Friday, December 25, 2009

Fudge!

Oh Yeah!
That's what I'm talking about! Creamy, chocolately, melt in your mouth, holiday goodness.
I have taken on the task of making fudge for my family this year. My Papa used to be the family fudge maker and after he passed away none of us were able to take his place. He made this fudge in secret. Like a jolly elf every December he would start the fudge making process. We would get pounds of fudge and dozens of cookies shipped in old style christmas tins every year. I miss the family tradition and decided I was ready to take on where Papa left off.
I tried to get his original recipe but, sadly no one seems to have it anymore. I poked around on the web and found Hershey's Old Fashioned Fudge and decided it is probably the recipe he would have used so I got my ingredients and began a new/old  holiday tradition.
The Hershey recipe IS exactly like I remember Papa's fudge. Unfortunately for my tastes it was too sweet with no discernible chocolate flavor. The recipe WARNS- do not alter the ingredients. But of course being one of those people who sees warnings as welcome signs I altered, I failed, altered some more, failed etc until I finally got it right. I tweaked the old fashioned recipe a bit and gave it a kick of chocolate flavor that I felt it lacked. The result is a fudge that is creamy, melts in your mouth, and gives a pleasant chocolate flavor.
Some tips for making fudge:
  • Make sure you have a VERY accurate thermometer. You can check the accuracy by boiling water your thermometer should read 212 F. 
  • Use a larger sauce pan than you think you need. fudge boils up then settles back down. It is no fun cleaning chocolate sugar goo out of your burner... trust me.
  • Butter the walls of your saucepan. This helps prevent that stray sugar crystal from finding its way into your fudge and causing crystallization or a brick-like mass from forming in your pan
  • Adding agave syrup will aid in preventing crystallization it works like corn syrup. Sucrose molecules (sugar) like to hang out together and when they get together they bond. Throwing a little fructose (agave syrup) into the mix breaks up the sucrose bonding party and gives nice smooth fudge. 
  • Stir the fudge until you get a full rolling boil then STOP! Do Not Stir! 
  • Rotate your saucepan a quarter turn every few minutes - this may not be necessary if you have an excellent candy making pan or a super nice oven. 
  • Once the fudge reaches the soft ball stage 235-240 F remove from heat toss in your butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR.
  • Once the temperature reaches 110 F STIR! - but not too much... and not too little I am still working this out but 5 minutes seems to be about right.
Papa's Revised Fudge
(I really need a better name! help!)
Adapted from Hershey
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 ounce piece of unsweetened chocolate  (100%  cocoa)
  • 1 cup of nuts (optional)

1. Line 8-or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil. ( Butter the sides of your sauce pan)

2. Mix sugar, cocoa, salt, agave syrup and milk in a bowl until well mixed. Pour mixture into a heavy 4-quart saucepan; add unsweetened chocolate and  cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (use a wooden spoon) until mixture comes to full rolling boil. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)

3. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool at room temperature to 110°F (lukewarm). Add your nuts if your using them. Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. ( This is something I never really saw. The one batch that I beat with a hand mixer (I was lazy but, I learned my lesson!) lost its gloss then turned into a brick, if this happens just melt is down again, cool, then beat- but not too much. It is best to beat by hand. If you beat it until you begin to feel a lot of resistance you should be good to go. There is no fix for under beaten fudge. If it does not set up it will make a good topping for ice cream.) Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature. About 36 pieces or 1-3/4 pounds.

Happy Holidays To All Of YOU!!! Thanks for reading my blog, see you next year!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cake Slice Bakers: White Chocolate Cake




I was feeling a little rebellious when I read this months cake slice recipe for white chocolate cake with a cream cheese and white chocolate frosting. The recipe just seemed kind of bland... I did not want to skip this months bake along so I started fudging the recipe, just a little- at first. I decided to add some freshly made cranberry and orange jam as a filling. Then before I knew it the whole concept just snowballed and I went from something slightly altered to a completely rogue cake.
Please forgive me fellow cake slice bakers! I just can not help but tinker with recipes... maybe I need professional help. Maybe tea with Nancie McDermott, author of our groups current selection, would reel me back in. Maybe you guys will see my version of Novembers cake and accept it for what it is? 
A White chocolate whisper cake with a cranberry and orange jam filling frosted with a white chocolate Swiss Meringue Butter Cream.

I will just let the pictures plead my case!

To see how the other Cake Slice Bakers decorated their White Chocolate cakes go here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A food bloggers dilema

Ok. Here is my problem and I need some advice.
I baked this cake for a work party tonight.


I am really trying to control my urge to cut out just a "tiny" slice for a photo shoot. My coworkers know I blog but would it be weird to show up with a missing slice? What if I replace the slice??
It's a chocolate peppermint cake with pink peppermint filling. I don't know aboout you, but, I feel a liitle sad when I see a photo of a gorgouse cake but no slice shot. I want to see the crumb, the filling, and each layer in all it's cakey glory!
AHHHHHHH!

What is a food blogger to do! HELP!
Update -2:20 pm Miss Sweets gives in to Peer pressure  and the  "good" advice of other food bloggers and makes the cut! Reasoning no one wants to be the first one at a party to cut up such a pretty cake. I'm just taking the first cut pressure off! I will also be using Moogie"s advice. " huh. that's strange. what do you mean there is a slice missing?"  Here's hoping none of them actually read my blog!
For you my friends...

The Slice!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where oh where has all my butter gone!

What in the world happened to my butter?
Hmm I left it here on my counter. Need to get it soft enough for my frosting recipe...

Scout? Where are you?

 
 Hmmm...
SCOUT!
Did You eat my butter??!

Gah! Gross!
Guess I better pull out some more.

 
Now to finish watching Oprah...


 "Oh boy more butter! Yum. "

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Macronage! The saga continues...



The inspiration.

 

The Good





The Bad




The Ugly



Via con Dios my fellow macroneers!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

BYOB Rustic Rye Crackers




I happened to find some really tasty goat cheese at the local farmers market and needed a special cracker to gobble sample it  with. The fancy crackers worthy of this goat cheese would make a dent in my ranch fund (yep I'm house hunting!) so I decided to make my own fancy crackers. The recipe is simple and versatile. Use whatever flours you have on hand combined with your choice of seasonings. I started pretty simple with Rye flour, AP flour, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. I think cracked black pepper would be a great addition for my next batch.

The first batch I made by rolling the dough out super thin then using a pizza wheel I cut into cracker size squares. This was time consuming and I had more dough waiting so for the rest of the dough I just rolled a wedge out super thin, docked it with a fork and baked it as a sheet.


Not bad! Sort of pretty in a rustic-come visit me at my pony ranch sort of way! You won't believe how easy these are.

Rustic Rye Crackers
Adapted from 101 cookbooks


1 1/2 cups rye flour
1 1/2  all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sesame seeds toasted- optional
1 teaspoon  salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup  oil

Preheat oven to 425.
Mix the dry ingredients, then add warm water and oil.  This can be mixed by hand and kneaded on a floured surface or use a stand mixer with a dough hook. The dough should come together and be a bit tacky but not sticky- about 7 minutes with a mixer or 15 minutes if kneading by hand. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest 30 minutes to relax the dough. This will make rolling the dough cracker thin much easier.
Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out on a floured surface as thin as you can. Each time you roll the dough pick it up and rotate it clockwise a quarter turn. This ensures even rolling and lets you know when to add more flour to prevent sticking.
Once your dough is rolled out you can poke holes in the surface with a fork or a pastry docker and cut into cracker shapes, or, if your lazy like me, place the whole sheet on a lightly floured baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes. Check for a golden color or slight browning. Rotate your pan and return to the oven. The baking time will vary according to the size cracker you are making. Just make sure to watch your initial batch carefully until you achieve golden cracker perfection. It is better to under bake than over bake.
Remove pan from oven and let the crackers cool completely. They will crisp up as they cool.