Because my microwave has chosen this completely inopportune time to start sparking and making scary noises, Cagey was generous enough to invite me to her house last night to start my holiday candy extravaganza.
I began with peanut brittle because it's so easy. This recipe is awesome and I'm pretty sure it came from one of the bloggers I read regularly, but I failed to make a note of where I got it. If you recognize it, let me know: Update: It's from Shaker Gourmet. Thanks, Copyscape!
In a large microwaveable bowl combine:
1 ½ cup sugar
¾ cup white corn syrup
--Microwave at High for 4 minutes.
--Add a 12 oz. can of cocktail peanuts to the mix (may substitute dry roasted peanuts, cashews, pecans, almonds. If you use unsalted Spanish peanuts, add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt during the next step.) Stir well. Microwave at High 3 to 5 minutes, until light brown.
Add 1 ½ teaspoon butter
Add 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
--Microwave at High 1 to 2 minutes. Peanuts will be lightly browned and syrup very hot.
Add 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
--Stir gently until light and foamy.
--Spread mixture onto lightly greased cookie sheet*, or ungreased non-stick cookie sheet. Let cool ½ hour to 1 hour. Break into small pieces and store in airtight container.
This makes about 1 to 1 ½ pounds.
Microwave power varies with make and model. You may need to adjust times accordingly. Watch closely and be aware of the smell so you'll be able to tell if you need to cut back on the time.
See that asterisk I added where it talks about the lightly greased cookie sheet? Yeah, I should have paid more attention to that part of the recipe. Instead, I poured the hot mixture onto waxed paper and guess what happened? Some of the people eating my peanut brittle will be consuming the little shreds of waxed paper that refused to come unstuck from the candy. Next time I'm using my silicone baking mat.
Once the peanut brittle was cooling, I moved on to making the centers for Coconut Bon-Bons. The recipe I linked to isn't exactly like the one I used growing up, but it's close. Instead of shortening, I just used all butter and I added about 3/4 cup of finely chopped pecans. Also, I cover the entire ball with chocolate, not just the top, and my chocolate mixture includes semi-sweet chocolate chips, Hershey bars and a little square of paraffin to make the coating shiny.
Candy making mishap #2 came when I opened the can of sweetened condensed milk I'd brought from my cupboard. It looked like a solid can of caramel. I sniffed it and detected the faint odor of dairy past its prime. A peek at the expiration date showed that it had been sitting in my cupboard for a rather alarming number of years. We went to the store and picked up a fresh can.
By the time we got back, it was after 8:00 p.m. and I knew that there was no way we'd have time to refrigerate the candy properly and get it dipped in chocolate before it got too late. We went ahead and rolled the centers and placed them on a cookie sheet, then Cagey was kind enough to lend me her microwave to take home. I'm going to see her Saturday, so that gives me an evening and a morning to finish the rest of the candy I was planning to make, including Peanut Butter Bon-Bons and Rum Balls.
Even though I really don't eat that many sweets these days, I still love making them.
What are you planning on making or baking for the holidays this year?