Yes I used an exclamation mark in the title, because if you can't get excited about home-made marshmallows then you have no soul. This is another recipe I spotted on Pinterest which piqued my interest. It is not a beginners recipe as at one point there are 2 bowls and one pan of sugar syrup on the go at the same time but I'm proud to say I managed to get everything to come together properly. The only thing I kinda messed up with the 'marbleizing' technique, which looks pretty on top, but as you can see from the picture below didn't go all the way through the marshmallow. I let everything set overnight and dusted an icing sugar \ cornflour mix over the cut up pieces the next day. These are lovely, very like those 'Princess' mallows you can buy, but fluffier. This is definitely a recipe I'll try again, but next time I'll do a better job on the marbleizing.


Christmas Cards 2011

Just a quick one today - these were my Christmas cards for this year. Everything seems to have started a bit late this year as regards getting ready for Christmas, so I threw these together out of the bits and pieces I had in my crafty boxes.


Lemon Bites

Where do I start with these things? They should be easier than candy because there isn't any special temperatures or fiddly syrups that can burn. However, whether I was just doing too much I don't know, but I managed to miss the part of the recipe that said to grease a 9x9 pan and instead I threw everything into a round pizza pan. This resulted in the 'lemon bars' (because that is what they were supposed to be) cooking in half the time and turning out about half as thick as they should have been. I won't even get started on the blinding pain of lemon juice squirting in my eyes when I was squeezing enough lemons to make up 1 (american) cup of fresh lemon juice.
When the pan came out of the oven I was tempted to throw it all in the bin and try again, but it actually tasted really good, so I dumped a load of icing sugar on top and cut them into little 'bites' for finger food. Next time I'll be sure to use the correct pan size, but at least now I know that if I do mess up these little things are easy to recover and serve up.


cookie dough truffles

I found this recipe a while ago on Pinterest and it appealed to me as it was egg free because I'm always wary of raw eggs in a recipe. This one was dead simple, flour, butter and brown sugar creamed into a thickish batter \ dough. I threw in a couple handfuls of chocolate chips to give the 'batter' some texture and then chill it for a while (I left if overnight in the fridge) shape it into balls and chill it again. The recipe said for an hour or so, but I wasn't in a rush so I left it overnight again before dipping it in chocolate.
The one thing I noted and worried a bit about when making these was they tasted of raw flour when first mixed, but the ingredients combined well once they'd been left for a while.I made about 60 dough balls from the recipe and dipped 40 or so. There are still 20 in my fridge that need to be done, but as I'm still new to working with chocolate I'll do those a couple of days before Christmas so the chocolate doesn't bloom.
I served up the truffles at a small party I had last week and they were so good my sister took a bag home. Now I just need to perfect the whole dip and drain thing with the chocolate.


Apple Cider Caramels

This was my first attempt at making caramels and I messed it up. The recipe said to keep the sugar syrup on medium high heat, but the candy thermometer wasn't going anywhere near the required temperature. After some thought a bit of googling (all while the syrup was bubbling away) I crossed my fingers and whacked the heat up to high. Finally the thermometer started to creep up to the proper temperature, but it took a good 30 minutes of boiling to get there.
Once the syrup had cooled enough to hold its shape I took a knife to it and started cutting it into bars which made it MUCH easier to cut into squares once it had cooled completly. What makes these caramels a little different from other caramels is the apple cider that was reduced down from 2 cups to 1/3 cup before I even started making the syrup. I'd like to try this with a good cider or apple juice to increase the apple flavour.
Once I got the caramels cut into squares, which actually involved leaning heavily on a knife and waiting for the caramel to break, I wrapped them in wax paper twists. These things are really good but you need to suck them a bit to soften them up - during which time as some friends of mine found out - you won't be able to speak for a few minutes.