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.

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.