More Adventures in Sugar

First of all, if you dig my cupcakes go vote for them!  I recommend the Merlot cupcakes, but if you prefer coconut, vote for that one, too!

I haven’t made or done anything too interesting lately.  Nothing I took pictures of, anyway.  Which is a shame because I made some tasty pecan turtles the other day as a Christmas gift.  It was my first time making caramel, and it was a lot of fun!  Standing over the pot, stirring for like half an hour, wondering when (and if!) the lumpy, oozy mixture was going to work…wondering if I had screwed myself by using soymilk (I condensed it down myself and EVERYTHING) but knowing I couldn’t try again if I wanted to because I had used my last two tablespoons of butter…All of a sudden, though, everything got dark (in the pan, silly) and even, so I switched off the heat as fast as I could.  Hooray, caramel!  It was awfully runny, though, and once I had poured it over the carefully arranged pecans and let them sit overnight, it was still very sticky and not as hard as I needed it to be.  I went ahead and poured melted dark chocolate over the turtles anyway, then once that hardened I peeled them off the parchment paper and stuck them in parchment-lined layers in a big container.  Luckily, after a brief stint in the fridge the caramel finished setting up nicely and was gooey and delicious.  On its own, you could clearly tell there was something not quite normal about the caramel…kind of a nutty aftertaste.  But once it was paired with actual nuts and smothered in chocolate, you couldn’t tell.  The only thing I would add is salt…but I’d add that in anything sweet nowadays (I really should have though, I mean, nuts, dark chocolate and caramel and I didn’t add any extra salt).  I didn’t get any pictures as I was finishing the turtles last-minute and they weren’t exactly breathtakingly beautiful.

I also tried to save some pomegranate jelly that just didn’t set (the stuff that was meant to be used for linzers)…I boiled it for a while, added the rest of the pectin I had, as well as the juice of one lime, since it had been sickeningly sweet.  Now it’s a sticky, weird jelly with interesting science-y properties.  Not really something I want to eat…and the sugary burning at the back of the throat is still there when you taste too much of it at once.  Probably just going to throw that out at this point.

I have some really adorable new cookies cutters and a great cake pan that I have to try out, and I’m thinking of themeing the cookies I make to the cutters.  Anyone got any ideas for an Australian-flavored cut-out cookie?  I think I can come up with the rest…

More future endeavors will include vanilla sugar (gotta use those pods!), creme brulee, and a couple more batches of meringues (gotta use those whites leftover from the brulee!)…Plus I should have a Silpat waiting for me at the post office by now, so I’m going to start studying macaron recipes; I reeeally want to try making some!

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