Before I get started, I just want to remind everyone to be kind to their retail clerks today. They aren't any happier about your last-minute bullshit than you are. Christmas is the same time every year. You've had plenty of warning. Also, remember your wait staff who has to work through the holidays--your bartenders, servers, etc.--while you're having fun. Tip extra. Slip that kid at the movie theatre or the guy renting videos to you a fiver or something, also, just for being there so you can be, too.
My estimation that I bought three times the walnuts I needed turned out to be exactly accurate. I had a total of two more cups, which is just the right amount for what became project #2: cinnamon walnut caramel.
This looked to be an excellent solution. All I needed to do was buy a cup of raw honey and mix all the ingredients together. No cooking required, just 24 hours to let the caramel dehydrate. So, I went to the neighborhood co-op after lunch, and came home to make my caramel. (I've been temping at 23rd Avenue Books for the holidays, and I only had a couple of hours left before my shift, so what else was I going to do?)
The measurement gods smiled, and the container I chose for purchasing the bulk honey turned out to hold exactly a cup. The karmic kickback: I only had half of the cinnamon required. Back to the co-op, and eyeball 1/4 cup of bulk cinnamon. I was a little over, but better that than under.
Essentially, in this recipe, is you dump the honey and the cinnamon in a bowl with some vanilla, stir, add the walnuts, and then create "small clusters." As it turns out, my definition of small and theirs is different, particularly once the caramel started to spread. Again, it looks like I'm making cookies, and again, it's not pretty, but then, America likes ugly. My Christmas candy is hip, y'all!
Seeing the goopy caramel spreading like my thighs are going to spread after I eat it all, it reminded me of first or second grade. I had this book of neat household things kids could do themselves, and there was a recipe in there for fudge you could make in ice cube trays. I decided to do this for Christmas for my teacher. I melted the chocolate and did whatever else you did, poured the trays, and then the last day before break, popped the fudge out of the trays and into a plastic bag. I then rode the bike to school, clutching the plastic bag, hanging them over my handlebars. By the time I put the bag on the teacher's desk, the fudge was just a brown mess at the bottom.
When it came time for her to look at all her presents, the fudge looked terrible, and I was relieved that my name was not on the bag. Or maybe she was being kind and pretending it didn't have my name. Either way, I didn't fess up that it was me who had brought the bag of chocolate poo, but I am sure my face betrayed me. It was the first time that I remember thinking that maybe my family wasn't the same as other kid's families, that maybe we didn't have the money to go out and buy fancy gifts for my teacher. It wasn't that we lived in abject poverty, my father always provided, but I do recall thinking that there was something strange about the fact that all of these kids had nicely wrapped presents and I had fudge I made myself in ice cube trays that I had dumped into a clear plastic bag. Maybe it wasn't poverty, maybe we just weren't big on the social niceties.
Cooking with honey is not something I can say I enjoyed. I don't actually like the taste of honey, and dumping it from one container to another and then to another, and then having to mix it up with other stuff--it's sticky and it's messy and it got all over everything. Stupid bees. I've gone from chocolate poop to cinnamony bee poop!
I came home after working my shift, and couldn't believe my eyes. The caramel continued to spread while I was away. Some even flowed right off the edge of the table! (Note: I put wax paper over the clusters, not just under. I live with a cat. She has no interest in them, but her fur does.) Look at the picture above, and then look at this picture now, 18 hours later...
Someone switched my candy with a dirty diaper!
There are still six hours of dehydration to go. When that is through, I am going to try to move the gunk into some kind of hard container and see if I can't form it into some sort of brick. That is if it even tastes good. Right now, it's all cinnamon.
The divinity, on the other hand, I tried last night. It held its cookie shape, but the taste is pretty good. The texture is not exactly right, but I think it's pretty close to success--particularly since I've been discovering since posting yesterday that it's considered an even harder candy than I thought.
The after picture:
Current Soundtrack: Dubstar, "A Certain Sadness (Astrid Gilberto Cover;" The The, Soul Mining
Current Mood: mixed
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All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich