The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage,Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!
Wow, what a great challenge. My biggest complaint is that I didn’t have enough time to possibly try all the different recipes they included with the challenge. That being said, I’m putting them in the file, because I intend to try most, if not all of them. My second, somewhat smaller complaint is this: Tempering Chocolate in August??? I thought my chocolate would never cool enough for proper tempering, but more on that in a moment.
I should just say that among the things I most want to accomplish in the kitchen, high-quality candy making has always been high on the list. I love to bake, but when I see those rows and rows of beautiful candies at places like See’s and Van Duyn, I just can’t help but feel the desire to replicate them myself.But, candy making is very often an exact science. Temperatures must be carefully controlled. Humidity can’t be too high for certain recipes. Ambient temperature can’t be too high for certain recipes. August? High humidity and temperature. But, the challenge was set forth, so I endured to the end, the bittersweet end.
While I have successfully made different candies in the past, where I have been most challenged is getting that shiny, crisp, perfectly finished chocolate shell that is the hallmark of a good candy maker. I’ve attempted to temper before with poor results. I think now those previous failures were caused by using the wrong chocolate for tempering. Another factor contributing to that failure was likely poor temperature management due to poor quality thermometers.
This time, I chose the best quality chocolate I could get locally (Lindt) and tested 5 different thermometers for accuracy prior to putting them to work. By the way, two of those thermometers are now part of the local landfill program (don’t worry, no mercury was put in the trash) – they were off so badly that they didn’t even technically qualify as thermometers. Working with a relatively small amount of chocolate, which I knew might make temperature management more difficult, I was able to attain a near perfect temper. I wish my photos did more justice to the finished product, but what I got was shiny, didn’t melt easily after setting and snapped when bitten into. The only flaws were cosmetic flaws such as some minor blooming that appeared likely due to my lack of perfect temper. But I was very satisfied, nonetheless.
Stepping aside from the chocolate for a moment, I decided to make the Sponge Candy for the non-chocolate portion of the challenge. Where I’m from, you only get this on the coast and they call it Sea Foam. It’s usually sold in a variety of jagged shapes and sizes and dipped in milk or dark chocolate. It’s really good stuff. Since Mrs. GT has a sweet spot in her heart for Sea Foam, I decided to oblige her.
|The Burned Blob|
|A Much Better Result - Proper Temperature Control|
|Candied Bacon - Give it a Try - You'll be Hooked!|
|Adding the last of the 'seed' chocolate|
|Waiting Patiently to Cool Down|
|Candied Bacon gets Stirred into the Ganache|
Be sure to check out the recipes, techniques and the other Daring Bakers that have participated in this month's challenge. You can find it all at The Daring Kitchen website.