Saturday, August 27, 2011
Daring Bakers: Candylicious
The August 2011 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake!?. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for all of us Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy.
They challenged us to make at least two different candies, including one chocolate candy, and to try our hand at tempering chocolate. They gave us an almost dizzying amount of suggestions, but they really encouraged us to try out our own flavor combinations.
My first offering is a dipped bonbon with a very long name: Pepita and Cranberry Brittle Covered in Tempered Dark Chocolate with a touch of Fleur de Sel. Feel free to shorten the name.
When you first bite, you get the crunch of the pepitas and brittle. A second bite yields a surprising texture and flavor contrast as you hit your first dried cranberry. The little bit of salt perched atop the dark chocolate finishes the chocolate off perfectly.
I'm glad I made these small because they are addictive. I found myself getting my camera out multiple times to photograph these chocolates because photographing them meant cutting into them and once they're cut into, you just have to eat them.
With the extras, I threw together some simple chocolate bark, topped with pepitas and dried cranberries. I'm doing this with all my leftover chocolate from now on.
For my second chocolate, because really, you knew it would be a chocolate, I made salted caramel crack(ers). While these may not have been daring, they certainly were delicious. Who knew that the saltine crackers you ate while sick as a kid could turn into something so addictive and tasty when covered in caramel and dark chocolate? It's hard to have just one bite.
My goal is to turn the leftovers into the Salted Crack Caramel Ice Cream sold at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn. Now I just need to whip up a batch of salted caramel ice cream.
Pepita and Cranberry Brittle Covered in Tempered Dark Chocolate with a touch of Fleur de Sel
based off a Smitten Kitchen recipe, and inspired by some Jacque Torres Chocolates
Vegetable oil spray
2 cups white sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 cup raw, unroasted pepitas
1/2 cup dried cranberries
10 ounces good quality dark chocolate
Make the Brittle: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly coat it with vegetable spray.
Combine sugar, butter, corn syrup and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water in a large saucepan. Stir together until all the sugar is wet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring ocasionally. Watch the mixture carefully as it will foam up quite a bit, and you might need to turn back the heat to medium until it thickens.
Once the mixture turns medium gold (at least 10 minutes), remove it from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda, followed by the salt. Be careful because the caramel will rise quite a bit in the pan and bubble a lot more. Using a wooden spoon, quickly fold in the pepitas and cranberries.
Quickly pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon. When it is still fairly hot and pliable, cut it into a shape of your choice. I opted for small rectangles. Let the pieces cool, separated on parchment paper.
Temper the chocolate: Place 2/3 of your total chocolate in a small bowl at the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Heat, stirring, until the mixture reaches between 113 and 120 degrees. Remove from the heat, and add the remaining 1/3 of chocolate. Stir the mixture together until it reaches 80 degrees. Return the mixture to the heat, and continue stirring until it reaches 89.6 degrees. Your chocolate is now tempered and ready to use!
Dip the Bonbons: Using a fork, dip the candies into the chocolate one at a time. With the chocolate on the fork, tap a few times to remove the excess chocolate, and then slide it across the top of the bowl to remove any remaining chocolate. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, being careful to touch the chocolates as little as possible. Sprinkle with a bit of fleur de sel.
To clean up the chocolates, place the tray in the fridge for no longer than 15 minutes. Remove the tray, and, using a sharp knife, carefully trim the excess chocolate from the edges of the candies. Transfer to a wax paper lined container for storage.
Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers)
from a Smitten Kitchen recipe
40 Saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks), unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 11-by-17 inch baking pan with foil, and then line the base of the pan with parchment paper, cut to fit. Do both these steps. It will make cleanup MUCH easier.
Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, covering all the parts.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add salt and vanilla. Quickly pour over the crackers. Spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.
Bake the caramel-covered crackers for up to 15 minutes, watching it carefully and reducing the heat if the corners begin to darken or burn.
Remove from the oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. Once completely cool, break the crackers into pieces and store them in a container for up to a week.