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Tag Archives: Confections

Salted Peanut Butter Cake Balls

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I really wish someone would write a whole cookbook on things that you can do with salted peanut butter.

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They totally remind me of buckeyes!

I actually feel a little bit guilty about these.  My friend Avery gave me a cake ball baker two years ago for Christmas.  I generally don’t like to jump into the latest trend, but I do get a birthday cake pop at Starbucks every once in a while.   Needless to say, said baker is still in the box and sitting in the basement.

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Then I stumbled upon a little book simply called Cake Balls by Robin Ankeny and Charlotte Lyon.  It turns out you pretty much just bake a cake, crumble it, mix with some frosting, roll it into balls, and voila.  I realize I’m probably the last person on the planet to learn this.

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The point is that the cake ball maker is still collecting dust.   Please, don’t tell Avery.   She just had twin girls three weeks ago, so she won’t have time to read this blog for another 18 years.  Did I mention she already has a two-year-old daughter?

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Cake balls were really just an excuse to use these cutie little wrappers.

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The book describes cake balls as amazingly delicious bite-size treats.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  And here’s a secret:  I used a boxed mix and a can of frosting.  The book contains recipes from scratch, which I am usually a stickler for.  I figured if I was going to spend time scooping, rolling, and dipping, then I deserved a shortcut.

Eat Well and Savor.

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Ohio Buckeye Candy

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Isn’t this perfect timing?  Buckeyes are my go-to Thanksgiving treat AND the Buckeyes jut beat Michigan and are undefeated!

I have seen many variations on this recipe and I am always tempted to try them, but I stick with the original.  No pun intended since my copy is on a refrigerator magnet.  It’s the same one my mom uses and it saves me from having to dig out the book.

Mix together 3 cups of creamy peanut butter, one and 1/2 sticks of softened butter and 2 pounds of confectioner’s sugar.  Form them into small balls.  The recipe doesn’t say this, but it’s best to chill them in the fridge for a half an hour or so.  That will keep them from slipping off the toothpick when you dip it into the melted chocolate.  The magnet says 16 ounces of dipping chocolate.  I can never remember if I prefer dark or milk.  I think this time around I’ve come to the conclusion that dark is better.

You can melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.  I actually saved this old slow cooker and use it expressly for buckeye dipping because the shape of the lid is perfect for keeping a grip on the peanut butter balls.

Speaking of the peanut butter balls, I was a little too tired to do the dipping so I left them naked in the fridge overnight.  It was a joy to be greeted by the lovely aroma of peanut butter the next morning.  Why aren’t there peanut butter scented candles and air fresheners?

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

I’m quite proud of my little table for two.  Especially the centerpiece.  I saw it in the Pottery Barn catalog and had to recreate it.  Here’s the things:  those little corn cobs are individual pieces.  Let’s just say I had to dig out the glue gun while the turkey was cooking.

I always hear this talk about centerpieces.   Many of them are elaborate and huge.  They’re usually beautiful, but I always wonder about those.  Growing up in our house the food was the centerpiece.

Everything came out great, except my stuffing was a little too moist.  I put it  back in the oven, spread it out on a cookie sheet, and promptly forgot about it.  That’s a recipe for charcoal.  I’ll try not to repeat that next year.

In other news:

This pumpkin had a little too much turkey, and she will do anything for a patch of sunshine.  In case you can’t tell, she climbed up onto a folding chair.

Eat Well and Savor.

 

 

 

 

Honey Candy

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There’s just two ingredients:  honey and sugar.

According to Jennifer Reese and Make the Bread, Buy the Butter you just bring it to a boil and get it to 300 degrees, then let it cool in a 9×13 pan.  I am here to tell you that 10 minutes is not enough time to cool.  I’m pretty sure that I have the second-degree burns on my thumbs to prove it.  I’m also pretty sure that it didn’t make as many pieces as was expected.  This would come in pretty handy if I had a sore throat, but otherwise it’s a nonrepeater for me.

Eat Well and Savor.

Apple and Mint Jelly

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The path to hell is paved with good intentions.  I’m not sure if that really applies to this situation.  I basically wanted to say that the jelly actually never happened.  I swear there’s some other phrase that refers to a science experiment gone wrong.

Wanna see what’s inside?

Once upon a time there was two pounds of apples just begging to become jelly and hang out on my buttered toast.  Then the Evil Queen, Annie Rigg, stepped in and ruined everything.  The Sugarplum Princess just needed a little guidance for my first foray into making jelly.  It all seemed simple enough.  The storybook in question is Gifts from the Kitchen and in it the EQ simply says cut up the apples, add water, cover the saucepan, and cook gently until the apple chunks are soft.  Seriously, EQ?  This princess has a life.  Could you at least let me know how long that’s going to take.  Just a little hint would be great.  Do I have time to paint my nails or maybe walk the dog?  Fortunately, the Prince of Pastry stepped in to save me.  I whipped out the new iPad and followed the yellow brick road right to davidlebovitz.com who informed me that not only should I leave the lid askew, but this would take about 20 to 30 minutes.  I swear I let these go about 40 minutes.  And yes, I realize I just made DL a prince and the Wizard of Oz at the same time.

At that point I thought we had stumbled onto a happy ending.  Alas, there is always a twist.  EQ said that whatever you do, when you put the apples into the jellybag, do not push or prod the apples or the juice will be cloudy.  She at least gave a guideline that the extraction would take at least four hours.  The Prince said this too but said that overnight would work best.  I’m here to tell you, it didn’t make a bit of difference.  Also, I swear on the life of my made-up fairytale sidekick that I did not push or prod those apples.  Still, here’s what I was awarded with:

Being the firm believer in Happy Endings that I am, was going to attempt to make what would probably have been the world’s smallest batch of jelly.  That never happened either because I wound up working 9:00 to 7:30 with a bunch of attorneys that around 4:00 started to resemble the flying monkeys.

Actual Happy Ending:  Peaches and Cream mani/pedi at the Four Seasons Spa.

For reals, I am so tempted to abandon this book.  I love her ideas, but her direction is weak at best.  Obviously I don’t blame her for the amount of juice in the apples.  Maybe I will have to cast a sequel this fall.

Eat Well and Savor.

Nougat with Cherries and Toasted Marcona Almonds

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Well, this looks okay here, and it tastes pretty good, but I’m pretty sure I did a lot of things wrong.

I’m pretty close to giving up on Annie Rigg and her Gifts From the Kitchen.  There just isn’t enough guidance.  Especially if you’re like me and you haven’t made a lot of candy.  I was supposed to keep whisking until the mixture stiffens, thickens, and turns pale cream-colored.  I settled for two out of three.

This sat overnight.  At this point I still thought I was in good shape.  I should note that the recipe calls for natural colored candied cherries.  Apparently neon red isn’t the natural color, but that didn’t occur to me until I really looked at the picture.

Along with the cherries there are apricots, pistachios, and Marcona almonds.   An excellent combination, even though after I returned from my errands I discovered that it had turned into nougat soup.

As if I haven’t done enough complaining, there was a lot of cleanup involved too.

And on top of all that, my brand new spatula came apart.

Eat Well and Savor.

Cheeseburger Mashed Potato Parfait

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Comin’ at you live from Portland, Maine.  More about that later.

First, I had this Hungry Girl recipe for lunch today before I left the warmth of my homestead.  I was really looking forward to it, mostly because it was reminiscent of the potato martinis we had at our wedding reception.  These were basically the same idea, except these have a veggie burger hiding in there.

Also, I’m pretty sure they didn’t use ketchup on the martinis.

I am not knocking the ketchup. In fact, I often use it on macaroni and cheese and I’m pretty sure that in my youth I applied it in the same manner to mashed potatoes.

All in all, another hit from Lisa Lillien and 300 Under 300!

In other news:  I am heading up to Fort Kent tomorrow for my niece’s graduation.  I flew into Portland instead of Bangor because 20 or so years ago I used to live here and I wanted to be a tourist for a day.

Tonight I went to dinner at the Pepperclub.   With all the choices in this area how is a girl to narrow it down?  First, it was two blocks away.  Second, Rachael Ray suggested it.

A word or two or a hundred about RR:  I don’t love her.  But back before she became overexposed I used to watch $40 a Day.  I’m all about the travel.  And, of course, I had to buy the book.  I’ve visited a few of her suggestions:  the Adirondacks, Saratoga, and Cooperstown.  Frankly, I wasn’t impressed.   The Pepperclub was her redemption.

This place was adorable.  I was intending to sit at the bar, but there wasn’t one.  It’s a tiny little cafe with friendly wait staff.  I started off with some Pinot Noir and a spring roll.  I would love to post a picture, but my battery died.  Before I made it to the spring roll, though, I had a plate of bread.  I believe they said it was honey wheat.  Whatever the name, it was heavenly.  I hear they turn it into English muffins too.  With my second glass of wine I went for the corn fritters with zucchini, quinoa, and black beans.  Said beans were a little spicy for me, but the rest was delish.  After that I was pretty full, but I still came home with some sea salt truffles.  Lucky for you my camera was ready and waiting.

Even in the to-go box they are as cute as two peas.

I swear that was the best sea salt EVER.

Eat well and Savor.

 

Coffee and Cardamom Toffee

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Here’s how it all began.

Obviously I should have cut my butter into smaller pieces, but it melted just the same.

I realized after that it’s impressive that I made it to this point.  Annie Rigg in Gifts from the Kitchen didn’t really give a lot of guidance.  I was shocked afterwards when I did a  little research and discovered all the possible pitfalls in toffee making.  I guess the Force was with me this morning.  This is the hardball stage.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that this was not easy to remove from the pan.  I guess that’s why there’s a hammer in the picture from the book.

I couldn’t find a neat little toffee hammer, so I used a meat tenderizer instead.

Here’s the version I kept for myself.

Since this is a gift from the kitchen I had to pass it on to Marnie.

Eat Well and Savor.