The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!
Sadly, that winner will not be me. All is not lost though…
I was so out of my element with this month’s challenge but I didn’t want to use one of my passes so quickly after joining. Although I left it until the very last minute, I ended up having a blast and really think that candy making could become very enjoyable. This months challenge was dubbed ‘Candylicious’ and the only real rules were that we had to make two candies, one of which had to be chocolate and the other could be anything else. I went very basic with fudge and chocolate truffles (the only chocolate candy that didn’t require tempering and a candy thermometer). I haven’t attempted to make fudge since I was a teenager and I didn’t remember it ending up very tasty. I looked for the easiest recipes I could find… baby steps.
The Peanut Butter Fudge is so yummy and a bit of a ‘cheater’ recipe because you beat in icing sugar at the end. It’s a drier, less creamy fudge, which is what I prefer. The Milk Chocolate & Pecan Praline truffles might be the best chocolate I have ever tried in my life! They did turn out a bit too soft, but their taste more than compensates. I either added a bit too much cream or it was the chocolate I used (I didn’t go expensive because of my lack of candy-confidence). It was also ridiculously hot and humid here today (again, because I was a huge procrastinator this month and couldn’t put it off anymore). Anyway, no more excuses, they are insanely decadent regardless!
Peanut Butter Fudge
Inspired by Allrecipes
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups brown sugar (lightly packed)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 cup peanut butter (I used Kraft unsweetened, unsalted)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups icing (confectioners) sugar
Measure the icing sugar into a large bowl or KitchenAid bowl fitted with paddle attachment, set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, salt and cream. Bring to boil and once small bubbles start to form, let boil for 2 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and peanut butter until smooth and immediately pour over the icing sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth, although mine never got quite that far… it more closely resembled large, very moist ‘fudge pebbles’. I pressed the fudge with an offset spatula into an 8″ square pan lined with plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge to set. So if you get a smooth mixture, bonus points to you, but if you get pebbles, fret not! I keep the fudge in the fridge, but it’s best if you take it out and let it come to room temperature before eating.
Milk Chocolate & Pecan Praline Truffles
Inspired by the Cook’s Academy Curriculum, Dublin
For the praline:
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp water
In a preheated 350 degree oven, roast the pecans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cool, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over medium low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to slightly higher than medium and bring the mixture to a boil and let boil until it turns amber in colour (like my photo below shows). Immediately remove from heat and pour over pecans. Allow to cool completely and then break into pieces and process in food processor until desired consistency is reached, you will want a coarse crumb. Set aside. You will have leftover praline but it’s possibilities are endless (ice cream topping anyone?).
For the truffles:
- 250g (9 oz) milk chocolate, the best you can afford (I used PC Milk Chocolate in the 300g bar and have no complaints)
- 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 2 tbsp DeKuyper Buttershots liqueur (or any other butterscotch-flavoured liqueur)
Finely chop the chocolate and put into heat proof bowl, set aside. Over medium heat, bring the cream to just shy of boiling and then immediately remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Gently stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set for 10 minutes and then gently stir in liqueur until entirely mixed in. t this point you need to let the ganache set by leaving it on the counter overnight or in the fridge for a few hours (it was way too hot here today, so it definitely went in the fridge and I had to scoop it fresh out of the fridge instead of waiting for it to come to room temperature). Using a melon baller or teaspoon, form small balls, smoothing and rolling with hands as little as possible. Place in the pecan praline crumbs and roll to coat. Set in candy papers or mini-muffin liners (or simply on parchment) and let set (again, I had to put them back in the fridge).
Thank you Daring Bakers for making me step out of my comfort zone and introducing me to the sweet, sweet world of candy making! So while I didn’t choose the most creative or adventurous recipes for this challenge, they were delicious and I am inspired to try some more of them now.
Do you make homemade candy? Do you have any recommendations on a good candy/chocolate thermometer that doesn’t break the bank?