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Christmas Divinity Candy

Divinity can be tricky. You really really need a candy thermometer to get it right, and you need a dry day – a humid day will ruin your divinity.

You will need:

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light Karo corn syrup (they have this at the Sultan Center, but it is EXPENSIVE!)
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla (or peppermint, if you can get it)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a heavy pan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Using a candy thermometer, cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, carefully, so that you don’t splash this on the sides of the pan.

Once sugar has dissolved, don’t stir it any more, just keep cooking until the candy thermometer shows 260 F. Take off heat immediately.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until they are stiff – you will need a mixer or hand mixer to do this right.

Pour the hot syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, using your mixer at a high speed. Adding the syrup slowly is the key to this recipe working.

Add vanilla, beat at high speed 4 or 5 minutes or until candy starts to hold it’s shape when you lift the beaters out. Mixture will be ribbony, and sort of hold it’s shape.

Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. If it flattens out, beat the mixture another minute, then try again. Try not to overbeat; the mixture will get hard and stiff! If this happens, stir in a couple drops of hot water until it softens just enough. Yeh, it sounds tricky, but it’s just getting the right texture. You really can do this.

When the texture seems stiff enough but not too stiff, add the nuts in quickly, then drop by teaspoon on waxed paper, allow to cool and dry. (Some people add other inclusions – candied fruit pieces, chocolate chips, peppermint candies, crushed into small pieces, etc. I’m a purist – divinity is just white with nuts!) Store tightly covered – divinity absorbs humidity! Best if served the day it is made, or very soon. It is so good it doesn’t last very long, people just gobble it up.

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This photo is from AllRecipes.com.

November 30, 2006 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, Holiday, Kuwait, Recipes | 14 Comments

Easy Kraft Christmas Fudge

This fudge is just so easy, it’s a sin. The only problem is finding Marshmallow Creme if you are living in a country where it is not readily available. We normally bring it with us when we come back from the US.

A plate of this fudge makes a great gift for a teacher or hostess.

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3 cups sugar
3/4 cups butter
2/3 cups Carnation Evaporated milk, undiluted
1 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7 ounce jar Kraft Marshmallow Creme
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, butter, and milk in heavy saucepan, bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning.

Take off heat, stir in chocolate chips and stir until melted.

Add Marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla, and stir until well blended. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Cool at room temperature, then cut into squares. It’s a good idea to cut it sooner rather than later, as when it hardens, it is harder to cut into uniform squares.

This recipe doubles beautifully. If you are going to the trouble to make fudge, you might as well make a lot. :-)

How easy is that??!!

November 30, 2006 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, Holiday, Recipes | 6 Comments

Extra Credit Christmas Cookies: Rosettes

OK, good on ya, you’ve done your shopping and the cupboards are bulging. You’re already planning how to knock out those basic cookies, but now – now we get to think about trying something a little more challenging.

I will admit, this is not such a challenge to me. I grew up watching these made every year, it’s a Swedish thing. Now I make them every year, continuing the tradition. So I am going to share all the secrets with you, and you are going to do just fine.

First, a little theory. The rosettes I make every year use a sweet, lemon flavored mixture. Twice I have made savory timbales – you use a different batter. Those timbales are used to serve vegetables or something like lobster newburg when you have a lot of time and you want something to look very elegant, but the truth is, it’s a lot of work.

Meanwhile, rosette cookies for Christmas are also a lot of work, but you make a big batch at once, they last for up to six weeks in an airtight container, and they look very very cool and take up a lot of space on a cookie tray. And everyone thinks you are amazing, because they look so hard, but really, they’re not that hard.

Basic Rosette Lemon Batter

Beat 2 eggs
add 1 cup milk

Sift 1 cup flour
with a pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon sugar

Add to above and mix all together. It should look like thick cream. Add:

2 teaspoons of lemon extract, stir in.

Then you let the batter stand at least an hour. I often make it the night before and let it stand in the refrigerator overnight, then pull it out when I get up so that it warms up to room temperature. If you don’t let it stand, it doesn’t blend the right way.

You can do this in a pan on the stove . . .I did it that way for many years. But there is this wonderful machine called a deep fryer . . . if you have one, you are home free. I use something called a Fry Daddy, which is just the right size.

You will need a LOT of oil. I use a very mild vegetable oil like safflower oil or corn oil, something that doesn’t have a strong flavor on its own.

Warm the oil to 375 F/180 C.

Put out several sheets of paper towel. When the hot rosette comes out of the oil, you will pry it off the mold with the tines of a fork and let it rest upside down on the papertowel to absorb any of the excess oil.

Have a fork handy.

Choose the rosette wheel you want to use – most kits come with two or three. The most classic is a wheel shaped, but I also use a star and occasionally have used a butterfly. The timbale shape is also wheel shaped, but without all the divisions. Attach the form you choose firmly to the iron.

Get a comfortable chair, and sit by the hot oil. Have your bowl of batter right next to you, and paper towels nearby. Please, this isn’t something to do with children around, not when you are working with 3 – 4 cups of sizzling oil.

Dip the rosette iron in the hot oil, maybe five seconds, so it gets hot. (A hot iron is the secret to being able to get the rosette off easily when it is finished cooking.) Pull it out, tap it against the side of the pan to knock off excess oil.

Dip it quickly into the batter, it will hiss as the hot oil hits the cooler batter. Hissing is good, it means the iron is hot enough.

But dip into the batter only up to the top edge, not over the top edge! If the batter goes over the top edge, you will not be able to get the rosette off when it finished cooking.

So now you have a hot iron with batter on it, just right.

Plunge it into the hot oil. It will really hiss and bubble, that is what it is supposed to do, that means it is cooking. It will only hiss and bubble for maybe 30 seconds, then the hissing and bubbling will slacken. Somewhere between 45 seconds and 1 minute, pull the rosette out and see if it looks crisp and golden. Turn it upside down, tap excess oil back into the hot oil.

Over the paper toweling, use your fork to gently pry the rosette away from the mold in a couple places, and using gentle pressure, push the rosette off the mold. Place it upside down on the toweling so that it drains. One down!

At first, take it one at a time until you feel comfortable that you’ve got the hang of it. Then – you can actually do two irons at once. You let one iron heat while you are cooking the other rosette, then switch back and forth.

From time to time, maybe every ten rosettes, stir the batter again, because it can get oily and needs to be stirred.

If you do this with a pan on the stove, it is harder to maintain a steady temperature, and you will need a hot oil thermometer to keep track of it. When the oil gets too cool, the rosettes turn out too light and too floppy. If they get overcooked, they get too brown and they are hard to get off the iron. The deep fat fryer is your best bet for maintaining an even temperature.

This is also something more fun to do with a sister or a friend. My Mother and her best friend did it every year together; it was their special tradition.

OK, when you are finished with all your rosettes, and they have cooled, store them in a large tupperware container, WITHOUT CROWDING. These are so fragile, and they break easily.

Sift Powdered Sugar over Rosettes

When you want to take a tray of rosettes somewhere, you need to sift powdered sugar over the top, with the empty side up (the way they were when they were cooking) so that the powdered sugar goes down into the crevasses.

Some people use a sifter, but my preference is to use a small basket seive/strainer with a handle, put powdered sugar in it and tap it on the side with a fork. It controls where the sugar falls a little better, and gives more control over how much sugar you put on each rosette. Put them on the platter empty side up, so that they look all snowy and sugary and crisp.

WARNING! Do not attempt to eat one of these wearing a black dress! They are crisp, and they crumble, and sometimes powdered sugar goes everywhere, and it is a (mess) to get off.

As the cook, you get to eat the mistakes as you go along. At the end, you won’t want to eat any more. They aren’t so sweet, but they are mostly FAT! You will get other recipes for rosettes with your iron.

Have fun.

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I found this photo at About housewares and it is a good photo, but to my way of thinking, the rosettes are upside down. I serve them the other way.

2011 Update: I used a Fry Daddy this year and every single rosette turned out perfectly. :-)

November 30, 2006 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Holiday, Recipes, Uncategorized | 35 Comments

   

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