Learning to bake fearlessly <3

Archive for the ‘Candy’ Category

Caramel two ways: sea salt vanilla bean caramels and raspberry caramels


Ribbons of sweetness
This is my second post on caramel, this time candies. Now that I know I can do it, I’m excited, it’s like a new toy. Caramel ALL THE THINGS! These were also partly for my brother, who’s going off to college this month. *sniffle* He’s all grown up! But he knows to expect regular baked treats from his big sis. (Any suggestions for things that ship well?) Anyway, he loves sweet/salty things, so salted caramels were a no-brainer.

As I was boiling the sugar mixture, I had a moment of panic. “Oh no, it smells like it’s burning!” …uh, duh, Shiro love. Haha. I did cook these a bit darker than the sauce, and it worked out well; I wouldn’t have cooked them one second more or less. I also uh, didn’t have a candy thermometer for the first batch, just a meat thermometer that only goes up to 220. So I winged it (wung it? wang it? how do I words) and cooked it to there, and then about a minute more. The caramels turned out marvelously chewy and flavorful.

You’ll notice I specified a combination of salted (2 tbsp) and unsalted (3tbps) butter on the salted caramel recipe. I used that because that’s what I had on hand, and it turned out really yummy. But I’m sure all unsalted butter would taste just as good.

You’ll want to really line and butter the pan well; I didn’t and paid for it. Also, though it’s tedious, it’s important to wrap these. Otherwise they’ll all stick together and you’ll end up with a mass of caramel instead of neat individual candies.

Once I had cut my teeth on the fairly standard salted caramels, I wanted more. What I really wanted to make was raspberry caramels. But, googling around, there was no recipe for it! So I adjusted the recipe slightly to allow for fresh raspberry puree instead of vanilla extract. And it was soooooooooooooo good, deep caramel with fresh raspberry flavor permeating. It was perfect. I’m so proud!

I’d never worked with vanilla beans before this. It’s wild to see how many seeds they have! What do they do with them all?
Vanilla seed fingers!

Sea salted vanilla bean caramels
From Confessions of a Foodie Bride

1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tbsp salted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
1 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

To start with, line a 8 inch by 8 inch pan with parchment paper and butter it lightly.

In a smallish saucepan, combine cream, butter, vanilla extract, seeds, and pod, and sea salt. Heat on the stove over medium high heat til just boiling, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

In a larger, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir together, then heat on the stove on medium high, whisking often, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then keep heating, but do not stir. Swirl the pot gently instead, frequently, until the sugar mixture is a nice golden color.

Remove the vanilla pods from the cream mixture and pour into the sugar mixture. Careful! The mixture will bubble up. Keep heating, whisking frequently, until the mixture is 248 F. Then take it off the heat and pour into the prepared pan. Let it set for half and hour, then sprinkle with sea salt. Allow it to cool completely, then cut into small squares with a buttered knife or pizza cutter and wrap in waxed paper. Enjoy!

Raspberry caramels

1 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tbsp fresh raspberry puree, strained and seedless
1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

To start with, line a 8 inch by 8 inch pan with parchment paper and butter it lightly.

In a smallish saucepan, combine cream, butter, raspberry puree, vanilla seeds and pod, and sea salt. Heat on the stove over medium high heat til just boiling, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

I love the slight pinkness.

In a larger, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir together, then heat on the stove on medium high, whisking often, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then keep heating, but do not stir. Swirl the pot gently instead, frequently, until the sugar mixture is a nice golden color.

Remove the vanilla pods from the cream mixture and pour into the sugar mixture. Careful! The mixture will bubble up. Keep heating, whisking frequently, until the mixture is 248 F. Then take it off the heat and pour into the prepared pan. Allow it to cool completely, then cut into small squares with a buttered knife or pizza cutter and wrap in waxed paper. Enjoy!

Konpeito cupcakes


This week was rough on the baking front. I started out full of enthusiasm, ready to tackle a cupcake idea I’d had for weeks, and excited. I put on Stargate (mmmmmm Jaye Davidson, the perfect baking companion) and set out to make cupcakes.

It did not go as planned. We all make mistakes, and I saw this exact one on Cupcake Champions not long after–putting in baking soda when baking powder was called for. And of course I didn’t realize it til after the cupcakes were baked. So when I bit into them to find a confection that tasted more like my vanilla hand soap (protip: too much baking soda makes cupcakes that taste like bitter soap), I was discouraged. I may have pouted at the boytoy for a bit.

But, gotta get back on the horse! I tried again this morning and was met with sweet vanilla success! This cupcake is a bit dense and thick, but tasty nonetheless, and if you’re after a more dense, moist crumb, this recipe will serve admirably. I only changed the frosting a bit, to make it less sugary sweet.

As for the pretty little candies on top? They’re these!

Little Japanese candies called konpeito. They’re essentially rock candy balls, sometimes flavored, but I like them best plain. I was introduced to them through Sailor Moon when I was a kid! But the more famous anime association with them comes from Spirited Away, where the soot spirits loved the little candies.

I order them online and I love them. And they look great as cupcake decorations!

Vanilla Cupcakes
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup milk
From Annie’s Eats

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350F and line your cupcake pan with cute liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together your butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat the eggs in one at a time, scraping down the mixer bowl after each one, and then the vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, add together the flour, baking powder (NOT soda!) and salt, and whisk together. Add half of it to the butter mixture, mix it up on low, and then the milk and the other half of the flour. The batter should be thick. Scoop it into the cupcake liners–bear in mind it rises only a little–and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Vanilla Buttercream
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp heavy cream
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Makes more than enough for a dozen cupcakes

Once your butter is nice and soft, cut it into cubes and whip it on medium in the bowl of a stand mixer til smooth. Add the powdered sugar and salt and whip til the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the bowl and keep going until the ingredients are all combined. Then add the vanilla and cream, keep whipping on medium until it’s incorporated, then add coloring if desired, increase speed to medium-high, and keep whipping until the buttercream is light and fluffy.

I used a large closed-star tip to pipe the frosting on, and this was my first time using an actual frosting bag instead of my mechanical one! I felt very accomplished. Enjoy!

DIY sugar heart candies


I’ve always been the sort of strange child who eats sugar plain and loves it. When I was tiny, my grandmother had to keep me out of the sugar dish because I would attack it with a spoon. So, now that I’m an adult, I buy sugar candies all the time because now I can eat them anytime I want. So when I found this recipe to make my own, I was super excited. Cause you know, blue hearts are kind of my thing. I intended to make them rainbow too, but…that’s a LOT of sugar. So next time I’ll halve my batches and make all six colors! You can make these as party favors or cake decorations, or just eat them plain like I am.

These are super easy to make, I finished in probably half an hour. And they’re yummy too! Be sure and save a few for a recipe I’ll be posting in a few days.

DIY Sugar Candies

Adapted from Wedding Chicks

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp egg white
1/4 tsp room temp water
Paste or powder food coloring in whatever shade you like

Preheat your oven to 200 F. Combine your ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is evenly distributed and looks like wet sand. If it’s too dry, add a tiny bit more water or egg white, but don’t overwet or it’ll dissolve and be impossible to cut. Spread the sugar mixture out on a piece of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a tiny cookie or fondant cutter; if it’s the right consistency, it’ll cling to the cutter. Hold it over a silpat or parchment paper-lined pan and tap gently to release it.

Bake for 10 minutes (long enough to cook them slightly, not long enough that the sugar melts) and let cool before eating or packaging.

If you’re making more than one color, save the cutout leftovers and mix them on another parchment paper for a tie-dyed marbled look!