Friday, September 30, 2011

Candy Corn Confection

Candy corn was invented in the US in the 1880s and at that time was made by hand.
This recipe for the enjoyable Halloween confection is similar to the traditional one.
Using simple ingredients, this sweet treat can be made in one’s own kitchen:

Ingredients:   1 cup granulated sugar
                      2/3 cup corn syrup
                      1/3 cup butter
                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                      2 + ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
                      1/3 cup powdered milk                     
                       ¼ teaspoon salt
                       Red & yellow food coloring

 Method: In a large saucepan combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Bring to a boil over high heat while stirring constantly, then reduce heat to medium and continue boiling for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Remove mixture from heat and add vanilla extract.

Combine the icing sugar, powdered milk, and salt in a separate bowl and add to the mixture in the saucepan, mixing thoroughly. Allow the dough mixture to sit until it's cool enough to handle.

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and place each part in a small mixing bowl. Add orange food coloring to one part (a combination of yellow and red) and yellow food coloring to another part, leaving the remaining part uncolored or white.

Knead the dough in each bowl until smooth and stiff enough to hold its shape, and the colors are even. Wearing plastic gloves can help prevent your hands from being stained by the food coloring.

Still using your hands, roll each part into a long, thin rope, making each rope of equal length. You may need to use a long countertop or tabletop covered with a strip of waxed paper for this. You'll also need to be careful when rolling as the ropes can easily break if you form them too thin.

When you're done, lay the three ropes of dough along side each other with the orange dough in the middle and carefully press them together to make a long, narrow rectangle. A gentle, light rolling with a rolling pin along the length of the rectangle helps to press the rope edges together, but be careful not to flatten the dough so the rectangle stays as narrow as possible, plus you'll also want the kernels plump looking and not flat.

Finally, cut the dough into triangles or "kernels" using a sharp knife and gently shape the kernels with your fingers, if needed. Allow the kernels to sit for a while and become firm.

You'll end up with over a pound of homemade candy corn, some with yellow tips and some with the traditional white tips. There's no getting around it, kneading the dough and forming the ropes is time-consuming, hard work, but the results are worth it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Witchy Coffee

          This is the quintessential libation to enjoy during the Autumn months, or any other time that one is inclined to partake of an unusually flavoured and soul-warming cup of coffee. This beverage is made with an Italian herbal liqueur called "Strega" ("witch") that is made in the Benevento region and contains seventy herbal ingredients. Some of theses are saffron, mint, cinnamon, iris, juniper, and fennel. The traditional liqueur is redolent of minty, conifer notes and pairs well with dark roast coffee.

           To make one generous serving, you will need : 3 tablespoons of Strega liqueur, nine ounces (a little over one cup) of freshly brewed, dark roast coffee, 6 tablespoons fresh cream, and one teaspoon of dark brown sugar. Combine liqueur & coffee in a heavy-bottom saucepan ; stir in sugar, while warming over low heat. When the sugar is completely dissolved, pour the mixture into a large ceramic mug, stir in the cream, and sip slowly to savour the complex flavours. For a more artful presentation, pour the warm pan mixture into a glass goblet with a spoon set over it's top to separate the cream. Garnish the floating layer with a dusting of ground cinnamon, if desired before enjoying. Here's to the Season of the Witch!