10.09.2014

Licorice Caramels



My mother-in-law is famous for her Black Licorice Caramel.  She makes a batch or two every year at Christmas along with her white fudge and shortbread.  The are always soft, chewy and literally melt in your mouth.  They are completely addicting.  I can never eat just one.

During the holidays I am usually up to my elbows in chocolate and never get around to making them. Why not get ahead of myself and make the perfect Halloween treat?  

Black Licorice Caramel.



 Don't panic thinking you can't make candy.  As far as caramel goes, this recipe is pretty simple with only a few ingredients.  I think it's pretty fool proof.  I was stopping the process and taking photo's.  I was certain I had over cooked the caramel because it sat in the pan while snapping pics, but it was just as soft and smooth as I remember.  You can even get by without a candy thermometer just using the cold water test that you will see as you scroll down.  Give it a shot...why not?


You will need:
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
3/4 teaspoon licorice or Anise oil
3/4 teaspoon black gel food color


Line a 9 x 9-inch pan (or 9 x 13, if you prefer) with non-stick aluminum foil.


Press into the edges and corners.


Lightly butter bottom and sides.  Set the pan aside.


In a heavy medium size sauce pan, add corn syrup.


Add condensed milk.


Stir.


Add 1/4 teaspoon salt.


Add 2 cups sugar.


Mix together well.


Place over medium heat and add 2 sticks of butter.


Stir to blend in melting butter.


Continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil.


Clip on a candy thermometer.


Continue to cook caramel until temperature reaches 232 degrees Fahrenheit.  STIRRING CONSTANTLY.


The recipe states to cook ingredients to 234 degrees, but all thermometers vary as well as boiling point and altitude, so I start checking the candy at about 232 degrees in a cold water test.

Drizzle some of the hot caramel into a cup with cold water.


Pick up the caramel, once it has cooled, and shape into a ball.


Once the caramel holds it shape and is soft to the touch, remove the caramel from the heat.


Now we are going to add the flavoring and color.


Add 3/4 teaspoon licorice oil.  If you are using licorice extract, use 2 teaspoons.


Add 3/4 teaspoon black gel food color.  I like to make sure it's really black so I'm adding a heaping teaspoons.


Stir until the caramel is completely black with no streaks of the caramel color coming through.


Pour into prepared pan and let set for 24 hours at room temperature before cutting.


After the caramel has set overnight.  Turn out upside down onto a cutting board.


The non-stick foil will peel right off.


Let the caramel upside down to cut. For some reason this helps the caramel keep its shape and it won't smoosh down as it is cut.



I made each square a little less than 1 x 1-inch square.


Cut rectangular shaped pieces of waxed paper to wrap each caramel in.


Fold over each side.


Give the ends a twist.







Licorice Caramels
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
3/4 teaspoon licorice or Anise oil
3/4 teaspoon black gel food color

Line a 9 x 9 or 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil.  Lightly butter.  Set aside.

In a heavy medium size saucepan add corn syrup and condensed mild.  Stir.  Add salt and sugar and mix until completely mixed in with corn syrup mixture.  Place pan over medium heat.  Add 2 sticks (1 cup) butter.  Continue to stir to blend in melted butter.  Bring to a boil and clip on a candy thermometer.  Continue to cook stirring constantly.  Once temperature reaches 232 degrees Fahrenheit, drop a small amount into a cup of cold water.  If the mixture forms a soft ball, then remove from heat.  If it is too soft continue to cook to 234 degrees.  Remove from heat.  Add licorice oil and black food color.  Stir until caramel is completely black with no streaks.  Pour into prepared pan and allow to stand at room temperature for 24 hours before cutting.  Wrap in squares of waxed paper.

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10.01.2014

Pumpkin Belgian Waffles with Maple Cream and Speckuloos


It's pretty easy to fall in love with a Belgian Liege waffle.  The waffles are made from a yeast dough with large pearl size sugar folded inside.  The large pearls of sugar melt and form a delicious crunch to these waffles. They are very rich and very addicting.

It's that time of year when I start adding pumpkin into everything I make.  Why not Belgian waffles?
Top with a maple whipped cream and speculoos then say good-bye to that summer bikini bod.


Several years ago I had my eye on an amazing waffle iron at Williams-Sonoma.  It was pretty pricey and I couldn't see spending so much.  I was strolling through every Williams-Sonoma I passed to see if it happened to be on sale.  I finally put the thought out of my head.

During this time my husband was shopping for a TV  I have to mention that our television was about 20 years old and very dated.  He shopped and compared prices.  He has lists and lists on a notebook of particular televisions he liked and their price.  This went on for months and months. Father's Day was approaching and I told  him that he had look around long enough.  I gave him the choice of buying a TV for himself for Father's Day or I would buy him an expensive waffle iron.  I was hoping the threat would encourage him to finally make the purchase.  

During the week prior to Father's day I casually walked into a Williams-Sonoma store to find the waffle iron on sale!!  I bought it.  

Father's day rolled around and my husband still had not decided on a TV.  I had not choice but to follow through on my threat.  I beautifully wrapped the waffle iron and gave it to him.  I can't begin to tell you how disappointed he was with his gift.  Now any other food loving man would have been thrilled.  Needless to say, He has since confessed how much he has enjoyed his waffle iron.  He has taken it on family reunions and scout "camps" aka "condo camp outs".  

We have had many waffle parties throughout or children's teen and young adult years.  He eventually purchased a big screen television and we have enjoyed many waffle creations.  





You will need:

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 squares (8-oz) butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Belgian Pearl Sugar


Add 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast to 1/2 cup lukewarm milk.


Stir to dissolve.  Set aside.


Roughly cut up 2 sticks of butter.


Add flour to a large mixing bowl.


Add the spices:  1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg.


Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.


Mix together.


Add butter to flour mixture.


Mix until the butter is incorporated and has a sandy appearance.


With the mixer running, add  2 eggs.


Add 1/2 cup cooked or canned pumpkin.


Add milk/yeast mixture.


Mix until the dough is smooth and pulling away from the sides.


Scrape down the sides of the bowl and form the mixture into a rough ball.


Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.


Meanwhile prepare the whipped cream.  You will need:

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla


In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together 1 cup cream and 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup.


Add 1 teaspoon vanilla.




Beat until soft peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.


Once the dough has risen for 45 minutes, uncover.


Add 1 cup pearl sugar.


Mix only long enough to incorporate the sugar into the dough.  Don't over mix or break up the sugar.


Scrape down sides of the bowl and fold the dough over a few times to mix in sugar.


Measure 1/2 cup of the dough and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or silicone mat.




Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.  If you want to have the dough ready for waffles first thing in the morning, at this point cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough overnight.  Allow dough to set out at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to cooking.


Place just one portion of the dough into the center of the waffle iron.  Cook for approximately 3 minutes.


Once the waffle is golden brown, remove from waffle iron.

Warning:  Once the sugar melts it is extremely hot.  I use two forks to lift the waffle out.  Getting the melted sugar on your skin is like dripping glue from a hot glue gun.  It hurts!!!!  Please be careful.

Place the cooked waffle on a cooling rack to maintain the crisp outer crust.



Add a dollop of whipped cream and a scoop of speckuloos.  Savor.


 



Pumpkin Belgian Waffles
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 squares (8-oz) butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Belgian Pearl Sugar

Maple Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Speculoos or Biscoff Spread

Add yeast to the lukewarm milk.  Stir to dissolve the yeast then set aside.  In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.  Add softened butter and mix until the mixture is a sandy consistency.  Add eggs, pumpkin, milk mixture and vanilla.  Mix until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.  Mix in pearl sugar and divide dough into 1/2 cup scoops.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.  Cover while heating waffle iron.  Once the waffle iron has heated place one scoop of the dough in the center of the iron.  Cook for about 3 minutes depending on your waffle iron.  Carefully remove waffle once the sugar melts it is extremely hot and can burn your fingers.  Carefully lift waffle out with the aid of two forks. Top with maple whipped cream and a scoop of speculoos.  Makes 9 Belgian waffles.

To make Maple Cream:
Mix together cream, maple syrup and vanilla in a medium size mixing bowl.  Beat until soft peaks form.

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