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.

Honey Meringue Cookies

I love meringues!

My hotel in London had a small bag of them waiting for me in my room when I arrived. Much better than chocolates!

Try a little food coloring to brighten them up!

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup water
5 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. ice cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract or peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 225º F. Line a baking sheet or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Hot syrup: Cook the honey and water, without stirring, in a small pot over medium heat until it reaches 235 to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Meringue: While the syrup is cooking, use a balloon whisk to beat the egg whites with the salt,cream of tartar, and water to soft peaks in a large metal or stainless steel bowl. When the syrup is done, remove from heat and immediately pour into the soft peak egg whites in a slow, steady stream while continuing to whip the egg whites at the same time. If you’re doing this by hand, at this stage it would be helpful to have someone pour the syrup in while you whip it in the egg whites.

Once all the syrup has been poured in, continue whipping the egg whites until stiff and glossy. Stiff peak egg whites should hold and retain their shape. Add vanilla or peppermint extract and rapidly beat for about 2 more minutes.

Spoon or pipe the meringue on to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to one hour. Open the oven door and let dry for another 10 minutes or until dry to the touch. Remove meringues from oven and cool on the pan, you may hear crackling as the meringues cool and finish drying out. Peel the meringues away from the parchment paper once cool enough to touch. They should peel away easily and should sound like a ping pong ball when tapped with a fingernail.