Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day = Candy!

Anyone knows that Valentime's Valentine's Day means candy. (Don't you get annoyed when people say 'Valentime's Day? I know I do. WTF?)

At any rate, I decided to make candy to take in to work. I made cashew brittle, coconut dipped chocolates, chocolate-dipped peanut butter-filled pretzels, and chocolate covered almonds.

The coconut dipped chocolates have always been my personal favorite, but today, the hands-down winner was the cashew brittle. Everyone raved, and it disappeared first. It's one of the easiest candies to make in terms of steps, but it requires patience, preparation, and planning.

Cashew Brittle
You MUST have RAW cashews, a candy thermometer, and a wooden spoon to make this candy. All materials must be at room temperature and you must be prepared to work quickly. Prep your working space: near the rangetop where you will make the candy, place a ramekin with 2 tsps. baking soda; one ramekin with 1 Tbsp butter, and another ramekin with 1 tbsp. vanilla extract. Also, prepare a soup-sized bowl with ice water and place it very near where you will make the candy. Butter the bottoms of two large cookie sheets or jelly roll pans and set aside on cooling racks.

In a very large, deep skillet, place 2 cups sugar, 1 cup white corn syrup, and 1/2 c. water.

Heat skillet to medium/medium-high heat. Stir mixture constantly until sugar dissolves; then let boil without stirring until mixture reaches about 240 degrees. At this point, the mixture will form fine "hairs" when lifted from the mixture. Add 1 lb. raw cashews. Continue cooking, but stir frequently to prevent cashews from burning. Cashews will brown rapidly, but keeping them in motion will help prevent burning. Cook until the mixture reaches 290 degrees. Remove a very small portion to the bowl of ice water, and continue stirring in the skillet. Remove the candy from the ice water when it has hardened (about 10 secs) and crunch it in your teeth. If it doesn't stick to your teeth when crunched, it is ready to remove from heat. Do not allow to cook past 310 degrees. Remove from heat as soon as temperature is achieved. Stir in baking soda (warning - it will foam up - skillet should be deep enough to contain it (at least 3 inches deep) and continue stirring. Now add vanilla and butter and stir rapidly until fully incorporated. Mixture will "fall" as you stir it. Divide evenly into the two buttered cookie sheets, pouring the mixture with as much spread as possible. Work quickly to get all syrup from skillet, then using the wooden spoon, quickly spread the mixture in the pans to as thin as possible by working it to the edges of the pans. Allow to cool completely, then break into small pieces.

Now of course, this is the base recipe...I have a few secret tricks I use to make it even better. To clean up your pans, just soak them in very warm water. The sugar will dissolve after about 10 minutes.


At 1:36 PM, February 16, 2007, Blogger pinknest said...

yes yes yes! i love brittle of all kinds. what about making fudge on vday? or do you think that's christmas-y? happy belated vday.

At 11:02 AM, February 18, 2007, Blogger Marc said...

pinknest: any day is a good day for fudge! But it's so dangerously addictive for me that I only make it at Christmas. Thanks for the belated v-day wishes!


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