Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Magic and microwave brittle

Well I have something very awesome to share...I have a theme song! A song that was made for little ol' me. How, you ask? Well, I made him brittle and he made me a song. (That sounds romantic, but it wasn't. My husband has made a song for me though, that I won't share because it's mine and mine alone.)

So this theme song is pretty cool. He read my blog and ate my brittle and put it all into a little instrumental.

Hit it Paul!

Nice, huh? I thought so. Thanks Paul, you are too cool.

Now on to fancy pants stew. I don't really have a recipe for that. It's more of a story about my mom. My mom makes brittle for every Christmas and she makes it in the microwave. I know some of you have heard of this and I'll share a recipe below. But the really cool thing is my mom made this when microwaves weren't in every home and if they were you mostly just reheated your coffee or something. Another cool thing about my mom is she's Vietnamese (my dad's Kansas) and she still made brittle even though she didn't have that growing up. She learned how to make it because, I suspect, one day at work someone was talking about making some candy in the microwave and she remembered it, then she came home and did it. And it was amazing, it was the best tasting brittle I'd ever had. She didn't use thermometers, she didn't know anything about hard crack stage or microwave wattages...she had heard someone describe the process and she maybe had a piece. An that was it. This is her magic.

Another example of her magic is when we'd go into a restaurant and we'd all have a nice meal. Someone would comment about the stew and how good it was and the next day my mom would whip out this bowl and it would be the same stew. She'd had figured out what was exactly in that stew just from a few tastes. Even when the name gave no indication what was in it, it could have been called fancy pants stew or something. But somehow she knew. That is magic.

I don't have that kind of magic. But I do have her and she showed me how to make brittle. That's pretty good.

Microwave Peanut Brittle
Adapted from my mom

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 ½ cups raw Spanish peanuts with skins
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Spray a metal cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Combine sugar, corn syrup and peanuts in a 2 quart glass bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir and continue microwaving on high 3 minutes more, then stir in butter and vanilla and microwave for 2 more minutes.
  2. Finally stir in baking soda and salt until just mixed. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread thin with a large spatula or metal spoon (sprayed with non-stick spray). Cool completely then break into pieces and serve.

Be very careful, melted sugar is hotter than the surface of the sun. It will burn. This I know.

So microwaves vary and you might need to adjust times to better fit your microwave. You are trying to reach hard crack stage. Here's a nice site describing how to test for that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TWD - Whole Wheat Loaves

Turns out I'm kind of lazy and that I get overwhelmed easily. Luckily I've made this bread before so my laziness and being easily overwhelmed doesn't really affect this week's post. Oh ya, I have memory problems too. I think it was one of the first recipes I made out of the book sometime last year, but I only think that because when I went to take a gander at the recipe, someone (probably me) had wrote "good" next to the title.

So now I'm going to go look for some pictures and try to see if I have any other thoughts or memories that pop up so I can say something else about this loaf of bread.

Found one!

Boy they do look good!

According to the date on the picture, I made these bad boys on January 8, 2012. That's clearly not last year but I do still think they where some of the first recipes I had made. In the same picture folder are some brioche loaves. I do remember those because they were a pain in the ass to make! Later the brioche became bread pudding and that was some dang good bread pudding.

Those are some fancy, granny rolls.

So going on the "good" statement I'm going to recommend you try these out. I don't write "good" on just anything (I don't think anyway, hard to tell since I really can't remember). The recipe calls for malt extract and I'm pretty sure I used a one-to-one exchange of molasses instead, because until yesterday I've never owned malt. And once again, "good" means the molasses must have worked out.

Veggie num num and The Family That Bakes Together can provide a much better synopsis of this bread. I think aroma was mentioned and some other niceties that probably make this recipe actually sound more appealing than just "good".

See? Good.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

TWD - Sugar Plum Chiffon Cake

Sugar plums are dancing in my head. They are kind of like the dancing hippos in Fantasia. Round with little tutus. The plums don't have faces (makes it easier to eat) and they just twirl and twirl. There might be something wrong with me.

Moving on...

Sugar plums are dancing in your head now.

So the cake for this TWD installment was supposed to be a Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake with a streusel layer made up of almonds, oats and brown sugar. I strayed a bit. I did what I promised and followed the recipe exactly for the last TWD, so now I have given myself carte blanche. I had been baking with peaches/nectarines a lot lately and were a bit tired of them. And then I started having the sugar plum dreams and what could I do? Sugar plum cake! I just traded out the brown sugar and nectarines for white sugar and some large black plums. I left out the struesel layer because it didn't sound like it fit. Others posted that they weren't very enamored with it either.

Dollops of happiness.

I've also been making mascarpone and added a little dollop of mascarpone icing to each slice. It's good. I ate it for breakfast. Not the whole thing, just a slice. But if I were actually in my dream...I'd eat the whole thing and follow it up with some bacon. Why not, I'm getting exercise chasing the sugar plums so I can make another cake. It all works out. Oh ya, in my dreams my skinny jeans fit too. Stupid person for inventing skinny jeans.

I think I just saw a plum roll by on a bicycle outside my window.

I think my jeans are too tight...and they aren't even skinny.

I hope this week's host's jeans are tight too. I don't think they properly enjoyed the cake if they aren't.

The Little French Bakery http://littlefrenchbakery.com/nectarine-upside-down-chiffon-cake/

The Double Trouble Kitchen http://thedoubletroublekitchen.com/2012/09/04/twd-nectarine-upside-down-chiffon-cake/

Here's a picture of a cake I did the other day. Since my last post didn't have any pictures, I thought I would up the picture quota.

Vanilla buttermilk cake with caramelized peaches and mascarpone icing.