A Candy Making Flub, Oops

As much as I keep on telling myself I’d like to get back to baking, I keep on doing different candy making projects.  I still  enjoy baking of course, but candy making is so interesting, and fun, and it’s just tacked on to one of those hobbies I circulate from now:  I was never huge into science, but sugar science is so fascinating to me, and I really wish where I went to school, I was able to have a baking class!  I would have learned science so much easier if cookies were in the mix 😉

 

The latest thing I tried was some toffee.  It’s pretty much the same thing as caramel sauce/chews, accept exchange the heavy cream for butter.  You add chocolate and nuts to it after it’s cooled a little, then have your toffee.  All sounds nice and easy, right?  Well it is if you don’t mess up a step!!  I hadn’t looked at the recipe I had found for toffee before doing it, because I was reducing it anyway.  So in my head, I thought you just pour all of your toppings into the bottom of the tray you’re going to pour your toffee into, and then pour the hot toffee over it and you’re done.  Nope!  I’m an idiot, and didn’t realize that maybe boiling hot sugar would burn chocolate and nuts, and of course, of course it did.  My brother noticed it better than I did – to me, it just tasted like it all was burnt.  He was able to figure out it was a layer on it so I was like “A layer?” and tried scraping off some of the chocolate and nuts, and it tasted better!  Still burnt, but I could taste that the actual sugar and butter side of it tasted fine – which was a huge relief!  I always taste, and feel the  consistency of my candy as I go (very carefully, please don’t do this until the sugar you’ve scooped out is COMPLETELY COOL) and that side of it tasted fine when it was on it’s own, so I was baffled.  So being able to figure out it was the other side of the candy.  Sucks because why didn’t I think of that as a factor, but also is good, because it wasn’t my sugar boiling, I still got it as far as smelling and tasting my sugar for doneness is concerned!  Like I said, huge relief 😀

 

I’ve always been a bit skeptical about the method of pouring stuff over your super hot candy, even if it does say let it cool for five minutes.  It’s just a more visual way of doing things, and I don’t want to try and do a visual thing with something that’s so hot – I have my Mom do the pouring into the pan for now, which I may do eventually but like I said dealing with very hot sugar is not something I have to deal with right now, so why even chance getting burned?  I think the best way for me to do things if I want chocolate on them is to let the candy set, melt chocolate and mix in any add ins I want to the chocolate (nuts, etc etc) and just do a dipping of each candy into said chocolate.  That’s the best way for me to do things, and it works without having any errors, which I wouldn’t have realized without this flub, so I guess I owe it a thank you 🙂

 

I also think that doing things in steps in general is a better way to do baking, and candy making.  Any time I’ve tried to do things the way a recipe says, where you layer things in and then bake just has never turned out right for me.  Not saying it doesn’t work, but it’s just not a method I mesh well with, so will stick to my method of doing things in steps because it’s easier to manage, and airs towards the side of having less mistakes.  I don’t mind mistakes, mind you, what I do mind is using, and wasting ingredients!  There were cashews in this toffee grrr -shakes fist-.

 

Have you learned any good tips from mistakes in the kitchen?  Would love to hear in the comments!

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More Truffles Ah Yee

Late night post is ago-go because my brain can’t be quiet at all and sometimes I get the urge to just write so here we are~

 

So I’ve been working on a cheesecake filling for truffles, because cheesecake is my favorite dessert, hands down.  The first time I tried it, the iflling was way too soft for rolling, the candy melts were too thick, and all in all it just was not a pleasant expierence.  So I hunted for some other recipes that weren’t just a cream cheese buttercream, more or less, and found one that was a 1:1 ratio of chocolate to cream cheese.  So I figured, why not play around with that?  If I replaced the milk or dark chocolate with white chocolate or vanilla candy melts, it would turn out tasting just like a cheesecake.  I was a little bummed I didn’t have white chocolate chips, but figured next time I had them, I’d try it.

 

Well my Mom goes to the store, and being the amazing Mom she is, she found white chocolate chips and picked them up, because she  knows I’ve been experimenting with truffles!  I was super pumped, and ready to try my hand at it again.  I beleive they’re candy coating chips, but when I melted them they were so smooth and easy to work with, far easier to work with than the cany melts before which are far better to use as a filling instead of coating.

 

I also tried rolling in chocolate chips first, and they taste great, but at room temp they get mushy.  Not to a melted point, but they’re a little ooey-gooey and I like being able to pick up solid chocolate.  I loved them so much that I made another batch today, for 2 reasons:  first time I tried this recipe, the centers were still softer and hard to roll.  It was doable, but I just wanted a more solid center to mess with, so added twice as much white chocolate to cream cheese.  It worked!  The fillings were way easier to handle, and roll.  I also did that to see if a harder filling would make the milk/dark chocolate not get soft on the outside, and nope!  It still does.  I had read that chocolate chips were bad to use for candy coating, and never realized why until using actual candy coating on the 2nd half of my batch because I ran out of chocolate chips.
I did a room temp test, leaving both truffles out all day.  The chocolate chip covered ones got soft, but the candy coating covered ones stayed hard, and kept that bite to it I want a hard candy shell to have!  It’s so rewarding to have that work, and know there’s a store right in the mall for me to buy amazing candy melts that work as well as these ones did!  I’m still amazed that they stayed hard all day, it’s so great!
It made me realize that the tools of the trade are important.  Like I said, I’ve read in tons of places to use candy coating, and not WIltin, but was liek psssh whatevs I’ll use what I have.  But after dealing with a coating I don’t have to temper, tha tmelted like silk, and that set in the time it took me to roll the last truffle in the chocolate, I’m sold on the candy coating way of making truffles.  I’m going to probably stock up on both white, and molk chocolate flavors of these, so excited that I can use these for candy, and stick with using chocolate chips for baking!  Super pumped that I got a cheesecake filling recipe I really like to, and that I made it by doing some test kitchen attempts before I found something that worked for me, and using a recipe as a basic guideline.  Baking level up, +2!

Getting More Into Candy Making, What I Did for Easter!

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.  I spent time away from the internet, and spent it with family.  I do that a lot sans the internet unjacking, so it was honestly nice to not be on the internet a ton today, really need to do that more.  But this weekend, I’ve been doing more experimenting with candy making in general, and have been having a blast, so I wanted to talk about that!

So the two things I wanted to make for Easter were chocolate covered caramels, and cheesecake truffles.  The caramels turned out great, but cheesecake/cream cheese fillings need some work.  The caramels were a two day process:  I made caramel chews first, like think of the taffy caramels you can get form teh store, and let them set over night.  It was pretty easy to do those, because the process was the same as making caramel sauce, only substituting 1/4 of a cup of water for 1/4 of a cup corn syrup.  But I was really happy with myself:  I could figure out when to take the sugar off of the burner with smell, and the other two times I had my Mom look at the consistancy of the color of the sugar before taking it off the burner because I didn’t want to mess it up.  But I’ve been looking up a lot of tricks on how to tell sugar is done with other senses:  like smell, taste (have to do this one really carefully) and feel (also, be very careful with this).  I also found a cool trick with a glass of cold water, too.  Take some of the syrup on a spoon, dip it in the water, and see what consistancy it is when the sugar is cool to see if it’s how you want it.  But the major sense I use is smell:  If it smells like it’s kind of bitter, on the verge of smelling a little burnt, it’s pretty good to go.  After that, I taste it to see if I want the caramel a little darker, or liek it the way it is, and then if I liek it pull it off and add the rest of the ingredients.  Though I cannot stress how cautious you have to be!  Like I’m all for independance in the kitchen as a blind baker, but some things I know not to test my limits with:  I make sure the sugar is cool enough to touch, and when it’s time to pour the caramel chews into the pan to set, I let my Mom do it because I know I wasn’t comfortable spreading it out on the prepared cooking sheet.  One time I tried pouring caramel sauce in a container and got burnt by sugar, and it’s not an experience I really want to repeat.  Honestly it’s a big step for me baking-wise, because before hand I would have wanted to do everything myself, because in my head not doing eeeeverything means I didn’t make it myself which is silly because pouring caramel into a pan is not even remotely a cooking step haha.  But nice to see I’ve grown up a bit in the year of baking I’ve been doing, for sURE!

 

After waiting over night for my caramels to set (you can wait a few hours, but I wanted to do the dipping the next day – making the centers for the chocolates was exhausting).  I cut the caramels into pieces to pull a part…only to realize I was going to roll them into balls to dip in chocolate anyways, and didn’t have to do that step at all lol.  It was nice to see cutting the caramels wasn’t as sticky as I thought it would be though, and rolling the caramels for dipping even less so:  It was a lot of fun pulling apart the chews like taffy, rolling them and dipping in melted chocolate, and the end result was divine!  I got 20 chocolate covered caramels out of them, and still have about four left because my family has been eating them up, they’re so tasty!  I had a really funny accident in picking what chocolate to dip in, because there were two packages of chocolate chips on the counter and I thought they were the same chocolate.  After my Mom had one and said “These are really good, what chocolate did you use?” I went “…there was more than one chocolate?”  XD turned out we had both milk and dark chocolate, and I used dark for the caramels.  I would normally have used milk if I knew, and honestly the dark is so much better for these caramels because the bitter flavor of the dark chocolate offsets the caramel for this really rich, decadent candy, so woo for happy accidents!  I’ll definitely try using dark chocolate from now on, I usually don’t care for it but really like the richness it adds to home made treats.
So the caramels were a success, but the cheesecake truffles…well, I won’t say they weren’t a success, but I’m still working on the basic recipe for the fillings.  I realized I like working with firmer filings and won’t be trying to do any soft ones without some sort of binding agent involved, because just using cheesecake wasn’t working.  I saw some recipes that had half a cup of melted chocolate and half the cream cheese, so I may try that next time I do these.  This recipe I tried said it needed cookies crushed up in it and I wen “Pshaw! it will be fine” but I seriously think softer fillings need some sort of binding agent in them to make them more pliable, otherwise they just stick to your hands and make a mess while dipping.  I tried using Wiltins Candy Melts for the outer coating as well, and as much as I like them as fillings, they just are too thick, and over powering for my taste as an outer core.  I also tried just keeping cream cheese at a cold temperature, rolling in sugar, and dipping in milk chocolate, but that came out rahter soft and just…tasting like cream cheese balls lol.  Tasted kind of like chocolate cheesecake, but I’m not a huge fan of that, so I really think that doing the 1/2 cup cream cheese + 1/2 cup some chocolate (I’m thinking white, or the vanilla flavored candy melts so it tases liek a cheesecake cuz that’s what I was going for) or just using the cookie crumbs like the recipe said.  I really need to try that and see how much easier it will make working with softer fillings, but as usual, I’m chocolated out for the time being.  I’ll work on it next time I do chocolates, which will probably be for Mother’s Day.

 

I’m really, really enjoying candy making though!  It pairs well with baking, and you can get a bit more creative with it form the getgo, as opposed to straight up following a recipe with baking.  And, I’m super excited to combine it with baking!  Me and my brother already thought of adding caramel chews to brownies, or chocolate covered caramels to the middle of a cookie.  The possibilities are endless!!!  Today I had a cadberry bunny egg which is my favorite candy fro Easter, and it reminded me that I love nougat and really want to try and make tha tnext for candy fillings.  I hope they’re easy to work with though haha.

 

So far my favorite methods are the caramel chews and firmer candy fillings, like a firm chocolate ganache.  Anything softer hasn’t worked for me, but like I said neeed to experiment with adding something firmer into the mix to see if that makes them easier to  manage.  OVerall, enjoying my candy making progress, can’t wait to try more!
I hope yu all had a wonderufl Easter, would love to hear of any goodies you ate or made for the holiday!

I found my favorite way to make Truffles!

So after the last time I did truffles, I’ve been looking lots into making chocolates.  I’ve learned a lot and am excited to try making a ton of fillings and different chocolates, even if I do think the difference between bon bons, and truffles is silly (I’ll still just make the filling and dip it in chocolate, if it has a different filling I’ll call it a bon bon lol).  But I saw on Wiltins website a recipe to do the truffle fillings with candy melts, and just had to try it no matter how chocolated out I was.

 

So today, since I also had some caramel sauce, I decided to use some of my candy melts and make that into a filling.  I have vanilla candy melts around the house, so the filling wound up being a vanilla caramel mix – which I also like better.  Chocolate on chocolate, the flavor doesn’t do much for me.  But the filling turned out perfectly rollable, and melting the chocolates was a breeze!  All of my video watching paid off 🙂

 

The last time I made truffles, rolling them in cocoa powder only was a bust, they melted because there was no coating to keep the soft fillings protected, and had to stay in teh freezer.  This time, I decided to roll in melted chocolate chips, and I’m happy to say after a few hours of being out of the fridge, they kept their shape!  And they’re so delicious – a milk chocolate outside, witha  vanilla caramel filling, yum!  I think vanilla brings out the flavors I prefer to be in fillings – like fruit, caramel, etc etc, so my go to filling is more than likely going to be vanilla flavored candy melts for both that reason, and they’re easy rollability.  I also like using candy syrups to make the ganache instead of heavy cream, for the same reason:  makes the mix thicker, and more rollable, and also adds a lot more flavor than just plain heavy cream.  When I did just heavy cream, honestly didn’t like how it just tasted like plain chocolate – so I guess I’m more of a bon bon person than truffle, since I read that’s really the only difference between the two (even though you can technically do the same technique for making both, as long as the filling is rollable).  Alternatively, If I wanted to do a chocolate center, I’d probably roll in vanilla flavored candy melts instead of chocolate, or butterscotch chips or something because I like the contrast of flavors.  But that general setup is going to be how I make truffles/bon bons.

 

Really excited I got making these down though!  In a way I like to make them.  It took a few times experimenting, but I think I have the way I’m going to make chocolates from now on set – can’t wait to do different flavors, I really want to try making a fruit syrup and combining it for the ganache!

Down the Truffle Rabbit Hole

For Valentines day, I decided to make chocolate caramel cups.  They didn’t turn out too well – weren’t sealed at all, and caramel dripped everywhere, so I thought why not use my left over caramel sauce to try and make truffles?  I was going back and forth about whether or not to do the cup or truffles, and after making them out of chocolate and caramel sauce, I’ve been truffle obsessed.  I can’t stop looking up different wayt to make truffles!  They’re so easy to make!

So at first, I had 1/4 of a cup of caramel sauce left and used 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to  have as my ganache to roll.  That one had absoutely no problems, was super easy to rol, coat, and delicious to eat!  So I figured, since I rolled those in cocoa powder, why not try dipping them in melted chocolate next time?  The caramel truffles had to say cold or else they melted, but having them cold I liked a lot better honestly – at room temperature, you couldn’t taste the blended fudgey awesome that was caramel adn chocolate.  I usually am not a fan of cold chocolate, but for those, I made an acception.

 

So I figure, try some more on Sunday Crystal.  You can use heavy cream, do the traditional recipe, and it’ll turn out just as great!  So I did that today, and…

 

They weren’t hard enough to roll.  I had them in the freezer for five hours, and they just weren’t rollable.  I realize now that I should have upped the chocolate in a heavy cream recipe, because heavy cream is probably thinner than caramel, but I figured at the time that I could just rolls them and it’d work!  But nope – no matter how hard I tried to freeze them, they just weren’t solid enough for said rolling.  Putting them into my candy melts while the melts were too hot was a baaad idea too, because it just made the chocolate melt.  So instead, I froze the candy melts for a while to see if that would work.  But nope again!  Like I said, they were just entirely too soft to roll or work with.
So, as an artist usually does, I improvised!  I mixed the ganache and melts togehter, instead of trying to coat the ganache, and it worked!  It didn’t keep the flavors seperated, but it did make a truffle.  Tasted like a black and white cookie sort of truffle with a soft center.  Since it was a test batch, I only got four of them, but glad I was able to figure out a way to rectify the situation instead of just be discouraged about the situation, which is what I’d normally do.

 

As much as I’d love the experiment more, and try a 2:1 chocolate to heavy cream ratio, I’m honestly truffled out!  THey’re delicious, but bo, are they rich.  The candy melt ganache combo wasn’t nearly as weet as the caramel chocolate ones, but they still were very decadent and full of ooey-gooey truffle goodness.  I thought it was really interesting to see that the ganache still kept it’s softer shape amongst all of the candy elts, and likewise, the candy melts got hard.  So, I think maybe if I upped the flavor profile in the ganache and made it stornger tasting, doing a truffle that way would work?  I’ll have to intentionally do one that way and see how it comes out to see!

 

I’m really enjoying making chocolates, and can’t wait to do more…once I take a break.  It’s me and my brother eating these because my Mom doesn’t want to get hooked on them, and I don’t blame here because they’re so god and hard to not just want to eat them all up after making them XD  But I definitely will be making truffles, and experimenting with them throughout this year!  Didn’t realize how easy they were to make~ I got a little discouraged about making them after the year befor elast and botching them at Christmas, but I think I’m at a far better place in my baking journey atm so I can fix things that go wrong, as I did today.

 

That’s what I’ve been up to in the kitchen!  I say I won’t be making anymore chocolate things, but my brother really wants some chocolate oatmeal cookies…
What have you been up to in your baking?  Would love to hear in the comments!

Baked Good: Thumbprint Cookies

At this point I’ve well surpassed my new years goal of baking one new thing every month, because this month alone I’ve done like 3 new things.  I’ve had a thumbprint cookie recipe for months and just got in the mood to make sme, because they’re a traditional Christmas/holiday cookie, so decided to pull out my recipe…only to find out how useless it was.  The person I got the recipe from is usually a really good baker, so I was stumped as to why the recipe just didn’t work for me.  Maybe it had to do with my environment and the moisture in the air or something, or maybe I just did it wrong because my Mom was able to salvage that batch by adding a bit of extra water, and when I used the second recipe I had I had to add extra water as well.  Every thumbprint cookie recipe I see just has butter as the liquid in it, and sometimes an egg – which, I’m guessing the egg is a matter of preference, because I did my second batch without one and it tasted exactly the same.

 

Sometimes when I pick a recipe to do, it’s because

I want to practice certain techniques.  When I picked the cream puffs, I wanted to learn how to make pastry cream.  For this, I really wanted to practice kneading dough, and creaming butter and sugar together because those two things were major things I’ve been struggling with.  I looked up a super in depth article on creaming butter and sugar together that helped tons, but kneading dough has been something I’ve majorly been struggling with.  I’ve watched tons of videos on it, and hearing how it was done really wasn’t helping me.  What I had to do, is have my Mom show me how it’s done, because honestly I think that’s the only way you can understand how kneading works.  Once the dough feels like it’s a rubber ball you can bounce away, you’re good to go and it was tons of fun to smoosh my dough for a while like it was play dough!  I really want to try making biscuits again after learning kneading, because I’m pretty sure I got gummy, doughy biscuits because I didn’t knead the dough at all.  I’m really glad I finally gave these cookies a go, because I forgot how delicious they were!

 

I also made the jam from scratch, I made an apple one because it’s what I prefer over raspberries.  First time doing that too, and it went pretty well!  But once again, needed to adjust and add water to the batch.  Luckily jam is easy to fix, just add water until you get the consistency you want.  Bright side:  I know how to make apple candies now too probably, with how hard it got at first lol.

Lots of learning curves in the stuff I’ve been baking lately, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge.  I’ve learned so much about baking these past few months doing more advanced things, can’t wait to do more next year!
Remembered to take a picture this time, so I’ll finish the post up with that!

 

Thumbprint cookies

Baked Good of the Month – Cream Puffs

I’m gonna be real here:  I feel like I wrote a post about making choux pastry/cream puffs and either didn’t post it, or posted it and forgot.  But I just tried making choux pastry again after about a month or os of botching my first attempt.  This time, I decided to just try making the puff pastry recipe without having any pastry cream ready because I wanted to see if I could get the recipe down, and I did!  After reading a lot of articles on how choux pastry should look – and was happy to find out that a lot of how you can tell if a choux pastry dough is good is by touch, feel, and texture.  So with all of that in mind, I went to work at the recipe…and it worked!  …Until I forgot to poke holes in  the finished puff and it collapsed ^^;

 

It wasn’t bad though, like there was still air inside some of the pastry, and all of them tasted nice and airy – with the cream in it, it tasted like a fluffy, airy donut.  Was really rich, but light, and both the cream and puff were delicious.  Like legit the only thing that went wrong was I didn’t poke holes in the finished pastry and that made the moisture in the puff make the thing deflate, because I cracked one open straight from the oven and they were nice and hollow on teh inside, just ready for something to be piped into it.  But that one mistake aside, I’m so happy I know how to make choux pastry in a decent fashion!  I have some fine tuning to do, like remembering all of the steps so I don’t wind up with deflated pastry, but really yummy and interested to see how they taste tomorrow.  I like mine rather big, so I woudn up with 12 in my recipe, but I realized that the bigger the puff, the easier it is for it to collapse in on itself so I’m going to work on making them smaller and all equal sizes.

 

I did pastry cream for the second time, as well.  Last time I did it was when I made my banana cream pie, and adding the banana made it a soupy mushy mess.  This time, I just made the cream, and like I thought last time I made it fine the first time but adding the fruit made the balance of the cream get the way it did.  This time it stayed nice, thick, and creamy, and it’s soooo good that I was eating spoonfuls as I piped into the puffs, just really good and I can’t wait to try different flavors with the technique!  I was going to try using a piping bag, but I didn’t find any in the house and the tips I have weren’t going to work with how you get the cream into a puff.  Instead, I just scooped a bit of the pastry out with a spoon and aded the cream in that way.  I need to work on getting enough cream in each pastry, but because of the size differences, and the density of each puff being slightly different it was a little hard to figure out how much cream I needed for each puff.  I think next time, for both measuring out the cream and the puff, I’m going to do teaspoon sized balls to make the consistancy work better.  Or 2 teaspoons, but I just want a simple measurement guide for making them next time, instead of the major eyeballing I did.  Next time, I also  want to add something on top as a ganache, but just plain with cream inside tasted great!

 

I’m so so so happy I got this technique down, and found more tips on how to make choux pastry perfectly.  The process is time consuming, and had some misteps on the way to my puffs being done, but I’m so happy I’m working on perfecting this recipe so I can have another French pastry under my belt!  So far I have choux pastry and French tart crust in my pastry crust artillery,  can’t wait to explor emore pastry making techniques!