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Candied Grapefruit Peel

I’ve wanted to try candying fruit peel for a while, but just never got around to it. But this weekend, after consuming perhaps the most delicious grapefruit ever, I decided the peel must not go to waste. So I candied it.

And it was actually really good! It was an easy process, and the peels came out crunchy and sweet, and still slightly tart. I have a thing for grapefruit gummies (you know, those sugar-coated triangles you can buy at penny candy places), so these were a nice trade up. They packed a powerful punch of grapefruit flavor – yum! I think they’d be very festive for the holidays, but added some welcome citrus brightness to the dismal mid-February gloom that seems to have settled.

Candied Grapefruit Peel from Meade Design Group
4 medium grapefruits
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup sugar

With peel still on fruit, quarter peel lengthwise then remove, keeping pieces of peel intact. Cut pieces in small stripes.

Put peel in a saucepan filled with cold water and bring to boil over moderate heat. Boil for a minute or two and drain. Repeat procedure 4 times to remove bitterness.

Bring sugar and water to boil in a large heavy skillet, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add peel and boil, stirring, until most syrup is absorbed, about 10 – 12 minutes.

Turn peel onto a previously lightly oiled rack, separating pieces. Dry candied peel, uncovered at room temperature until only slightly sticky, 6 to 8 hours. Toss, a few pieces at time, in sugar, shaking off excess, place it in a cool dish and enjoy it!

Cake Truffles

A day that celebrates the sappy, and features the color pink? Count me in.

After a recent spontaneous purchase of more Valentine’s day cupcake wrappers than I knew what to do with, and an opposition to using hearts on any other day of the year, I decided something fabulous had to be done. I proceeded to whip together a delicious chocolate cake batter, recipe courtesy of smittenkitchen, and attempt to make cupcakes early on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, what would have normally made a wonderfully fluffy cake created a crumbly cupcake mess. After a failed attempt to remove a 9-inch round cake from the pan resulted in a heartbreaking scene of broken cake all over the counter, these truffles were my solution. Overtly trendy and super sweet, yes, but they caused a great celebration at work – actually referred to as “rocket fuel” by one. 3pm sugar rush anyone?

Caramels

My struggle to find a successful caramel recipe is finally over.

These are perfectly soft, sweet – but not achingly so – and have a creamy, subtle taste.

Some history on why this particular caramel is so wonderful:

I have had a long struggle with caramel. Like many of the obsessive phases I go through, caramels possessed me for some time. The big issue was my lack of a candy thermometer. My first batch, my only success until recently, I made without a thermometer. No clue how – it now seems an impossible accomplishment, or simply astounding luck – but this one batch triggered the some 15 failures that came after it. After three incorrect thermometers, multiple recipes, and various failures ranging from caramels that crumbled into a sandy mess, and others that were so hard they bent knives, I was asked to please stop by my boyfriend, who says he can still smell the cooking caramel if he thinks about it.

So I was beaten by caramels, and gave up for a long time. But when I was given a new, professional grade candy thermometer for my birthday, it felt like I was ready for a second (or 16th) round.

In an effort to completely separate myself from failure, I searched for a recipe guaranteed to provide me with success. And as always, Martha came to the rescue. In my previous sugar-induced caramel failures, I somehow neglected to look to Martha to save me. So this time, I came prepared. New candy thermometer and Martha, I successfully created a batch of caramels that everyone loved.

I’m not the biggest fan, though, I must say. I’m not sure why – I think it may be the light caramel flavor. I am still searching for a richer, darker caramel recipe, but for now, I feel I have successful bounced back from a painful failure. Yes, it is sad I was this affected by candy, but we all have our vices.

Anyway, enjoy.

Golden Caramels – Martha Stewart
Makes about 150

4 cups heavy cream
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 cups light corn syrup
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable-oil cooking spray

Directions
Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/2-inch baking pan (this is a half-sheet pan) with vegetable-oil spray. Set aside in a spot where it will not be moved. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.

In a heavy 6- to 8-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, 1 cup water, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring with a wooden spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.

Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250 degrees (hard-ball stage), 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil. When sugar reaches 250 degrees. slowly stir in butter and warmed cream mixture, keeping mixture boiling at all times. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage), 55 to 75 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into prepared pan without scraping pot. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.

To cut, spray a large cutting board generously with vegetable-oil spray. Unmold caramel from pan onto sprayed surface. Cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces, or other shapes. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels

Need I say more?

I don’t think so – but humor me. After an epic struggle, almost year-long, with making caramels, I finally found a wonderful recipe. I am so in love with it, I have devoted a whole separate post to it. However, here we will focus on something so much more delicious than just a simple caramel.

Cover it with dark chocolate and sprinkle some salt, and that is something to talk about.

I have always loved the salty/sweet combination, so add in some chocolate and it really can’t get any better. Of course, when I had this stroke of brilliance, I didn’t really process that millions of other have already completed the task, and documented it extensively. But I had my own variation of struggles, which I will share with you, to hopefully help prevent yours in the future.

First, you must must temper your chocolate. This seems obvious, yes, but it was a sad day when I woke to check on my beautiful caramels and their dark shell had bloomed an ugly white film overnight. All over my Guittard. I mean, really? It was upsetting. Trust me – temper. Often.

Also, I had a slight oozing issue when I missed covering even a tiny spot of caramel. I think the chocolate must contract when it cools, squeezing out an ugly little bit of caramel that just ruins the overall look. Still, yummy, but watch the holes.

Because of my fervent tempering, my chocolate kept cooling very quickly, so I had to dip with one hand (I gave up on the civilized utensil-driven approach to dipping pretty quickly) and salt with the other. With this process, chocolate will go everywhere. Consider yourself warned.

Generally, I think that is it for my insight. In the end, you really can’t go wrong. Cover those caramels and salt them – trust me, you won’t be disappointed.