I have a weakness for candy …

… but not chocolate. Just cheap suggary candy that I have loved since I was a kid of 10 or so. I have heard there are two types of sweet thing you can favor. One is chocolate which happens when you are older, or if you are like me, you keep that sugar tooth – the one that never grows up. So, if you are like me, you can give chocolate, the big whatever, but you still want all that sugary candy you grew up with and in my case that is amazingly true. And sad at the same time. Very sad.

The things I love in the candy department are truly weird. Let us just start with Swedish Fish – which are not Swedish or Fish, but when I was young I was very allergic to seafood my father said “I just brought you some fish” – ha ha I thought – and then there were Swedish Fish from a department store and I was happier than you can imagine. Every time I eat a Swedish Fish or two it makes me think of my father. Especially now that the come in more “flavors” than red. Not sure what that is flavor that is supposed to be, but i kind of like the lemon and the lime ones the best.

I also love sweet tarts, jelly beans, licorice (black only – the red kind is, so, not licorice), lemon drops, life savers (if they are the flavors I like), Juju Bees (don’t think I am spelling that correctly), Ju Ju Fruit – yes, a very immature palette.

D&D_2099But one of my favorite candies is Zotz – but only the grape ones. Oh, lord this is such a long story, but since it is amazing late, I will save it for a day or two later.

But I do have a grape Zot* now and it is just pretty much amazing.

Just realized I am writing this while Elvis Costello is singing “So Like Candy.” Irony much from Mighty Like the Rose (1991.)

* Do not have the singular and/or the plural of this candy figured out at all. Maybe I am over thinking once again.

Toffee

I first started making toffee when I was pregnant with the Boy – and that is a long time ago. My favorite candy to make in winter, basically the only time we can do it here, is my grandmother Daisy’s Vanilla Taffy. That recipe though required the cooperation of mother nature in the form of really really low humidity. So far, this December that has been few and far between, so I satisfy my candy making desires by making toffee. This is a new recipe to me, but, in the grand scheme of things, I think it turned out very well. A few notes – you must have a candy thermometer. The old methods of figuring if you have heated your sugar enough may have worked 70 years ago, but in this day, that just seems a recipe for a disaster. Buy the damn candy thermometer – they are not that expensive. Or if you have a good digital instant read thermometer, those work too. I finally bit the bullet and got a Thermapen this year. I love it. It was probably last year’s model, but it is nothing short of amazing. And yes, it really works for candy too. dd_1692

So here are the details:

1 cup chopped pecans, or more if that works for you – Renfroes Pecans
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs corn syrup

1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 12 oz bag of Ghirandelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a skillet, dry roast the pecans until they become fragrant. Do not wander away or they will burn, it is inevitable. Let cool and coarsely chop.

Line a 9 x 13 inch baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle half the pecans on the baking sheet forming a single layer. Reserve the rest for the top of the toffee.

Put the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Clip the candy thermometer to the pan, but do not let it touch the bottom of the pot – that will mess up your reading. Heat mixture over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted. Continue to cook, stirring occasional, until the sugar has melted. The toffee is ready when it reaches 295 – 305 degrees F.* This make take 15 minutes or so.

Pour the toffee over the pecans and spread evenly with a heatproof (read: Get It Right) spatula and tap the pan to get any bubbles out.

Let the toffee cool for a couple of minutes and the spread the chips evenly over the surface. Wait 3 minutes, until chocolate looks slightly melted and use and offset spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee. Sprinkle with remaining pecans and press them lightly into the surface.

Let cool at room temperature for at least an hour and put in the fridge overnight to cool completely. Once cooled, pull off the foil and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Can be kept there for three months, but do not expect it will be.

*This is when my OCD kicks in and I pretty much hover over the pot and stir the whole time. Well, off and on anyway.

Source: Simply Recipes

 

Butter Usage – by month – May 2016

11 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Pretzel Toffee – Did not work – need to use a thermometer for the temp of toffee. Damnation

12 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Shortbread with mini chocolate chips & Heath pieces – just saying damn skippy – And my birthday – the 50th. So where do we go from here? Being old that’s where I go anyway. Just something I have to do. I have always said it is better than the alternative.

21 May 2016 – 16 Tbs – Pretzel Toffee – again. This time I got it right. It is stupidly good. Yep. Stupid. D&D_1465

This was not the best month for me. My Fred died and I miss him so. But I also miss my Mom and my little Bering and my big dog Duke. I am kind of tired of people and dogs I love dying.  Yep tired of all this.

Will do better next month – really need to get back into the kitchen and do something useful.

The kitchen always makes me feel better.

Pretzel Toffee

I love toffee. I can’t help myself. And when you pair it with salty pretzels what is not to love?  I am going to plan this carefully – Florida = humidity, but I think past weekend was my time. In May that is a strange land indeed. What the hell, I will give it a go.D&D_1465

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (how would this work if we changed it to brown sugar?)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups of pretzels
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a baking pan with a Silpat. Cover with the pretzels in a single layer. Sprinkle walnuts evenly over the pretzels.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cook until the sugar is light amber in color, about 7 – 10 minutes. It can separate but that’s okay.

Pour sugar mixture over the pretzels with the walnuts. Top with chocolate chips then use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate over the toffee. Cool the toffee in fridge. Then break into big or middle-ish pieces. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Fridge = dry, and in NW Florida, at this time of year, that is a good thing for toffee.

Spring Cooking

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Little creamer red potatoes – local and lovely,

We are spoiled living in Florida – even though it’s north Florida. And in the late winter, which for us is, um.  –  just spring. It hasn’t been all that many weeks ago and the Florida strawberries came in – they were beautiful, perfect, in fact, amazingly cheap. Asparagus comes in next – at least to my mind I really only like it in the spring or late spring, but once it gets over that period I have used it so much that I’m kind of over it.
One of my simple favorites is the tiny red creamer potatoes that are grown locally and sold in the farmers’ market. They are so simply delicious that they take very little to roast them and they are almost sweet when you eat them. I leave them out on the stovetop after roasting. just walk by and get one as I go along making everything else. They rarely last past the day they are made.

Just had a random though – I’m continually on the hunt for a perfect potato salad. Since these are perfect potatoes, why haven’t I tried to come up with that?? Jeez. To the farmers’ market we go.