What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: Darrell Lea

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.



Ode to the Bo Peep

I’m unashamed of my relationship with sugar. I just love it. You’re not going to get me giving it up, not for a detox, not for Lent, no way. I have fond memories of finding my Nanna’s many stashes of Pascal’s Columbines behind lounge cushions and inside dressing gown pockets, so it’s one of those hereditary things you just can’t argue with. I’ve handed it on to my youngest, the Horror From Outer Space as he’s formally known, who is forever discovering where I’ve hidden the the cooking chocolate and leaving sweet wrappers in his pockets.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat a lot of it. As you may have gathered from this blog, I don’t use much processed food, and despite the enormous amount of baked goods I turn out I rarely eat any of it. For breakfast I have a bowl of chaff with plain yoghurt, lunch and dinner are also fairly simple and I bow to the combined wisdom of the health pundits in my snacks. Because I like my sugar fairly concentrated, I don’t go diluting jam with bread, I eat it from the spoon. I like to buy the pure icing sugar rather than the smooth pour mix ostensibly because I don’t want additives, but actually because the pure stuff forms lumps that are easy to consume standing in the pantry.

So it is with my preferred sweets. I don’t want to go mucking around with bits of wafer or nuts or any such fillers. I like them as close to pure sugar as possible. So I’m very wistfully consuming my last bottle of Bo Peep sweets bought from a Darrell Lea shop. We used to get them in our Christmas stockings, back when they came in glass bottles. You can’t really hoard them for very long after you’ve opened the bottle, they get stuck together after a few days and you have to get in there with the end of a spoon, which smashes up their inviting pillow shapes. On the rare occasions I buy them for myself I look for a bottle in which the reds and purples dominate, rather than the less desirable orange and the completely give them to the husband black. There’s not a great deal else I’m that fond of at Darrell Lea. I’ve never understood the appeal of soft centred chocolate, the toasted marshmallows aren’t as nice as they used to be, and liquorice is anathema. I’m not sure what we’ll do without the Bulgarian Rock as the ideal gift for my father in law, though. Perhaps I’d better get up there one last time and lay in ten year’s supply.