Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maple Creams

Apparently, years ago I gave David Lebovitz (who I worked with at the time) a recipe for maple cream candies. He's had it on his website for some time now, and recently asked me to write an update for it. I was, well, thrilled.

David's website (if there's anyone out there who doesn't know) has everything going for it. It's funny, it's smart, it's funny, it's interesting, and--stop me if I already said this--it's funny. I like reading about Paris, I like being reminded via a jar of chocolate and hazelnut spread to avoid the 'too good to use' trap (and I have a story about chocolate and hazelnut spread I'll share one of these days). I like learning about ketchup macaroons, and heck--I even like taking a Club Med vacation in the Bahamas vicariously (though I'm pretty jealous). But I especially like laughing. And David always makes me laugh. Smart and funny. What more could a person want?''

It was fun making these--I haven't made candy in a while, somehow missing out on my traditional penuche this last Christmas. I even came up with a rationalization for making candy that works for me. The hand-beating is a bit of a workout. I'm pretty sure I burn enough calories stirring the creams to more than compensate for however many pieces of maple creams I might accidentally eat.

So here's the link to my post, Giovanna's Maple Creams--I feel pretty honored having it up at his site. Enjoy!


Phoo-D said...

Hi Giovanna - Thank you for stopping by earlier. I read David's post about these maple creams and they sounded incredible. We're big fans of bourbon so pairing it with these would be the perfect end to an evening! Thank you for sharing the recipe. Yum.

Giovanna said...

Hi Phoo-D--let me know how they turn out for you...and what bourbon will you be drinking?

Chris said...

Hi Giovanna, I love this recipe! I know I'm late to the party on this, but I just made these last night, and they seem to be a bit grainy. The mix was a bit grainy before it had cooled to 110,though - any tips on how to overcome that, or is that the nature of the beast? I'm perfectly willing to eat the whole tray of them as is, since they're so delicious...

Giovanna said...

Hi Chris--
Here are Harold McGee's rules for creating fine-textured candies (the goal is to make many very small crystals--the bigger the crystal, the grainier the candy):

Remove dried syrup from the pan's interior before cooling the syrup (otherwise they can act as crystal "seeds" and cause crystallization);

Be sure the syrup cools to 110 degrees before starting to stir (which starts crystallization).

Avoid agitating the syrup while cooling (would start premature crystallization).

Once the syrup is cooled, stir continuously and vigorously for as long as you can.

Also: Avoid making candy on humid days, sift granulated sugar first (helps remove any extra moisture), check anti-corn syrup sentiment at the door (the way its molecules act in cooking prevents other sugars from crystallizing); use a wooden spoon rather than metal (the way metal conducts heat can cause the formation of crystal seeds).

Hope this helps!

Chris said...

First of all, thank you for responding so quickly!

Secondly, I think I can see three or four things I did wrong here. This is so helpful! I am sure that the next batch will be creamier (though it's hard to imagine them being any tastier)!

Giovanna said...

I hope it works for you--I find I hold my breath a certain amount when making candy, and hope for the best. Though I'm shamelessly able to eat grainy fudges as well--what can I say? Candy is a happy thing.

Cal Cakestall said...

Hi Giovanna

I left a comment over on David's site, having tried the recipe 3 times. Always tastes fantastic but the setting is a big problem for me.

Can you tell me how long it takes to do the final stirring, i.e. after the mixture has cooled to 110 degrees?

Giovanna said...

Hi Cal--

So does it not set at all for you (meaning does it remain syrupy,and not lighten in color or lose its gloss at all)? Or is it a problem of texture, i.e. too grainy? In my experience, these creams remain a bit softer than penuche (brown sugar fudge). After it thickens, I spread it in the pan. I cut squares later (usually letting it sit a bit, the amount of time more likely determined by when I want to eat them than by any cooking-rationale). The squares are firm enough that the cut lines remain distinct, but still soft enough to be fairly malleable.

The recipe is the basic fudge technique--as far as I know, it's the same idea with penuche fudge and chocolate fudge. Cook to soft-ball stage, let cool to 110 degrees, then beat with a wooden spoon until it thickens and loses its gloss. I really don't know how long it takes, if I had to guess (I haven't made any in a while), I would say maybe 10 minutes (though it can seem a lot longer when you're beating by hand!). And, candy can be temperamental, so the amount of time could be affected by such things as the humidity in the air.

In her candy book, Anita Prichard outlines general fudge-making basics. She describes the stirring process this way:

"Fudge goes through interesting changes in appearance during the beating process. It will be glossy and quite thin at first. As the beating continues, the gloss will gradually disappear until, quite suddenly, the mixture starts to thicken. Drop a small quantity from a spoon onto a piece of waxed paper. If it holds its shape, the beating is done. Turn immediately into the greased pan.

Don't be discouraged if your fudge does harden in the pan before you can turn it out...Just scrape the whole mass onto a baking sheet, and knead it, while it is still warm, into a delectable creamy confection."

I hope this helps somewhat. I make candy irregularly, so it doesn't always turn out perfectly--sometimes it's a bit grainier, other times it can be softer. But it always gets eaten!

Cal Cakestall said...

Hi Giovanna

For my last batch, the mixture did not change in the least despite beating it for 45 minutes. It was smoothy, mid-brown in colour, and syrupy.

The texture was completely smooth, because I've learned to be absolutely meticulous about making sure that the sugar is completley dissolved before starting the boiling process, and I also washed down the sides of the pan to be sure that no crystals were clinging there.

I think that next time, I'll give it 10 minutes and then throw in a tablespoon of icing sugar (I think it's called confectioner's sugar in the US) and see what happens.

It may be that I was just unlucky with this batch, or it may be that I'm actually being too careful about the dissolving/wiping down process.

Thanks for your comments

Giovanna said...

Cal, I'm sorry this is being so tempermental for you! I'm not sure what else to suggest--do other fudges work well for you?

Next time I make them I'll be sure to note how long the steps take me...sorry I couldn't be of more help!

Related Posts with Thumbnails