Posts filed under: ‘Candy‘




Ugly Duckling

Finally!! This recipe has been a year in the making…

About a year ago I headed into work feeling like a million bucks.  I had a sweet new hair cut : a new chocolate brown coif with smart bangs in the front…I felt like I loosely resembled Angelina Jolie in her last movie Salt, well my hair did anyway.

 

Just when I’d believed I’d conquered all the awkward phases in life, I, by the afternoon, upon returning from the dentist, my teeth clad with braces, I was the spit and image of Ugly Betty…

My mom always said my (crooked) teeth gave me character, and over the next 11 months that followed I was miserable feeling all the bones in my jaw sway and shift. I ducked out of most pictures when someone said to say cheese, or just pursed my lips in what looked usually like a painful grimace.

 

I made this cake for my dentist to celebrate finally finishing my dental work!

Originally the estimate of time of how long I’d be feeling like a 5th grader was about 8 months though I secretly crossed my fingers that it might be as short as 6.  Not a terribly long time to suffer, though by August, then September, then Thanksgiving and Christmas there was no sign they were coming off even when my dentist seemed surprised at how quick my teeth were moving.  When you are 20 something and your jaw is fully formed, not to mention being an avid coffee drinker, not only does it hurt to have braces, but they stain and are just kind of embarassing.

Cheese!

Now a year later I COULDN’T WAIT to get them off!!!   My appointment was then pushed back due to the second, third or fourth heavy-duty NYC winter storm…but now FINALLY the braces are gone!! I think difficult experiences make us all a little better off, so FINALLY almost a year later 11 months and a week later I have a white very straight smile.

When you have braces you can’t indulge is candy, not that I am a huge candy person anyway, but i definetly learned my lesson with caramel over they year having pulled and tugged at the wires painfully when I forgot what was on the prohibited menu.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.

1 1/2 c all purpose flour

3/4 c dutch processed cocoa

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 salt

2 large eggs

3/4 c butter milk ( I used 1 c soymilk with 1 tsp vinegar)

3 Tbsp vegetable  oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 warm water

Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.  

Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and water with an electric mixer on low until smooth.

Divide into cupcake cups and cook at 350 degrees.  Martha makes these as mini cupcakes, but I went full size.  Yields 18-24 regular size cupcakes.

By the way if you are saying chocolate and Salt?  Go to your local Starbuck’s and order a salted caramel hot chocolate. Mmmmmmmm!!  They are sooo delicious!!  And these cupcakes are much the same.

To finish:

Salted Caramel Filling

2 1/2 c granulated sugar

2/3 c water

1 tbsp light corn syrup

3/4 c heavy cream

2 1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine Sugar, cornsyrup and water in a sauce pan.  Stir and heat on high. Stir until the liquid becomes clear. Once sugar mixture has become clear stop stirring. Use a pastry brush to wash down sides of pan occasional.  Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan or if you have a larger candy thermometer, make sure to really cover the bottom of the thermometer in the sugar so to ensure an accurate reading and swirl occassionally.

When sugar reaches 360 degrees (be patient it can take a while) remove from heat.  The color will begin to caramelize.

Add cream slowly and stir.  Mixture will bubble and spatter is you are not careful.

Add salt.  If you don’t use caramel shortly after making you will need to re heat to soften.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

3 sticks unslated butter at room temperature

1/2 c confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 c + 2 tbsp dutch processed cocoa

2/3 c boiling water

1 pound good quality semi sweet chocolate

I used callebut chocolate and semiesweet morsels. Melt in a double boiler, or carefully over low heat to melt. Set aside and allow to cool, but not harden.

Combine cocoa and boiling water. Whisk until dissolved. Cocoa will become like a thick mousse. Allow to cool.

Cream butter, confectioners sugar, and salt. Add melted chocolate and beat on low.  Add Cocoa mixture until frosting is smooth and combined.

To assemble Dig out a bit of the center of the chocolate cupcakes.

Pour a few teaspoons of caramel into the center. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

Pipe the chocolate frosting on top and devour!

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2 comments February 10, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

In time for Valentines Day these are a great homemade, but really easy to make confection for someone you are sweet on. But first, I want to mention the event I made these for and my favortie, absolute favorite organization: VDay.

When I was in college studying theatre and wondering “What the hell am I gonna do after I graduate?!?!” I auditioned for a play,  and got the chance to be on stage in a neighboring college’s production of The Vagina Monologues.  I was also studying Solo Performance Art and quickly learned about the controversial play’s author Eve Ensler.  I ended up doing a presentation on Eve and her work.  I was astounded how she choose to use her piece to help others.  To this day I don’t think any other playwright has written the rights to their work in such a giving and original way.

Each year (to this day) Eve allows college and community organizers to perform The Vagina Monologues, free of royalties. Proceeds from the performances are donated to a local organization who help to end violence against women and girls.  I soon decided that it was odd the the super progressive, funky, eclectic and very eccentric college I attended didn’t do their own annual production of TVM.  So the following year I produced and directed the first of 2 VDay events during my college career.  Currently there are 1500 schools across the country who participate, raising millions for non profits in their communities.  4,000 events will take place this year around the world, and VDay has evolved too.  Organizers can present many plays and films including The Vagina Monologues, A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and  a Prayer, Any One of Us, and films: What I Want my Words to Do to You, and Until the Violence Stops.  There are book clubs for young girls, and teach-ins for the issues that VDay spotlights each year: Haiti being this years spotlight Campaign. There are V groups for men too, because violence doesn’t just affect women. VDay involves many amazing women and men who are all committed to ending violence and they use art to spread this transformative message.

Ever been on a stage? I’m sure you can attest to a metamorphosis feeling of being an actor, storyteller, or having seen a great piece that really changed your life. One of my favorite plays I’ve ever seen, is aptly called Metamorphoses— a pool of water instead of stage? A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  And thats theatre– art really.  My story with VDay doesn’t really end.  I made a brief but powerful connection to one of the Campaign Directors at the West End Theatre the year I first produce The Vagina Monologues, the next year I was interning and amoungst all the volunteering I still do for VDay whenever I can, and especially when they need a theatre nerd backstage.  And that Campaign Director, Shael well I was there when she went into labor for her daughter Aela, and every year I make her birthday cake.  Its our thing.  And its always been my excuse to show a little V-girl what cool lady’s can do for the people who are special to them. 

I hope to make the world a great place one cake at time, and VDay, aside from being all over my professional resume has been at the heart of how I want the world to be: happy, safe, amazing, accepting of everyone, for everyone.  When violence is no longer perpetrated against women and girls– we are all ladies and gents safe, happy, accepting, progressing. We’re better. Better People, Better Friends, better family, better lovers, better artists. GOOD.  If you want to get involved: be in a play, become or wake up that activist in you, reach out, open up, raise funds for a good cause, get educated, educate, become apart of a heart beat, a backbone of people who want the world to be a better place, be an artist, inspire, lead, be an example to the next generation of people, make the world better for your own kids, then go to VDay.org. You’ll find a performance or film screening near you and organizers always need help, so reach out and jump in. Make a donation if you want.

On to a really easy recipe just in time for VDay.  Save the cash on store bought chocolates and make these for your sweetie.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles:

Start with a package a Nestle’s mini morsels.

Omit the eggs and levening agents. Walnuts are optional, and you are good to go.

Combine 3/4 c sugar, 3/4c  brown sugar, 1c  butter and 1 tsp vanilla

Add 2 1/4c flour and 1 tsp salt.

Its like a fluffy cloud of buttery sugar!

Fold in chips.

and you are ready to start scooping.

I recommend a cookie scooper, although my plastic one broke after a batch of these.  I think a more heavy duty metal scooper is best and they come in all shapes and sizes. 

Of course try to get these as uniform as possible, scooping and rolling the truffles in your hands. Chill in the refridgerator for about an hour or longer before you dip in chocolate.

In a double boiler or microwave gently heat 1 c (more if you need) semisweet chocolate chips. I recommend adding 2 tbsp butter or shortening to thin the chocolate for a really thin consistency.  Use a plastic fork with the 2 middle tines removed. Dip chilled truffles and allow to set on wax paper.

I like to finish these off by placing them in mini cupcake cups or candy cups for display.

Of course you can doctor these but using vegan butter and chocolate.  I haven’t seen mini vegan chocolate chips, but chopping up your chocolate always works.

2 comments February 8, 2011

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