Good Home-Made Xmas Gifts

Discussion in 'Food & Wine' started by Adam's Apple, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    NOUGAT
    ¼ c. water
    2-1/4 c. sugar
    ¼ c. light corn syrup
    1-1/2 cup honey
    2 egg whites
    2 T. vanilla
    1-1/2 c. packaged toasted almonds
    1-1/2 cup packaged toasted pistachios

    Butter and line a jelly roll pan or rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, allowing parchment to cover sides and bottom. Don’t skip this step. Nougat is sticky stuff, and the parchment paper is essential.

    Combine water, sugar, corn syrup and honey in a heavy bottom saucepan. Mix to combine. Stir the mixture while bringing it to a boil to insure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Skim off any dark foam that forms on the top. It will boil rapidly as it expels the water you added to the mixture. The boiling will calm down when the water is gone.

    Once the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and cook until the temperature reaches 280 degrees on candy thermometer. Do not stir the syrup as it cooks, as this will encourage crystals to form. While the sugar mixture is cooking, use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down the sides of the saucepan. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture boils up as some water drips back in; it will settle down again when the water evaporates.

    Place the egg whites in a separate mixing bowl. When the sugar mixture reaches 277 degrees, begin whipping the egg whites so that they have reached the soft peak stage by the time the sugar has reached its final temperature of 280 degrees. At soft peak stage, the peak of the whipped eggs will droop a bit when the beater is pulled out.

    Once the sugar has reached 280 degrees, remove from the heat and slowly pour the sugar syrup down the inside of the mixing bowl while continuing to whip the egg whites. Be certain to pour the syrup down the side of the bowl rather than across the whip or it will cool too quickly and become hard. Do this slowly and carefully. Syrup is very hot and can burn you badly!

    Continue whipping until the mixture is cool. This can take up to 15 minutes. Then fold in the vanilla and nuts. If the candy is very stiff, you may need to turn the mixture out onto an oiled surface and work the nuts in by hand.

    Dump the mixture into prepared pan and press flat into place with buttered hands or a buttered polling pin. It is up to you how thick you want it to be, but ½ to ¾ inch thick is a good choice. When set, cut into bite-sized squares.


    MARSHMALLOWS
    1-1/4 oz. unflavored gelatin (about 5 packets)
    2 C. cold water
    3-1/3 c. granulated sugar
    1-1/2 c. light corn syrup
    1-1/2 c. honey
    1 T. vanilla extract
    Powdered sugar (you will need several cups or more)
    Nonstick cooking spray

    Butter a jelly roll pan or rimmed sheet pan and line it with parchment paper. Dust very generously with powdered sugar.

    In a small mixing bowl, add gelatin to 1 cup of cold water to moisten the gelatin prior to use. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. This is called blooming the gelatin. Nothing visibly dramatic happens, but the gelatin absorbs the water.

    Separately combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey and other 1 cup of water in a heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring to insure all the sugar crystals are melted. Skim off any foam that forms on the top. It will boil rapidly as it expels the water you added to the mixture. The boiling will calm down when the water is gone. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, stop stirring and continue cooking until the temperature reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. While the sugar mixture is cooking, use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down the sides of the saucepan. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture boils up as some water drips back in; it will settle down when the water evaporates.

    Remove from heat, set aside and let cool to 210 degrees. While the sugar is cooling, melt the bloomed gelatin over a water bath of simmering water. A water bath can easily be made by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once the water boils, turn the heat down to a simmer. Rest the mixing bowl with the bloomed gelatin over the simmering water. The heat from the steam will gently melt the gelatin without burning it. This will take 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    Add gelatin and vanilla to the sugar mixture. Using the whip attachment on high speed, whip until firm peaks are formed and the mixture is cool. This will take 8-10 minutes. (As the mixture begins to whip, add food color or flavoring, if desired.)

    Scrape the sticky marshmallow onto the prepared sheet pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula that has been sprayed with cooking spray to help prevent it from sticking. Dust generously with powdered sugar and let it set and dry overnight.

    Once set, the marshmallow can be cut into the desired shapes, using a knife or a cookie cutter dipped in powdered sugar. Humidity in the air will melt eventually the powdered sugar. To help reduce how fast this happens, keep the finished marshmallows in an air-tight container or package at room temperature.

    Remember, these are home-made marshmallows and are meant to look hand-crafted. They will not last forever and are best used within one or two days.


    GINGERSNAPS

    ¼ c. butter
    ½ c. coconut oil
    1 c. Splenda
    ¼ c. sugar alcohol
    1 T. blackstrap molasses
    1 egg
    1 c. almond meal
    1 c. vanilla whey protein powder
    ¼ c. gluten
    2 t. baking soda
    ½ t. salt
    1 t. ground ginger
    2 t. cinnamon
    ½ t. ground cloves

    Using electric mixer, beat butter, coconut oil, Splenda, sugar alcohol, blackstrap molasses and egg together until mixture is creamy and fluffy. Beat in almond meal, vanilla whey protein powder and gluten, then the baking soda, salt and spices.

    The dough will be fairly soft, but cohesive. Spoon by the scant tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets, shaping a bit with the fingers to make little balls. Flatten balls slightly with the back of your spoon or fingers. Keep in mind when placing cookies on sheets that they will spread slightly.

    Bake at 350 degrees for about 7-9 minutes or until just getting golden around the edges. Cool on wire racks and store in an air-tight container.

    Makes about 42 cookies.
     

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