Monday, March 17, 2008
Adventures in Easter Candy
My cropping cronies were talking about this awesome mini-apple dumpling recipe from someone called the pioneer woman. While perusing Stephanie's new blog I Know It's Here Somewhere (welcome to the blogospere, Steph) I saw her link to The Pioneer Woman Cooks and went to have a look-see. Great, great recipes with fabulous pictures. (unlike the ones your eyes are about to endure here) I am enjoying reading through her stories and recipes and encourage those of you who love to cook to check it out. It inspired me to try something i've always wanted to do - make homemade Easter candy. You know i am on a tight budget so i went to AC Moore, armed with coupons and (showing much restraint) bought 2 things of chocolate, a microwave safe squirt bottle and the largest egg mold they had. The directions were very clear-cut (and i quote): A. Melt B. Pour C. Chill Really; those were the directions, along with some pictograms. Lying bastards. How dare you tantalize me with simplicity? It was not that clear cut; not at all. Okay, maybe it would be that easy if you weren't me. I decided that the molds were easily big enough to hold fillings. Sure, there were no directions for how to do molds with fillings, but how hard could that be? I have a great recipe for coconut candy that would make a dandy chocolate egg, so i whipped it up and got to work microwaving the chocolate, filling the bottom of the egg molds and then using a paint brush make a thin layer on the sides.This was a mess and a pain, made more complicated by the phone ringing, but i got it done and the mold went into the fridge for 2 minutes (did i mention the endless chilling and heating and chilling and heating...) then it was filled with coconutty goodness and another layer of chocolate was applied to seal everything in (yeah, precision squirt bottling would not be my Olympic sport) And back into the fridge for 10-15 more minutes. Patience not really being my strong suit either, I thought i'd try my hand at a big egg, no mold. Yep. I pulled out an egg pattern from the scrapbooking stuff, put a piece of waxed paper over it and painted on a layer of chocolate with my squirt bottle 2 minutes in the fridge to set and then i mounded up coconut in an egg-like formation and enrobed it in chocolate after it chilled, i trimmed off the nubbly edges and wrapped it in custom colored foil (i love you Sharpie markers). It actually came out pretty nice, so of course i have no picture of it! While waiting on the second batch of coconut eggs it thought Hey, peanut butter filling would be good. Sure, i have no recipe for peanut butter filling, but why should that stop me? I knew i just had to thicken the peanut butter and sweeten it slightly, so why not add some powdered sugar? Of course, without a recipe there arose some proportion and mixing issues. Right around this disaster I decided that there was no one on the PLANET that i loved enough to suffer through any more of the chilling, heating, heating, chilling, mixing, powdering, popping, molding, unmolding, heating, chilling, squirting, heating, AAUUUGGGHHHHHHH Okay. I took a little break, made some calls, and refocused. Deep breath and examine the mess, Niki. I figured out the right proportions for the peanut butter filling and got some of those eggs going. In the end i had 2 big eggs and 32 small ones which though not perfectly perfect were acceptable (after a little trimming) and (I'm going to assume) tasty. All in all i'd call it a good experiment and a learning experience; there are some things you just have to try for yourself. Will i do it again? Well, i'm not so sure about that, though there is a roll of coconut candy chilling in my fridge that i need to use for something. If you are contemplating making your own candy, here are some helpful tips from me to you: 1) having more molds would make it go faster 2) do NOT chill your filling 3) keep the squirt bottle in the microwave (cap off) and hit 30 seconds on 50% power whenever you walk by so that it is always liquidy and ready 4) forget the paintbrush for filling the nooks and sides of the molds; your fingers work way better 5) considering tips 3 and 4, remember that melted chocolate is HOT before you stick your fingers in it 6) skip it and buy the candy instead.