Friday, October 31, 2014

Colorful Candy Apples

Until the other day, I had never had a candy apple. My family has always been a caramel apple type of family. So, when I stumbled upon a candy apple recipe for Hot Pink Candy Apples by Rose Bakes, I knew that I wanted to try them out.

I must say that I always thought that candy apples would be extremely hard to make. They are so shiny and they look perfect. False! These treats are extremely easy to make and as long as apples are in the stores, you can make them for any gathering or party that you would like. I will say, that it is very important that you get the white food coloring (who knew?!). It allows the true color of the dye that you are using to shine through. I did not have the white food coloring, so my teal apples were very dark and some actually looked black... which is actually perfect for Halloween.

Most people associate apples dipped in large amounts of sugar a Halloween thing, so I fear that I am posting this a bit too late, but I thought why not go for it.

This recipe really is quite easy, you merely mix all of the ingredients together and wait for the bubbling mixture to reach the correct temperature and then you dip away! Make sure you pay close attention once your sugar mixture gets above 250ºF, things take off quickly from here.

My Teal/Black Candy Apples.

When Candied Apples Attack. Released October 31. Rated R.

What you will need for the Candy Apples:

6-8 medium apples (washed, dried and stems removed) **I used small apples and was able to get 12**

3 cups white sugar

1/2  cup light corn syrup

1 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla (or other flavoring)

2 Tablespoons white food coloring (like AmeriColor Bright White Soft Gel Paste or Lorann White Food Coloring)

1-2 teaspoons of gel coloring (in any color that you choose. Americolor is a good choice. The more color you use, the brighter the apples will be.)

Candy apple sticks (I got mine at Michael's in the baking sections, but you can also find them on Amazon, here)

Cookie sheet

Non-stick spray

Heavy duty sauce pan

Candy thermometer

Rubber spatula


Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and food coloring (white and color) in sauce pan. Turn on medium to high heat and let the mixture come to a boil.

Be sure to have your candy thermometer inserted into the mixture, but not touching the bottom.

Let the mixture come to 302ºF (hard crack stage). This will take about 20 minutes. There is no need to stir or disturb the mixture while it heats, just be patient.

While sugar mixture is heating, make sure that your apples are cleaned, dried, and on the sticks. Spary your cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

When sugar mixture reaches 302ºF, immediately remove it from heat and use a rubber spatula to stir in the vanilla (or other flavor). Stir gently to evenly incorporate the flavor.

As soon as the flavor is evenly mixed in, begin dipping your apples. You will want to work quickly, because the candy will start to cool immediately.

Tilting your sauce pan helps in getting the apples really well coated.

Let excess sugar drip off for at least 10 seconds, while spinning the apples. After they are dipped, place them on cookie sheet with non-stick spray.


It will only take a couple of minutes and then the candy apple coating will be hard enough for you to eat.  The apples keep well at room temperature for 2-3 days. Do not refrigerate, they will get sticky.

That's it! You are now ready to make and eat some fun and colorful candy apples!  Enjoy!

P.S.- If you would like to check out a few other recipes:

Spooky Black Caramel Apples
Candy Apples
15 Caramel and Candied Apple Recipes

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bon Appetit Desserts: Chocolate-Apricot Kugelhopf with Chocolate Swirl Whipped Cream

Hello! Another recipe has made its way into my kitchen. Remember when I told you all to read through the entire recipe, so as to prevent any mishaps? I think I was actually saying that more for myself. I am notorious for speed reading and naturally skipping very important steps in a recipe.

So, here I was starting this recipe yesterday evening around 6:00pm. I love baking and getting crafty in the later hours of the day. I am totally a night owl and this is when my creative juices are flowing. Anyway, I started at 6 and by the time I got this recipe into the pan, as instructed, it was already 7:40. I thought, 'Great, it only bakes for 48 minutes, so I will totally have it cooling off in time for me to go to bed by 10 pm.'  WRONG. I re-read the directions and right after the part where it instructs me to place the dough in the pan and let it rise until it reaches the top of the pan, are three words... three very important words. Three very important words that I do not recall seeing at all in my previous readings. Those three words are... 'about three hours.'

Yes, the dough must rise for about three hours! Ahh, what a shocker! I did not foresee this event. So, I waited the three hours and then baked the cake and then allowed it to cool off. I was in bed by midnight. The good news is that I nearly finished 'Wuthering Heights'. I started that over the summer, just before the school year started and lets just say that teaching duties significantly encroach on my personal time. My suggestion to you is to start this on a weekend day and early in the morning, so that you may enjoy it after dinner, at a normal hour. But, I am not here to tell you what to do.

I also recommend that you use the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer, when mixing in the chocolate and apricot mixture... because of the yeast, this dough is a bit sticky and a little thicker than a normal cake batter. Another tip, is to purchase two cans of Kern's Apricot Nectar, because one can is the equivalent of 1-1/2 cups, which is what you need for the sponge, alone. Because of this, instead of using apricot nectar or apricot brandy in my cake and whipped cream, I used straight up brandy. Unless you already own a Kugelhopf pan, there is no need to purchase one, because you can just use a Bundt pan.

I briefly mentioned the rating system for these recipes, before. Bon Appetit rate the recipes' difficulty level with whisks. I thought I would take the time to lay that information out in a clear manner.

As Bon Appetit says, this rating system is "to help you determine at a glance which recipe fits your skill level, we've given every recipe in the book a 'whisk rating', on a scale of one to four whisks."

WHISK RATING (Directly from Bon Appetit)

1 whisk- Very easy to make, with no special techniques required. Perfect for the novice.

2 whisks- A little more challenging. For the beginner with confidence.

3 whisks- Sophisticated, requiring more mastery of technique, such as caramelizing sugar. For the experienced cook.

4 whisks- A show-stopping dessert with many steps and components. For the expert baker.

These higher whisk recipes may seem a little intimidating if you are new to baking, but I believe that anyone is able to make them. I think that all you need to do is to CAREFULLY read the ingredients and recipe steps before you even start the baking process and give yourself plenty of time, so that you are not stressed out. It is never a good idea to bake when rushed. A good baked item takes love and time.

With that being said, this recipe is a three whisk recipe. You will find that this is only because you have to reduce the nectar and then make a sponge and in addition to the sponge, you make a dough. So, this has a few steps that require a bit of work, but overall not hard in the long run.

Are you enjoying saying 'kugelhopf' as much as I am?

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for:

Annnd... My lovely fall bouquet from Trader Joes, because why not?

Chocolate-Apricot Kugelhopf

1-1/2           cups apricot nectar
1-1/2           cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
1/4              cup sugar
1/4              cup nonfat dry milk powder
1                 1/4-ounce envelope quick-rising active dry yeast

1/2              cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1                 cup sugar
2                 large eggs
3                 large egg yolks
3                 Tablespoons apricot brandy or apricot nectar
1-1/4           teaspoons salt
1                 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2              teaspoon vanilla extract
1                 1/4 -ounce envelope quick-rising active dry yeast
2                 Tablespoons hot water (120ºF to 125ºF)
12               ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6                 ounces moist dried apricot, quartered
2                 Tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1-1/2           teaspoons ground cinnamon

Powdered sugar
Chocolate Swirl Whipped Cream (optional; see recipe)

SPONGE: Boil apricot nectar in heavy medium saucepan over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour reduced nectar into large bowl. Cool to 120ºF to 125ºF. Whisk in flour, sugar, milk powder, and yeast. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

DOUGH: Generously butter 12-cup kugelhopf pan. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs and egg yolks 1 at a time. Beat in apricot brandy, salt, vanilla, and ginger. Combine yeast and 2 Tablespoons hot water in small bowl and stir until yeast dissolves. Mix yeast mixture and sponge into butter mixture. Gradually mix in flour. Combine chocolate, dried apricots, brown sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Mix into dough.

Spoon dough into prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and kitchen towel. Let stand in warm draft-free area until dough rises just to top of pan, ABOUT 3 HOURS.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350ºF. Bake kugelhopf until deep brown and cracking on top and tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 48 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Return to pan, cover tightly, and store at room temperature.

Place kugelhopf on platter. Lightly sift powdered sugar over. Cut into wedges. Serve, passing Chocolate Swirl Whipped Cream separately, if desired.

Chocolate Swirl Whipped Cream

2          ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cocoa), chopped)
2          Tablespoons plus 2 cups heavy whipping cream
2          Tablespoons sugar
3          Tablespoons apricot brandy or apricot nectar

Stir chocolate and 2 Tablespoons cream in heavy small saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cool. Beat remaining 2 cups cream and sugar in large bowl until soft peaks form. Add brandy and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Pour chocolate mixture over cream and fold together until whipped cream is lightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer to serving bowl.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bon Appetit Desserts: Almond Butter Crown

What to say about this recipe...

It is not hard to make, so that is good. However, they call for the dough to chill for at least five hours and then they request, that you punch it down. My dough did not need any punching down, so I set it out at room temperature and then had a reason to punch it, as it did some rising. Also, you have to crush your own cardamom, which is not tough, but I do not have a pestle and mortar... so I think it would have turned out better, if I did have those tools.

This was my first time working with almond paste, which was cool. It has a great flavor. The recipe tells you to roll the dough up, jelly roll style on one of the long sides. However, I think that they meant a short side, because you are only supposed to have 8 slices in the end and I got 16. I had enough dough to make two cakes. Although, I may choose to make it with 16 slices every time, because, who doesn't like having more cake?

Be wary of the baking time. One of my cakes burned and I still had five minutes of baking time left.

Please let me know if you try this recipe, or any of the other recipes that I have posted. I am curious to hear about your experiences!

In crown and loaf versions, also, burned and regular versions.

Almond Butter Crown
10 servings

3          cups all purpose flour
1-1/4    cups (2-1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2          1/4 ounce envelopes active dry yeast
1/4       cup warm water (105ºF to 115ºF)
1/2       cup canned evaporated milk, room temperature
2          large eggs, room temperature
            Seeds from 6 cardamom pods, crushed
1          teaspoon salt
1/4       cup sugar

1/2       cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2       cup sugar
1/2       cup almond paste
1          teaspoon almond extract
1/4       cup sliced almonds

            Powdered sugar

DOUGH: Place flour in processor. Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns, until butter is size of kidney beans. transfer to large bowl. Cover and refrigerate while dissolving yeast.

Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over 1/4 up warm water in medium bowl; stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Mix in milk, eggs, crushed cardamom seeds, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar. Pour over flour-butter mixture and stir just until flour is moistened. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.

Punch dough down. Dust hands with flour. Pat dough out on lightly floured surface to 20-inch square. Fold dough over into 3 equal sections as for business letter. Press edges lightly with rolling pin to seal. Turn dough so that 1 short side faces you. Roll dough out into 30x6-1/2-inch rectangle. Starting at 1 short side, fold dough over into thirds, forming 10x6-1/2-inch rectangle. Wrap dough in plastic. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

FILLING: Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, almond paste, and almond extract in medium bowl to blend.

Butter 12- to 15-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle bottom with sliced almonds. Unwrap dough. Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface into 24x9-inch rectangle. Spread filling over. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough up jelly-roll style. Cut dough crosswise into 8 slices. Arrange dough slices, cut sides down, in prepared pan , spacing evenly apart. Let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 1-1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake cake until top is dark golden brown, about 45 minutes. Turn out onto rack.

DO AHEAD: Can be  made 1 day ahead. Cool completely. Wrap tightly in tin foil. Let stand at room temperature. Before continuing, re-warm uncovered in 325ºF oven about 10 minutes.

Sift powdered sugar over. Serve warm.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

So Hot Right Now

I am currently in the middle of training for my 17th half marathon. I was going to run it by myself, but a friend/co-worker decided that she wanted to do it with me. This will be her first half marathon and she recently had a baby. In the five weeks that we have been running, her ability level has sky rocketed! She's amazing. We have had to train using treadmills, at the gym, because it has been 100+ degrees out. The other day, we did four miles, and this is what I looked like:


Today, I ran on the street and boy do I miss it. It is a lot harder, now that I have adjusted to running on a treadmill. Street running all the way! Get out there and get some exercise!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bon Appetit Desserts: Coconut Bundt Cake with Powdered Sugar Glaze

Talk about coconut! This cake is packed with coconut-y goodness. It's got extract, milk, and actual coconut inside of the cake and then it is awesomely topped with a glaze made with sugar and coconut milk, and more coconut.

It is a dense cake, but it has a soft and enjoyable taste. I think I could eat a piece of this everyday!

Coconut Bundt Cake with Powdered Sugar Glaze
12 to 16 servings

3          cups cake flour
1/2       teaspoon salt
1          cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2-1/2    cups sugar
6          large eggs
2          teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2       teaspoon coconut extract
1-1/4    cups canned unsweetened coconut milk, divided
2          cups (packed) sweetened flaked coconut
1-3/4    cups powdered sugar
Additional sweetened flaked coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter 12-to 15-cup Bundt pan; dust pan with flour. Stir flour and salt in medium bowl to blend. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 2-1/2 cups sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then both extracts. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with 1 cup coconut milk in 3 additions. Fold in 2 cups flaked coconut. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake cake until golden brown and tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes. Using small sharp knife, cu around sides and center tube of pan to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely.

Whisk powdered sugar and remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk in medium bowl to blend. Spoon glaze over cake. Top with additional coconut, if desired.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.