Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beth's Christmas Candy on Martha Stewart Living Radio


Listen tomorrow morning at 9:30 EST as I discuss Christmas Candy with Betsy Karetnick and Kim Fernandez on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112/XM 157.

I will discuss Nougat, Ribbon Candy, Candy Canes, and Sugar Plums.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Beth Kimmerle’s Honey Nougat

Although Nougat has a few aliases, it has many admirers. Also known as Nogha, Nougatti, Torrone, or Turron, Nougat is the nutty cousin of marshmallow. Like marshmallow, it can also take the form of a confectionery spread or filling known as, Gianduja.

Most countries or regions produce a specialized version. Some nougat recipes use small pieces of dried fruits along with the nuts. Middle Eastern versions tend to be cooked longer thereby creating a crunchier candy, while others contain chocolate or cocoa powder. In the United States, nougat is highly whipped and added to candy bars to give them heft and height.

Honey nougat is especially satisfying to eat as the candy takes on the distinct notes of the bee's habitat. A wildflower honey nougat made with fresh roasted nuts has incredible flavor. The last time I made a batch of nougat I used a lavender honey; the crowds went crazy.

Nougat is much loved in Southern Europe where most agree it originated. It is also a perennial holiday favorite. The small treats are miniature gifts of snow landscapes; they are perfect for Christmas.

Makes about 75 pieces of Nougat

Ingredients:

½ cup Confectioners Sugar, for dusting

4 cups Almonds, chopped

1 cup Shelled Pistachios, chopped

9 oz. Honey

1 ½ cups Granulated Sugar

¼ cup Water

2 large Egg Whites, room temperature

Pinch of Salt


Equipment:

12x9” Baking Pan

Parchment Paper

Sharp Kitchen Knife or Food Processor

Medium Saucepan

Wooden Spoon or Heatproof Rubber Spatula

Stand Mixer

Candy Thermometer

Cutting Board

Paper Candy Cups or Wax for wrapping

  1. Line baking pan with parchment paper and sprinkle generously with ¼ cup confectioners sugar.
  2. Chop nuts with a sharp kitchen knife or with food processor.
  3. Combine honey, sugar and water in saucepan and using a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, stir on medium heat until sugar completely dissolves.
  4. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring. Attach candy thermometer and boil syrup to 238˚F or soft-ball stage.
  5. Meanwhile, using the stand mixer, beat egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until soft peaks form.
  6. Continue to cook sugar mixture to 284˚F or soft-crack stage. Remove from heat with mixer running. Gradually pour hot syrup into egg whites, beating constantly.
  7. Continue beating on high speed until mix is very stiff and lukewarm, about 4-5 minutes.
  8. Remove bowl from stand and, working quickly, stir in nuts with wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  9. Quickly spread nougat evenly onto prepared pan.
  10. Sprinkle remaining confectioners sugar on top. Let set until cool and firm or for several hours.
  11. Move parchment along with Nougat onto cutting board and cut into 2” squares with sharp knife. Place Nougat pieces in paper candy cups or wrap with wax paper. Store in airtight container up to 3 weeks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Classic Sugar Plums

Sugar Plum candies are an old-fashioned, holiday favorite. These are traditional Christmas candies that lend their name to the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. They are, of course, also prominently featured in The Night Before Christmas, "...visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads".

Back in the day, plum was the common term used for dried fruit of any variety. Sugar Plums can be made with dried apricots, cherries, and or dates. The fruit is combined with honey and a mix of nuts, traditionally either walnuts or almonds. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are added before they are rolled into balls and coated in confectionery sugar.

Feel free to experiment and substitute nuts, seeds and spices with those of your choice. A wonderful garnish for these holiday delights is mukwas, the aromatic, colorful, candied spice (mainly fennel, anise) and seed mixes found at Indian and Pakistani food stores and restaurants.

Makes about 24 Sugar Plums

Ingredients:

1 cup Dates, pitted & chopped

½ cup Dried Apricots, chopped

¼ cup Candied Orange Peel, chopped (can be made ahead or substitute with 2 tablespoons orange zest)

¼ cup Golden Raisins, chopped

¼ cup Dried Tart Cherries, chopped

1 cup Walnuts, shelled & chopped

½ cup Marcona Almonds, chopped

2 Tablespoons Black Sesame Seeds

½ Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon

½ Tablespoon Ground Nutmeg

½ Tablespoon All Spice

½ Tablespoon Coriander, chopped

¼ cup Honey

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

1 cup Confectioners Sugar

*optional Mukhwas

Equipment:

Large Airtight Container

Wax Paper

Sharp Chef Knife or Food Processor

Medium Mixing Bowl

Small Bowl

Paper Candy Cups

  1. Line airtight container with wax paper and cut several extra sheets for additional layers. Set aside.
  2. Mince all dried fruit with either a sharp kitchen knife or by using a food processor. Transfer fruit to medium mixing bowl.
  3. Finely chop nuts with a sharp kitchen knife or with food processor. Add nuts to minced fruit in mixing bowl.
  4. Add sesame seeds, spices, honey and salt to nuts and fruit in bowl. Using clean, dry hands, blend together well until a chunky, moist and moldable paste forms.
  5. Once mixture is well blended, roll into 1½ ” balls. Place finished Sugar Plum balls in airtight container using wax paper between layers. For best results let balls sit overnight before coating.
  6. Place confectioners sugar in small bowl and gently rock Sugar Plums until they are evenly coated with the white sugar. *Option: Garnish top of Sugar Plums with Mukhwas.
  7. Place coated Sugar Plums in paper candy cups and store in same airtight container, replacing wax if needed. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar when ready to serve.