Festive Easy Fudge

The other day, I posted the instructions for how I make Candied Orange Slices, inspired by a Canadian Living recipe for a unique chocolate bark. I used my orange slices to make their bark, and it was fantastic, but….

I’m not a bark person, for the most part. I’m not really big on chocolate in general, and when I am, I prefer it not to be hard. Chocolate sauce on ice cream, fondue, fudge. It’s a texture/sensory issue, for me.

So, I decided that I would take the same ingredients that intrigued me about their recipe, and incorporate it into my basic recipe for quick fudge. I’ve always liked dried cranberries in it – hell, it’s been over 5 years since I posted my Easy Blood Orange Cranberry Dark Chocolate Fudge recipe!

… and it worked SO well. The semi sweet chocolate contrasts well with the sweetness from the candied orange and ginger, the crunch of the nuts contrast well with the chew of those two items and the cranberries. The bright flavour of the orange and heat of the ginger pops through in various proportions, with every bite of fudge tasting different from the last.

Also: it’s pretty! The yellow ginger, orange slices, green pistachios and red cranberries make this a very festive fudge – great to serve or GIVE for the holidays!

Enjoy!

Festive Fudge

1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/3 cup chopped candied orange slices
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3-1/2 cup chopped pistachios
Pinch of salt
3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (about a bag and a half)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Before getting started, line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper, or grease generously with butter. Set aside.

Combine ginger, orange slices, dried cranberries, pistachios and salt, mix well, set aside.

Combine semi sweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. (Alternatively, combine in a microwave safe bowl and nuke for 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth)

Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients. Spread into prepared pan, chill until set.

To serve, use a very sharp knife to cut into squares.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Candied Orange Slices… and Orange-Ginger “Honey”!

I’m really not one for using other people’s recipes at all – I prefer to make my own!

That said, I was surfing Facebook a while back, and saw a recipe that my favourite magazine – Canadian Living – posted: Candied Orange and Ginger Bark! Doesn’t it look amazing?

I had to make it, obviously.

I do candied orange slices differently, though.. so decided that I should share my recipe/ method with you. You know, mostly as an excuse to share gorgeous pictures of these gorgeous orange slices. Make more than you think – you’ll start snacking on them, and they’ll disappear in no time. Best candy ever!

When it comes to making candied/crystallized items, I like to avoid wasting anything. The “byproducts” made in the process are delicious in their own right. You may remember from an old post that when I make Candied Ginger, I actually end up with 3 separate items: the candied ginger, ginger syrup, and ginger sugar.

When making my candied orange slices for the Canadian Living recipe, I decided to shake things up a bit and make my crystalized ginger in the same syrup I cooked the tangerines in.. and ended up with not only my Candied Tangerines, but a lightly orange flavoured crystalized ginger, a ginger-tangerine “honey”, and tangerine-ginger sugar.

The “honey” – a very, very thick, caramelized simple syrup – is fantastic in tea, as an example.

Here’s how I did it.

Candied Tangerine Slices

2-3 tangerines
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Additional sugar

Slice tangerines very thinly – aiming for just slightly thinner than 1/4″. Remove and discard all seeds.

In a large pot, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add tangerine slices, gently stirring to separate and coat with sugar water.

Once syrup comes back to a boil, turn temperature down enough to keep it just at a good simmer – NOT a full boil – and simmer for about 45 minutes. I like to gently stir every 10-15 minutes or so, to ensure all of the slices are getting full exposure to the syrup.

As you wait for the simmering tangerines, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread a good amount of sugar over the parchment paper – a cup or two, enough to get a nice layer of sugar. Set up a drying/cooling rack over the sugar pan.

Once the 45 minutes are up, remove pan from heat. Use a fork to gently remove orange slices from the syrup, allowing excess syrup to drip off into the pan. Arrange drained slices on the rack, allow to drip and cool for 30 minutes or so. Once time is up, flip them and allow to sit for another 30 minutes or so.

Gently dredge orange slices in sugar from the pan, making sure both sides are evenly coated. Arrange on the rack once again, allow to dry overnight.

Store in an airtight container, use within a week or so.

Orange Syrup Crystallized Ginger

1 lb or so of Ginger
1 cup sugar

Additional sugar

Use a vegetable peeler to peel all of the skin (rind?) off of the ginger, carefully slice it all into uniformly thin pieces. (I like to aim for between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick).

Place into pot of tangerine syrup. Bring syrup back up to a boil, turn temperature down enough to keep it just at a good simmer – NOT a full boil – and simmer for about 45 minutes. I like to gently stir every 10-15 minutes or so, to ensure all of the slices are getting full exposure to the syrup.

As you wait for the ginger to cook, top up the sugar in the parchment lined baking sheet. You’ll want a good solid layer.

Once the 45 minutes are up, add 1 cup of sugar to the pot, and stir well. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove ginger from the syrup, allowing excess liquid to drop back into the pan. As you strain liquid off, put ginger into the sugar lined baking pan, tossing to coat.

Allow ginger to cool and dry for a few hours. (Instructions continue under Orange-Ginger Sugar, below!)

Orange-Ginger Sugar

Transfer the ginger pieces to an airtight container, gently knocking them against each other (I’ll roll them in my hands) to dislodge any loose, excess sugar. Cover tightly, store at room temperature.

You’ll be left with a fair amount of excess sugar, mostly clumpy. Run all of that through a food processor until it’s as fine as you’d like it – this will depend on your desired uses for it. Transfer to an airtight container, store at room temperature.

Use it to add a bit of extra flavor to your baking, to coffee or tea, or to rim your cocktail glasses!

Orange-Ginger “Honey”

Once you’ve transferred the ginger to the sugar pan, you will be left with a golden coloured, very thick syrup. You can add a little hot water to thin it out, if you like. Transfer to a clean mason jar, store in the fridge. (It may thicken / harden – it will liquify when warmed up!).

Use in tea, or as a replacement for honey in most recipes.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies

Back in October, I catered a party that had a Christmas theme. I designed the menu to be holiday themed, but with a twist – everything was gluten-free, in honour of the release of Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking.

I included a bunch of seasonal favourites in the spread – gluten-free versions of my Nanaimo Bars, Mini Pumpkin Pies, Mushroom Turnovers, Fruitcake… and a big spread of cookies.

Among the favourites were these colourful Mint Meringue swirls. Cheap and easy to make, fun to pipe out, and they look so pretty on a holiday sweets platter. Melt in your mouth, too!

Enjoy!

Peppermint Meringue Swirl Cookies
(Makes about a gallon sized baggie worth of cookies)

6 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 1/4 cups sugar
2-3 tsp peppermint extract (NOT peppermint oil)
4 large (or 3 normal and one large) pastry bags

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper. (Do NOT use pan spray!)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, whip on high until glossy peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar – a little at a time – and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Turn off mixer, remove bowl. Gently stir in peppermint extract to taste.

Working quickly but gently, divide the meringue into three bowls. Dye one red, and another green, leaving the third bowl white.

Fit one large pastry bag with a large coupler set and tip of your choice – I used used a 4B, large star tip. Fill the other three bags with one each of the three meringue colours, taking care to avoid air bubbles. I like to tie them off with a little bit of twine, as it keeps things cleaner.

Cut about 3/4″ off the end of the three filled bags and CAREFULLY insert them into the fourth pastry bag, so that the three open tips insert almost all the way into the coupler (NOT all the way into the tip, though!)

Be gentle, you don’t want to squeeze meringue out of one or both of those bags yet!

Use the frosting bag as you normally would, piping small swirls of meringue out onto the prepared cookie sheets. I like to make them just over 1″ in diameter, and leave about 1″ between each little mound.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until just starting to get lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool fully before transferring to an airtight container.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Catching up… and Apple Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn Recipe!

Wow, as it really been 3 weeks since I last posted? Do I really still have Halloween stuff up as the featured content? I’ll get right on that.. Yikes. My apologies! It’s been an insane month. Lemme tell you a bit about it, and punctuate it with a really easy, tasty recipe.

First off, as that last blog entry was posted, I was away in Chicago at a convention. It was WeeM, Chicago Mensa’s Halloween gathering. A great time, on its own… but it’s also the anniversary of my husband and I dating, AND I usually get hired to go and bake a bunch of delicious goodies for the event.

This year was a bit different. Still great on it’s own, but with the added benefit of being able to hang out with a couple of my Chicago based “prison buddies” from my reality show adventure – Duckie & Rim. It was so great to be able to catch up with them – they’re both wonderful people, and it had been a while since I’d seen anyone from that whole experience!

Back on the subject of cooking for WeeM, after a one year hiatus on the baking front, they had me back…with a twist. For the first time ever, they hired me to make SAVORIES! Yes! The whole “just a baker” thing has always been a minor sore point for me, so I welcomed the chance to flex some additional culinary muscle.

I kept the menu fairly simple, aiming to appeal to a wide range of tastes. For the savory part of the spread, I included almost 300 of my famous Mushroom Turnovers, and a couple gallons of Jalapeno Artichoke “Backfire” Dip, both of which went over insanely well.

Just for the event, I made “beet salad” tarts – buttery pastry mini tarts filled with a creamy goat cheese/ricotta mousse, topped with pickled beets, pears, walnuts, and ribbons of fresh basil… they were the first thing to go!

The most “controversial” item on my menu, funny enough… was a gorgeous veggie tray with my Ginger-Wasabi Dip. A couple well meaning individuals raised an eyebrow at the suggestion, telling me that Mensans would NOT touch the veggies. Well, I’m happy to say that my veggie tray was picked clean by the end of the night! Mission accomplished!

It was also the 4th year that I helped organize and judge our “Iron Chef: Hospitality Suite” competition, which is always a great time. It was the first time participating since MasterChef. I promise, I was nice to all our competitors!

As soon as we returned from Chicago, I had two big events to get ready for! On November 1, my latest sewing manual – “Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Superheroes” came out .. and the next day, our friends Michelle and Peter got married!

Because Peter was a complete rockstar for us in the aftermath of the tornado, they were a big exception to my “No more wedding cake, ever!” rule. 🙂 So, I made them a little topsy turvy cake:

Throughout all of this, I’ve been working on administering and promoting our ongoing Kickstarter campaign, “Beyond Flour: A New Kind of Gluten-Free Cookbook“. It’s been a wild experience! The book reached its first goal about halfway through the campaign, and we’re working on stretch goals now! 402 backers, as I write this… amazing. So grateful for all of the support from those of you who have backed, shared links, etc – thank you!

If all of THAT wasn’t enough, I decided – about a week ago, with less than 1 month until the deadline – that I would be dressing my husband up for the premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I’ve been feeling kinda overlooked / underrated in the local costuming “game”, and decided that I would do a replica of the craziest elf costume in the movie – Thranduil. I KNOW!

The costume is coming along wonderfully, though – the coat has over 166 pieces of fabric in it, alone! – and I can’t wait to show you photos of the finished garment. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at the jewelry I made for it:

So… yeah. It’s been a very FULL few weeks. Add a crappy, miserable, STUBBORN cold on top of all that? That’s my excuse for not blogging all this time. Forgive me? I have a recipe!

Caramel corn is great on its own, but I love it even more when it’s loaded with other goodies too – in this case, crisp dried apple slices, the warmth of cinnamon, and nuts!

We used walnut pieces, as that’s what we had on hand.. but this recipe is also great with almonds, pecans, or cashews.

Apple-Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn

20-24 cups popped popcorn (2/3 – 3/4 cup unpopped)
3 cups freeze dried apple slices, broken up
2 cups nuts – pecans, walnuts, or cashews (optional)
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2+ tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 200F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place the popcorn in a large stockpot – how we do it – or divide it between the two cookie sheets. Stir in the apple pieces and nuts, if using. (If using cookie sheets, divide the apples and nuts between the two before stiring well). Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, whisking until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla and cinnamon, whisking until well combined. (You don’t want clumps of cinnamon!). Add baking soda, stir well to combine – caramel will foam up a little.

Pour caramel over popcorn mixture, CAREFULLY stir to coat evenly – Hot sugar is nasty to get burned with! If you mixed it in a pot, divide the caramel corn between the two cookie sheets.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring well every 15 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, I like to switch pan positions in the oven – the one that was on the bottom goes on the top.

Once the hour is up, remove from the oven, break up large chunks of popcorn, and allow to cool. Serve immediately, or transfer to airtight containers for storage.

Enjoy!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Ginger 3 Ways – Candied Ginger, Ginger Syrup, Ginger Sugar

Here at the Porter house, we love ginger. We usually have some fresh ginger root in the house, and go through it pretty fast – sometimes when cooking Indian cuisine, sometimes Asian… but a LOT of the time, we use it for making ginger syrup.

Ginger syrup is great for flavoring and sweetening tea, and also in cocktail making. It’s easy and simple to do, and lasts a long time when refrigerated.

Recently, we’ve taken to being more efficient with the ginger we use for making ginger simple syrup. Rather than throwing away the “spent” ginger, we now use all of it, turning out 3 separate ginger products: ginger syrup, candied ginger, and ginger sugar. Simple ingredients – just fresh ginger, sugar, and water to produce everything! Let me show you how…

First, we start with the candied ginger…

Candied Ginger

Ginger Root – We usually use about 1 1/5 lbs
Water – About 4-5 cups per lb of ginger
Sugar – About 2.5 cups per lb of ginger
Pan spray

Use a vegetable peeler to peel all of the skin (rind?) off of the ginger, carefully slice it all into uniformly thin pieces. (I like to aim for between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick). Place in a large pot with the water, cover, and cook for about 45-55 minutes on medium heat. The ginger should be tender.

Strain off the ginger, reserving ALL of the cooking water (This is what you’ll use for the ginger syrup!). Add your cooked ginger back to the pan, along with the sugar and about 1/4 cup of cooking water per lb of ginger. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down slightly and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

While you’re waiting, set up a baking rack (we use one with a small grid) over some parchment or wax paper, and spray it with pan spray.

Around the 15-17 minute mark, the water will evaporate and the whole thing will crystallize and go dry – once it starts happening, things go quickly! As soon as it’s all dry, dump it all out over your baking rack, spreading and separating the pieces as needed. Allow to cool completely at room temperature.

(Instructions continue under the ginger sugar section!)

Next, we do the ginger syrup…

Ginger Simple Syrup

Ginger cooking water – however much you have left
Sugar

Measure the remaining cooking water, and measure out an equal amount of sugar. For every cup of ginger water, you’ll use a cup of sugar, etc.

Add measured ginger water and sugar to an appropriately sized pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring until water dissolves. Turn the heat up a little, and bring it JUST to a boil.

Once syrup starts to boil, remove from heat, strain through a fine wire mesh into a clean bowl/pot, and let it cool completely.

Transfer to an appropriate container – we’ll usually use clean wine bottles with “tasting” corks, but mason jars work well too. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Finally, the ginger sugar…

Ginger Sugar

This isn’t so much a recipe, as a minor clean up procedure!

Go back to your candied ginger, after it’s completely cool. Transfer the pieces to an airtight container, gently knocking them against each other (I’ll roll them in my hands) to dislodge any loose, excess sugar. Cover tightly, store at room temperature.

You’ll be left with a fair amount of excess sugar, mostly clumpy. Run all of that through a food processor until it’s as fine as you’d like it – this will depend on your desired uses for it. Transfer to an airtight container, store at room temperature.

The candied ginger should last 2-3 weeks when stored properly, IF it stays around that long. It’s great for snacking, baking with, topping desserts with (sliced up!) and even making ice cream out of!

The ginger sugar last much longer, maybe 4-6 months? I don’t know, it’s usually gone before it goes bad. Use it to add a bit of extra flavor to your baking, to coffee or tea, or to rim your cocktail glasses!

How to Make Homemade Marshmallow Cones

Recently, I’ve had my mind on Canadian foods. Something about homesickness really makes you crave pretty much everything you can’t find locally!

Now, I have no idea if today’s recipe is actually Canadian or not, but it’s an example of “Oh, you can’t get them here? Well then, I MUST HAVE SOME NOW!”.

I don’t even remember what made me think of these little confections. They were so readily available in my childhood – you’d buy them by the bag in Zellers (like K-Mart) or whatever… but not something that’s particularly remarkable. When my husband mentioned that he’d never heard of them, though… I decided that I’d have to make a homemade version.

Now, these are accurate in concept and appearance only. The homemade marshmallow that these are filled with tastes downright gourmet to the store bought kind, so it’s not the most authentic tasting… but that’s ok, because these are *awesome*. They’ll definitely be a hit with kids, but adults will love them too – whether they have the nostalgia attached or not.

While pink, yellow, and plain (white) are the traditional sugar colours used for these, I went off in another direction. I like to use Americolor paste colouring for tinting the sugar, for what it’s worth. Colour yours based on favorite colour, school colours, or to match a party theme!

Homemade Marshmallow Cones
Makes about 24

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
Food colouring (preferably paste form!)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mini (sampler sized) ice cream cones

Divide 1 1/2 cups of the sugar among zip seal baggies, 1 bag for each colour you plan to use. Add a drop or two of food colouring to each bag, press most of the air out of the bag, and seal with the zipper. Gently massage the sugar around to distribute the food colouring evenly throughout the sugar, taking care to break down any clumps.

Once the colour is evenly distributed with no clumping, transfer the sugars to individual little bowls, for dipping

In a small, microwave safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of water, set aside.

In medium saucepan, combine remaining cup of sugar, with remaining 1/4 cup of water and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and continue to cook – without stirring – until mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved and completely combined, with no lumps of gelatin.

Transfer sugar syrup to the bowl of a stand mixer, allow it to cool for about 5 minutes.

Beat sugar syrup in a standing mixer (or with a hand held electric mixer) on medium speed until it becomes opaque/white. Once syrup is no longer clear, add the vanilla and turn the mixer speed up to high. Continue whipping the syrup until it is thick, white, glossy, and almost triple the original volume. This may take up to 10 minutes.

Carefully spoon the marshmallow into a large pastry bag. Cut a small amount off the end of the pastry bag, so the opening is maybe 1/2″ across.

Working quickly, insert the end of the pastry bag into one of the mini ice cream cones, gently squeezing while pulling the bag slowly out of the cone, allowing it to fill completely with marshmallow. Let the marshmallow form a bit of a mound on top of each cone, then stop squeezing and pull bag completely away from the cone (you may need to swirl it a bit to avoid a lot end on it!)

As you finish piping each cone, gently roll the top of the cone in the sugar color of your choice, taking care to fully coat all exposed marshmallow.

As you dip each, lay them to rest on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. After a few minutes, the marshmallow may have slid a little – I like to re-dip them if needed, and rotate / reposition each cone to even out the “slide”.

Let the cones set up for a 2-3 hours, then transfer to an airtight container or zip bags to prevent them from drying out. These will last about 3 days, kept at room temperature.

Homemade Crunchie Bars!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted – sorry about that! Things have been utterly insane around here.

We’re still working on tornado repairs. We got our walnut back from the mill, and are about to start working on building kitchen cabinet doors, etc. Exciting – I can’t wait to see it finished – and to BE done!

In addition to that, yesterday we had the release of my first sewing manual in over a decade: “Spandex Simplified: Synchro Swimwear“. It’s been really amazing to see the evolution of this (and my other!) sewing manual. What started out as scrawled notes in a booklet and a black/white photocopied amateur publishing job over a decade ago is now a full color, photographic, professionally printed book. Love it!

No real time to breathe, though, as my next one – “Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Skaters” is coming up quickly, with a release date in just one month!

Whew!

Anyway, taking a moment to post a great recipe for you. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the crummy things about being an immigrant is the difficulty in obtaining a lot of the “homeland” foodstuffs that we love and miss. My homeland, Canada, in particular, has some really great candy bars. Mr Big, Sweet Marie, Wunderbar, Eat-More, Coffee Crisp, Crispy Crunch – Sigh! I’m not even much of a chocolate person, and I’ll find myself craving em from time to time.

So, of course – I’m in the process of creating make-at-home versions of each. Well, when I have a minute, here and there! My next goal is a replica Eat-More bar, which I should have time to look at in late September. Ouch. Anyway, here’s my recipe for homemade Crunchie bars – a bar popular not only in Canada, but in Great Britain and other countries. This is a chocolate coated sponge toffee, and has been a favorite of mine since I was a young kid. Enjoy!

Homemade Crunchie Bars Recipe

2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
2-4 cups chopped chocolate of your choice. (I prefer milk chocolate for this)

Prepare a 9″ x 13″ cake pan with nonstick spray, or a light coating of vegetable oil or shortening. Set aside.

In a LARGE pot (it will bubble up like mad as it cooks!), stir together sugar, corn syrup, and water. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure that it does not touch the bottom of the pan. Bring mixture to a boil, and allow to cook until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (hard crack stage). From the time mixture starts boiling to the time it reaches 300F, do not stir.

Once mixture reaches 300F, remove from heat. Add vanilla and baking soda, beating to incorporate. The mixture will start foaming quite a bit when you add the baking soda (chemical reaction!), so using a LONG wooden spoon is a good idea. The sugar will be very hot, and will burn if you get any on your hand as you stir. Be very careful and work FAST. Continue beating the mixture until the foaming starts to slow down.

Dump foaming mixture into greased cake pan, spreading it out as evenly as possible. Allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes.

When the sponge toffee is starting to harden – but is still quite warm – use a serrated knife to score lines, about 1/4″- 1/2″ deep in the warm candy. These will be the shapes of your candy bars – I like to make them about 1.25″ x 3″, or so. Keep in mind that this is not an exact science, and you WILL have breakage in there.

20 minutes later, go back and re-score the lines you already made, gently cutting a little deeper than last time. Allow to cool completely.

Once toffee is cooled all the way through, remove from pan and gently snap along your score lines. If you don’t plan to dip them right away, be sure to store toffee in an airtight container – the sugar will attract water from the air, and the toffee can go soggy.

In a large bowl, carefully melt your chocolate using whatever method you prefer. I like to use a glass bowl, nuking for 30 seconds at a time in the microwave, many swear by a double boiler. So long as you don’t scorch it, it’s all good.

Using a fondue fork, candy dipping utensil, or (Clean!) fingers, gently dip each piece of sponge toffee, swirling around to coat fully. Allow excess chocolate to drip off before placing each piece on wax paper, parchment, or foil to harden.

Enjoy!

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Massive Post of Holiday Baking and Candy Making Inspiration!

Less than a week to go until Christmas, and still so many reasons to bake loom ahead. Hostess gifts for holiday parties… a good spread for your own holiday party. Christmas dinner. Last minute holiday gifts… New Years’ Eve!

If you’re sitting here, still not sure what to make, you’re about to be hit with the inspiration that you’re hoping for!

I have gone through all of my past blog posts and culled the absolute best recipes for the holidays – all linked here (click on the photos)! Cookies, Candies, Truffles, Bars, and Desserts.

Happy Holidays!

– Marie & Michael

PS: Be sure to take a photo of anything that you make from our recipes, and post it to our Facebook page! We love seeing what you come up with!

Now, on to the recipes…
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Clodhoppers Recipe: Cheap, Quick, Easy, ADDICTIVE Candy!

Here’s another one of those recipes that is so minimalist in both ingredients and preparation, I’m a little embarrassed to post it. Much like my Honey Dill Dipping Sauce Recipe, it may be simple and easy, but it’s a hometown memory for me.

I always enjoy exposing people to “new” ideas – even if only new to them!

Clodhoppers are a very well known candy back home in Canada. One Winnipegger wanted to market his grandmother’s candy, got together with a childhood friend of his, and got to work. Within a few years, the candy was selling all over Canada.

homemade clodhoppers candy

The candy is apparently no longer made in Winnipeg, having been sold to a company on the West Coast – and I’ve since become allergic to gluten, rendering these treats toxic to me – but I’ll never forget em. Super, super addictive stuff.

Was thinking of them, the other day. I’ve never seen them here in the USA, so I decided to create a homemade version for my husband. The proportions turned out beautifully!

Clodhoppers have only 3 simple ingredients – white chocolate, cashews, and graham crackers – and they whip up in no time. Have bowls of this out at holiday parties, or package them up for a hostess gift, stocking stuffer, or “Thank you” that your friends and family will love!

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Peppermint Patties Recipe

When I was a kid, my mom used to make peppermint patties… out of mashed potatoes. I thought it was the weirdest thing in the world, but they sure were tasty! I don’t know what got me thinking of this recently, but I decided to use that information, and come up with my own peppermint patties recipe.

Knowing that I’d only need a small amount of potato, I got a bit lazy .. Err.. CREATIVE, and picked up a couple “sour cream and chive” baked potatoes at Wendy’s!

It only took a minute to scrape off the chives, and voila! Tons of time saved. Suck it, Martha Stewart!

Knowing that my husband hasn’t been fond of peppermint patties – but was willing to have his opinion changed over homemade ones! – I picked up some good dark chocolate to dip these in. You can dip them in whatever chocolate you want – chocolate chips, a few good chocolate bars, or baking chocolate. Also, feel free to play with the flavoring in this! If you’re not a fan of mint, ANY extract can be used! Add a little food coloring, and you can make an assortment of cherry, orange, maple… whatever fillings you can imagine!

This recipe works up quickly. It only takes about 5 minutes to mix it up, another 5 or so to roll/flatten, and probably 10-15 to dip them. SO worth it.

Enjoy!

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