Desserts, Snacks

sixty eight

Saltine Toffee

Here’s a fact about me: I’m a baker, not a candy maker. If you thought baking was scientific, you wouldn’t believe what candy making is like. I tried making those yummy maple candies once, y’know, the ones that are perfectly solid until the moment they touch your tongue and melt into syrup magic that tastes like autumn? Yeah, those. Well, I poured the ONE ingredient (syrup. (Duh)) into a pot and began boiling it. It all seemed fine, I had a candy thermometer to tell me when the syrup reached exactly 235 degrees F. As you can probably imagine, one second the thermometer read 200 and then I blinked (rookie mistake) and it read 250. I thought “hey maybe it’ll be fine I know my way around a kitchen it’s chill” as I cooled the mixture. It wasn’t fine. The candy didn’t harden properly and tasted just..weird. Maybe I’ll try it again someday, but for the present I’ve decided to try my luck at something a little less candyish. I learned about toffee (in case you were wondering what the actual difference between toffee and caramel is: toffee is essentially just sugar and butter, while caramel is sugar and cream or milk, with butter occasionally. Toffee is cooked to 300 degrees F, while caramel is cooked to about 248 degrees F. Got it? Good). Then I discovered Saltine toffee. My dreams of learning to make other candy floated away the moment I took my first bite of Saltine toffee. Sweet and crunchy and buttery and salty and chocolatey, it’s honestly everything I’ve ever wanted in my mouth all together in one neat package. And it smells INCREDIBLE. If there was a way to make Saltine toffee perfume, I’d probably have more suitors than I’d know what to do with. And I can’t stress enough how unbelievably easy it is to make! Like, SO easy. It takes all of 15 minutes to assemble and then it goes into the fridge. And it makes such a cute homemade gift as well! It does not disappoint.

Toffee (adapted from allrecipes.com)

– about 1 1/2 sleeves Saltine crackers

– 1 stick unsalted butter

– 1 cup dark brown sugar

– 1 bag dark chocolate chips (these work best in my humble opinion)

– Crushed pretzels, nuts, chopped dried fruit, etc

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking tray with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a rolling boil. Pour toffee over the crackers, spreading it a bit if it looks too thick in some areas (don’t worry if it doesn’t cover them completely). Bake for five minutes so that the toffee is bubbling all over. Pour the chocolate chips over the toffee crackers, and place tray back in the oven, making sure the oven is OFF. Let the heat of the oven melt the chocolate for a minute or two, then remove from the oven and spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers. While the chocolate is still melty, pour crushed pretzels, nuts, and/or chopped fruit over the top (I used pretzels for my first batch, and peanuts and walnuts for my second). Place in the fridge for about an hour so the chocolate has time to firm up a bit. Break up the candy into whatever size pieces float your boat and return to the fridge for a few hours to really firm it up or simply consume immediately! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for months!

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Desserts, Snacks

sixty three

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Here’s a secret: when I was little, I wasn’t really that into candy. No, it’s true! I was never that kid hoarding pounds of candy in their closet after a hardcore night of trick or treating. Although I’ve reverted a bit, and now will enjoy a sour patch kid just as much as the next person, I was (and still am) a strictly dark chocolate kinda gal. If I had to get in on the Halloween action it was only Hershey’s Special Dark, Dark Chocolate Milky Ways, or Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms. What can I say, I’m a little bit of a purest. We’ve all got our things. So although I am aware the Dark Chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup actually exists, I figured I’d try my hand at making them from scratch. And it was SO fun and quick (it was even more fun and quick to devour them all in about a day). This also is a super cute gift idea, just put ’em in a little box/mason jar and tie a bow around it- they’ll last for quite a while if you freeze them, or a few days if you leave them on the counter (just don’t do that last part if it’s 90 degrees out. Melty gooey chocolate peanut butter only works in a peanut butter s’more).

Fun fact- if you exchange the chocolate for carob chips/other dairy-free chocolate and the 2 tbsp butter in the peanut center for 2 tbsp vegetable shortening, this recipe will be 100% vegan! Hooray!

PB Cups (adapted from Food Coma Blog and joyofbaking.com; makes about 30)

Chocolate Coating

– 2 cups chopped semisweet or 60% (or higher, but not higher than 80%) chocolate

–  2 tbsp. canola oil

Peanut Butter Filling

– 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

– 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

– pinch of kosher salt

– 1/2-3/4 cup confectioners sugar

Line mini muffin tins with paper candy liners. Melt half (1 cup) of the chocolate and half (1 tbsp) of the canola oil over a double boiler or in the microwave for two 30 second-intervals, stirring along the way to avoid burning. Pour about 1 tablespoon’s worth of the chocolate into the bottom of every liner. Shake/tap the pan a little to evenly distribute the chocolate. Place tray in the refrigerator.

Place the peanut butter, butter, and salt in a pot on the stove or in the microwave for two 30 second-intervals and melt, stirring often to combine. Add the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, creaming together with a fork or whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Drop scant teaspoons of the peanut butter mixture on top of the (now slightly cold/firm) chocolate and put the pan back in the fridge.

Melt the second half of the chocolate and oil in the same manner as before, then remove the pan from the fridge once again, top of every peanut butter cup with the rest of the chocolate (you may need to smash the peanut butter filling down a bit) until covered. Place pan in the freezer and chill overnight or until solid. If you feel like getting fancy, stick a little round pretzel on top of the peanut butter filling before covering with the second round of chocolate. Or omit the salt from the filling recipe and instead sprinkle a little finishing salt on top of the second round of chocolate. You will not be disappointed.

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