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!
|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.
|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.
|I am a big fan of Rum Runners. They’re definitely up there among my favorite cocktails ever*.
As the weather gets cold enough to require jackets and gloves, I realize that this summer was sorely lacking in the Rum Runner department. Though it seems sort of out-of-season now, it’s something we’ll definitely have to correct NEXT summer. You know, as we lounge around on our deck and patio, NOT busting our backs all summer doing tornado cleanup and repairs!
While it may be too cold to pour up a fancy, tropical rum runner cocktail, it’s NOT too cold to whip up a dessert inspired by its flavors!
This was one of the first recipes slated for “The Spirited Baker“. In the course of multiple re-hashes of the layout, format, and groupings… I managed to forget to include it. Whoops! You’ll have to buy the book for the other 160+ awesome recipes!
This recipe seems involved, but it comes together quite easily! The cake should be made at least a day before serving, but can be made even further ahead than that! Feel free to tightly wrap the slab of cake in plastic wrap and freeze for a couple of weeks, allowing it to defrost for an hour or two before cutting it up.
While I like to make up my trifles fresh RIGHT before serving them, many people find that they get better by aging a day or two in the fridge – making them an excellent dessert for entertaining!