Of course, in my candy making extravaganza, I made several TJOC recipes. Why didn't I make only candy from TJOC instead of other cookbooks? I don't know, I just saw other recipes that looked terrific and I wanted to try them!
I rather randomly sent candy to friends and family, so I hope they comment on these two blogs about the candies. If you didn't get candy and wanted it, I apologize :) It was probably due to me thinking you didn't like candy or wouldn't be home around the holidays--let me know for next time! And I didn't send the whole compliment of candy to everyone because I didn't make that much .
Josh's good friend Jan mentioned that her kids liked gummies. While leafing through TJOC, I noticed a recipe for Fruit jellies (p. 878) and had a feeling that was as close as I was going to get to gummies. The recipe requires 3 cups of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries. I bought frozen strawberries and blackberries and set them out on the counter to thaw. I was under the impression that the bags would be sealed shut.
The next morning, blackberry juice was ALL over my counter. It looked like someone had been murdered and I've never been so grateful my counter wasn't white. It was a huge mess. I spent the first hour cleaning.
Eventually, I cooked down the blackberries until they "released their juice".
I then mashed the blackberry mixture through my new strainer (thank you uncle Derryl!):
It was at this point that I realized I was an idiot. A major idiot. I HATE straining. And the blackberries took FOREVER. Absolutely FOREVER. Plus I only got the minimum amount of puree that was needed for the jellies.
IMPORTANT TIP! TJOC mentions that you should use 4 envelopes of gelatin to get 3 tablespoons. My envelopes each included 1 tablespoon, so I only needed three envelopes. So look and be careful!
I decided to just mix the gelatin into the cup since that's what I measured the puree in to. It was a big error in judgement because the gelatin clumped WAY too much and had to be cut out of the final project. It was so hard that my kitchen shears almost couldn't cut it. In all future versions I used the medium sized bowl that the recipe called for.
While the gelatin was "softening" I started cooking my sugar/water mixture. It went from opaque:
To clear and bubbly:
The gelatin mixture was then added into sugar mixture and cooked:
Eventually it looked like this:
The next day, I popped the fruit jellies out of the pan, which wasn't easy because the jelly was very sticky:
I cut them with my kitchen shears and rolled them in sugar:
I also made a strawberry version of the jellies:
The strawberries were WWWAAAYYY easier to work with. No problem to strain and I got twice as much juice as I needed, so I made two batches. If I was going to make this again, I would use strawberries and blueberries, which are the easiest to juice.
After making three batches of fruit jellies, I decided to just plow ahead and make Citrus fruit jellies (p. 878), which are essentially just the fruit jellies above with citrus juice.
I mixed orange juice with lemon juice and gelatin.
Like above, I cooked the water/sugar mixture until the soft-ball stage and then added the orange juice:
I stirred until dissolved and then got it back up to the correct heat and poured it into the pan:
I finally cut the jellies and rolled them in sugar. I couldn't' find superfine sugar so I just used my normal sugar which is pretty fine to begin with.
The gummies are incredibly sugary. Inside and out. And I don't think they are going to travel well but I was unwilling to wrap all three thousand of them. So I apologize to people for the crushed candy!
I'm also rather sure the kids won't like them--I know when I was a kid, I usually wanted the store-bought version of food, not the homemade (except for Italian food, which was essentially all my family cooked). For example, I detested my grandmother's homemade macaroni and cheese because I wanted the radioactive orange Kraft version.
I'm not sure what motivated me to make Bourbon balls (p. 879). It certainly wasn't because I had bourbon on hand (because I didn't). I think it was because I was thinking of the rum ball cookies that I like and hoping they would be similar (they weren't). I went to the liquor store and stared at the dozens of choices. I really, really wanted to buy the cheapest one. Unfortunately, I knew that the flavor would really come through and I needed good bourbon. So I bought Maker's Mark (and I like the bottle!).
I sifted powdered sugar and cocoa together using my new sifter:
And I mixed bourbon and corn syrup in another bowl. The recipe says you could use bourbon OR rum, but if you used rum, would they really be bourbon balls?
I mixed the cocoa mixture and the bourbon mixture:
I then smashed some Nilla wafers with a mallet and mixed them with chopped pecans and then I mixed the cocoa mixture with it:
And shaped them into balls:
They didn't shape into balls easily and really wanted to fall apart. I kept adding bourbon, so they were pretty stout. And hard as tiny rocks--although rather good. I'm really interested to know what other people think about them.
I had made chocolate cream caramels (and I did it again this time, although I'm not going to detail it because I did it again). I hadn't made Cream caramels (p. 864). The recipe was pretty similar. I mixed sugar, corn syrup, butter, and heavy cream in a pot and then heated it up until the firm-ball stage. Stirring constantly. It took forever.
Boiling caramel is scary! Use a deep pot so it doesn't boil over:
At the very end, another cup of cream was poured in and the mixture was brought back up to temperature. I poured it into a lined disposable pan. I learned from experience that lining the pans was not necessary (that tip came from Brittles, Barks, and Bonbons and was absolutely true).
And wrapped them up cute!
I was afraid they didn't turn out because they felt so hard but they tasted perfect.
Notes on candy making:
There are two types of people that shouldn't make candy.
1. People who hate to measure. Measuring ingredients and watching the temperature is incredibly important.
2. People who are impatient and think "well, I'll just turn up the temperature" or "it surely doesn't need to be stirred all the time" shouldn't make candy.
Disposable pans are terrific. Candy just pops right out!