What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: confectionery


We’re driving to the snow on the weekend. Yes, yes, yes about the falling over, I’ll try not to. Like I mean to. Anyway, it’s a bit of a drive and I have quite the knack for falling asleep while driving. It does mean that I have no problem getting to sleep at night, but a bit problematic on a long drive. So I suck on sweets for my bit, and avoid driving at afternoon tea time and after nine. My sweet of choice is Koolmints, but I thought I’d make my own this time.

Had a look at making humbugs, but that seems to involve third degree burns, so I had a go at butterscotch. Here’s the Women’s Weekly recipe.

This cookbook was published just as Australia was going metric, so the back of the book has handy conversion tables to metric. A pound of sugar is 453.6 grams. Quarter of a pint of water is 142 millilitres. Who knows how much a dessert spoon is, I just used my breakfast spoon, and anyway the glucose is so viscous you’re never going to accurately measure it except by weight. And why are they mixing weight and volumes? Instead of half a cup of brown sugar, I used half brown sugar and half dark muscovado sugar. Partially because I like the rich treacly taste, partly because I’ve run out of brown sugar.

So you put all the ingredients in a saucepan, and bring it to the boil while stirring with your trusty wooden spoon. After the butter has melted and the sugar is dissolved, you turn up the heat and leave it alone. Well, you put the sweets thermometer in. That little eight dollar miracle takes all the fear and loathing out of sweet making. It’ll start bubbling up, adjust the heat so it doesn’t bubble right on out and all over your stovetop. But once you’ve got it bubbling about half way up the saucepan and the sweet thermometer measuring away, you can leave it alone.

It took about half an hour to get up to that temperature, even with obsessively watching the temperature. You want it at 290F, I’m going Fahrenheit because that side of the thermometer is easier to read. As soon as it touches that temperature (hard crack if you’re doing it the old fashioned way), take it off the heat. With great foresight, you’ve put out a biscuit tray covered in baking paper. Slosh that boiling toffee all over it.

It takes a surprisingly small amount of time to cool down, only as long as yet another irate phone call to a bathroom supply shop. Try to cut it up before it solidifies, and use your largest knife, you need leverage.

If you don’t want it to all stick together you’ll need to wrap it which does sound like a pain in the neck. I just cut strips of baking paper and rolled them up, then packed them in small ziplock bags.

Here’s the important step, hide them from the children. The leftovers went in seconds.


Bulgarian Rock

When you’re the parent you sometimes get to the point of ultimatums at ten paces.  The Muffet has declared that she would rather starve to death than apologise profusely for behaving like a toddler at dinner last night.  I’m hoping that some Bulgarian Rock will change her mind.

I’ve been meaning to make this ever since Darrell Lea went kaput.  We traditionally buy it for my father-in-law at Christmas, so time has been running out for a practise run.  I found a recipe at that had the basics, but was a little light on detail.  I’ll try to fill you in.

This one is time consuming, plan it for a day you’ve got some pottering about to do.  Place in a large saucepan 450 grams of liquid glucose (you can get it at the supermarket where you get the vanilla essence and baking powder and so forth), three and a half cups of sugar and one and a quarter cups of water.  Bring it to the boil while stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure everything dissolves properly.  When it’s boiling, reduce the temperature a bit, you want it more than simmering, but less that boiling its head off.  Now comes the bit that people seem to find challenging about confectionery making, boil it until it is at the hard crack stage.  This will take AGES.  For me, today, nearly two hours.  It doesn’t need much attention until right at the end, just wander past every so often and give it a stir.  When it’s starting to look a little thicker, start testing it.  You drop some from your wooden spoon into a cup of water.  It’s at the hard crack stage when it forms a crunchy ball in the water.  Before that point, take a bowl and drop an egg white into it with half a teaspoon of vanilla essence and half a teaspoon of almond essence.  Beat it with electric beaters until soft peaks form.  Now go back to concentrating on your sugar.  It will start to go yellow and quite thick.  I usually panic and take it off too soon because I don’t want a pan of burnt sugar, and I think that’s what I’ve done this time.  Anyway, take it off the heat before you burn it and start beating it with the electric beaters.  It will start going white quite quickly as you incorporate air into it.  Tip in the egg white mix and keep beating.  The instructions on say beat it until it is thick, but it’s pretty thick to start with.  So I only beat it for a minute or two.  Fold in three quarters of a cup of UNsalted almonds and pour the lot into a roasting pan lined with baking paper.  Before it is cool you can lift it out of the pan and start chopping it up with a large knife.

Mine has cooled down now, and because I didn’t wait until the sugar was at the hard crack stage, merely at the really chewy stage, I appear to have made Bulgarian Fudge.  However, it tastes right.  I might try putting it in the fridge.