Scrap Happy Sweets

I have so much baking to do. Many, many cookies, to please the different members of the family this holiday, and to please myself.

And my sister and husband want turtle bark, with dark chocolate, caramel, pecans and fleur de sea.

But these all have to wait. I don’t have the ingredients on hand. Oh, I have the butter and the sugar and the vanilla . . . those scraps of ingredients we all have in our kitchens.

But what can I make from those scraps, while I wait for my personal shopper (Don!) to make a trip to the grocery store?

Only possibly the best Christmas candy of all—English toffee.

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It’s 6:30 a.m. at my place and the house smells great—all buttery and caramel-y, with slight burnt overtones. 

I’ve written about my toffee before, and given the recipe I use, so I won’t go through it all again here but, if you’re looking for a culinary scrap happy project, this might be the answer.

Ingredients? Butter, sugar, water, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, for the basic toffee. For the coating, some sort of chocolate you really like. I temper Callebaut chocolate (which, yes, I always seem to have on hand) but quality chocolate melts or chips work fine, too. 

Want nuts? What have you got lying around? Almonds, walnuts, pecans? No nuts? The toffee is so good, you won’t miss them.

Really, the biggest scrap you’ll need for making toffee is a scrap of patience, since you need to be willing to continuously stir the cooking ingredients for 20-25 minutes, the time it’ll take to reach 300 degrees F.

But it is so worth it! No scraps will make you happier than these!

So, when you’ve used up the scraps of yarn and fabric and pretty paper and glitter, wander to the pantry—and find the sweet scraps for toffee.

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ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen and Connie

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Oh, Fudge!

IMG_4025What would Christmas be without fudge? Dick, without Jane. Tarzan, without Jane (was it the same Jane, do you think?) Santa, without Rudolph. Eggnog, without rum.

It would be sad, that’s what it would be!

While I’m away, selling candy to the huddled masses of Westchester County, New York, I thought I’d empower you to make your own holiday fudge. I could sell it to you but you’re a crafty, self-sufficient, DIY bunch and this fudge is really easy. If you do a good job with this, someday I’ll teach you to temper chocolate and you won’t need me at all!

And the recipe makes five pounds of fudge! You know you’d never buy that much candy but, hey, if the recipe provides that much, who are you to argue?

I’m giving you a basic recipe, published several years ago in the Buffalo News. I always, always, add dried sour cherries from Michigan because they counteract the sometimes-overwhelming sweetness of fudge.

I almost always add walnuts, too, because my husband loves them and it’s easier to put them in than to listen to him miss them, in that sad little voice of his.

You can add what you like—toasted pecans, raisins, craisins, toasted coconut, crispy bacon. All of the above. Or even none of the above, for purists.

This makes a pretty, always welcome, stocking stuffer, cut in 2- or 3-inch squares and tucked in a cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon. You can also add it to that plate of cookies you give all your friends and co-workers. Or you can keep it for yourself and start a diet with me on January 2!

FIVE POUNDS OF FABULOUS FUDGE

Line 10 x 15 pan with foil

* ½ cup butter or margarine
* 1 can (about 14-ounce) evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
* 4 1/2 cups sugar
* 8 ounces marshmallows; I use mini-marshmallows
* 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (all of these chocolates can be found in the baking aisle; they’re often sold under the name “Baker’s”)
* 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
* 8 ounces sweet baking chocolate
* 1 Tablespoon vanilla
*1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
* 1 cup roughly chopped dried sour cherries
(or about 2 cups of whatever add-ins sound good to you)

Combine butter, milk, and sugar in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cover. Turn down a little and boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add marshmallows; stir until melted. Add the three kinds of chocolate, one at a time, stirring until melted. Blend in vanilla and whatever you’re adding.

Pour into foil-lined 10-by-15-inch pan. The 10-by-15-inch pan is often called a jelly roll pan. You could use any similarly sized pan but I wouldn’t go smaller or the fudge will be very thick. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Let fudge stand until firm. When the fudge has set, put a cutting board on top and carefully flip it over so that the fudge leaves the pan. Peel the foil off and cut as desired.

Fudge will dry out pretty quickly if left in the air. Wrap it in plastic and store in a plastic container for a few days or wrap tightly and freeze. Fudge freezes quite well!

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