Monday, December 31, 2012

Bubble Sugar and Coffee Bean Brittle

If you're like me, the whole New Years Eve thing is a bit of a non-event. I've never been a big partier or drinker, and in all honestly by 11:30 I'm beat and just want to hit the hay. That said, I do like to see all the "best of" lists that come out around this time, though I'm sadly lacking in any real "milestones" in the past 365 days myself and I'm too indecisive to pick favourites when it comes to my recipes. The other fun thing for me is to vicariously live through others and see the creative things people do for the night, whether it's just opening up a bottle of champagne with friends or glamming up 6 ways from Sunday to go out on the town.

That's not to say there isn't bubbly tonight. Nor will we be lacking for caffeine or sugar! While I seriously doubt anyone's about to go about making candy today, certainly not this late, these two treats are relatively simple to put together, need a minimum number of ingredients, and look dang impressive either as decorations or wrapped for gifts.

Fancy PantsBubble sugar (inspired by Grace Massa Langlois' book Grace's Sweet Life) is one of these, and definitely looks like artwork on top of a simply frosted cupcake! It's hard-crack sugar that's poured onto an alcohol-laced baking sheet and allowed to bubble into a beautiful, champagne like texture. While vodka is most traditional, being flavourless and colourless, you can certainly play with the alcohol you use to lend subtle flavouring to the finished candy. Try out a mix of Grand Marnier and Kahlua for chocolate cake decorations, or either a spiced or coconut-flavoured rum when making it to garnish a key lime pie!

Passing these on to Mom's Test Meal Mondays #23 and Gluten Free Monday #14
Bubble Sugar
Makes enough for 12 cupcake decorations
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp corn syrup
3 tbsp alcohol (like vodka, rum, gin, vermouth, or a your favourite flavoured variation)
  1. Bring sugar, salt, water and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Stop stirring and cook the candy to 315°F measured on a candy thermometer.
  3. Meanwhile, take a piece of parchment paper and crumple it, then gently smooth it out (keeping most of the wrinkled effect) and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Right before the sugar reaches 315°F, spread the alcohol over the surface of the parchment with your hands (you may need a bit of extra alcohol to cover completely).
  5. When the sugar reaches 315°F, remove the candy thermometer and, tilting the baking sheet slightly, carefully begin pouring the sugar syrup on the top of the sheet, so it runs down the parchment paper.
  6. The alcohol will make the sugar bubble.
  7. Allow sugar to cool, undisturbed, until fully set, at least 6 hours.
  8. Carefully peel the paper from the back of the bubble sugar, and break it into small pieces to use as decoration.
  9. Store at room temperature in a paper bag, away from heat and moisture.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 63.6
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 4.1 mg
Total Carbs: 15.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 0.0 g

Bubbles!

 If you find come the eleventh hour that you're just starting to droop a touch, I've got you covered. This brittle is packed with coffee extract, coffee beans and sugar (duh) and tastes like a cup of the strong sweet brew from Greece. Use good quality, medium roast beans for the best result!

Coffee Bean Brittle
Makes 20 pieces
1 cup sugar
2 ½ tbsp golden corn syrup
¼ cup water
Pinch sea salt
1 ½ cups coffee beans
¼ tsp extra strength coffee extract
    Candied Coffee
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or heavily grease it, set aside.
  2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a deep saucepot.
  3. Place over high heat and cook, without stirring, 3 minutes.
  4. Turn heat to medium and continue to cook, without stirring, until sugar reaches 230°F on a candy thermometer.
  5. Cook and stir until you reach 280°F (soft crack).
  6. Add the coffee beans and extract and cook, stirring constantly until you reach 300°F.
  7. Immediately pour onto the lined baking sheet and spread mixture into an even layer
  8. Cool completely, then break into pieces.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 49.0
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 3.9 mg
Total Carbs: 12.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 0.2 g