Just a couple of pretty pics… and a recipe

On the weekend I had planned on making my fave Boxing Day Pie for dindin, but as per usual once I got myself started, I was too exhausted to complete the follow-through.

I was desperate to clean out the freezer (it’s starting to look rather terrifying in there) and instead of using turkey as I would normally on Boxing Day, I pulled out two roast chicken carcasses and I boiled them in nothing but a pot of water. With the chicken-y broth, rather than just toss it out (since I wasn’t making soup that day), I made joak in the crockpot to let blip away for the entire day so I could have sustenance for later that evening. Lemme tell you, joak made with just the broth from a couple of sad looking frozen carcasses? AWESOME. The only thing extra thing I added to the pot was 3 dried scallops. Flavour was perfect, seasoning was dead perfect and it was just an all around wonderful bowl to be eaten when I felt a little better.

chicken, bacon & onion pie

This afternoon, determined to actually do something productive this week in the Christmas department, I started my 2011 Sugar-Craft gift making. Even though I am not a great fan of sweets, I have to admit, making them from scratch is mighty addictive I’ve discovered. In the span of a couple of hours using only variations of butter and sugar with sometimes a bit of milk or honey, I managed to crank out four batches of sweets: Fleur de Sel Toffee, Scottish Tablet and two batches of Hokey Pokey (a.k.a. Honeycomb or Sponge Toffee)

Homemade sugar-crafting… With a very curious cat!

I am rather amazed that more people don’t actually make homemade candy from scratch considering how relatively easy it is to do and how few ingredients are required. The only absolutely crucial piece of equipment that you need, if you’re not brave enough to wing things, is a candy thermometer… and even then, you could technically make a couple of these sweet treats without it.

Having made the Scottish Tablet for a couple of years now, I am confident enough to say that I can make tablet without issue and to be honest, out of the three recipes I made today, it’s probably the hardest since no thermometer is involved and I do it entirely by eye and by feel. The Fleur de Sel Toffee is easy to make, but for some reason I find it difficult not to over-caramelize the sugar, ending up with a slightly too dark toffee.

The HokeyPokey is probably the most fun to watch transform and can be made sans thermometer a la Nigella Lawson, but the first time I did it, mine didn’t even come close to setting up, so I found another recipe to use instead that had actual temperatures I could go by: Martha Stewart. The difference between the two recipes is that Nigella’s calls for golden syrup, whereas Martha’s, is honey.

The awesome thing about using the Martha Stewart recipe is that I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to do something really super special with J & Miss R‘s backyard honey that they let me have this past summer. I’ve been saving it (hoarding?) in a jar in the pantry, waiting for the perfect recipe to experiment with and decided that this was going to be it — the one. I am so glad that I saved the honey and I even more thrilled that the recipe came off without a hitch now that I have an actual fail-proof recipe I can can use to show off such a wonderful homegrown product. I love how the HokeyPokey looks like glass when light reflects off the shattered pieces — it’s absolutely beautiful to look at!

I must say, this stuff is pretty awesome and I am exceedingly proud of my candy-making abilties. I think the only thing that would put this recipe over the top is if I covered each piece in chocolate.. and made it just like the ridiculously expensive stuff we’ve been buying the last two years at IGA for $8 a box. I bet I could do it, too. Maybe another year.

Ya. Srsly.

Hokey Pokey
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp baking soda

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Put water, honey and sugar into the bottom of a saucepan and stir until dissolved, over medium heat. Clamp on candy thermometer and bring to a boil without stirring until temperature reaches 300F. Immediately move pot off the heat and sprinkle over baking soda, whisk until combined and mixture bubbles like mad.
Quickly and carefully pour onto prepared cookie sheet and leave to cool. Do not spread or you’ll lose the beautiful bubbles!
Let cool and break into pieces.

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