Cooking With Honey – It’s Time For Caramel!

caramels 2

Autumn is the time for caramel, whether as candies or caramel apples.  This recipe is easy and delicious. Heck, it probably soothes a sore throat too!!

Yield:   18-24 caramels or 3-5 caramel apples

Ingredients:

1 cup Honey

¾ cups Heavy Cream

1-½ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Tablespoons Butter

Directions:

Combine honey and cream in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally while it cooks. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches soft ball stage. The easiest way to do this is with a candy thermometer (235 to 240ºF), though you can test it with other methods.

Remove pan from the heat and immediately stir in vanilla and butter. Stir until butter is completely melted and combined. Dip apples in the caramel or pour into a generously buttered 8×8 dish or smaller if you want thick large caramels. Having your dish properly buttered is important for easy removal of the caramels once set.

Allow caramels to cool thoroughly in the refrigerator and then slice into squares.  Store in the refrigerator until serving.

Holidays With Honey – Cincinnati Opera Creams

opera creams

For about a hundred years, Cincinnati has had a love affair with candy filled with opera cream — a simple, but sweet and rich fondant.

Opera cream candies are usually covered in dark chocolate.  According to legend, the opera cream recipe was brought to Cincinnati from France before the turn of the century.

One explanation for the origin of the name “opera cream” is that the candy is sweet and very rich and so are a lot of operas.

Another explanation (more likely!) is that for many years, the Cincinnati Opera treated patrons to opera cream candy before performances.

Yield:  3-1/2  pounds

Ingredients:

4 cups granulated sugar

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 lb dipping chocolate

Directions:

Combine sugar, cream, honey, and cream of tartar in a 3-qt. heavy saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.

Cook to 236°F.

Watch carefully to avoid boiling over.

If sugar crystals form on the side of pan, wipe them off.

(To prevent this problem, place the lid on just as candies start to boil, for 1 minute. This washes the crystals down automatically.) Pour out onto marble slab (do not scrape pan).

Let stand until lukewarm, about 5-10 min.

Work like fondant, until creamy& light in color.

Add vanilla and work into mix.

Shape in pieces as desired.

Dip in melted chocolate.

Holidays With Honey – Honey Turtles

turtle

This is probably my favorite candy!  Make lots because unlike real turtles, they are sure to go fast!!

Ingredients:

12 ounces of soft caramels, recipe follows

6 oz (about 1.5 cups) toasted pecan halves

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with aluminum foil and spraying it with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Arrange the pecans in clusters of 4 with each pecan pointing in a different direction (like turtle legs).

3. Place the caramel in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds.

4. Allow the caramel to cool slightly, then use a spoon to drop a spoonful of caramel over the pecan clusters. They are meant to be a rustic candy, so don’t worry about keeping the turtles round or about having some of the pecans poking through.

5. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or over a double boiler. Spoon the melted chocolate over the caramel layer.

6. Allow the turtle candies to set fully, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week, but bring them to room temperature before serving so the caramel can soften.

Honey Caramels

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup honey (mild honey works best here)
1 cup raw sugar (or granulated sugar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Special Equipment: 8×8 pan, candy thermometer (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil, letting the edges of the foil hang over the side of the pan, and spray with cooking spray, or butter generously.
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan.
  3. Add the honey, sugar, and heavy cream. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has mostly dissolved.
  4. Turn the heat to medium low. Clip your candy thermometer onto the side of the pan….carefully.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches firm ball stage, which you can determine in one of two ways: a. the mixture reaches 248ºF (give or take a degree or two) on a candy thermometer (it will be marked with “FB” or “firm ball”) or b. Drop a bit of the mixture into a small bowl filled with ice water. It should immediately form a ball that you can squeeze together with your fingers without it dissipating.
  6. Immediately remove from the heat, quickly stir in the vanilla (it will bubble slightly) and pour the mixture into your greased pan.
  7. Let cool, lift out of the pan using the foil, then cut into squares and wrap in squares of parchment paper or cellophane.

Note: If you happen to accidentally take your caramels past the firm ball stage (i.e., if the caramel mixture gets a little too hard after it has cooled), remelt the candy over low heat with 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Stir until the mixture is totally combined, then do the ice water test to check the consistency of the mixture (dropping the mixture into cold water is a reliable indicator of what the texture/consistency of the caramels will be when cool). Immediately pour into a newly-foil lined and greased pan, and cool completely.

Cranberry Week – Honey Cranberry Almond Bark

It was probably inevitable that cranberries would be associated with Christmas. Their bright, shiny red color and their winter availability primed them for use on the table and the tree. Slow to spoil, they hold up for the entire twelve days of Christmas and longer.

The earliest American Christmas trees in the 1840s were decorated with homemade ornaments of fruits, nuts, candies, and other “sweetmeats,” and it could not have taken long for the woman of the house to thread a large needle and string cranberries with popped corn to make a red and white holiday garland.

  • 5oz of white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of sliced almonds
  • Honey
  1. Re-hydrate cranberries in water over high heat in a small pot until they plump up, remove from heat and liquid, set aside let cool.
  2. Toast the almonds over medium low in a small pan, tossing frequently until they are a golden brown, remove from heat, give it a rough chop, set asid
  3. Melt chocolate over a double boiler with the water simmering. Stir with a rubber spatula until it becomes a smooth texture, immediately remove from heat and pour into a 9×9 sheet pan with parchment paper on the bottom, spread evenly.
  4. Working quickly sprinkle the almonds evenly over the chocolate, then the cranberries and lastly, working from the top corner to the bottom drizzle the honey quickly and horizontally, not too thick or it will be too sticky. A very thin layer will almost not be seen but will be tasted. Let chocolate set before breaking apart and placing in an air tight container.

Honey Caramels

I made these for my daughter’s Bridesmaids’ Luncheon!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup honey (mild honey works best here)
1 cup raw sugar (or granulated sugar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Fleur de sel or other sea salt for topping

Special Equipment: 8×8 pan, candy thermometer (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil, letting the edges of the foil hang over the side of the pan, and spray with cooking spray, or butter generously.
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan.
  3. Add the honey, sugar, and heavy cream. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has mostly dissolved.
  4. Turn the heat to medium low. Clip your candy thermometer onto the side of the pan….carefully.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches firm ball stage, which you can determine in one of two ways: a. the mixture reaches 248ºF (give or take a degree or two) on a candy thermometer (it will be marked with “FB” or “firm ball”) or b. Drop a bit of the mixture into a small bowl filled with ice water. It should immediately form a ball that you can squeeze together with your fingers without it dissipating.
  6. Immediately remove from the heat, quickly stir in the vanilla (it will bubble slightly) and pour the mixture into your greased pan. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or other sea salt.
  7. Let cool, lift out of the pan using the foil, then cut into squares and wrap in squares of parchment paper or cellophane.

Note: If you happen to accidentally take your caramels past the firm ball stage (i.e., if the caramel mixture gets a little too hard after it has cooled), remelt the candy over low heat with 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Stir until the mixture is totally combined, then do the ice water test to check the consistency of the mixture (dropping the mixture into cold water is a reliable indicator of what the texture/consistency of the caramels will be when cool). Immediately pour into a newly-foil lined and greased pan, and cool completely.

 

The Queen Is In Residence

Statue of Boadicea near Westminster in London

It was looking like it might rain, so I went ahead and installed the Queen in her new home.

To ensure that Boadicea‘s new subjects accept her, I am using an indirect method of release into the new hive.

There is a white plug of candy in one of the three circular holes in the Queen cage.

White Candy Plug

The Queen and her attendants will eat through the candy over the next few days and escape from the cage. This will give her subjects time to get acquainted with her and accept her as their monarch.

I am smearing wax and honey from the hive on the cage so that Boadicea will pick up the scent of the hive.

Smearing Wax And Honey On The Cage

I am also poking a hole in the candy plug to make it easier for the Queen and her attendants to escape. I’m careful not to stab any bees in the process!

Poking A Hole In The Candy Plug

Finally, I added two small nails to hold the cage in place between the brood frames.

Now I am ready to go!

It was great to hear the loud buzzing of the new colony as I removed the top super. The bees seemed interested in the new Queen and quickly surrounded the cage.

I was happy to see that the bees had already made progress in drawing out the empty frames. On one frame I saw the beginnings of a Queen Cell.

Now I will wait a week and check on the progress of the Queen.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Tomorrow, the extraction of honey from the old hive!

Honey Divinity

Divinity is an old fashioned Southern candy that was originally made with corn syrup. It’s much better made with honey!

It reminds me of visiting my grandmothers. I guess this is Grandmother Weekend!!

Ingredients:

3 cups granulated sugar (600 g)
1/2 cup honey (120 ml)
2/3 cup warm water (160 ml)
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract (or other flavor of your choice) (5 ml)
1 cup chopped nuts of your choice (I use pecans) (150 g)

 

Preparation:

1. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine the sugar, honey and water in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches 250 degrees, firm-ball stage.
3. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a large standing mixture until stiff peaks form. Slowly pour about half of the sugar syrup into the egg whites, beating constantly.
4. Continue to cook the remaining syrup until it reaches 270 degrees, soft-crack stage.
5. Stream the remaining syrup mixture into the egg whites while the mixer is running. Continue to beat until the candy is thick, shiny and holds its shape.
6. Mix in extract and nuts until fully incorporated.
7. Drop by the teaspoonful onto cookie sheet, and let cool until full set.
Variation: Divinity can be poured into a 9-inch square pan, cooled, and cut into small squares instead of being dropped from a spoon.

Honey Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

2 Cups Sugar
4 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Evaporated Milk undiluted
1/4 Cup Honey or sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter (softened)
1/4 Cup Walnut chopped (optional)
Directions:

1. Combine the sugar, chocolate, salt, and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the honey and continue to cook to soft-ball stage (240-F degrees on your candy thermometer).

4. Remove the fudge mixture from the heat and add the butter, stirring to blend.

5. Let the Honey Fudge stand until lukewarm. Then beat until creamy again with an electric mixer.

6. Pour the mixture into a lightly buttered pan.

7. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and let cool completely.

8. Slice to serve, and keep tightly wrapped in wax paper to maintain moisture.