Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bourbon Balls

Or Reindeer balls as Tyrone festively calls them. These are no bake, and a Christmas classic dating back to the 30's (I think). They will definitely be a tradition in the Baker-Barnett household in the future!

Reason to always sift your confectioners' sugar
Also, this recipe makes me realize how much of an appliance crush I have on my food processor. Without it, I would have spent an hour or more crushing vanilla wafers for this recipe.

The original recipe stated that you could simply roll the mixture into balls, but I found that pinching it together to make it stick, then shaping into balls was more effective.

Gimme some sugar!

These were so good...Tyrone and I had to test a few of them. ;)

Bourbon Balls
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
25-50 balls depending on size


1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup bourbon or dark rum
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Also needed: fluted candy cups measuring 1-1.25 inches

1) Sift 1 cup confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl.

2) Mix together bourbon and corn syrup with a wooden spoon, and mix gradually in sugar mix.

3) Combine vanilla wafer crumbs and pecans crumbs and stir into cocoa mixture with wooden spoon.

4) Pinch mixture together to get it to stick, then roll into balls. Roll in sugar(1/2 cup confectioners') and place in fluted candy cup.

Store in between layers of wax paper, keeps for 3 weeks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Salted Butter Caramels

So, this is the start of a candy makin' journey. I decided to make candy for gifts this year, rather than buy gifts. It's cheaper, and less agonizing.

Salted butter caramels are incredible on their own, but even better when they are made by you and given to your friends and family! And really, it's not that hard. It just takes patience, some time, and the ability to stay in the room and watch the caramel cook. This caramel gets very very hot (I have some burns to prove it) so it must be watched at all times.

 I would also like to give a shout out to my friend Kirsten, who assisted in letting me know wax paper works very well for wrappers. Cellophane wrap is IMPOSSIBLE to find in NYC.

Salted Butter Caramels
Adapted, barely, from David Lebovitz
30-40 pieces depending on desired size

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter, cubed and at room temperature

candy thermometer
wax paper

1. Line a 9 inch loaf pan with tin foil, making the inside as smooth as possible. This will provide the shape for the caramels, and you don't want creases all over them! Spray the foil with cooking spray, or lightly grease with butter.

2. Mix cream, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a small saucepan, and heat until it begins to boil. Remove from heat and keep warm during caramel process by covering.

3. Over medium heat, combine sugar and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stirring gently to insure the sugar dissolves. Fit saucepan with a candy thermometer and cook until the syrup reaches 310 degrees. To get an accurate reading of the syrup, the bulb of the thermometer must be fully submerged in the syrup so tilt the pan if necessary.

4. Once the syrup reaches 310 degrees, turn off the heat and whisk in the heated cream mixture until smooth. It will bubble and froth at first, so be careful and gentle.

5. Turn the heat back on and cook mixture to 260 degrees.

6. Remove pan from heat and mix in cubed butter, until all the chunks are mixed in and smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan and let cool for 10 minutes.

7. After 10 minutes, sprinkle the remaining sea salt (1/4 teaspoon) over the top of the caramel and cool completely.

8. Once cool, lift out caramel from pan and peel away tin foil. Slice into desired sized pieces with a long, sharp knife. I found the easiest way to do this was to wet the knife with warm water between each cut. Candies can be individually wrapped with wax paper and cellophane, or stored in layers seperated by wax paper. I do recommend individually wrapping them because they tend to stick together. These will keep for 3-4 weeks.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm back! Happy Holidays!!

GOSH it's been busy. New York during the holidays can be cheery, but also a vicious, vicious place. The one really awesome piece of news is that our new neighborhood plays Christmas music in the street all day. Seriously, cool.

So, I am totally broke this year and have decided to spend hours slaving over a hot stove making candy for gifts, rather than buying gifts. It has been quite a blast so far, so stay tuned for upcoming posts on so many delicious treats. Ones that I would recommend you make!

But first, to start off my slew of holiday cheer-filled blog posts, I will start with a picture of

My very first Christmas tree! And yes, my boyfriend decided to put a stuffed monkey as the tree topper. We are classy, yep. Also, I spent hours stringing all that popcorn and those cranberries. So, I think it is a mighty fine tree.

So, with all the baking and candy making that goes on around the holidays, I thought it might be nice to show you a little trick that I like to use.

Don't you hate it when you reach into the cupboard only to discover that you're beloved brown sugar is completely hard? I detest this so much that I make my own brown sugar when I need it!

Brown Sugar

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses

Mix it with a fork. It will seem like it will never come together. But it will. And now you have nice, fluffy, delicious brown sugar! If you want darker brown sugar, just add more molasses 1 tsp. at a time until you reach the desired coloring.

If you want to make a bunch at once to store, place a piece of bread in the container with the brown sugar.