Monday, January 7, 2013

The Only Chemistry I Understand

I was always pretty bad at Chemistry. Some parts were okay, like how the electrons filled the shells and chemical reaction equations, but for the most part, I hate Chemistry and it hates me. However, baking and candy-making are full of Chemistry, and I can do those!

This Christmas I'm with the in-laws in the northeast US, first time since we got married that Lee and I have been with family for the holidays. We had Thanksgiving with my family, and I made chocolate pudding and lemon meringue pies, and now we're with his family and have a longer time for break. I also didn't have the time to make Christmas presents like I usually do for everyone, and I didn't have time to make pasta for them like I did for my family either, so I'm making a LOT of candy here as the majority of my holiday contribution.

We've got:

English toffee. I do half milk/half dark chocolate, and the Hershey's chips I got this time just didn't set right, and then when I put them into a colder place, they both bloomed so it doesn't look so great. Still tastes fine though!

Cake truffles/balls (original), All Recipes version here. I baked this white cake, made the traditional Joy of Cooking frosting, and dipped them into milk, dark, and white chocolate. For the frosting, I used 1/3 cup of shortening, 2/3 cup of powdered/confectioner/icing sugar, 1/4 tsp of vanilla and 1/4 tsp of another flavor, a generous splash of milk (1 Tb?), and then enough additional sugar to give it a good consistency and flavor. I made two frosting recipes, one with peppermint and one with almond as the other flavoring, and crumbled half of the cake into one and half of the cake into the other. The milk chocolate didn't set correctly this time either, even using the 1 Tb shortening per 1 cup of chips, so I think I may skip the Hershey's chips in the future. The dark chocolate did set this time, and the white chocolate set beautifully. I sprinkled some powdered candy canes on the mint-flavored ones to differentiate them, and I think it's quite cute! They aren't beautiful circular truffles, but that shouldn't affect the taste one bit.

Caramels. This recipe worked beautifully, the only problem I had was that the paper stuck to both batches. Quite annoying; I tossed some chunks after scraping most of the paper off of most of it.

Peppermint marshmallows. I love, love, love these in hot cocoa!

Caramel covered marshmallows. I made vanilla marshmallows, then coated them in caramel, then scraped the 100% stuck-on paper from the caramel with a knife. The vanilla marshmallows are amazing, I highly, highly recommend making them if you want to try making some marshmallows. Luckily, the caramel only covered roughly half of the marshmallows so the rest of it is available for eating, hot chocolate, and these:

Chocolate covered marshmallows. I used some of both types of marshmallow and coated them in milk and dark chocolate, sprinkling the peppermint ones with the candy cane powder again. The dark chocolate ran out with two marshmallows to go, so there are two white chocolate peppermint ones as well.

I'm pleased with how well everything turned out, even if the chocolate didn't always set right and I had to wrestle with the paper on the caramel. Overall, I am very happy with the holiday spread!

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