Feb012012

Wordy Wednesday: Sweet Confections

Wednesday February 1st 2012, AT 8:04AM   Leave a comment

Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to Make at Home

Written by: Nina Wanat

Published by: Lark Crafts

With Valentine’s just day around the corner, my notorious sweet tooth merged with an itch for a crafty project in the form of Nina Wanat’s book Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to Make at Home.

Having arrived on my doorstep just in time, the book showcases 40 recipes that are divided into three yummy categories: crunchy candy, chewy candy and silky candy. In it, you will uncover a wide range of recipes from your favorite childhood candy to decadent and intricate delights.

Nina provides a wonderful overview of all the basic candy making ingredients as well as the tools and techniques needed to create these scrumptious treats. Step-by-step directions and mouthwatering photography make it a fun challenge deciding on which recipe to try out first.

Since Valentine’s Day is usually dominated by chocolate, I had my heart set on trying something lighter and more refreshing this year. I decided on Pastel Butter Mints, an effortless recipe with the possibility of an endless spectrum of red and pink hues.

Pastel Butter Mints

Reprinted with permission from Lark Crafts.

You will need:

Baking Sheet
Parchment paper
5-quart stand mixer
Food-safe gloves
Chef’s knife
heart cookie cutter

4 3/4 cups of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of cream
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon mint extract
Food coloring as desired, 6 to 8 drops

Method
•Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

•place the powdered sugar, cream, butter, and mint extract in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low with paddle attachment until thoroughly combined. Increase the speed to medium, and beat until the mixture clumps around the paddle.

•Divide the resulting “dough” into batches, one batch for each color of mint you’re making. Apply drops of food coloring to each batch, aiming for pastel colors. Knead one batch with gloved hands, until the color is uniform. Wash gloves, and repeat for each batch.

•Roll the dough into 1/2–inch–wide ropes, and then cut each rope into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Arrange the pieces on the prepared baking sheet so they don’t touch each other. Let it sit out uncovered overnight to dry. Store in an airtight container.

Tip: Dividing the dough before you add the coloring allows you to make multiple colors from one batch. Without food coloring, the mints will be a light cream color.

I decided to create the Butter Mints in three different shades of red. A true red, a pink and a soft pink.

Following the recipe, I divided the dough into three equal parts and added food coloring to each, decreasing the amount of coloring for each batch.

You only need a couple of drops to achieve pink, so be conservative with the food coloring.

Instead of the traditional 1/2-inch pieces, I decided to create little hearts. I rolled out the dough on a flat surface and used a mini-heart cookie cutter to form the Valentine shapes. Having the same basic consistency as Play-Doh, the dough is very forgiving and it was very easy to cut out the hearts and remove them with a knife from the flat surface.

A cute way to customize these silky candies is to add phrases such as “I luv u” or “xoxo” with a wood stamp, if you have one.

I highly recommend the Pastel Butter Mints recipe because it’s easy, fast, inexpensive and infinitely customizable. It would also provide a great little project to do with kids in preparation for any holiday.

Sweet Confections is a wonderful book with easy-to-follow recipes and a mouthwatering collection of yumminess. I can’t wait to try one of the crunch candy recipes, maybe the chocolate covered potato chips?

Sweet Confections, $17.95 at larkbooks.com.

Live like you mean it,
Jen

When she’s not frantically pinning on Pinterest to keep her inspirations organized, Jen designs packaging and graphics for big name retail stores. But her true love lies in creating tasty delights, finding new purpose for found items and styling the perfect photographs for home and kitchen. Her practical nature and profound love of type and color can be seen as a major influence in her painting and photography. Encouraged by her loving and handy husband, she is often found dreaming up new DIY projects to incorporate into their 1927 Spanish-style home in Southern California, as seen on her blog jenniferhohner.com.

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