Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Friday, December 23, 2011

Part 4: Insane amounts of food

In my head Christmas presents work like this: kids get toys, grown-ups get snacks, grandparents get pictures of their grandkids.  I think it works.  Really, big people can get their own stuff, kids just need some spoiling (right?) and grandparents, really our children *are* their gift and the photos help in those moments when they can't be right there.

So at our house we make a massive amount of treats and give them out to friends.  This is good for two reasons: 1) it gives the kids and I something fun, delicious and messy to do and 2) I get to give most of it away so Josh doesn't complain too much that I'm trying to kill him with sugar and fat.  I have this magical idea that every year we'll try a few new things and then by the time the girls are heading off to college I'll be a pastry chef. 

In my perfect world I try to attempt these projects when one of the kids is out or asleep.  Somehow the idea of two kids and molten sugar that hardens to your flesh and continues to burn freaks me out a little, so I like the mellow vibe that happens when it's just me and *one* of the girls.  On this particular morning, the zone was taking a wee nap:

just look at that little head:

So my plan was chocolate peppermint bark and some toffee if we had time.

First we get Clara occupied unwrapping two boxes of peppermint candy canes.  This takes a while, get a cup of coffee, check facebook, have a nap.
 Next about 4 cups of chocolate chips get all melty
and smeared on some parchment on a cookie sheet.  If you are able to wait for a cold day, then you can use your porch like a giant free refridgerator:
Then we get Clara set up to beat the tar out of the candy (and pray it doesn't wake up the little one!):
Just look at that face!
Once the candy is all broken into bits, time to melt about 4 cups of white chocolate, stir in (most of) the candy cane debris and smear it all over the dark chocolate.  Then sprinkle some leftover candy cane bits on top.
Then back on the porch for a little chill:
Then, pressing your luck, you'll decide to do the toffee- I mean the smashing candy canes didn't wake up Zoë, so why not?

In the pot goes some butter and sugar and salt, yum.  Digital thermometers are really great for teaching numbers- tell me when it gets to 285!
The magic of thermodynamics when applied to butter and sugar and salt:

When it gets to the magic temp for me and my pot- 290, pour it on a cookie sheet with a silpat - seriously don't screw it all up like me and just use wax paper.  oh did I forget to take the pictures of me painstakingly scraping all of the wax paper off of the toffee, my bad.  just imagine my joy.  okay?

Now, I'm no food blogger, and you have to move a little quickly at this stage to get the chocolate chips on top so they stick in and get melty and magically incorporate themselves into the toffee so when you smash it to bits the chocolate doesn't come flying off.  You will have to move *so* quickly that there is no time for taking pictures.  So some magic happens and you end up with this:

I think that I need to make this the new background on my computer. mmmmmm. 

The toffee has heat to spare so when the chocolate is all melty you spread it out.  yum.

total success!  These things all get broken into something resembling bite sizes and tossed into some containers and into the fridge.  Next we make cookies, lots and lots of cookies.  tomorrow you will see!


Liz M said...

Wow, Clara is so helpful :) I wish my niece lived closer to me so that when she was a little older I could enlist her help baking.

Beautiful photos and totally drooooolworthy.

Cambria said...

we loved our cookies! Can you believe that the actual cookies didn't make it through the night! thankfully I hid the toffee ;)