Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last treat of 2011

For Christmas, I was fortunate to receive many baking, confectionary and decorating supplies such as The Art of Cake by Mich Turner, gum paste molds, spacers, ribbon cutters, petal cutters, a candy thermometer and Sugar Baby by Gesine Bullock-Prado.

Since I already mentioned in my last post that the Mater cake was my last cake of the year and it's already the evening of New Year's Eve, I decided to make something quick and delicious from Sugar Baby using my new candy thermometer (I hate my old one).

I don't have very much experience with making candy/cooking with sugar. I have made vanilla bean marshmallows and fleur-de-sel caramels, but that's about it. In my new book, I jumped right to the hottest recipes (300ºF-310ºF) also known as the "Hard-Crack Stage". This chapter includes recipes for confections such as rock candy, peanut brittle, butter almond toffee, cotton candy, lollipops, and the recipe for my last treat of the year: sponge toffee! The deliciously unique part about the sponge toffee recipe in Sugar Baby is the use of maple syrup (Vermont, where the author is from, has a large maple syrup industry) rather than corn syrup. Two things that my husband loves 1) maple, 2) sponge toffee. I am the wife of the year!

Unlike caramels that you have to constantly stir (for a really long time), once the sugar is dissolved, you just wait and watch until the candy thermometer reads 300ºF. I clipped my old and new thermometer to the sides of the pan just to compare the two and my new thermometer reached 300ºF much quicker! Once it's at the right temperature, you then carefully sprinkle and stir in baking soda, and pour into your pan. Mine was already quite spongey in the pot so I scooped it out rather than poured it and spread it out with a spatula. Easy! I think next time I may not spread it as thinly. It does cool down fairly quickly, making this a great last minute treat.

I may have flattened some of the airy pockets when spreading it with my spatula, but the texture is great and the flavour is delightful.

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope that you have a healthy 2012 with room for a sweet treat here and there!

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