Sponge candy

Every morning I wake up the first thing I notice is the way a fresh blanket of snow reflects light under the slats of my blinds. And every morning the first thing I do as I rise is peek through the same slats and with a giddy little grin turn and move on with my day. I’ve never seen so much snow and for so long. We’re 80 cm over our average for the season and we’re only a month in. Even though my main mode of transportation is my bike and the only way to get around now is my feet, the snow doesn’t bother me as it should. It’s like the weather gods are making up for all the snow-less Christmases and winters we’ve suffered through. I love it.

Because it’s the beginning of the year and for no other specific reason I decided today was a good day to make sponge candy in the form of my favourite chocolate bar, the crunchie. I think they’re delicious. I love that they are light and airy somehow both popping and melting on my tongue. Caramel air covered in chocolate…yummm. You want one?

Seriously, there is nothing complicated to this recipe so long as you know your way around sugar and how to use your brain. Something I couldn’t seem to do to avoid what happened.

This is how the candy turned out. You’ll notice it’s about 1/4 of the size it should be with teeny little air bubbles. Not the texture I’ve been dreaming of.


Even as a first attempt I’ll say I’m disappointed, and this is where I’ll blame the recipe. Haha! Indeed it’s not my fault at all (though common sense now tells me otherwise.) Still, I guarantee it will be gone by tomorrow evening.

Only in my post disappointment searching did I find that mixing the baking soda into the candy mixture is necessary. I also found a vinegar component added to most other recipes. I’m not sure this is significant, but it may help the structure to form a little better.

Sponge Candy

1 c. white sugar
4 T. white corn syrup
2t. baking soda slightly dissolved in 2 t. water
1c. dark chocolate

Line cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper, be sure to well oil the paper.

In a large pot combine sugar and syrup over medium heat. Turn down heat to maintain steady simmer. Cook until light yellow in colour about 300ºf. As soon as the mixture turns colour sprinkle in the baking soda mixture. (Note: this is where I went wrong, the recipe I was following said NOT to mix! Mixing is necessary for even distribution, just be careful not to over mix, you want to keep the air bubbles.)

This is the yellow you need to achieve


Mixture should bubble up and increase in volume by four times. Take off heat and quickly pour mixture on prepared sheet.

Melt chocolate in a double-broiler and slather on sponge. Cool until set. Store in air tight container.

snow in chilliwack

A snowy day to start off 2009. For me I’m not sure it could have been much better. On second thought…it could have, I could have woken up to wonderful scents of crisp bacon frying, gooey cinnamon buns, oozing cheesy eggs and a delicious creamy latte. But I’m content.

Remembering the last year I realize how wonderful it’s been and how happy I am to be where I am. And to start off the year right we begin with oliebollen. Oliebollen translated literally means oil balls, which makes these suckers donuts, dutch donuts. Yum. Traditionally these are made by the mothers and grandmothers of our families but this year I’m old enough to learn.

They are actually a very simple treat to make as far as yeast treats go, they required only half an hour for proofing and maybe the equivalent for frying. Deliciously simple and a blank canvas for flavour this tradition is a diet breaker. To me these are the donuts of all donuts, the super donut if you will, light, and full of dough-y goodness. Like any donut these are highly addictive and too easy to eat, just know that you’ve been warned.

It should be noted, our family always eats oliebollen with raisins and apples dipped in powdered sugar (the word saturated is probably more accurate.) I suppose you could introduce nuts, currants, citrus zest, or spices, just be careful not to make your batter to heavy. To test if the oil is hot enough without a thermometer, which no dutch lady I know owns, my mother taught me to drop in a little piece of bread. If it floats and begins to sizzle the oil is hot enough. I prefer using a thermometer personally, but that’s probably because I’m a little careless when it comes to looking after hot liquids. p.s. this recipe makes about 30 medium-ish donuts that only keep for a day so make sure you have a handful of mouths near by.

Oliebollen

2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
sprinkle of sugar
3 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. raisins
1 apple chopped
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs beaten
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. lukewarm milk

Combine yeast, water and sugar foam for ten minutes.
Stir raisins, salt, apple and flour in a large metal bowl. Add risen yeast, eggs, sugar and lukewarm milk and mix by hand until smooth. Let rise covered by a damp towel in a warm place for 1/2 to 3/4 hour or until approximately double in size.

With two spoons shape batter into balls and drop into deep hot fat at 375ºf. Cook until golden brown, turning if needed. Drain on paper towels. Roll in icing sugar.

I took a nice long walk today, but I forgot my camera. Disappointing I know, the river was gorgeous. Unfortunately my words will never do it justice and you’ll have to wait till next time to see it.

In other news I thought I might share with you the most amazing and inspirational book I have seen this year. Alinea.


I bought it for S. this Christmas (one of the benefits of having the same interests). He loves it, I love it, were both happy, actually, I’m super happy. All I want to do is cook! First, of course, we need chemicals, so our next trip to the city will be in search of soy lecithin and agar agar. Something we can’t find ’round these parts. So we can make this.

Duck with pumpkin, banana and thai aromatics. I do believe I’m drooling already.

The book consists of more than a hundred recipes, but the essays it starts with especially the one by Grant himself are worth the price alone. I’m loving his essay describing the thought process behind his inspiration for food. He’s an incredible chef.

But for now I’m going to go, to end the new year with P.S. I love you, swooning over Gerard Butler and munching on carrot sticks.

May the new year bring you down many new roads. Goodbye 2008.

nut party


I can’t say I truly appreciate the idea of granola. It’s not one of those foods you wake up and hurry to eat; it’s more of a depressing Monday food. I never ate it when I was younger (over developed taste buds) and don’t really know what to do with it besides put it on yogurt; it’s never really been an interesting food. However, it was very interesting today when I made my own recipe. The jist of it is to add your favourite things, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and of course chocolate. I particularly enjoyed this granola by the handful but I suppose you could add a little milk to it, something I’ll try tomorrow morning. This batch included some Easter smarties, a little festive anticipation.

Granola
3 C rolled oats
1/2 C sliced almonds
1/2 C crushed walnuts
1/2 C pumpkin seeds
1/2 C flakes coconut
1/3 C canola oil
1/2 C honey
2 T cinnamon
1/2 C dried cranberries
1 C smarties

Mix all nuts and seeds together in bowl. Whisk oil and honey together (I used fireweed honey) and toss to coat with nut mixture adding cinnamon. Spread out on foil lined baking sheet and dry out mixture at 250 degrees for 2 hours, mixing periodically. Stir in fruit and chocolate and cool completely.

weekend rewards

Fruit pancakes are always the perfect way to start the day under any circumstance. I have been eating pancakes since I can remember eating and these particular pancakes are tremendous. I took out a bunch of frozen berries last night and threw them in the fridge (which isn’t necessary, you could always add them frozen).
Anything can be added to pancakes, spices, fruit, berries, chocolate, jams, nuts, cheese, grains, dried fruits, meat, vegetables, and of course wine. But of all beverages a nice fruit tea works best.
The pancakes I was raised on as a kid were the dutch version called pannenkoek, which are basically a thicker version of a crepe. These pancakes were always eaten for dinner. They consist of eggs, flour and milk and were always (for me) topped with cheese wiz.
These pancakes, however, are by far the most flavorful, versatile and interesting.

Fruit pancakes
2 eggs
1 C milk
2 t vanilla extract
3 T melted butter
1/2 C frozen fruit, thawed
1 1/2 C flour
3/4 t salt
2 t baking powder
2 T sugar

Put the eggs, milk and vanilla extract in the blender until light and foamy (there is nothing like the wake-up call of a blender when you are trying to sleep in on Saturday morning). Add 1/4 C more milk if you are not adding the extracted fruit liquids. Then add melted butter and fruit blitzing quickly. In a bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Gently but quickly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and then let the batter relax while heating griddle (batter will thicken while resting).
The pancakes are flavorful on their own, but of course toppings are recommended.

fruit puddles


With leftover fresh fruit common in this house, not being avid fruit lovers as we are, I decided to journey to the some-what tedious land of jam. My first attempt at this turned out to be fairly satisfying and I am now convinced of my jam making abilities. Of course canning these babies was not in the itinerary and so maybe I have much to learn. Regardless, a little experimenting is always necessary in any recipe, thus the addition of vanilla extract.
My first attempt at a fruit experiment happened at eight years old with a food mill
and some peeled, quarter, cored, uncooked apples. I don’t recall the outcome of the episode, but it probably wasn’t edible.
In this case I used plums and nectarines that were slightly overripe, which made chopping and peeling them slightly more of a challenge, as the flesh beneath the skin was very slippery. I recommend perfectly ripe fruit for easiest production.

Plum jam
1 1/4 C peeled and chopped plums (2 plums)
3/4 C white sugar
3/4 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract (optional)

Cook all ingredients at mild boil (less than medium) for 20 minutes. The consistency I found to be perfect at 20 minutes. The vanilla prominently enhances the flavour of the fruit and was the favourite on the breakfast table.

Nectarine jam
1 1/2 C peeled and chopped nectarines (2 nectarines)
1 C white sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract (optional)

Cook all ingredients at a mild boil (less than medium) for 25 minutes. 30 minutes I found to make the jam a little thicker than desired and I would recommend 25-27 minutes followed by a blitz in the food processor to get rid of the chunks (which I find undesirable.) The vanilla drastically deepens the flavour of the nectarine and brings out the tartness in the fruit.

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