Like Whoa: Sorghum Marshmallows

What happens when you make marshmallows with sorghum?

Very good things, as I learned in the brand-new book The Southern Cookie Book. This totally awesome book comes at you from the editors of Southern Living, and it is full of not only cookies but all sorts of interesting confections, too--including sorghum marshmallows.

Sorghum syrup is a unique thing--somewhat similar in texture to molasses, but definitely not molasses flavor-wise. It is derived from sorghum grass, a type of cereal grain.

Sorghum itself is pretty fascinating - you can learn more about it here.

The book's description only adds to their appeal: "Pillowy and sweetened with flavorful sorghum syrup, these marshmallows can float atop a mug of cocoa or be wrapped up for holiday giving."

Sorghum Marshmallows

Hands-on 40 min. Total 8 hours, 50 min. / Makes 8 to 9 dozen

ingredients

  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1⁄2 cup cold water
  • 11⁄2 cups granulated sugar
  • 11⁄4 cups sorghum syrup*
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup cornstarch
  • 1⁄4 cup powdered sugar
  • Butter
  • Vegetable cooking spray

1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1⁄2 cup cold water in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Stir together granulated sugar, next 2 ingredients, and 1⁄2 cup water in a 41⁄2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cover and cook 3 minutes, bringing to a boil. Uncover and boil, stirring often, until syrup thickens and a candy thermometer registers 240°F (about 8 to 12 minutes; lower heat as necessary to prevent mixture from boiling over).

2. Gradually add hot sugar mixture to gelatin mixture, beating mixture at low speed, using whisk attachment, 30 seconds or until blended. Increase speed to high (cover bowl with a towel to prevent splattering); beat 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture cools to room temperature and is thick but still pourable.

3. Whisk together cornstarch and powdered sugar. Dust a buttered 13- x 9-inch baking dish with 1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixture. Pour gelatin mixture into prepared dish; smooth with a lightly greased (with cooking spray) spatula. Dust with 11⁄2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixture. Cover remaining cornstarch mixture tightly, and reserve. Let marshmallow mixture stand, uncovered, in a cool, dry place 8 to 14 hours or until dry enough to release from baking dish and no longer sticky.

4. Invert marshmallow slab onto cutting board; cut into squares (about 1 inch each). Toss squares in reserved cornstarch mixture to coat. Store marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

*Cane syrup may be substituted for sorghum syrup.

Have you ever made creative marshmallows? 

May 15: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

It's National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Hooray! Here's what I suggest you do today.

1: Educate yourself on the chocolate chip cookie.

This timeline really breaks it down in a detailed way.

2. Make some morsels.

Fancy up any chocolate chip cookie with DIY chocolate morsels. You can flavor or tint them as you wish! Plus, bragging rights. 

3. Make some cookies (duh).

I like this recipe, courtesy of BAKED in Brooklyn, but you choose your own adventure, I won't judge.

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

Baci Chocolate Cream Pie

FACT: Chocolate cream pie is a thing of great beauty and deliciousness.

FACT: Even a classic likes to get dressed up from time to time.

This recipe is the equivalent of chocolate cream pie getting all gussied up for a party. But instead of going to the salon for a blowout, it's getting a deluxe Baci treatment.

Yep: this chocolate cream pie is made with a bunch of melted Baci candies in the mix, and is almost too delicious to describe!

I mean, imagine a classic, old-fashionedy chocolate cream pie, and give it a chocolate hazelnut makeover. It's awesome. 

Listen, I am going to tell you from the get-go that my blind-baked pie crust shrunk a little bit (it's a real thing, and apparently it's more likely to happen when you use a glass plate; I should have read this first!) but don't let that deter you from the recipe. If your pie crust shrinks at all like mine did, it's not a huge deal, it just means that you will have some extra filling. And extra filling is an opportunity for a sweet little snack, like so:

So if you have a regular-sized pie crust, the amount of filling should work perfectly, but if you purposefully or accidentally have a more tart-like stature in your crust, don't despair. It will all work out. 

Baci Chocolate Cream Pie

Makes 1 pie - printable version here

  • 1 blind-baked pie crust, at room temperature
  • 10 Baci candies, plus about 6 more, slivered, for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 package pudding mix (I used a 3.4 ounce container of Vanilla instant pudding)

1. Combine the Baci candies, milk, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until the baci candies have melted. Remove from heat, and let the mixture cool to room temperature.

2. Stir in the pudding mix, and whisk until combined. It should start to thicken shortly. The mix directions say to use cold milk, but as you can see, I am going rogue here. 

3. Pour into the prepared pie shell. Place in the fridge until completely "set" and firm, about 2 hours. 

4. Garnish with slivered Baci candies! 

Enjoy. 

 

Let's Make Brigadeiros

Hey! Let's munch on balls! 

Balls of delicious, caramelly sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, that is! This is the glory that is the brigadeiro, a totally sweet and delicious Brazilian confection.

I first tried brigadeiros when Carla, a woman originally from Brazil who worked at my former yoga studio in Santa Fe, brought a few for me to try. Knowing my deep love of sweets, she figured I would enjoy discovering a treat from her home country. She was right. These balls are about as addictive as crack. 

Brigadeiros are extremely simple in construction: sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and a little butter. (I added a little bit of vanilla and a little bit of salt to mine, too). But in their simplicity there is a kind of sweet perfection: the sweetened condensed milk slightly caramelizes during the cooking process, making for a mellow, rich flavor that you don't ever want to leave your mouth. Since the confections are somewhat soft on their own, they are typically rolled in sprinkles, which not only makes them easier to hold on to, but makes them hella cute to behold, too.

The sweet mystery of brigadeiros

Brigadeiros gained popularity in 1940s, but where exactly they came from is the source of some debate. There are two basic theories:

The Ingredient Availability Theory: in the years following World War 2, fresh milk and sugar were in short supply, so recipes including sweetened condensed milk, which was shelf stable when canned, began to gain in popularity. Some brilliant person figured out that adding chocolate would make the sweet, syrupy milk mixture even better, and the rest is history. 

The Political Theory: Others say that what made the confection an enduring classic is its connection to a politician, and that the name was inspired by brigadier Eduardo Gomes, a handsome and liberal politician (apparently his running slogan was along the lines of "Vote for the most handsome and single brigadier"). Apparently, some loving fans began selling the confection as a means of fundraising for this hottie. 

My thoughts

I wasn't around in the 1940s, but I think that it's likely that a combination of the two theories above resulted in the confection's development and proliferation. It's my guess that the treat was borne of ingenuity with limited ingredients, but that it gained popularity and became widespread as a means for promoting the candidate. 

Make them!

Here's the recipe.

Brigadeiros

Printable version here - Adapted from From Brazil to You

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A bunch of sprinkles 

In a large saucepan, combine the sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk until cohesive. It would be helpful if you sifted the cocoa beforehand, but I really can't be militant here because I did not do so. :-/

Add the butter, and put the saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. What you're looking for here is for the mixture to thicken so that when you scrape a spatula along the bottom of the pan, the mixture is resistant to drip back into place. Keep on stirring well, because you don't want the mixture to scorch the bottom of your pan (you'll ruin your candy and have a huge mess to clean up, so you don't want that).

Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla until combined. 

Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then using buttered or oiled hands, roll the mixture into balls. Roll in sprinkles (I kept mine on a shallow plate). Place on a tray or dish, and store in the fridge for an hour or so to "set". If they flatten out a little bit, roll them back into a circular form after they have chilled for a bit so that they will have the shape you desire. Keep them at either cool room temperature, or in the fridge if it is hot/humid where you are. 

Oh, and P.S., if you get tired of rolling the balls, you can just store the candy mixture in a jar as a sticky-sweet spread for toast or to enjoy by the spoonful. 

Enjoy! 

Freaking Easy Chocolate Bourbon Truffles

The other day, I received a big ol' bottle of bourbon in the mail. And it was WORK RELATED. It helped me make this happen (please don't judge my messy chocolatey hand):

Thanks, Four Roses!

After a glug or ten of "work", I decided to make some truffles. That last sentence was a joke, fyi. But honestly, these truffles are so easy to make that you could have a shot or two or ten and they would still come out fine. I'm also not a doctor or a qualified health provider, fyi. 

Chocolate bourbon truffles. Chocolate combined with butter and salt, and livened up with bourbon. They are surprisingly refined, and pleasingly (but not overwhelmingly) boozy. I used a very dark chocolate (85% cacao!) for a finished result that is for grown-ups and true chocolate lovers ONLY. 

Freaking Easy Chocolate Bourbon Truffles

Makes 20-30 depending on size 

Printable version here

  • 6 ounces Extra dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 85% cacao) 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • confectioners' sugar or cocoa powder, for coating  

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to discourage scorching.

Remove from heat, and stir in the salt and bourbon. Glug glug.

Stir to combine, and then transfer to a heatproof bowl. Let the mixture cool until firm--several hours at cool room temperature or less time in the fridge. I wish this screen had smell-o-vision right now.

Spoon out the mixture, and roll portions of it into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. 

Roll the balls in cocoa powder or confectioners' sugar. 

Keep in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve; be sure to tell people that they are gluten-free, because they are (naturally!). Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer. 

What recipe will you make for the Kentucky Derby?

 

Recipe Redux: Rainbow Cookies Stuffed With Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Every now and again, it's good to look back at where we've come from, so that we can proceed mindfully and deliciously into the future. #sodeep

What I mean to say is, I recently revisited an old recipe from my first book and am happy to report that it is still delicious, still magical: rainbow cookies stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough.

I mean, what could be better than taking a bite of a magical rainbow cookie and then realizing it's stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough? It's like...your brain will be a confetti cannon, that degree of mind-blowing. 

Realizing that my original recipe, which employed a full batch of Kaleidoscope-cooky (yes, cooky) batter was a bit LARGE, this time I tried a half-batch, and it worked splendidly. So when just a half million cookies as opposed to a full million are in order, give this recipe a try!

Rainbow Cookies Stuffed With Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. 

Here's how you do it. Adapted from CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life

You'll need:

  • 1 batch rainbow cookie dough 
  • 1/2 batch or a little less of chocolate chip cookie dough (bake the rest normally, or use it to stuff cupcakes, you follow your bliss)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. So, you've got your rainbow cookie dough all ready to go. Now, slice it into fairly thin coins--like, 1/8 inch thick. Lay them on your prepared baking sheet with about 1 inch in between rounds (they won't spread too much).
  3. On the center of each round, place a small dollop of chocolate chip cookie dough.Place a second coin of rainbow cookie dough on top. If it cracks between color segments, use your fingers to smooth it back into place. Gently press the sides down so your chocolate chip cookie dough doesn't ooze out.
  4. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until rainbow cookies have a dull finish on top. 
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Can You Make Caramel Sauce With Milk Instead of Cream?

FACT: Caramel sauce is delicious. Caramel sauce is dreamy, and filled with cream. But wait. Can you make creamy caramel sauce when you're all out of cream? The answer is yes: it's possible to make caramel sauce with milk instead of cream, and I want to tell you how. 

But before I do that, I feel that I should offer a small education on the unusual process that is making caramel, because it is full of moments when your mixture looks WRONG, and I want to tell you about them and why you're actually doing things right.

These are some hard-earned tidbits I have picked up from experience. These hold true whether you're using cream OR milk.

1: A sturdy, heavy-bottomed saucepan with tall sides is your best bet.

You'll see that I didn't quite follow my own advice in the photo tutorial, but I am pretty accustomed to making this sauce so I have learned how to do it. If you have never made caramel, you'll be happy for the tall sides on a pot, because of the next thing:

2: When you add the milk to the sugar, the reaction can be scary.

The basic process of making caramel sauce is this: you'll melt some sugar, then you'll incorporate milk, then cook until thickened. 

But here's the thing: when you add the liquid to the hot sugar, it's going to have a firecracker of a reaction: it's going to bubble, it's going to hiss, it's going to seem like something is very wrong. Guess what? It's totally normal. You just want those high walls on the pot so that when it gets bubbly and scary, it doesn't make a big mess on your stovetop.

3: When you add the milk to the sugar, weird, hardened bits of sugar will form.

In addition to the crazy reaction, bits of sugar will solidify and look like ruined lumps and bumps when you add the liquid. Some of them, as you can see above, are really quite scary and wrong-looking. Guess what? Also this is normal. By continuing to cook the liquid, those bits will dissolve gradually. Even that monster-lump above! 

4: It's not hard to make caramel sauce, but it requires your full attention.

Making caramel sauce isn't hard, but please give it your undivided attention. It's worth it in the end, because you'll have a smooth, delicious caramel, and won't have any scorched pans to have to deal with later.

OK, now that you've read these cautions, let me tell you how to make caramel with milk instead of cream! 

Note: this is a salted caramel sauce. If you're the single person in the world who does not love salt and caramel, you can omit the salt. 

Caramel sauce with milk 

Printable version here

Makes about 1 3/4 cups 

  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 1 3/4 cups milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour the sugar into your large pot. Shift the pot side to side to distribute the sugar evenly.

Put the pot over medium-low heat. Stay nearby, but don't stir or shift the sugar. This is a slow, gentle heating, and nothing visual will really happen for a few minutes. Concurrently, you can combine the milk and the vanilla in a heatproof measuring cup, and heat the mixture in the microwave for about 1 minute (this will help lessen the reaction when the liquid hits the hot sugar in a bit). 

After several minutes (it was about 8 minutes for me), you'll see the sugar beginning to liquefy. At this point, use a heatproof rubber spatula to turn the mixture over on itself, moistening the still-dry portions of sugar. 

Continue heating. As the sugar warms, it will begin to darken in color, first to a sort of beige and then to a light caramel tone. When the sugar has reached a rich caramel tone, medium-brown but not dark, remove from heat. Now, be ready for some hissing and bubbling as you pour about 1/3 to 1/2 of the milk mixture into the caramel mixture. It will hiss, it may bubble, hardened bits may form, but it shouldn't bubble over the sides of the pot. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the rest of the milk mixture, and return the pot to the burner, and put it on medium-low heat. Remember: those hardened bits = totally normal.

Stir constantly as the mixture cooks. You'll see that the hardened bits begin to shrink and then dissolve. Once they are mostly dissolved, stir in the salt.

Cook for about 10 minutes for a thinner caramel sauce, 15-20 minutes for a thicker sauce. Remove from heat when the mixture is about 20% short of how thick you'd like it, because it will thicken more as it cools. 

Transfer the mixture to a heatproof container to cool. Store leftovers in the fridge in jars. Enjoy on EVERYTHING. 

Do you like caramel sauce?

Two FREE Coloring Book Page Downloads!

Heyyyy creative people! I have made two brand new and totally free-to-download coloring book pages for Craftsy.com. The images below are previews; you can click on them to go to the download! 

First up is a coloring book page designed for cake decorators...

and then the next design is made for knitters!