December 2011 - Our Sunday Cafe
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Easy Toffee!, Recipe rewind because somethings are too good to miss

Recipe rewind, because in the beginning there is a blogger who has no readers. She still posts great food in hopes that the readers will can also view it here in the archives, Thursday December 24, 2009. 

(I was a ) Big Fat Candy Baby

I have always been too frightened to make candy. The thermometer, the boiling hot, the splashing of the boiling hot, etc etc. A big fat scared candy baby! But I come from a long line of pioneer women, really I do. My grandmother on my father's side migrated to California in the back of a covered wagon in about 1907. My grandmother on my mother's side was born at home by a visiting midwife, in a kitchen warmed by a wood stove, that was used for cooking. A bit different from midwife-assisted births of today.

In looking back there was not much these women were too frightened to do, including making candy. Which during the war, one of them did. It was how they survived financially. The sugar ration was turned into candy for profit, profit that put other food on the table.

But for me, no way. I bought my candy, thank you very much. Until today. I found this post, and thought, what a perfect starting place. Let's make Toffee, shall we?

adapted from which name?

1/2 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 c large broken walnuts (between 1/4 - 1/2 inch in size)
1/2 c chocolate chips

Butter (or spray with Pam) the bottom and sides of a 8" pan, scatter walnuts over the bottom. Melt butter in large pan over medium heat, add brown sugar. Over medium heat continue to stir while mixture boils for 6-7 minutes.

I found with my stove I had to turn down the setting slightly as the mixture cooked, so it would not get too hot and burn. This is hot, be careful with the spurting, that is why I chose a large flat bottomed pan.

Pour cooked toffee evenly over the walnuts, rotate pan gently for candy to go to the corners. Sprinkle with the chips, let sit one minute, spread chocolate to cover the entire surface.

I think the hardest part of this recipe is waiting for it to cool! When cool, break into pieces.

Since I made this recipe  or a gift, I used a springform pan for easy removal. A quick gift wrap and a bow, and I will be done.

As the hours count down, I hope all is happy and good for you and your loved ones! Thanks so much for your visits here this year, and please come back again!

As always I appreciate your time and your wonderful comments!


Real Fruit Cake, Recipe rewind, because some things are too good to miss

Recipe rewind, because in the beginning there is a blogger who has no readers. She still posts great food in hopes that the readers will can also view it here in the archives, Wednesday December 9, 2009.

Real Fruit Cake, made with dry fruit. From Alton Brown.

Real Fruit Cake, made with dried fruits. From Alton Brown. This is the best fruit cake I have ever eaten!
Real Fruit Cake, made with dry fruit.

I love fruit cake, all kinds. It is dense, richly flavored and always a treat. I have wanted to bake an old fashioned fruit cake; with dried fruits, rather than the artificially colored "fruit cake mix" found in the produce section this time of year. I took a quick search on Google and I found this recipe by Alton Brown. Now I don't watch the food network, but the lovely Jess does. I took a moment to read the reviews for this cake, and that was all it took. He calls it Free Range Fruitcake, and invites the cook to have a good time, so that is what I did. This looks like a lot of work, but it is easy to break down if time is short. It goes together very quickly.

The fruit got to hang out with the rum all night. This smelled so good, every time I stirred it!

Free Range Fruitcake
adapted from Alton Brown

1 c diced apricots
1 c diced dates
1 c currents
1 c dried cranberries
1/4 c chopped candied ginger
1 c golden rum

Stir together and let rest overnight covered or heat on stove top or microwave to hydrate. Set aside to cool if using the heat method.

The next day or when cool, combine in a large non reactive pan:
the fruit and rum combination
1 T lemon juice
zest of 2 oranges
1 c coffee
1 c sugar
1 1/4 sticks of butter
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp gr allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp gr nutmeg

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 - 10 minutes. Most of the liquid will be evaporated. Set aside to cool. You may stop and place in the refrigerator if desired, simply bring to room temperature to proceed. To make the batter:

1 3/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well to mix together. 

2 eggs

1 c pecan halves, that have been toasted and broken into pieces

additional rum or brandy for spritzing

Add the flour mixture to the fruits and spices in the pan, stir quickly to incorporate flour mixture into the fruit. Make a well in the mixture, add the eggs. Beat with a wooden spoon to mix well. There should be no streaks of egg or dry flour.  Stir in the broken pecans.

Scrape batter into prepared bundt pan, bake 325 degrees for 50 minutes. If not completely cooked when tested, return to the oven and bake additional 10 minutes. Let cool, 20 minutes then carefully turn cake out. Let cool, spritz with rum and/or brandy. Check cake every 3 days, if dry, spritz with more brandy. Cake should "rest" 2 weeks before serving.

Real Fruit Cake, made with dried fruits. From Alton Brown. Ready to bake.
Real Fruit Cake, made with dry fruit. Ready to bake.

This smells so good, I think it is going to be a long 2 weeks!


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