I don’t send Christmas cards but I receive many every year. Acknowledging the effort people put into remembering me at the holidays is important. So, each year in January (or early February if my birthday celebrating takes over) I make a special candy treat, write new year well wishes on cards and send off a little something to everyone who sent me a card.
This year I opted for toffee. Super easy, always reliable toffee crack!
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (or whatever you want)
In a microwave safe 8 cup glass bow (I use a glass measuring cup type batter bowl) heat the butter and sugar in 1 minute increments – stirringn after each session.
Critical note – use a wooden spoon to stir. I have tried other utensils but they always break the mixture.
My microwave takes a total of 8 and 1/2 minutes to get to the beautiful caramel color you want.
Spread pour onto a cookie sheet lined with a silpat (or greased aluminum foil). I generally take a big offset spatula and spread it out. Work quickly and then top with loads of chocolate chips.
I generally toss it into a 350 degree oven for a couple minutes to help the chocolate melt. Then using an offset spatula, I spread the delicious melty chocolate over all of the toffee.
Top with finely chopped pecans and let cool completely. Break into bit sized pieces and enjoy!
I typically package in cello bags with a cute ribbon.
Posted in Candy, Christmas, Dessert, Gluten Free, Quick and Easy
Tagged addictive, candy, Chocolate, easy, fast, nits, pecans, toffee
A little art from the kitchen
I like to keep things simple, delicious but simple. A few years ago I became obsessed with high quality chocolate that doesn’t have milk (making it a useful ingredient if you have lactose sensitive family or friends). I also love peanut butter and while there are a lot of recipes for peanut butter brownies, I found most wanted you to make a peanut butter frosting and I couldn’t be bothered.
Peanut Butter Brownies
1 1/2 stick of butter (sliced)
7 ounces of good chocolate (I generally chop up high quality chocolate but you could use chips as well)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Chop chocolate and put in microwave safe bowl with the butter. Heat until the butter melts and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
Add sugar and mix well. Then add the eggs and vanilla. Lastly, add the flour and mix until combined.
Pour into a 9×9 or brownie pan lined with foil and either greased or sprayed with non-stick spray.
Heat the peanut butter for maybe 30 seconds in a glass measuring cup. Stir and then drizzle on top of the brownie batter (bring on your inner jackson pollack. Well don’t splatter)
Bake at 350 for anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes. You don’t want the center to jiggle.
Cool completely and cut into 1 inch or so squares – these little guys are super rich!
Posted in Baking, Bars, Chocolate, Dessert, Peanut Butter, Quick and Easy, Uncategorized
Tagged brownies, Chocolate, easy, one bowl, Peanut butter
Baking on a hot day in a kitchen without air conditioning calls for something quick where the oven will only be on for maybe an hour tops! Enter Acme Baking Company Almond Poppyseed Muffins. These aren’t those giant muffins you find at big box stores but the flavor is pretty close.
Almond Poppyseed Muffins
3 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 tablespoons poppyseeds
1 1/2 cups milk
Whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, extracts, poppyseeds and milk. Add the dry to the wet and mix just until combined. Overmixing will cause tough muffins and no one likes a tough muffin.
Using a large cookie scoop fill lined muffin tins. Batter makes exactly 2 dozen muffins.
Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. The tops should be lightly golden.
Let cool and enjoy! If you prefer a more moist muffin you can make a simple glaze with powdered sugar, milk and a little almond extract.
It seems to have become a thing around here, each week on Sunday afternoon I bake a batch of muffins to enjoy for breaky the next week. This week there were some mini chocolate chips screaming out to be used up so it became obvious that it was time to tackle the Chocolate Chip Muffin.
Micro Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk
Heaping handful of mini chocolate chips
Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl. Then lightly beat the egg, milk, oil and vanilla in another. Add wet to dry and mix just until incorporated. Fold in your chocolate chips.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 12 cupcakes (either with a liner or grease and flour). I made exactly 12 using a large cookie scoop about 3/4 full. So probably a heaping 1/3 cup in each cupcake.
Bake for 16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
These are a fairly dense muffins and you could add a little rock sugar to the top before baking to kick up the sweetness a little.
The Acme Baking Company Christmas box for 2012 contained traditional
treats like ginger thins, fudge, chocolate chip cookies and some more
unique offerings. But, every year new things have to be tried and
included and this year was the year of the marshmallow. Boozy and
traditional graced boxes prepared for families with short people (ie
Boozy marshmallows are a little challenging to make but I promise to
post a recipe and how to instructions eventually. For now, here is my
favorite, simple vanilla marshmallow recipe. Whip some up, toss them
into hot chocolate, on the end of a stick to toasting or just eat them
straight out of the container.
As with all candy making you want to prepare your pan beforehand. We
used an 8×10 pan, you can use something smaller you will just have
slightly thicker marshmallows. Spray the pan with non-stick spray and
wipe most of it out with a paper towel. Sprinkle with powdered sugar;
make sure to coat the pan well.
1/2 cup very cold water
3 packets of gelatin (found in your grocery store near the Jello)
Place the cold water in the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the
gelatin over it before you start making the sugar syrup on the stove.
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
Combine in a 6qt heavy sauce pan. Heat on medium heat and stir until
the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring once the sugar is dissolved and let
the mixture come to a boil – no need to increase the heat. Once the
mixture comes to a boil, let it go for 1 minute and then remove from
2 teaspoons vanilla (or other extract)
Attach the whisk attachment to your mixer and with your mixer on low,
slowly pour the hot syrup into the bowl in a steady stream. Once
combined increase the speed of your mixer to medium high – after a few
minutes add the vanilla and continue to whip for about 12 minutes
Once the mixture if fully whipped it will be fluffy and incredibly
sticky. Coat a rubber spatula or large offset knife with non-stick
spray and scrape out your bowl into your prepared pan. Be patient but
continue to work the mixture until it is spread in evenly in the pan.
Top with a generous coat of powdered sugar and let stand on your
counter for 3 hours or overnight.
There really is not anything you can do to expedite this process, it
just takes this long to firm up. Once firm, lift your marshmallows out
of the pan and place on a cutting board. I used a greased pizza cutter
to cut squares, but you could use shaped cookie cutters for fun
shapes. Toss cut marshmallows into a bowl of powdered sugar to
eliminate sticky edges.
Package in airtight containers. These marshmallows will last about 1 month.
Posted in Baking, Candy, Christmas, Dessert, Gluten Free
Tagged candy, easy, gluten free, holiday, homemade, kids, marshmallow, special, sugar
At Acme Baking Company we don’t claim to be candy makers, before this year our attempts were limited to fudge and this amazing pecan roca that can be made using a microwave. Sure a candy thermometer graces our kitchen gadget drawer but it had never seen the inside of a pot of boiling sugar until now! It can be intimidating but if you follow our instructions you should have success.
We should note, that we typically use a 6qt hard anodized non-stick pot but we think we will graduate to a heavy stainless steel pot soon. The other thing worth mentioning is that candy making is really easy to clean up. It sounds like it would present a sticky mess but remember sugar dissolves in hot water so with a little patience your mess will be cleaned up.
Fleur De Sel Caramels
Before you start it is important that you have your pan prepared. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with non-stick spray. (I generally spray and then gently wipe it mostly off with a paper towel)
1 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (this can be purchased at Williams Sonoma or online – you can also use a whole, split vanilla bean. Just remove it before adding the hot milk to the boiling sugar)
1 1/4 tsp sea salt – finely ground
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
In a small sauce pan, heat the cream, butter, vanilla, paste and salt over medium low heat. Do not boil this mixture but make sure you get it really hot and stir it frequently.
In a large, 6qt, sauce pan heat the sugar, corn syrup and water over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved continue to heat the mixture, occasionally swirling the pan until the mixture becomes a light amber color. This will take some time so be patient and don’t try to rush it by increasing the heat of the burner.
Once the mixture is a nice golden color, stir in the cream mixture. Pour slowly and stir constantly – the sugar mixture will boil up so don’t go too slowly. Once the cream is all added you will not be stirring anymore. At this point you should insert a candy themometer without letting the bulb touch the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking the mixture until it reaches “firm ball” stage or about 248 degrees.
Immediately remove from the heat and pour into your prepared pan – avoid the temptation to scrape the pan. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes or so and then sprinkle the top with a coarsely crushed sea salt. Cool completely and then cut. I typically use a lightly oiled pizza cutter. Wrap the pieces in wax paper, cellophane or foil 4” squares – you can buy these or make your own.
Posted in Candy, Caramel, Christmas, Gluten Free
Tagged acme, acme baking company, baking, candy, caramel, easy, fleur de sel, holiday, sea salt