Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Candied Almonds

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!  I know we did!  As part of our family gift-giving, I always make a little package of goodies for family and friends. This year, with the moving and work and everything going on I decided to go ultra easy and quick.  I made these secret turtle candies that I learned from my mother-in-law (sorry guys she won't let me tell you all the recipe) and candied almonds!  Those I can share with you cause I found them all on my own!

They are super duper easy!  It does take an hour and 15 minutes or so total to make, but most of that can be spend hanging out with the family or relaxing and recuperating from all the holiday festivities.  They are super tasty and very addictive and would probably make great snacks for a New Year's Eve party or a great gift to the host of a party you may be attending.  My main tip would be to buy the almonds at a bulk store or out of the bulk bins if your grocery store has them.  A pound of almonds can be kind of spendy this time of year!

Pre-measuring you ingredients saves a bit of time later!

Put the egg white, vanilla and water into a bowl large enough for all the ingredients.

Whisk until frothy.

Stir in the almonds and toss until well coated.

Fold in the sugar and spices.

Stir until all the almonds are well coated.

Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 1 hour at 250F, stirring every 15 minutes.

Enjoy!  But try not to eat the whole pound in one sitting! :)

Candied Almonds
adapted from this recipe

1 lb. almonds
1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 250 F.

Whisk together egg white, water and vanilla in a bowl large enough to fit all the almonds.  After whisked well and frothy, fold in almonds and toss to coat. Sprinkle on sugar, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and stir until all the almonds are well coated.

Pour almonds onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and spread nuts into a single layer. (Don't skip the parchment paper otherwise you will have a super messy cookie sheet to deal with later.)  Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before eating...or you will burn your tongue!  Trust me, I know! lol

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mini Eggnog Cupcakes with Rum flavored Swiss Meringue Buttercream

These cupcakes came to me while I was shopping a few weeks ago.  I saw a tub of buttered rum at the grocery store and I felt the need to buy some and use it in something. Those of you who know me, know how I feel about eggnog.  I think it's gross...though I've been told I can't really judge it until I've tried it warmed up with rum added.  Maybe someday people, but until that day, I stand by my hate of eggnog.  And since everyone keeps asuring me nothing pairs better with rum than eggnog, I figured they can't all be wrong. That being said, the fact that I made these cupcakes is a miracle as I taste absolutely EVERYTHING that I take out in public to ensure that there are no odd tasting goodies coming out of my kitchen!    Of course the day I made these cupcakes there was no tub of buttered rum to be found at the grocery store.  No worries...there's always rum in my house!  (Got to have it on hand in case I get the inkling for pina coladas!)

Sorry for a lack of pictures this time guys!  It didn't occur to me to put these on here until about half way through making them.  Don't worry, the next post will have plenty of pics!

Mini Eggnog Cupcakes 
makes 24-36 mini cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup eggnog

Preheat the oven to 350 and prep the mini cupcake pan by filling it with cupcake liners of your choice.

Sift or whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  (Flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.)  Set aside for now.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated.  Add in the vanilla extract and mix well.  

Now add in the dry ingredients, in thirds, alternating with the eggnog.  ( Add in 1/3 dry ingredients then 1/4 cup eggnog and repeat until it is all mixed together.)  Beat on medium speed just until well mixed.

Fill the cupcake liners evenly, using an ice cream scoop, measuring cup or place all of the batter in a gallon size ziploc bag and cut the corner to form sort of a piping bag and squeeze even amounts of batter into each liner.  ( I did that this time...I think I will always do that for cupcakes.  It makes it so much easier!  Saw it on an episode of Paula Dean's show featuring the authors of Hello Cupcake)

Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Watch these closely, mini cupcakes can over cook quickly but make sure they are done all the way through by inserting a toothpick to check that it is still not gooey inside.  Cool completely before frosting.

Rum Flavored Swiss Meringue Buttercream
adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe

3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 sticks butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 shot (1 oz.) of rum

Combine egg whites, sugar and salt into a heatproof bowl (use the one from your stand mixer if you have one) and set atop a pan of simmering water on the stove.  Whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar and salt have dissolved.  It should not feel gritty when rubbed between your fingertips.

Place the bowl in your stand mixer, if using one, and whisk starting on low and working up to medium-high.  If using a hand mixer make sure you also gradually increase the speed and be in for a bit of an arm workout on this one.  Continue whisking until stiff (but not dry) peaks form and mixture is cool.  Test this by turning off the mixer and pulling the whisking attachment out.  If a peak forms and doesn't flop over, you reached it!  If not, keep going but be sure to stop before it gets dry.  You want it to still be sleek and glossy.

Turn the speed down to low and add the butter a few Tbsp. at a time, ensuring that it is well mixed before adding more.  Once all the butter is added, pour in the vanilla and rum.  Switch to a paddle or beater attachment and beat on low for a about 2 minutes to ensure all air bubbles have been beaten out and the mixture is smooth.

Place in a piping bag with your favorite decorating tip attached and pipe onto cool cupcakes.  Sprinkle with nutmeg for some color and try not to eat them all!  : D