Saturday, December 30, 2017

Same-Day Eggnog Dex#

I really love a glass of eggnog around the holidays. It's a bit fussy cooking up a custard, and worst of all, it takes hours to cool. Grabbing a bottle from the grocery is so much easier and faster! Except, it has all that sugar in it. If only I could make eggnog at home, and drink it right away; then it would be easier than driving to the store.

Well, I've found a way, and it makes us happy. :) It's also Dex#, my term for when the carb to fiber ratio is 5:1, like what it is in blueberries. For Dex#, all the non-fiber carbs count, where as for Dex+ I only look at the fructose to fiber ratio. But enough of that, on to what makes the recipe work!

There are a few special things to consider here: 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Spriggan Soda (Lemon-Lime)

You can make a really good lemon-lime using, no surprise, lemons and limes. However, lemons and limes vary in size and cost, they spoil, and also take a bit of work to cut and squeeze. The easier and more consistent way is to use lemon and lime oils for the flavor, and a blend of citric and malic acids for the sourness.

I've been using Boyajian oils, which you can get in a set of three, orange, lemon, and lime. They can also be used in place of citrus zest, 1/4 tsp or 24 drops per 3 tsp zest; really handy. The emulsifiers (gum Arabic and xanthan gum) in the syrup allow the oils to blend in, rather than pooling on top.

Acidity is a huge part of the flavor of citrus, and of soda. You can try only using the citric acid, but using the malic also makes this more like real citrus fruit. Malic acid is the sour in lots of super-sour candy. It's also the main acid in apples.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Home-Made Soda: The Syrup, Dex#

I'm revisiting Soda Syrup, for a couple of reasons. The lemon-lime I had come up with was tasty, but it was too much work to make a glass. The syrup was very thick, and hard to stir in. Cutting, squeezing, and crushing the lemons and limes was a hassle. We stopped making it, and after a while, diet drinks started showing up at home.

This new and improved syrup:
  • Is thinner due to not using corn syrup.
  • Contains some stevia, a natural sweetener that, best I can tell, has no bad effects on health.
  • Has emulsifiers (I will spare you all the details on experiments), which allow use of oils for flavoring, and also gives a nice foam like store-bought cokes.

Home-Made Soda: Let's talk Fizzzzz

I've been playing with carbonated beverages lately, because who wouldn't like to know how to make their own Coke; am I right? Cola, as it turns out, is quite a challenge, and I'm still working on that one. However, fruity flavored sodas are delicious in so many varieties it's hard to make a bad one. Well, as long as the sweet/acid/flavor ratio is good. After that, it's up to you as to what flavors you like. So many flavors!

This is my newest creation: Rudolph's Elixir. For Rudolph's Tipsy Elixir, add vodka.
What you need for any soda is: syrup, emulsifiers, flavors, acids, and carbonated water. Let's talk carbonation first; syrups and flavors in a future post.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Cream Candy Saga continues....

Another Thanksgiving, another try at cream candy. This year, we thought we knew what we were doing. That is where we went wrong. Complacency.

Armed with notes from years past, I did not even dribble candy into a glass of water as the temperature rose. I couldn't find my old-fashioned glass thermometer, so used the fancy William Sonoma flat metal one. Then the fateful comment was made: "The one thing that hasn't gone wrong before was to go too high on the temperature".

Well. Now we know what happens. If the candy gets too hot, it is nearly impossible to pull. Two good-sized adults pulling on a batch of candy, and it barely stretched. I bet we put 150 lbs on that candy. Impressive; it didn't break either. We did as much as we could, then just laid it down. If you tried to snap it, the candy rope just slowly bent. If you dropped it from a foot or so above the granite, it broke in pieces. Eating a piece resulted in gluing teeth together, kind of like a sugar daddy, more like hard candy. The kids started microwaving bits of it to see what would happen. It became crumbly, but lost the good flavor.

So, nothing to do but start over, after a good 20-30 minute hunt for the thermometer. This type, but I don't think this brand, just whatever was at the grocery. Also, I used a spoon and glass of water to check the thread, soft ball, and hard ball stages. I also used my fancy electronic thermometer, the only one I've found that works with the induction cooktop.

The glass thermometer rose steadily. The electronic was more volatile, reacting quickly as the probe was moved around in the pot. As the glass one approached 260, the electronic would read as high as 270! I finally couldn't take it any more, and pulled it off the heat when the glass one read 255. And, that was too early.

The candy was too sticky to hold for long, and was really soft. I laid it back down on the silicone mat, and pulled/folded it on the mat. Then, in a surreal few minutes, it turned foggy, smelled wonderful, then turned into crystal and broke in pieces. Success! Although not beautiful, it was all gone in a moment, as many hands reached in.

Bonus: By the next day (today), the original batch crystallized into a slightly dryer, more crumbly version of the proper texture. I just checked, and it is softening, and is almost just right! The kids say that our true belief that the batch had failed is why it turned good. Hahaha, and my brother's family took some with them; should be witnessing the magic also, on their journey home. A good Thanksgiving was had by all.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

(Kentucky) Cream Candy Update

2015 Update:

Cream candy. Every Thanksgiving, we make it again. It is always delicious, but the experience is always different, and unlike how I recall my father doing it.

This year I tried a couple of changes, and got a dramatically different result. However, no new pictures, unfortunately.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ma's Six Day Pickles Dex+

Pickles? Six days? Why??? Answer: These are amazing. This is my grandmother's recipe. And, for myself and my brother, they are as delicious as they are in our childhood memories. Translucent, crunchy sweet/sour pickles, kind of like bread-and-butter's. 
Translucent pickle slices on top of grilled cheese. Simple perfection.
They are especially good on top of a grilled cheese sandwich. My children love them too. The recipe, as it was given to me, was very light on instructions, and included wonderful measurements like "salt to float an egg", and "alum the size of an egg". Yes indeed, an egg will float if you add enough salt to the water. Fun fun fun. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lovell Reunion Pecan Pie Dex+

This is THE pie for our Thanksgiving table. My husband gave me the recipe, which was written down by his mom during a family reunion, where they had discussed their pie baking strategies. I made a more detailed instruction list, added the salt quantity (it had been left off), and added the best pie crust I have ever had. We used to use a store-bought crust, but I never will again.

Happily, it was very easy to Dex+. The pecans already have a good deal of fiber in them, and the pie already used corn syrup. Substituting dextrose for sugar tends to make softer versions of a recipe; chia seeds tend to thicken. In this case, the two offset perfectly, and this pie is just as magnificent as the original recipe! Honestly, this is our new traditional pie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Better Than Twix Dex+

These are quite a bit of work to make, and are worth every minute to make a special treat. Happily, even our party guests who knew nothing about Dex+ really loved them!

After dipping them in chocolate, I put them into the freezer for a few minutes to set the chocolate. The caramel oozed out some, and my dipping job was far from perfect. Funny though, no one said a word about how they looked. They were too busy eating! :)

Ganache Dex+: It's fondue, it's icing, it's fudge sauce; it's tasty!

This is some seriously good and easy-to-make stuff, if the ingredients are in the pantry. We served this at our Halloween fest, with shortbread cookies, strawberries, and other tasty things to dip in it. Two quarts of strawberries disappeared pretty quickly! 

It takes a long time to set, giving plenty of time to use it as cake icing, like Julia Child did with her "Mocha Brownie Cake". Mmmm, must make a Dex+ version of that soon. Ganache is also the best fudge sauce ever. You know what else could be done with it? Truffles! I may try that for my Thanksgiving guests. Let it set completely, then scoop it with a melon baller, and roll in cocoa powder, maybe with cinnamon, or maybe dip in chocolate. Good thing I'm too full to eat anything right now....

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shortbread Cookies Dex+

This is a nice, plain, crumbly, not-too-sweet Dex+ shortbread cookie. I used these on Halloween to dip in caramel and chocolate fondue. They also work well for making a home-made version of Twix. To get the crispest, "short-est" cookie, the dextrose (technically dextrose monohydrate) is baked first to drive off the water, changing it to anhydrous dextrose. 

Because most of the flavor comes from the browning of butter, consider using a high-quality imported butter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chocolate Bars and Coating Dex+

Chocolate. King of candy, vital for candy bars, and has a magical snap and sheen. How, then, does a mere mortal sweeten an unsweetened chocolate bar, without ruining the magic? Very carefully. :)

This Dex+ chocolate has a great snap, and is shiny, with a deep dark chocolate taste. It is very thick, even when melted. When using it as a coating, I use a knife or the edge of the pot to swipe off part of the chocolate, otherwise the coat is too thick.
Mix in Rice Krispies and peanuts for a tasty treat!

I tried several methods before finding what really works, including using cocoa powder instead of chocolate bars, and adding cream and sugar. Adding any liquids tends to produce tootsie rolls instead of chocolate. The best way I found was to use Ghirardelli 60% and 100% chocolate bars.