Sunday, September 25, 2016

Showing love...

One of the ways I show love and affection is through cooking. I will admit baking is a therapy for me as well, so my loved ones always know I'm stressed when they are suddenly bombarded with apple crisp, cookies, pies etc.

Sometimes I'll pick what to make and just put a call out to see who gets it. Made 4 apple crisps and asked if anyone's favorite treat is apple crisp, then delivered to those who responded. I love being able to bake and cook for those I care about and seeing them enjoy what they receive. That being said, I have so many friend who live far away and wish I could send things without them getting stale. A good friend of mine is big into fitness and really careful on what he eats. Due to this I have yet to bake for him. Through conversation I discovered that his favorite treat is caramel. This got me thinking, I'm a talented baker, but I've never tried candy and that would be something I could mail to people as well. Challenge accepted!

Candy making is...interesting. Caramel is pretty basic when it comes to ingredients, sugar, sugar, sugar, dairy, dairy, vanilla. Put it in a pot and mix together as it melts. Watch the temperature, when it reaches a certain point remove from heat, stir in vanilla and poor into a pan to cool, cut and wrap. Sounds easy enough.

I'm stirring away, temperature rising, ingredients well mixed and looking good. Then the temperature seems to plateau. I turn up the heat a bit, no change. Hmmmm...then the mixture begins to boil. A rolling, bubbling, sticky boil. Of course I imagine the horror if this pot were to spill on me, or if the mixture were to boil over.h The water starts to evaporate, stirring constantly for about 20 minutes, as the mixture thickens the temperature suddenly starts to rise. Remove from heat, stirred in vanilla and pour into prepared pan. Looks good, smells amazing, I think we're good!

The pictures I took of the mixture boiling in the pot didn't save, but I did get some process!

Cooling away. The recipe stated to cool completely and then cut. I decided to start cutting as soon as it had cooled enough to hold it's shape. Next time I will cut sooner and more diligently. As it cooled it became harder, like the toffee in a Skor bar, it was difficult to cut and due to the butter in the recipe and the oil coating the pan I had greasy sticky fingers, while using a large sharp knife, trying to cut hard/sticky caramel. 

I made it this far, it finally reached the consistency where you can drop it and it will shatter. When I make apple crisp tomorrow I'll place this on my stove so the heat generated by the oven can soften it and I'll keep cutting. Pieces wrapped and ready! I've learned some things and I'll for sure continue my candy making adventures. I've already learned so much. What should I try next?

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