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  • Fruit Jellies

    I saw this recipe in the December 2009 Everyday Food and it called to me. It brought me back to being a child and having a package of Chuckles. Peeling back the wrapper. Giving my Mom or Dad the black one (yuck). Eating them in order of flavor from least to most favorite. Sharing them with my sister, taking half each. How wonderful to be able to create these little beauties on my own.

    Nothing was going to deter me from making these – not even Ernie proclaiming…..why, why, why. (Note to self, must remember to listen to Ernie occasionally!) Now for flavor pairings… definitely cherry, the red Chuckles were my favorite. I wanted to try lemon and lime and orange, but the jelly end of those made that dream impossible. I settled for cherry, grape, peach and pear. For the price of these jellies, I could have bought the factory that makes Chuckles, banned the black ones and had a package delivered each and every hour.

    The process was fun. Accomplishing the task was pride inducing. The end result – well, not so much. Far too sweet for me and a little cloying after the first flavor, so trying each was just not an option.

    • 1 1/3 cups fruit juice
    • 4 packets powdered gelatin
    • 2 1/2 C sugar
    • 2 C fruit preserves or jam

    NOTE: I made, grape, cherry, peach and pear. I had read that folks had mixed flavors of juice and jams, but I went for straight flavors, cherry/cherry, grape/grape, etc. WIth the exception, perhaps, of the Welch’s, I used the best quality preserve and juice I could find.

    Pour 2/3 cup of juice into a small bowl and sprinkle powdered gelatin over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes.

    NOTE: I sprinkled the gelatin over the juice as the juice in the saucepan started to bubble. This way they both finished at the same time.

    In a medium saucepan, pour in remaining 2/3 cup of juice and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add preserves and whisk until preserves are combined. Bring this mixture back to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes until think and syrupy. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until gelatin dissolves.

    Pour through a fine mesh strainer into and 8×8 square baking dish.

    NOTE: You really can pick any type of jam or preserve, this straining bit takes out any pieces of fruit.

    Let cool. Refrigerate until set.

    NOTE: I couldn’t figure out how to prevent all those air bubbles. The first had them just in the center, so I then tried moving the strainer as I poured, that just moved the bubbles all around! Not to worry though, the bubbles are covered by the sugar.

    When ready to serve, cut jellies into 1″ squares. Place 1 cup of sugar in a pie plate and toss cut fruit jellies in sugar.

    NOTE: I didn’t see the reason for this. So I experimented and sugared some and let them sit. They absorb the sugar AND start to melt. Totally not good!

    The question is, would I do this again? Heck, no! Am I glad I at least tried? Heck, yeah! What’s life without curiosity on how things work and taste and succeed and fail? I had to try the jellies when I saw them, so I did. This chapter is closed.

    Hey, they can’t all be fabulous, can they?

    Peanut Brittle

    I love making lots of different goodies for Christmas. I make gift baskets of goodies for friends each Christmas with 5 or 6 different goodies. I don’t usually stray much from my list. This year I decided to try a few new ones. Some were great and will take a place in the rotation – like this peanut brittle – and some were not worth the effort.

    In the midst of preparing for Christmas and starting my goodie basket insanity, we had a family crisis and everything that revolved around Christmas was put on a back burner. A few things were still able to come out of the kitchen, but alas, not enough for baskets of anything. So to all my pals waiting for goodies, you understand why we’re setting our sights on next year!

    This peanut brittle was surprisingly easy and really yummy. It came from the December ’09 issue of Everyday Food Magazine. Oh, staff of Everyday Food, you folks out did yourselves with this issue. Fantastic!

    This was one pot and one cookie sheet and no oven. Really, it doesn’t get much easier than that!

    • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
    • 2 C sugar
    • 1/2 C light corn syrup
    • 1/2 t coarse salt
    • 2 T unsalted butter
    • 1/2 baking soda
    • 3 C salted dry-roasted peanuts

    Lina a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and lightly coast with cooking spray.

    NOTE: I have a non-stick half-sheet pan. I skipped the parchment step (I have no idea why) and it was absolutely fine.

    To a medium saucepan, add sugar corn syrup, salt, and 1 cup of water. Over a medium-high flame, bring to a rapid simmer and cook until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

    NOTE: I wonder if Lyle’s Golden Syrup would work here as well? Perhaps an experiment for next Christmas.

    Remove from heat and stir in butter, baking soda and peanuts. Be careful the mixture will foam. Stir until mixture is no longer bubbling and caramel is smooth.

    NOTE: This really froths up! Make sure you use a deep pot!

    Transfer to a sheet and spread with a lightly greased spatula.

    NOTE: QUICKLY!!! Quickly! This starts to become difficult to pour and manipulate very quickly! Spray a spatula with non-stick spray and quickly spread it out.

    Let cool until firm, about 15 minutes. Break into pieces. Eat!

    You can store the brittle at room temperature in an air-tight container for 3 weeks.

    Homemade Almond Joys

    Oh, Joy the Baker, you evil temptress! For those of you who have never read Joy the Baker’s blog, please do! It is absolutely delightful! The recipes are great, the photos exciting. One glance and you will be hooked on Joy as well.

    A week or so ago, Joy made Almond Joy (apropos, don’t ya think?). I had been obsessing about making these little beauties since first glance. I love Almond Joy, Obsessively so. I knew this would be one of those make and distribute goodies. If not, they would be made, devoured and straight to my tush goodies!

    I had a hard time finding the unsweetened coconut, but I finally found it at a health food store.

    I have to say from the outset, I can already see Ernie reading this, shaking her head, wondering….’why?why?why?’ We’ll see if she still says that after she tastes them. Now, my Dad, on the other hand, looked at me when I handed hom a glassine envelope with Almond Joy nestled within, and frankly stated, “You know, they sell these in the store now.” Then bit into one and said, “Oh,no, they don’t sell THESE in a store.”  It’s all perspective.

    Anyway, off to the races…

    This recipe makes about 30 little bars. I had 29, but who’s splitting hairs.

    • 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    • pinch of salt
    • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
    • 30 almonds
    • about 20 ounces (a bag and a half) of good quality semi sweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread raw almonds onto a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract.  Stir in the unsweetened coconut.  The mixture is thick.  Place mixture in freezer for 3o minutes.  It’s easier to work with if it’s a little cold.

    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove the coconut mixture from freezer.  With clean hands shape one tablespoon of coconut into a little log about 2 inches long and 3/4-inch thick.  Press the logs together very well so they don’t crack when dipped.    Place the log on the lined baking sheet and continue until all of the coconut mixture is gone.  If your hands get sticky, rinse and go back at it. 

    NOTE: I used a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to do this part, I pressed it against the side of the bowl so it was pretty well packed when I popped it out of the scoop. From there it was a little push here and a little smoosh there to make a log shape.

     Press an almond on top of each coconut log.  It won’t completely stick.  Don’t worry about that.  Place the baking sheet in the fridge to chill and set again while you melt the chocolate.

    Place a medium  pot with two inches of water over a medium flame.  Bring the water to a simmer.  Place chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water.  Stir the chocolate as it melts.  Turn off the flame once the chocolate has melted, but keep the bowl of melted chocolate over the hot water so it stays loose.

    Remove the coconut logs from the fridge.  The easiest way to get the chocolate onto the logs is dipping. This is a messy, tedious process, but persevere, it’s worth it. Put one of the logs on a fork, and using a spoon drizzle a bit of the chocolate over the almond.  This will make the almond stick to the log.  Next, lower fork into chocolate and spoon chocolate over candy to coat.  

    Lift fork and shake (gently or the log will topple over into the chocolate as mine did MANY times) to release some of the chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl and place the chocolate coated log back on the lined baking sheet.  I used a toothpick to help get the candy off the fork. Repeat until all candy is coated in chocolate.  If chocolate gets thick again, just turn on the flame and heat slightly.

    Let dipped candy harden in the fridge for 45 minutes.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  If you have any left and need to layer the candy in a container, use waxed paper to separate the layers.

    NOTE: This was definitely worth the time. It’s a long time standing and repetitive dipping, but fun to do just the same. And, yes, I can buy them in a store but not that taste like these! Thank you, Joy for bringing some Joy into my kitchen (cheesey, yes, but heartfelt).