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  • Pistachio Dried Cherry Torrone ~ March Daring Bakers

    Done 3

    The March 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.

    It’s been a terribly long time since I’ve been able to join in any cooking or baking events. I’ve missed it.  I am so pleased to be able to join in BOTH Daring Kitchen challenges this month.

    I have had this Martha Stewart Torrone recipe on deck for a LONG time and made my own changes to it, but felt the base recipe was easy enough for me to handle!

    Done 2

    And you-know-who is screaming WHY? And in the same breath WHERE’S MINE??

    This was a bit fiddley. I was a bit hampered by not being in my own kitchen. I used a hand mixer that’s affixed to a bowl that turns, so it was a semi-stand mixer type piece of equipment … but not really.

    It needs to sit and ‘dry’ a bit more, but man oh man, this is tasty stuff!

    • 2 pieces edible rice paper, (9 by 13 inches each) wafer paper
    • 1 C sugar
    • 1/2 C honey
    • 3 T light corn syrup
    • 1/2 C water
    • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
    • 1 t pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 C shelled salted pistachios, (about 7 ounces)
    • 1 1/3 C unsweetened finely shredded coconut, (about 4 ounces)
    • 3/4 C dried cherries

    Place 1 piece of rice paper in a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside.

    NOTE: I lightly buttered the sides of the baking dish. You’re going to trim them off anyway so it just makes removing the Torrone easier.

    Put sugar, honey, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to simmer and sugar has dissolved, about 6 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.

    NOTE: Aside from the no stand mixer problem, I also suffered from a no CANDY THERMOMETER problem. 300 degrees is hard ball stage. Drop a tiny amount of the boiling sugar into a cup with cold water, when it becomes a hard, crunchy mass once in the water, you’re done.

    Meanwhile, put egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Raise speed to high. Pour hot honey mixture into egg-white mixture in a slow, steady stream, and beat until mixture has cooled and thickened and begins to stick to whisk, about 10 minutes.

    Ingredients

    Reduce speed to medium-low; beat in vanilla, pistachios, coconut, and cranberries.

    Working quickly, spread mixture into prepared dish. Place another sheet of rice paper on top; press down to flatten and spread evenly. Let cool on wire rack at least 3 hours, or overnight.

    Ready to cut

    Cut around edges of Torrone to loosen. Remove from baking sheet; transfer to a cutting board. Trim edges to be straight. Using a long, sharp knife, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices.

    Caramel Popcorn

    I try not to make this often. I cannot help myself when this is in the house. Every, single time I walk past the bag, I open it up and take a little bit.

    This is simple to put together and really yummy. Great for snacking on, or – as I do – scarfing down as fast humanly possible.

    Be careful while making the caramel not to have the flame too high or it will burn … learn that the hard way almost EVERY time!

    • 8 C popped corn (1 bag microwave popcorn. I use PopSecret Homestyle)
    • 3/4 C brown sugar
    • 6 T butter
    • 3 T light corn syrup
    • 1/4 t salt
    • 1/4 t vanilla
    • 1/4 t baking soda
    • 1 C dry roasted, unsalted peanuts (optional)

    Preheat oven to 275 degrees

    Pop the corn and place on a large, rimmed baking sheet, stainless steel mixing bowl or baking dish, removing all the unpopped kernels. If you’re adding the peanuts, add them into the popcorn at this point.

    Add the brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup and salt in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, melting the butter and stirring to combine with a wooden spoon. keep stirring until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.

    Once it boils, STOP stirring, set  timer for 5 minutes, letting the caramel boil, undisturbed.

    After 5 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. It will bubble up.

    Quickly pour over the popcorn (and peanuts, if using) and mix thoroughly.

    Place the popcorn mixture in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes.

    Remove from oven and separate any large clumps, if you used a baking sheet. If you  used a bowl, pour the caramel corn onto a baking sheet to separate the popcorn.

    Store in zip-lock bags, squeezing out as much air as possible. Will keep for up to 3 weeks – HA!

    Rolo-Coasters ~ Guest Blogger ~ Hugs & Cookies

    Hello everyone! I thought that every once in a while a guest blogger would be fun. Whether a blogging pal or a ‘Not Quite Ready for Blog Time Player’ friend.

    My first guest blogger is Danielle from Hugs & Cookies. Danielle and I first became acquainted with each other through a mutual love of Ina Garten and the cooking forum Contessa’s Kitchen.

    It wasn’t until I saw Danielle’s blog and her wonderful Facebook page that I realized what a talented baker she truly is. I have loved watching her baking talent progress year after year. Yes, a slight bit of jealousy – she can roll dough and she can decorate cookies with icing and I cannot – YET!

    I have participated in her bake alongs – and you should too! – though not as often as I would like. Her baked goods are inspiring and her photos mouth watering.

    Without much further ado – Danielle ~

    *****************************************

    What an honor to be a guest blogger!

    I was tickled pink when Andrea asked me! I am a mommy of 2 wonderful boys and I am married to my Prince Charming.

    My passion for baking probably began the day we returned from our honeymoon almost 9 years ago. I had so much fun planning a gourmet dinner and dessert … And so it began! It of course helps that my Dad is a caterer and my Mom is an awesome cook – it’s in my genes LOL!!!!

    I began my blog Hugs and Cookies in 2006 and expanded it last year to a great Facebook page.  I host a bake along on my blog and Facebook page which has been very exciting!  Each week, I share a recipe that I have enjoyed and others are invited to bake it and share a picture of their creation!

    I have formed some fabulous friendships through a mutual love of baking! Baking is a family affair in my house … my oldest son enjoys baking it with me and we all enjoy eating it!

    I also have fun bringing the love of baking into my classroom. My students have so much fun, and we all know how educational baking is!

    I hope you enjoy my recipe for Rolo-Coasters! Stop by and join us in our next bake along!

    For the Cookie:

    • 2 sticks BUTTER
    • 1¼ cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • ½ cup cocoa powder (I have used Valrhona & Hershey’s-both great!!!)
    • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
    • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 2½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

    You also need:

    • 1 bag of Rolos  – unwrapped

    NOTE: Cut 45 of the Rolos in half and freeze while cookies are baking. (From this recipe I made 30 cookies. Each cookie uses 3 Rolo “pieces” so that would be a total of 45 Rolos cut in half.)

    For the Drizzle:

    • 12 Kraft caramels
    • 2 T. heavy cream

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

    Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

    In an electric mixer with paddle, beat butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add the cocoa powder and mix until combined. Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until combined.

    Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula. Drop with an ice cream scoop (medium size) or by large Tablespoon. Bake 14 minutes.

    NOTE: Check your cookies, the timings depends on the size.

    Remove tray from oven, top with 3 pieces of frozen, chopped Rolos and return pan to the oven for 1 more minute. Let cool on cookie sheets.

    If you are doing the caramel drizzle continue…..

    Drizzle:
    COMBINE 12 Kraft caramels with approx. 2 T heavy cream in microwave safe dish. Heat in 15 second increments and stir between. Stir until smooth and runny for a drizzle. Use a spoon to drizzle the caramel across the cookies. Let set on wax paper.