Saturday, March 21, 2015

Raspberry-Vanilla Marshmallow Easter Eggs

Easter has the BEST candy. 
Seriously, I count the days in February until Valentine's day is over. Not only because Valentine's day is my birthday, not just because in early March, we celebrate our Half-iversary, and not even because Spring is steadily approaching...
It's 'cause of the candy. There is insta-joy when I see the purple bags of Cadbury Mini Eggs in the store next to the clearance $.99 chocolate hearts. I'm on my 4th package of them right now, no joke.

Easter, like most Holidays has lost its childhood luster, and I no longer get a new dress for church, I no longer get a basket filled with goodies, and instead of sprinting to find the most eggs, I help the kiddies find them and witness their joy when they find the egg with the twenty dollar bill in it.
Can I get in on that twenty? No, really...

This year I wanted to make something pretty, and tasty, and sparkly!  They don't take long, but they take some finesse. Anyone can make them, and putting the sparkles (sprinkles) on is so much fun, and kids would love it!! Step by step, here's the recipe and method.

Raspberry-Vanilla Marshmallows (Makes 12 eggs)
Special equipment:
Stand mixer
candy thermometer
12 standard size plastic eggs, washed, dried and coated lightly with cooking spray
18" plastic piping bag
#805 Ateco round plain tip (about 1cm)
Empty egg carton

1/3 cup raspberry juice*
1 tablespoon water
3/8 oz. unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
Non-stick cooking spray (high-quality)
Sugar crystal sprinkles
Nonpareils (the tiny, round sprinkles)
Jimmies (the long and soft sprinkles)

* Thaw frozen raspberries overnight in the refrigerator and strain the juice from the fruit. Bonus: stir the excess fruit into a big tub of plain yogurt, or pancakes for a yummy treat.

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Place the raspberry juice, and water in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over top and let it stand.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pot, and combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey, and 2 ounces of water. Stir gently and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil without stirring and cook the sugar until the thermometer registers 248°.

With the stand mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin.

Once all of the cooked sugar is added, turn the speed and continue beating until the 'mallow is light and fluffy.
 You are gonna wanna stop here, but beating just a little longer will create a really fluffy 'mallow. At this point, add the scraped vanilla bean and continue beating.
Until it looks like this. If you beat it any longer, it will be too firm to pipe. You want it to be light, but not too cool.

Set the prepared egg shells on a large sheet pan. Fill the piping bag with half of the marshmallow and scrape everything as close to the tip as possible.
Pipe marshmallow into each half of the egg, squeezing from the very top of the bag. In the short half, leave a bit of a dome, and in the tall half, pipe only almost to the top. Be careful not to get any cooking spray on the mallow as it will prevent it from sticking together once it is set.

Pro tip: keep the piping tip just barely submerged in the marshmallow, slowly moving it up as you are piping it into the egg. This will keep the 'mallow evenly distributed through the whole egg.
Close the egg and let the excess come out of the tiny hole in the tall end. Most plastic eggs have this, so make sure yours does. Clean up the outside of the egg as much as possible, and place in the egg carton. Leave the eggs to sit out at room temperature for at least an hour or two. 

Test the egg to see if it is ready, carefully pop open the egg and see if it stays in tact as you try to remove it. Once it is easy to remove from the egg, they are ready to dip into the sprinkles.

Sugar crystal sprinkles stick best, but if you want to use jimmies, make a combination of crystal, and nonpareils with the jimmies.

Wrap the eggs in the carton with plastic wrap and let them sit overnight. They are ready to eat (so you can if you want), but the sprinkles will stick best when they sit long enough to dry a bit.

Package them in plastic bags, and adorn your Easter baskets with beautiful, delicious, sparkly eggs!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam

Check it, y'all,
Onion and Bacon jam is magic.
It is the combination of bacon, onions and time. By adding some cheese, maybe some bread, you've got something just...well, amazing.

What this recipe will take is patience; love and sweet patience. Which anyone who knows me will tell you I have very little patience for anything, but I do, I swear...especially when it makes my burger taste bonkers! Yeah, I said bonkers.

Now what people don't tell you about caramelizing onions is that it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get the color and flavor really deep and caramelized. TV magic just makes them appear in like 10 minutes tops. But you gotta keep 'em on low heat, slowly cooking, and stirring the onions without burning them. Just be patient, control your heat and keep stirring.

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam
1/2 pound smoked thick-cut bacon
2 medium-sized onions,
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1.  Cut the onions in half so that both pieces have the root end attached. Cut the ends off of both pieces and remove the skin. Place the onion cut-side-down on your cutting board and slice them into 1/2-inch crescents. To do this, cut slices starting 1/2 inch from the bottom of the onion, at a 45 degree angle, working your way up the onion until your knife is at 90 degrees, then back down the other side.
2.  Cut the bacon into 1/4 inch strips. In a large stainless steel skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, then drain on a paper towel, leaving the fat in the pan.
3.  Add the onions and stir quickly to coat each piece in the bacon fat. Once the onions are hot, turn the heat down to medium, and keep stirring until the heat has stabilized.
4.  Over the next few minutes, slow down the stirring and turn the heat down a little more so that the pan is still hot, but the onions will not burn. You want to completely avoid browned pieces. This whole process will take about 10 minutes.
5.  Cook the onions over medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes for the next 30-40 minutes. Once the onions are soft, and starting to caramelize, turn the heat back up to medium, stir in the butter, and let it melt before stirring in. Add the mustard powder to the butter and stir until combined, then add the brown sugar, and stir to gently combine everything.
6.  Season with the salt and pepper, then stir the bacon back in. By now, you will have a lovely, caramelized mixture of bacon and onions. Taste, then add the apple cider vinegar. Adjust the seasoning as desired, maybe adding some cayenne pepper, or chili powder for a little heat.