I’ll admit that I was not thrilled with the idea that my niece chose a prefab Cinderella castle kit from the store for our annual gingerbread session this year. She loves to bake and is now old enough to see the project through from scratch. I was looking forward to designing our own charming chalet or creative candy cottage a la Hansel and Gretel. In the end, the gingerbread castle we put together from the kit still allowed for unique touches. My favorite parts are the mice dancing on the roof and the alien-looking snowmen with the blue eyes (all from the brain of the sweet five-year-old). I need to remember that these activities are, above all, about togetherness and that the outcome will inevitably be as unique and fabulous as the individuals involved.
Second food swap (first in our area!) boomed with bounty. The special aspect of a summer swap is that those with gardens bring their freshly harvested abundance. One day I will have a patch of land with a garden, but for now my swap items are kitchen creations and confections. My items this go around were meringues and black raspberry shrub drink mixers. Everything was “swapped up,” and I returned home with more than I could have ever imagined! The camaraderie is almost as delicious as the goods. I now refer to Food Swaps as “Food Christmas.”
Last month I participated in a community food swap for the first time! Mary has been diligently working to connect our region with the Food Swap Network (read all about it on their site). These photos were taken when I joined her at City Market for the Indianapolis Food Swap. My swap items were riffs on previous recipes made and documented on this blog: Honeycomb Brittle and Porter Candy Apples. I made three types of honeycomb brittle (lavender, toasted almond, black raspberry) and chocolate stout lollipops. At first I was nervous that no one would want to swap for candy, but as you can see I had nothing to worry about. I have been enjoying my swap loot ever since, and now because of Mary’s efforts, Northeast Indiana will host its inaugural swap this weekend. I can’t wait to see what swap-chances await; I hope people will swap for cold-pressed black raspberry shrub drink mixes…
I made it to the post office in the nick of time this weekend to mail off my simple sweet valentines in time for the 14th. I hope they like their favorite juicy Starburst flavors put together to make heart shapes. You can make your own Starburst hearts by gluing (I used Elmer’s) three Starburst on a piece of heavy paper (I used fluorescent poster board cut to fit a long envelope). Candy tiles and juicy hearts!
Begin with a pillowy marshmallow meringue bowl, fill it with fluffy peanut butter mousse, then top it off with a classic chocolate Hershey’s kiss; it’s a bite-sized recipe mash-up to remember, and I call it the fluffernutter kiss.
Make it yourself by combining these recipes:
Stephen Collucci’s Peanut Butter Mousse Consider yourself forewarned on this PB mousse: the stuff is simple spoon-able heaven. This recipe is my standby for filling up killer parfaits and chocolate cookie tart shells.
Martha Stewart’s Meringues I did not pipe them in heart shapes the way Martha does, rather I scooped the meringue into cupcake papers and made a little well in the center using a tablespoon. They baked for a total of 1.5 hours, and cleanup was a breeze.
And if I may, I will tack on a final sentiment to Robin Leach’s signature line:
“Champagne wishes, caviar dreams, and fluffernutter kisses.” Goodnight!
Giant cinnamon ribbon candy | Hand-dipped turtles by a man with 35 years worth of practice | 100 year old diner with a lunch counter across from a candy counter | Candy cane heart pendant lights hanging from a tin ceiling | Best-tasting soda shop lemonade ever | My first visit to the Olympia Candy Kitchen, a place “reminiscent of the days when the world revolved a little slower.” Now that’s more my speed.
It was never so easy to follow a diet. The day began with my sister’s eggnog pancakes covered in maple syrup. After breakfast, my niece and I unwrapped candy and candy canes to decorate a gingerbread house. And when we went to find Santa at an outdoor mall (unseasonably warm for December in Indiana this weekend), we found another jolly man making fresh kettle corn on the sidewalk (kettle corn will sub for candy corn here)! I have to tell you that I have never enjoyed kettle corn so much in life, then I realized that this was the first time I had ever had kettle corn when it wasn’t hot outside. With just the right amount of sweet and savory, popped to warm perfection, it reminded me of the hot chestnuts I ate on the street in Florence one chilly early January afternoon. The day of sticking to the four main elf food groups was also a day I will never forget — thank you Manges Family! Don’t worry, I am eating my fair share of broccoli today.
You know those cozy hexagonal structures of wax made by bees to store their precious goods, including honey? How perfect that this honey brittle recipe also takes on the appearance of its former storage home: the honeycomb! Martha Stewart’s recipe for Honeycomb Brittle has been close to the top of my “I want to make this recipe” mountain since I spied it a few years ago.
All that time I had no idea that I was just four ingredients away from a little kitchen science and my new favorite brittle recipe. The mixture explodes in the pot when baking soda is added at the last minute, which accounts for is delightful airiness. It’s also easy to break apart once it hardens; if you’d like a little more control over the shapes of the shards, just score the brittle with a knife beforehand.
Next time I will add walnuts or almonds to the honey candy, as it is a perfect mix for encasing extra goodies. In part of this batch I set up candles in the brittle and broke them apart to make edible candle holders for plopping atop a honey lemon cake later this week (I will be 32!). The honeycomb brittle was also a fun and sweet crunchy accompaniment to a mug of creamy Greek yogurt the other morning. There’s nothing wrong with pre-celebrating, is there?
Since it stores and travels well, I am taking bags of the light and golden candy to contribute to our family munchies this holiday. Warm (and sweet) Thanksgiving wishes to All.
P.S. Dreaming All Day included me in 50 Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas today – check out her yummy round-up!
After making autumn witch hats, I decided that matching brooms were in order. For the bottom part of the broom, melt together 12 oz. butterscotch chips with 3 tablespoons of nut or sunflower butter until uniform and glossy. Coat 5-6 oz. of chow mein noodles with the golden butterscotch mixture and drop as pyramid piles onto parchment paper. For the broomstick, place a pretzel stick in the middle of the pile and give them about 20 minutes to harden. These brooms are easy to make, easy to serve, and perhaps even easier to eat.
I took my non-edible broom outside this morning to sweep away the last of the fallen leaves on the back porch. The winds are calling for butternut squash soup on the stovetop and cinnamon baked goods in the oven this week. My heart is with those in the path of the hurricane: be safe and keep cozy, my friends.