Homemade Fruit Snacks

Happy Adar! Purim is just a couple weeks away, and we’re thinking about mishloach manot, obviously. So is this month’s Kosher Connection linkup.

Last year, we made hot chocolate on a stick and marshmallows. And of course every year we make hamentaschen.

This weekend, we decided to try and make fruit snacks. A homemade, healthy version of the gummy candies kids and adults love. All you need is some fruit, some kosher gelatin and about 45 minutes and you can make your own fruit snacks, too!homemade fruit snacks

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Happy Birthday + Maple Crunch Layer Cake

Happy birthday to Stephanie and Jessica! Yup, that’s right, it’s our birthday today!

side of cake

Today we turn 27 (or 54, if you add us together). And what better way to celebrate our birthday than an amazing maple cake? We’re not sure when the actual maple season is, but I think it’s a fallish flavor, and fall is ending right about now, so why not go with a maple cake? That, and I have been dying to make this cake ever since I got this cookbook.

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Chocolate Caramel Slice

Even though we’re Jewish, it’s impossible to ignore all of the Halloween in the air! That means tons of candy and treats for the kids. For my kid, it’s homemade candy; so if you want to make a special homemade treat, give this recipe a try! And if you can find the correct sized tart pan, buy one for me. I’ll pay you back.

When I saw the photo of this candy/dessert in my friend Daniella’s Bon Appetit Desserts book, I KNEW I had to buy the book right away. And I did, thanks to the Amazon app on my iPhone. Then I bookmarked way too many desserts and put this one off for a little while. I’m glad I came back to it. It was actually quite easy, and I had all the ingredients in my pantry except for the sweetened condensed milk. That’s easy to find in the supermarket. Oh, golden syrup is great. If you don’t have it, you can use corn syrup, but I don’t like to use corn syrup. I find Lyle’s golden syrup in the regular supermarket, but if you can’t find it, try AmazonContinue reading

Candied Apricots with Pistachio, aka Helou Michmosh

I made this a while ago, but was hesitant to share it because of its mixed reviews. Some people thought it was too sweet, others not sweet enough. I even got one “this is the most delicious thing ever!” So I guess it’s up to you to judge…I happened to like the slightly bitter chewiness of the candy, and snacked on it for weeks.

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Pecan and Almond Squares

Shavuot is here! You know what that means? You guessed it – DAIRY DESSERTS! Delicious buttery crusts and caramels. Cheesecake. Ice cream. Yup, desserts just taste better on shavuot. This year, Mommy Foodie’s birthday is the second day of the holiday. Aside from making her an awesome cake, I made her these nut bars. My mom loves nuts, so I know she’ll really enjoy these for dessert! A dairy dessert with shortbread crust and a caramely nutty topping – how can you go wrong?

Ina really knows how to write a decadent recipe! This recipe for pecan squares has more than a pound of butter in it – enough said. These “pecan squares” are really a shortbread crust with caramel and pecans on top. Kinda like a pecan pie, just in bite size portions. How bad can that be? Well, after reading through hundreds of reviews on the food network site, I realized that many people did not really like the crust. And there were a lot of complaints about burnt sugar on the bottom of ovens. Even though I have a self-cleaning oven, I was not about to let that happen. So I halved the recipe, to make sure it really would fit on a half sheet pan. A lot of people said they just made them in 9×13 Pyrexes, but I wanted that flat look all over, plus I wanted very thin bars – once you see how much sugar and butter are in these, you’ll know why. Continue reading

Spiced Candied Cashews

So you know when you walk by those Nuts 4 Nuts carts in Manhattan and they smell so amazingly good that you finally cave in and buy them, only to realized that you wasted two dollars on something that smells 1000 times better than it tastes? Why do they not taste like they smell? I decided to take matters into my own hands. These subtly spiced candied cashews made my apartment smell amazing and they made my taste buds happy. Take that, nuts that you buy from a cart on the street (when you put it that way, I’m not so surprised…)!

I had all of these leftover cashews from when I made cashew chicken. I also wanted something to munch on. These candied cashews come together so quickly and easily (maybe 15 minutes), as long as you have cashews around, you’re good to go. Or else try them with other nuts. They’re very similar to the peanuts that Jessica made, but I played around with the spices and the sugars.

Candied Cashews

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment  paper.
  2. Mix the spices together.
  3. In a large skillet over high heat, mix the nuts, sugar and water. Stir frequently and bring to a boil. Continue stirring; the liquid should evaporate and turn into a syrupy consistency. This should take about 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the spices over the nuts and stir vigorously, letting the water completely evaporate, for about 4 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until the nuts are coated in the crystallized sugar.
  6. Carefully pour the nuts out onto the baking sheet to let cool.

Honey-Lemon Throat Lozenges

Ha-choo – this Kosher Foodie was sick. And while usually people prefer chicken soup, this throat soother is much easier to eat while lying in bed watching TV. Plus, staying in bed all day is b-o-r-i-n-g and you know I like to make candy and would rather be in the kitchen than doing nothing all day.

I got this recipe from Alton’s first Good Eats book. (And yes, I did buy the second one, the Middle Ages, I just haven’t had time to photograph and write up recipe yet! There are way too many things on my Kosher Foodies to do list.)

So, Alton made 200 lozenges. I decided to quarter his recipe, hoping that my throat wouldn’t hurt long enough to need all of them! Turns out, I wish I did make that many. They were so delicious! Honey and lemon, what a great combination! I kept eating them even after my throat was all healed. I used really good quality honey that my parents brought home from Costa Rica. I’m glad I found such a great use for it! You can use whichever type of honey you have around the house.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 3 ounces honey
  • About 2 tablespoons water
  • Zest of one lemon

Instructions:

1. Combine sugar, honey, and water in a very small saucepan. Mix together. Place over high heat until boiling.

2. Cover for 4 minutes.

3. Remove the cover and place a candy thermometer inside. When mixture reaches 295 degrees, remove from heat and let cool for five minutes. Mixture should thicken.

4. Mix in lemon zest.

5. Using a 1/2 teaspoon measure, drop onto parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet, making sure to leave some space between them, because they’ll spread.

6. Work quickly, because the mixture thickens really quickly.

7. Let cool for 1/2 hour and store in an air-tight container. Separate layers using parchment paper. These will last for about a week at room temperature.

Candied Peanuts

Mmm, peanuts. Mmm, caramel. Well here we have the best of both worlds in what has to be the easiest candy I have ever made! It gives the flavor of peanut brittle (I’ll share that recipe with you soon, I promise) but can be thrown together without a thermometer and pretty much three ingredients. Make this the next time your friends come over, you won’t be sorry. It would also be a great hostess gift. My friends and family like it when I bring baked goods, but when I bring candy, they go crazy.

I have a confession to make. These peanuts are not supposed to be clumped together. Each individual peanut was supposed to be covered in hardened caramel. I was devastated when I took these off the fire, perhaps a few seconds too late. Then I tasted them, and that feeling went away fast. They’re awesome! So don’t worry if you make a mistake. You’ll probably like these anyway (what’s not to like?).

Never made candy before? Don’t fuss! This is the perfect place to start. You’re still boiling and bubbling sugar (see above), you’re still adding the nutty peanut, you’re just not messing with fussy crystallizing sugars and candy thermometers. Not that we don’t love those, but they’re not great for first timers. The only thing you need to be careful of with this recipe is stirring. Keep on stirring. Don’t stop. I know this is easy: three(ish) ingredients and one pan, but that caramel can burn if it’s not moved around enough. Have you ever tried cleaning burning caramel off the sides of a pot? I have; it’s not so fun, trust me. Pay attention and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get this right the first time.

If you’re confused by the instructions, don’t fear! That’s why we have everything broken up into short steps. That’s why we have pictures of each step. It’s easy, I promise! Now try it. You definitely won’t regret it. The people you share it with will love you forever.

Candied peanuts, adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups peanuts
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Kosher or sea salt (amount depends on the saltiness of your peanuts)

Directions:

1. In a large tall-sided saute pan, add peanuts, sugar, and water.

2. Turn heat to medium and stir the peanuts with the sugar and water. The sugar should dissolve into the water. The water will start bubbling. Continue stirring.

3. Keep stirring. The water should evaporate slowly.

4. Keep stirring. When there’s no more water, you will notice that it looks kind of sandy and is getting harder to stir. The caramel is light in color. Lower the heat slightly and stir until it is dark.

5. Keep stirring, scraping caramel from the bottom and coating each and every peanut in it. Tilt the pan away from the fire as you stir to regulate the heat.

6. Sprinkle with cayenne and salt.

7. Using a spatula, scrape the peanuts onto a silicone covered baking sheet. Flatten as much as possible and let cool. [See picture below. I didn't do a great part flattening this. Next time I'll use a baking sheet to flatten from the top - the peanuts are very hard to break these apart if they're not in a single layer.]

7. When cool, break apart peanuts (I used my hands, but you can use a mallet if you want smaller pieces)

Salted Butter Caramels, Take 2

And here’s the second recipe for caramel candies (to see the first one, click here), from the archives of Gourmet magazine. I found they took longer to make than the first recipe, but maybe that’s because I made them second and was already standing around the kitchen for too long. Continue reading

Salted Butter Caramels, Take 1

I know I should have posted these before Shavuot so you could impress your hosts with homemade candy (yes, these have to be dairy), but I didn’t have much time to upload pictures and write down the recipes because I was busy wrapping 97 individual caramels. That’s right, 97…so making caramels was fun and my house smelled like a candy store (which may be better than smelling like a bakery, I’m not sure yet), but next time I’m going to invite some friends over to wrap them with me. Continue reading