies, to be perfectly correct, the spelling is patty. Patties is the plural form, so many folks assumed the singular to be pattie.

    The word first appeared in English around 1700-1710, derived from the French pâté (paste in English), a mix of finely-ground ingredients. Pasta is the Italian word for paste; and in modern French cuisine, pâté refers to a meat loaf as well as the more finely ground goose or duck liver pâté.

    Perhaps America’s most famous patty is the [incorrectly spelled] York Peppermint Pattie. According to a company history in Wikipedia, the York Peppermint Pattie was first produced by Henry C. Kessler, owner of the York Cone Company, in 1940. The company was named for its location: York, Pennsylvania. Today the company is owned by Hershey and the production is in Monterrey, Mexico.
     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Snowman Marshmallows

    Chef Ingrid Hoffman created these fun marshmallow snowmen as a project for kids.

    All you need:

  • Large and mini marshmallows
  • Wooden skewers
  • Red and black gel icings
  •  
    Chef Ingrid stuck the skewers into a piece of styrofoam covered with burlap. You can use half a melon, a stale loaf of bread, or present the skewers on a tray.

    Find more of Chef Ingrid’s recipes—serious and fun—at IngridHoffman.com.
     
    FONDUE, ANYONE?

    These snowmen make great fondue dippers to add to our list of 40 chocolate fondue dippers.

    If you want to whip up a batch of chocolate fondue, here are our favorite recipes.

  • Chocolate fondue
  • White chocolate fondue
  • White chocolate pumpkin fondue
  • Spiced chocolate fondue
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/snowman marshmallows ingridhoffmannFB 230

    Marshmallow snowmen can be food-on-a-stick or fondue dippers. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffman.

     

      

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    RECIPE: Christmas Peppermint Hard Candies

    Peppermint Stars

    Peppermint Christmas Trees

    Use your holiday cookie cutters to make these fun mint shapes from conventional peppermint candies. Photos courtesy Reynolds Kitchens.

     

    We love the recipe developers at Reynolds Kitchen, who often surprise us with their creativity. Just by looking at the photos, you can see what they’ve done with an everyday bag of striped peppermint candies.

    The result is like candy canes, but as Elle Woods would say, the shape is more funner.

    It’s also funner to make them with mints in both holiday colors, red and green. Brach’s makes their striped Starbrite Mints in both colors, as well as a sugar-free red and white mint*.

    So pick up the mints and get out every shape and size of cookie cutter that works for the holidays. Then, serve the mints:

  • On a platter, with after-dinner coffee
  • As decorations on holiday cakes and cupcakes
  • Wrapped in cellophane as stocking stuffers or party favors
  •  
    We’d suggest making them as tree ornaments, but can’t figure out how to affix something so that they hang evenly. We tried making holes with an ice pick before the shapes fully hardened, but it wasn’t neat. Ribbon didn’t stick to the peppermint with the glues we had at hand.

    Any other ideas?

    RECIPE: HOLIDAY SHAPE PEPPERMINTS CANDIES

    Ingredients

  • All of your holiday-appropriate metal cookie cutters (borrow as needed)
  • Cookie sheet and parchment paper
  • Baking spray (or bland cooking spray)
  • A bag of red and white and a bag of green and white hard mints
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds Parchment Paper.

    2. SPRAY oven-safe, metal cookie cutters with non-stick cooking spray, then place on the cookie sheet. Fill each cookie cutter with peppermint candies. Break the candies into smaller pieces to fill in the smaller areas of the mold (we used a meat mallet).

    3. BAKE for 3–9 minutes until the candies melt into cookie cutter shapes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the candy harden. Stretch the cookie cutter a bit to remove the candy.

     
    TIP

    This concept works for Valentine’s Day, too. Collect a bunch of heart-shaped cookie cutters.

     
    *We haven’t tested the recipe with sugar-free mints, but guess that they’ll melt in a similar fashion to the conventional variety.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Peppermint Crunch Marshmallows

    Peppermint Crunch Marshmallows

    Peppermint Crunch

    TOP PHOTOS: Minty marshmallow marvels for Christmas snacking. BOTTOM PHOTO: Buying peppermint candy crunch saves you the time of trying to evenly crush whole peppermints or candy canes. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

    To bring to a party or for homemade gifts, marshmallows are a delightful alternative to cookies. This holiday, from King Arthur Flour, pack lots of peppermint in every bite.

    For a milder peppermint flavor, simply omit the optional peppermint oil. (Personally, we love lots of mintiness. We also recommend the optional red gel paste to get the beautiful color in the photo.)

    Prep time is 20 minutes to 30 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Marshmallows are best made a day in advance, so they can set in the pan before cutting. Here are step-by-step photos.

    RECIPE: PEPPERMINT CRUNCH MARSHMALLOWS

    Ingredients For 24 Marshmallows

  • 3 packets (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cool water, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil for extra-strong peppermint flavor
  • 1/2 cup peppermint crunch, crushed hard peppermint candies or candy canes
  • Optional: 5 to 10 drops red gel paste for richer color
  • Glazing sugar or confectioners’ sugar, to sprinkle on top
  •  
    Ingredients

    1. COMBINE the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the cool water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Set the bowl aside. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan (glass or ceramic is best) and a dough scraper, and set both aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, corn syrup, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 238°F to 240°F on a candy or digital thermometer. Remove from the heat.

     
    3. TURN the mixer to low speed; slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy and and has cooled to lukewarm (3 to 10 minutes depending on the mixer and attachment you use; a stand mixer using the whisk attachment will work more quickly than a hand mixer equipped with beaters). The mixture should be cool enough that you can spread it into the pan without burning your fingers, about 95°F. Add the peppermint oil towards the end of the mixing time. NOTE: Don’t let the marshmallow get so thick that it forms a stiff ball inside the wire whisk; it shouldn’t be as stiff as meringue icing. When the marshmallow is fully whipped…

    4. ADD the peppermint crunch and red gel paste, and mix just until you can see swirls of red and white. Spread the marshmallow into the greased pan with the greased dough scraper.

    5. WET your fingers and use them to smooth and flatten the marshmallow in the pan. Sprinkle the glazing sugar or confectioners’ sugar over the top, and let sit for several hours (or overnight) before cutting.

    6. USE a greased knife or cookie cutters to make squares or other shapes. You can cut about two dozen 2″ marshmallows or eight dozen 1″ marshmallows (we prefer the larger size for visual impact).

    7. WRAP the marshmallows airtight in plastic. They can be stored for several days at room temperature.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Apple Cider Salted Caramels

    We love salted caramels: plain sea salt, fleur de sel, gray sea salt, smoked sea salt (see the different types of sea salts).

    They aren’t inexpensive: A box of seven smallish squares, chocolate coated and garnished with salt, is $14.00 at Fran’s.

    So how about a project for a lazy Sunday: homemade salted caramels? It can also solve holiday gift-giving needs.

    This recipe, which adds the seasonal touch of apple cider, was developed by P.J. Hamel for King Arthur Flour. Here are additional photos and tips.

    This recipe is made in the classic French style: Salted butter is used and more salt can be added to the caramel, instead of the current vogue for sweet butter with a salt garnishing on top. We prefer the latter, so if you prefer, use unsalted butter in the recipe and garnish the top with sea salt or other fine salt.
     
    BOILED CIDER

    The boiled cider that flavors the caramels is simply reduced apple cider or juice. You can make it (instructions are in the recipe that follows) or buy it (King Arthur Flour sells it). If you’re making your own, you can make it up to three months in advance.

    Use the extra boiled cider to add flavor to:

  • Baking: Add to baked recipes that use apples: cakes, crisps, crumbles, pies, turnovers. Replace the honey or molasses in recipes for apple cake, gingerbread, spice muffins and similar recipes.
  • Breakfast: Drizzle over French toast, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles; stir into plain yogurt.
  • Condiment: Add a teaspoon to vinaigrette or barbecue sauce; drizzle over baked apples, crêpes, grilled fruit, ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt; spread on toast or cornbread; give better flavor to store-bought applesauce.
  •    

    Apple Cider Caramels

    Apple Cider Salted Caramels

    Try your hand at making caramels. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

  • Dinner: Glaze grilled vegetables or poultry (brush it on) or add a bit to marinades.
  •  
    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER SALTED CARAMELS

    Ingredients For 64 Caramels

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1/2 cup boiled cider*, purchased or made (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice†
  •  
    For The Boiled Cider

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 1 hour. The yield is 1-1/2 cups.

  • 8 cups fresh apple cider or apple juice
  •  
    See the difference between cider vs. apple juice, below.
    _______________________________
    *You can buy ready-made boiled cider from King Arthur Flour and other baking supply retailers.

    †Substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice.

     

    boiled-cider-midwestliving-230

    Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels

    TOP PHOTO: Homemade boiled apple cider. Photo courtesy Midwest Living. Here’s their
    full recipe. BOTTOM RECIPE: Feeling
    ambitious? Dip your caramels in melted
    chocolate. Photo courtesy Alma Chocolate.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the boiled cider. BRING the cider to boiling in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered, for 1-3/4 hours. Stir occasionally, until the cider has reduced to 1-1/2 cups. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

    2. TRANSFER the boiled cider to a screw-top jar with a mouth at least wide enough to insert a spoon. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. The boiled cider will thicken in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature to use in this recipe.

    3. LIGHTLY GREASE an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides.

    4. COMBINE the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter and boiled cider in a heavy-bottom, deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 248°F on a candy thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the salt and spice.

    5. POUR the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Let it stand for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature before cutting into 1″ squares.

    6. WRAP the caramels: Use 6″ squares of parchment paper. (We had 5-inch squares. The difference is shorter twisted ends.) Place one caramel in the center of each square; wrap the opposite edges of the paper around the caramel and twist the exposed edges to close. If you don’t have parchment paper you can use wax paper, but you need to be careful when twisting the edges because it tears more easily.

    Here’s a very helpful video on how to wrap caramels.

     

    APPLE CIDER VERSUS APPLE JUICE: THE DIFFERENCE

    Since Prohibition, which began in the U.S. in 1920, “cider” has referred to the unfermented, unpasteurized apple juice. “Hard cider” is used to indicate the alcoholic beverage. In the U.K. it is the opposite, with “cider” indicating the alcoholic drink for which special cider apples are used.

  • Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the unfiltered juice of apples. The alcohol content varies from a low 1.2% ABV* to 8.5% or higher—some imported ciders can be up to 12% ABV, an average level for table wines. It does not need to be refrigerated until the container is opened.
  • Fresh apple cider is raw apple juice, typically unfiltered. Thus, it is cloudy from the remnants of apple pulp. It is also typically more flavorful than apple juice—although of course, the particular blend of apples used in either has a big impact on the taste. It needs to be refrigerated.
  • Apple juice has been filtered to remove pulp solids, then pasteurized for longer shelf life. It does not need to be refrigerated until the container is opened.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Bark From Leftover Halloween Candy

    halloween-bark-completely-delicious-230

    Chop up those miniatures, add whatever else
    you have and make bark. See the recipe
    above at CompletelyDelicious.com.

     

    Many American households woke up today to lots of Halloween candy. You can eat some of it as is, but we especially like this solution from BrownEyedBaker.com, who adapted it from this Bon Appetit recipe:

    Turn it into chocolate bark studded with pieces of Halloween candy.

    And on top of that, make it an annual tradition. We hereby proclaim that the day after Halloween is Leftover Candy Bark Day.

    Use whatever candy appeals to you. If you’re not sure if certain combinations work (Junior Mints and Peanut Butter Cups, for example), pop them into your mouth and see how they blend.

    If you need to round out the ingredients, add whatever you have at home: baking chips, cookie pieces, nuts, potato chips, pretzels, shredded coconut, and so on.

    You’ll also need a base chocolate to hold all the pieces. You can use milk, semisweet or white chocolate. We bought two bags of Guittard semisweet chips and one bag of white chocolate chips at our supermarket.

     
    What should you do with the finished bark?

  • Bring it into work or school.
  • Give some to anyone who didn’t participate in trick-or-treating.
  • Serve it on game day.
  • Keep it as your own stash, enjoying a piece per day.
  •  
    RECIPE: LEFTOVER HALLOWEEN CANDY BARK

    Ingredients For About 2 Pounds/30 Servings

    This is just a guideline; use whatever you have. The ingredients below focus on peanut butter-flavored candies. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 1 hour.

     

  • 1 pound chocolate, chopped
  • 3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun-size bars), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Heath candy bars (or 6 fun-size bars), cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, each cut into 8 wedges
  • ¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup M&Ms, Peanut M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces or a mix
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a 12 x 12-inch* baking pan or a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. PLACE the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until it is completely melted and smooth.

    3. POUR the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and, using an offset spatula, spread it into a thin layer (¼-inch thick yields about a 12×10-inch rectangle*).

    4. SPRINKLE the melted chocolate with the chopped Butterfingers, Heath bars, peanut butter cups and honey roasted peanuts, making sure all pieces touch the melted chocolate so they adhere. Lightly press down on them as an extra effort to make sure the candy adheres to the chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    5. MELT the white chocolate using the same method as the bittersweet chocolate in Step 2, until completely smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the chilled bark in a zigzag pattern.

    6. SCATTER the M&Ms and/or Reese’s Pieces over the white chocolate drizzle, and again press to make sure the candy adheres to the melted white chocolate. Chill again until the white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

     

    halloween-bark-tasteofhome-230sq

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/halloween candy bark browneyedbaker 230

    TOP PHOTO: Add cookies to your Halloween Bark. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: Peanut-oriented bark (recipe above). Photo courtesy BrownEyed Baker via Bon Appetit.

     
    7. CUT or break the bark into irregular pieces and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place or in the fridge.

     
    *You can use whatever size pan or sheet you have. You don’t have to spread the chocolate to cover the entire area. Just keep it 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick and the candies pressed into it will add the heft.
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Candy Apple Party

    Is this your year to host a candy apple party for Halloween? Kids and adults alike will love the opportunity to customize caramel and/or red candy apples.

    First send out the invites, then start to gather the ingredients.

    You prepare trays of candy- and or caramel-coated apples, and guests do a quick re-dip and add their toppings. We’ll provide the caramel- and candy-coating recipes in a separate article.

    CANDY APPLE & CARAMEL APPLE TOPPINGS

    Select toppings that are small in size or crushed. Big pieces of candy or nut halves can fall off, especially on smaller apple (recommended—see the next section). That’s why we excluded Gummies, Goobers, Raisinets and Teddy Grahams.

  • Candy corn
  • Chopped nuts
  • Granola
  • Mini chocolate chips or full size (how about a mix of
    butterscotch, peanut butter, mint, dark, milk and/or white
    chocolate?)
  •    

    asstd-caramel-redbookmag-230

    At a candy apple party, every guest can customize an apple (at least one!). Photo with regular and chocolate caramel apples courtesy RedbookMag.com.

  • Mini M&Ms
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Mini Reese’s Pieces
  • Oreo bits or crushed graham crackers
  • Pretzel pieces
  • Red Hots
  • Shredded coconut, plain or toasted
  • Sprinkles
  • Toffee bits
  •  
    Plus

  • 2 slow cookers, chafing dishes, or other warmers for the two coatings
  • Bowls and spoons for the toppings
  • Individual bowls or plates for apple-coating
  • Ice pop sticks for the apples
  • Plates, napkins
  •  

    candy-apple-station-bridalguide.com

    You do the messy part in advance: dip the apples in their first coat: dark, milk or white chocolate or caramel. Photo courtesy BridalGuide.com.

     

    WHAT APPLES SHOULD YOU USE?

    Choose varieties that are crisp but not singularly sweet (e.g. Delicious). The tartness or acidity of the right variety is a counterpoint to the sweet coating and toppings.

    You also want small apples over large ones. Big apples look more impressive, but smaller ones (typically sold pre-bagged) give you a better ratio of apple to topping. And, you can have more than one!

  • For red candy coating: Baldwin, Crispin, Honeycrisp, Idared, Jonathan, Stayman, SweeTango; secondarily, Braeburn, Gala, Fuji.
  • For caramel apples: The tart Granny Smith is the best variety for caramel apples; the tartness works well with the caramel. But any of the red candy apple types will work if you’re not seeking that nuance.
  •  
    TIP: Many supermarket apples have a wax coating that can inhibit the coating from sticking to the apple. If you can’t buy your apples from a farmers market or orchard, remove the wax coating by swirling the apples in a pot of boiling water and wiping them dry with paper towels.

     

    PARTY TIME

    Set the slow cookers, trays of coated apples and bowls of toppings and other materials on a table or sideboard, ideally on a craft paper covering or tablecloth.

    When the guests are ready to create their apples, let them re-dip and add their toppings. Individual bowls for each person help prevent the toppings from spilling on the table.

    THEMED DRINKS

    What to serve at your candy apple party? Apple-themed drinks:

  • Apple Beer or Ale
  • Apple Cider
  • Apple Spice Tea
  • Appletinis
  • Apple Wine
  • Apple Seltzer (like Polar)
  • Hard Cider
  • Hot Mulled Wine or Mulled Cider
  • Sparkling Cider Punch
  •   

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