Homemade Gummies

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I had a few lofty goals for Valentine’s Day this year. First was a cheesecake experiment, which unfortunately failed. The cheesecake was tasty, but the presentation just didn’t work out. 😦 So I bumped up my Panna Cotta post to Tuesday, and I tried to come up with something new. Last minute, I decided to make some heart-shaped homemade gummies.

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I started grabbing the equipment and ingredients from my baking “office”, but then realized that I didn’t have nearly enough corn syrup. Since it’s snowing in DC and I didn’t have enough time to go to the grocery store, I starting flipping through cookbooks to come up with other options.

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Tada! The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook has a recipe for super-easy homemade gummies, using Jell-O! And what do I have in my baking cupboard, but a box of cherry Jell-O. All was not lost! And within 45 minutes, I had fresh, homemade sweet and sour cherry gummies.

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These gummies are perfect for a last-minute Valentine’s Day treat. Bring them to work, send them to school with the kiddos, or just nibble on a few yourself! You can make them with any flavor of Jell-O and as sweet or sour as you choose. The only ingredient that may be hard to get last-minute is the citric acid, but look for it in the canning section of your local super market or hardware store. (It may be labeled as Sour Salt or Lemon Salt!)

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Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Download the recipe!

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Candy Cane Marshmallows

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There’s a lot to be said about homemade marshmallows. But it can all be mostly summed up in one word: YUM! Homemade marshmallows are scores better than store-bought and are surprisingly simple to make.

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The marshmallows start out with unflavored gelatin and a sugar syrup that’s been cooked to firm-ball stage. The syrup is added to the bloomed gelatin and whipped until light and fluffy. Then flavoring is added, which can range from vanilla to fruity to nutty.

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The marshmallows then “cure” for a few hours, before they are cut in to bite-size pieces. But they can also be swirled with food coloring, layered with different colors or flavors, and piped in fun designs (like Peeps!).

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For the holidays this year, I wanted to make up a batch of peppermint marshmallows. I started off with a batch of white marshmallows with a red swirl, but I wasn’t too impressed. So I decided to layer the marshmallows in red and white and coat them in crushed candy canes!

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The result is delightfully fluffy and minty marshmallows, with a little crunch from the crushed candy canes! They are great on their own but can also be added to hot chocolate for a wonderful hint of peppermint. The marshmallows will keep in an air-tight container for about 3 weeks, if they last that long!

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Serve these marshmallows at your holiday party, or wrap them up in cellophane bags tied with red and white ribbon for holiday gift giving. I know that, to keep myself from gobbling them all up, I’ll assemble some marshmallows in to pretty gift bags for holidays! 😉

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

Eggnog Caramels

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I mentioned on Tuesday that I had a ridiculously long list of Christmas baking last year, most of which I didn’t get to. (Isn’t that the way it always is?) This week I got to cross two things off this year’s list: Tuesday’s Homemade Eggnog and today’s Eggnog Caramels.

The Eggnog Caramels originated as an idea to use leftover holiday nog. I figured I could replace the usual heavy cream with eggnog, and tada! Well, the process was slightly more complicated than that…

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These caramels take an exceptional amount of patience, something I’m usually lacking. All of my previous caramel experience has been of the sauce variety, so making caramel candy was a new adventure in persistence and patience.

For my first batch, I grabbed my big soup pot that I usually use when making caramels (the one that won’t boil over when it furiously bubbles), clipped on my fancy new digital candy thermometer, and got started. When the caramel was taking “too long” to get to the firm-ball stage, I nudged the heat up slightly. And what was, just minutes before, the beautiful aroma of warm milk, maple, and nutmeg quickly turned to that disappointing smell of burnt sugar. 😦

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So I dumped the first batch, switched to a slightly smaller pot so that my thermometer could get a better reading, and started the second batch. This time, I resisted the urge to turn up the heat, and stayed up over an hour past my bedtime carefully watching the caramel bubble away.

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The result was a pan full of beautiful caramel. I’m not a huge fan of eggnog, but I do LOVE caramels. And these are amazing: sweet and creamy, with hints of maple and a good amount of ground nutmeg. I was quite pleased with myself. I even got to try out my new set of candy equipment that I got for my birthday a few weeks ago! 🙂

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These Eggnog Caramels are great for the upcoming holidays and will be a fantastic way to use up leftover nog. (I know that I mentioned on Tuesday that I usually shy away from commercially produced nog, but I wanted to use cooked nog since the caramels are heated to such a high temperature. If you’re concerned about chemicals and preservatives, buy organic nog if you can!) The caramels will keep for up to 3 weeks when stored in an airtight container. Wrap them in wax paper or cling wrap to keep them from sticking together and to make them easier to grab and eat!

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Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

Candied Orange Peel

Last week, I blogged a recipe for an awesome Blood Orange Tart. I made the tart a few weeks ago, and in my current desire to use new ingredients that I would normally throw away, I decided to save the peels from the blood oranges. After the tart was done, I set out to candy the orange peels.

The process of candying peels is pretty easy. The peels are blanched in hot water three times and then cooked in a simple syrup. The peels sit in the simple syrup overnight and are set out to dry for about a day. So it takes a little bit of time to complete, but most of that time is spent waiting in between steps. The actual labor involved is pretty minimal.

And the result is beautiful candied orange peels. The peels can be eaten as is or covered in milk or dark chocolate. The combination of tangy, bitter, and sweet makes them a great snack or treat. The peels can also be chopped and added to cakes, brownies, fresh whipped cream, and many other breads and desserts!

In the recipe below, I used the peels from blood oranges, but feel free to substitute regular oranges instead. You can also use the same method for candying other citrus fruits, like lemon, lime, and grapefruit.

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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