Batter Licker

October 27, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 9 (toffee)

This toffee is an oldie but goodie. It is the first candy I ever learned to make (Thanks Mom!). Except that, back then, I learned to make it with milk chocolate and almonds. Or maybe it was pecans. I forget (it’s been a couple decades). Now, I prefer it topped with bittersweet chocolate and pistachios.

The key is to start with room temperature butter. Or fake it with a microwave. Or deviate from the recipe a little and just melt the butter slowly in a pot before adding the sugar.

Reach deep down into that almost-empty 10-pound bag of sugar. I couldn’t believe I was almost at the bottom. Good thing I had another 10-pound bag on hand … because that’s the kind of over-preparation I do when making everything for my own wedding dessert bar, apparently.

Must stem from Girl Scouts back in the day. “Be prepared,” which in my perfectionist mind translates to “be more than prepared at all times for things you couldn’t possibly imagine might happen at the beginning of a project.” Like actually using up an entire 10-pound bag of sugar. (more…)

October 26, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 8 (fleur de sel caramels; bourbon spice caramels)

Syndicated on BlogHer.comI’m not trying to fool you. I know you’ve seen me make caramel before, and in step-by-step detail. But not with bourbon and Fall spices.

For wedding dessert bar purposes, I kept up appearances by making about 400 of my standard fleur de sel caramels. I had to, or there might have been an Occupy Dessert Bar movement. Seriously. People get passionate over burnt sugar with salt, at least in my family.

But for my own creative purposes, I wanted to try something a little different. Something infused with Autumn. Something boozy. Bourbon spice caramels were born.

After pulling out all ingredients, I re-focused on exactly how much butter was going into this dual caramel candy-making escapade. A lot.

As in that entire stick plus 2 tablespoons of butter below was only one eighth of the amount. Granted, no one was going to eat a butter stick’s worth of caramel in one sitting, but some might come dangerously close.

I looked away from the butter and cream mixture and started working on the separate pot of soon-to-be-burnt sugar.

Instead of the water used in my original fleur de sel recipe, I used bourbon here. I’m not sure if that’s how the pros do it, as I admittedly made this up as I went. And even when I looked online later to validate my in-the-moment decisions, all I found were bourbon caramel sauces. Not helpful since they don’t cook at nearly as high of a temperature.

Anyway, beyond the crazy amount of butter, I also went through two entire 10-pound bags of sugar … (more…)

October 20, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 10 (chocolate cognac truffles)

Filed under: candy,dessert — Tags: , , , , , — Kristen @ 8:17 pm

** I wrote this 2 days before the wedding, thought I’d have time to type up the recipe before the wedding, was threatened by the blue screen of death on my laptop, Jay fixed it, and then (inevitably) got wrapped up in other pre-wedding matters. **

It’s almost 4 a.m., and I’m wide awake. I’ve been too excited about the wedding to sleep soundly. As a result, I’ve been running mostly on adrenaline since the sleepless nights began this past Sunday.

In my sleep-impaired state, I’ve decided to deviate from my original plan to share dessert bar recipes in the order that I make them. So I’m hopping ahead of part 8 (toffee) and part 9 (caramels – fleur de sel, and spiced bourbon), which I promise to share at a later time (most likely post-wedding; turns out I still have cookies to bake off, chickpeas to crisp up, and s’mores brownies to figure out … not to mention memorizing the vows I wrote and learning new moves so our first dance isn’t entirely awkward and reminiscent of junior high school slow dances).

Instead, I would like to share these chocolate cognac truffles, which are decadent but not too fussy – especially if you can rope someone into helping you form them into balls. It’s probably best to start with a more uniform selection of chocolate, but these truffles were admittedly an afterthought composed of leftover chocolate from other dessert bar projects. Hence the haphazard selection, including semi-sweet, bittersweet, and 100% chocolate.

The most important thing is to use chocolate you actually enjoy the taste of, which I made sure to do even if my particular combination was quite … diverse.

The second most important thing is to chop the chocolate into small, uniformly sized pieces. This helps ensure quick, even melting.

Beware that, when chopping chocolate, a mess is unavoidable. (more…)

October 7, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 7 (chili lime peanuts)

The nut parade continues with chili lime peanuts because, in my opinion, variety always makes things a little more fun.

While the curried cashews and brown sugar, rosemary, bourbon-brined almonds were fairly easy to manage, these peanuts manage to be even simpler.

I threw peanuts into a bowl, but on a lazier day, I strongly believe these nuts could mix up quite nicely with the spices directly on a rimmed baking sheet. That’s right. One less thing to clean up.

But I didn’t think of that until after the peanuts had already made their way into the bowl. So I went ahead and zested a lime straight in there.

These limes were particularly attached to their juices. After rolling them around, halving them, and squeezing with all my strength, I yielded maybe a drop or two. Things were not looking good.

October 5, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 6 (brown sugar, rosemary and bourbon-brined almonds)

Filed under: appetizer,nuts, seeds — Kristen @ 12:10 pm

While the curried cashews were undergoing their second tanning session of the day, I prepared a brown sugar, rosemary and bourbon brine to soak the almonds in.

I know. It’s like the almonds are getting the Thanksgiving turkey prep treatment. But trust me. This brining method? Best way to infuse a lot of flavor into almonds while keeping things clean (i.e., without covering them in a candied curry mixture whose yellow tinge rudely stains snackers’ fingers; curried cashew eaters beware!).

Start prepping the brine by throwing some brown sugar into a pot.

Ahhhhh bourbon.

Sometimes it’s the devil, but I keep it around anyway like a trouble-making friend from the good ol’ sorority days. Perhaps it’s because bourbon makes me nostalgic for late evenings spent deep in conversation with Uncle Bill. Or because nothing else warms me up quite as quickly on a bone-chilling winter night, especially one spent visiting Jay’s Grams in Boston.

Or because bourbon has an uncanny ability to dissolve my worries just as easily as it will dissolve this brown sugar. Or because its inclusion in any recipe always seems to make the end result tastier.

Whatever the reason, there always seems to be a bottle in my liquor cabinet, which is good because I totally forgot to take inventory when I went shopping for the other ingredients in this recipe. (more…)

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