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!