Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Treats for Gifting

These little gift items are a good example of how I never like anything to go to waste.  Maybe my mum being born in the '30's has something to do with it, but I abhor food being thrown out.  Even when making something that needs to be scraped out of a bowl or container, I'll scrape every last speck out with my spatula before consigning the bowl to the sink.  On occasion this has resulted in a extra cupcake or rum ball and that pleases me to no end.

Broken candy canes are so sad.  These couldn't be hung on the tree as they were a wee bit banged up.   I bought these ones because they were red and white without the green that I always see.  When I opened up the box however, they were in a sad state.
Dip 'em in white chocolate, roll them in sprinkles - I'm sure some sparkly red sanding sugar would have looked great too - and Voila!  Pretty treats.

But what about all the broken bits?

I ground up the broken candy cane bits in the food processor and sieved them.  The larger chunks might go into some dark chocolate cookies later, but the finer peppermint dust was perfect to sprinkle onto the leftover white chocolate from dipping the candy cane sticks!  I didn't need to add any peppermint flavour because the chocolate had lots of bits from dipping the broken candy canes.  It's a subtle flavour and the white chocolate just melts in the mouth.   You can put the chocolate in a squeeze bottle,  plastic disposable bag or I just dropped small amounts from a spoon to make small coin sized drops.
I love that both the candy canes and white chocolate get all used up and I have something to give when a small token gift is appropriate.  The cute glassine envelopes were from InTheClear on Etsy.

These are cute just for decoration on the counter

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Peppermint Marshmallows for Christmas

I'm sure most recipe hungry bloggers out there have come across recipes for homemade marshmallows.  A couple of years ago, it seemed you couldn't shake a stick without hitting 'Gourmet' marshmallows at boutiques and farmers markets.  That being said, they really are such an easy treat, that I hope you won't overlook making them this winter, as they require little in ingredients and are SO superior to their packaged counterpart.

Here the pan has been lined with parchment and well oiled.  Marshmallow is sticky stuff so make sure you have vegetable oil on everything, including your fingers.

Place water, gelatine, and flavouring in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Softening the gelatine like this is called 'blooming'.  I used a mixure of peppermint oil and vanilla extract.  What I didn't know, was that the peppermint oil is REALLY strong.  One drop would suffice for this recipe.

Add the sugar, salt, corn syrup and remaining water to a saucepan and bring to a boil with the lid on.  Once it has come to a boil, take the lid off and continue to cook, without stirring until the syrup reaches the softball stage. (234 - 240 *F)

With your mixer on medium, VERY Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup slowly down the side of the bowl into the gelatine mixture.  Be slow and mindful so the hot syrup doesn't splash up.  If you have a splash guard, great.  Mine has long since gone so I just go slowly and watch what I'm doing.  When all the syrup is in, put the mixer up to full speed.  Beat for about 8 to 10 minutes until fluffy.  It will get voluminous and stiff as it beats.

Quickly pour it into the pan and smooth top with an oiled offset spatula.  I dropped red food colouring randomly onto the top and then swirled it with an oiled toothpick.  Allow to sit overnight.   When ready to cut you can either oil some sissors, a knife or a pizza cutter to cut into cubes.  Mix equal parts rice/corn  starch with icing sugar and roll each cube in the powder.  Shake off excess and store in a tin or tupperware.  These will keep several several weeks.  If they last that long.

Because I found the peppermint oil so strong, my first batch required some doctoring.  Others thought they were fine, but we are always pickier about what we make than the recipients are - non?  I decided the best way to spread the flavour out was to make Rice Krispie Squares.  I chopped up some peppermint candy to sprinkle on the top as well as some red sugar for decoration.

Oh man these are yummy.

Basic Vanilla Marshmallow recipe available at: Brownie Points Blog