This year, I’ve decided to supplement my cookie extravaganza by also making five different types of candy. For the record, I don’t like making candy. Producing pots of scalding sugar is not only scary, but prone to error. Nevertheless, I’m determined to replace my terror of candy-making with the satisfaction of creating delectable goodies to give away.
On Sunday afternoon, I cleaned off the counters, wiped down a large slab of marble, and launched into my first batch. I aimed high, choosing to do peanut brittle. In the past, I’ve had a 50% success rate with brittle. You need to bring sugar, corn syrup, and water to a nasty hard crack (305 degrees), add baking soda and peanuts, stir rapidly, and then pour onto foil or an oiled marble slab. What could go wrong?
· I asked Rich to help at the last minute. He was too hasty and after quickly mixing in the baking soda and peanuts, he tipped the entire pan of brittle onto the slab instead of spreading it across the slab. The result… a pile of crunchy peanuts not thin brittle with scattered peanuts
· I used light margarine to oil the marble. Dumb. Light margarine contains water, which doesn’t curtail scalding brittle from sticking to marble. After unsuccessfully prying some of the brittle off the marble, Rich resorted to using a wall scraper (after thoroughly washing it)
In spite of these “challenges,” the brittle didn’t turn out too bad and left me with enough courage to attempt Turkish paste. The recipe I chose used gelatin. When I shopped for my ingredients at Winco (barrels of bulk food), they only had a large box of gelatin for $9. I didn’t want to buy a year’s worth of gelatin, so I bought a small box of four packets at Safeway.
The Turkish paste recipe called for four tablespoons of gelatin. “Surely four packets was equal to four tablespoons,” I assured myself. Nope. Four packets are equal to a little over three tablespoons.
Trust me, I aspire to follow recipe instructions, but I also relish “punting.” And punting I did on Sunday. I supplemented the missing tablespoon of gelatin for an entire box of sugar-free orange Jell-O that I found in the cupboard.
To create Turkish paste, you boil two cups of sugar with 1¼ cups of water, the juice and peels from one lemon and one orange. The peels are cut into strips. It smelled heavenly. You then add the gelatin, stain, and pour into a pan. After it hardens, 24-hours, you cut into squares and roll in a mixture of powdered sugar and cornstarch (I prefer tapioca or rice flour).
Even though I probably added way too much gelatin, the Turkish paste turned out wonderful! I’m anxious to try it again, using rose water. I also found another recipe that doesn’t use gelatin and includes walnuts. Stay tuned for more adventures in this season’s candy-making.