Monday, December 21, 2009

I Want Candy

"You like sugar don't you?
Is there sugar in syrup?
Then YES!"
From Elf

God made sugar.
The devil made fat and diabetes.
That is why I love God.
Well one reason among a bajillion more reasons.

I don't usually bake and such around the holidays. I just come home and collapse from 8 hours at the supermarket where I have worked for 33 Christmas's. But candy isn't always too difficult and you get to eat all the edges. See's Maple Pecan bon bon's are one of my favorites, well See's in general is one of my favorites. So when I saw this on David Lebovitz, I knew I had to make them. After 3 batches I gave up trying to get these to not be grainy, then I remembered that maple sugar candy is grainy.

Then of course toffee. Is toffee a need or a want? I say it is a need. I need protein, nuts have protein (don't forget chocolate comes from a cocoa BEAN). I need calcium, butter is dairy. I need fiber, sugar comes from a plant. Oh oh, and almonds help fight belly fat, so there.


And peppermint fudge from here.

And fudge truffles, but alas, no recipe for them.


Adapted to simplify directions
About 36, depending on how big you cut them

1 c pure maple syrup (labeled "Dark amber")
2 c sugar
1 c heavy cream
2 T light corn syrup
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 c walnut or pecan pieces, toasted

1. Lightly oil a 9- by 9-inch square pan.

2. In a small heavy-duty saucepan (about 2 quarts) mix together the maple syrup, sugar, cream, and corn syrup.
Fit a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat until the temperature reaches 236F temperature.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture into the metal bowl of a standing electric mixer. Submerge the thermometer in the candy mixture until it has cooled to 110F, which will take a while.

4. When the temperature is 110F, add the vanilla and beat the mixture until it just begins to thicken and loose its gloss. Overmixing will make it grainy, so keep an eye on it.

5. Stir in the nuts and spread the mixture into the square pan, patting it in flat with your (clean) hands.

6. Allow to cool completely, then remove from the pan and cut into squares.

7. To remove it from a square pan, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen it, then cut it in half.
Use a metal spatula to pry the candy loose a bit (it will be flexible).
Invert the pan a shake it to coax the maple cream candy out.
Cut into squares.

Adapted to simplify directions
The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz

1 c almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1 T water
4 T butter, salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 T packed light or dark brown sugar
1/8 t baking soda
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 c chocolate chips, or 3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Using half of the chopped almonds, form an 8-inch circle in an even layer on an ungreased baking sheet.

Fit a small, heavy-duty saucepan with a candy thermometer, then add the water, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, mixing them together.

Have the baking soda and vanilla measured and ready.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring as little as possible.

When the mixture reaches 300F, remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Mix just until combined; don’t overstir.

Right away, pour the hot toffee mixture over the circle of almonds on the baking sheet.

Using as little movement as possible, spread the toffee to cover the circle.

Scatter the chocolate pieces over the toffee and wait 2 minutes to allow them to melt.
Use a spatula to spread the chocolate into an even layer, then scatter the remaining chopped almonds on top, pressing them into the chocolate. Cool completely until the chocolate is firm.
Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, you may need to cool it in the refrigerator.
Remove it once the chocolate has hardened.

I love Chinese take out boxes for the candy gifts, they just make it more fun. The ties were a garland that I cut, they look like snowballs or the tie from a hat or sweater and these boxes have snowflakes to match.

I wish everyone the most blessed Christmas.

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