Homemade Candy Corn

I am a big candy corn fan, but don’t tend to eat it because of the ingredients.  While looking for a fun candy recipe to demo this week, I ran across one for homemade candy corn on Serious Eats and couldn’t resist contacting the author to see if I could use her recipe, mostly because the photo of the candy was so darn cute!  It was created by Jessie Oleson Moore, of Cake Spy fame – she is based in Seattle and her blog is awesome if you are into the sweeter side of cooking (like I am!).

I only made one small change to her fabulous recipe – instead of using corn syrup I used organic light agave syrup (I’ll note that we do sell organic corn syrup at our Co-op if you’d prefer to use that).  We also sell some really cool natural food dyes by India Tree – they are made from turmeric, beet and vegetable juice in a glycerin base.

These little candies were super easy to make (you just need a little elbow grease to get the food coloring worked in) and taste so much better than the commercial candy corn on the market…and they are organic (excluding the food coloring).  You don’t even need a candy thermometer!  Customers (and staff) who tried them thought they were very tasty and had a nice caramel-like aftertaste.  I will be making these again for sure!

photo of homemade candy corn in pastel colors

Homemade Candy Corn © 2013 Sassy Sampler

Homemade Candy Corn

recipe adapted from Serious Eats/Cake Spy

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 c organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 c organic powdered milk
  • 1 c organic granulated sugar
  • 2/3 c organic light agave syrup
  • 1/3 c organic salted butter
  • 1 t organic vanilla extract
  • Food coloring

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and powdered milk together.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, agave syrup, and butter over high heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, add the vanilla and continue stirring frequently for five minutes—the mixture will begin to reduce and thicken.
  4. Remove pan from the heat.  Stir in the powdered sugar/milk mixture a little at a time, stirring after each addition until all the dry mixture has been mixed into the wet mixture.
  5. You can either leave the dough in the saucepan or turn it out into a bowl sprinkled with powdered sugar until it is cool enough to be handled.
  6. Divide the dough into as many sections as you’d like to create colored segments for your finished candy, and place them in small separate bowls.  Mix each mound of dough with food coloring until you reach your desired color.  Hint—you may want to wear gloves so your hands don’t get stained, and the longer you wait the harder the dough will be to work with.
  7. On top of a sheet of waxed or parchment paper, roll out each color of dough into a long thin rope.  The thinner the rope, the smaller that segment of color will be in your finished candy.  I divided my dough into three colors and made four 17” ropes of each color (they were about 3/8” thick).
  8. Press together your ropes of dough in whatever color combination you’d like.  To make sure that each segment sticks together, press a second sheet of waxed or parchment paper on top and press with a rolling-pin or your hands.
  9. Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough into triangle segments.  Keep a damp, clean cloth on hand to wipe off the knife if it gets sticky.
  10. Let the finished kernels set for an hour or two before serving.

Note from the original recipe author — up the cute quotient by placing a dab of green frosting in the inside of a lid of an empty baby food container and place 2-3 kernels on top, then screw the lid into the jar bottom-side up to create a magical forest of an Easter Corn terrarium.

Homemade Candy Corn PDF

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Blueberry Peach Sorbet

Okanogan peaches (and WA cantaloupe too!)

August is always exciting at the Co-op because that means that we start getting farmer direct peaches from the Okanogan Farmer’s Co-op.  Last week I used their donut (or Saturn) peaches in the Agua Fresca recipe, and this week I wanted to make a healthy treat with the more recognizable peaches that they supply us with.

It is the tail end of blueberry season at the Co-op, but you can probably still find them at the Farmer’s Market and at farm stands in the county for a bit longer.  We got what we think might be one of the last deliveries of organic blueberries from Hopewell Farm in Everson this weekend.  They have been so delicious this year and the sun was shining brightly, so another batch of sorbet was in order since the strawberry version was so popular!

Sorbet is ridiculously easy to make.  I couldn’t find a recipe that I liked, however, so I decided to just wing it.  I started by cooking the blueberries on the stove with a little water to soften them so they would be easy to juice in a strainer.  While those bubbled away, I prepared my peaches (3 really ripe ones and 2 firm ones) by peeling them and chopping them up haphazardly (the ripe ones were so juicy I could barely hold on to them!).  When the blueberries were soft, I strained them through a fine mesh strainer into a (stain-proof) bowl.  I mixed in a couple of tablespoons of organic agave syrup and popped the bowl in the freezer to cool while I puréed the peaches in the food processor.  You could also use a blender for this – just make sure it has a sharp blade.

Once the blueberries had cooled enough, I started by adding half of the sauce to the peaches.  After tasting it I added another 1/4 of the sauce and was very happy with the results – you tasted blueberry when it hit your tongue and then the peach flavor took over.  It was a good balance of sweet and tart, so into the freezer it went.  I had the benefit of using our -10° freezer here at the store so it only took a couple of hours (stirring every so often) to harden to a sorbet consistency – in your home freezer it will probably take more like 3-4 hours.

Stay cool!

Blueberry Peach Sorbet

makes about 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2-4T agave syrup
  • 5 large peaches (can do a mix of ripe and firm)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse blueberries.  Add them to a saucepan with the water.  Cook over medium heat until blueberries are soft, about 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. While blueberries are cooking, prepare your peaches by peeling and cutting them into chunks into a medium bowl.
  3. Once blueberries have cooled slightly, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a stain-proof bowl, pushing down on blueberries with the back of a large spoon to get all the juice out.
  4. Taste the purée/sauce to see how sweet it is.  Add agave syrup 1 T at a time until it reaches the sweetness you desire.  Put your bowl of blueberry purée into the freezer.
  5. In a blender or food processor, purée peaches until they are smooth.
  6. Once your blueberry purée has cooled off, remove it from the freezer and pour half of it in with the peach purée and process until combined.  Taste the purée and add more until it reaches a good balance of peach to blueberry flavor (I used about 2/3 of the blueberry purée).  Reserve leftover blueberry purée for topping sorbet or to use as an ice cream topping.
  7. Spread purée evenly in a 9×13 glass baking dish.  Place in the freezer until frozen, stirring every half hour or so (it will take about 3-4 hours to freeze).  Be sure to scrape the sides well.  Stirring it will actually help it freeze faster, but you can also leave it overnight and then stir it well in the morning if that is your preference.
  8. Top with remaining blueberry sauce (if you have some left over) and serve!

You can also pour the mixture into popsicle molds.

For an adult treat, top with a shot of fruit flavored liqueur or tequila.

You can use an alternate sweetener, like honey or granulated sugar—add it in the same fashion as the agave—1 T at a time until it is as sweet as you would like it.

Blueberry Peach Sorbet PDF

Apple Crisp (with gluten-free and vegan options)

Today has been a beautiful day in Bellingham – it has been a couple of months since we’ve had a “mostly sunny” day, and people around here are ready for blue skies, myself included.  Most of us are used to rain in the morning and sun in the afternoon in the Spring, but we have had a serious lack of that this year (especially the sun part).  It is so nice to see all the signs of Spring – cherry trees are flowering, daffodils, crocus and tulips are blooming, and you can almost watch the grass grow when the sun does come out.

The view from the Cordata Co-op Local Roots Room. Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful place to cook at the Cordata Co-op – the kitchen is really nice, and there is a fantastic view of Mt Baker and the foothills when the majestic Koma Kulshan shows its face.  Whenever the sun comes out around here, everyone remembers why they love living here, and people come out of the woodwork to go hiking, window shopping Downtown, or head up to the mountain for a little late season skiing or snowboarding (I hear they got over three feet of snow in the last week!).

With yesterday afternoon’s sunshine and the beautiful morning I woke up to today, I started craving a little taste of summer. We currently have Washington grown Pink Lady apples on special (98¢/lb for members of our co-op), I decided a little apple crisp was in order!

I love cooking with Pink Lady apples – they are tart while still being sweet, and are crisp without being mealy so late in the season.  They are my apple of choice if Honeycrisps from Bellewood Acres aren’t in season because they work well in every recipe I have tried with them.  I inherited my grandma’s apple parer/corer/slicer, so prepping a mound of apples is a piece of cake!  If you don’t have one and are an apple lover, I highly recommend going out and getting one – either at a yard sale/second-hand store or at the Co-op (we carry them seasonally).

Goldilocks’ apples – not too soft, but not too hard – just right! Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

After your apples are prepped, you want to start the cooking process.  This recipe doesn’t have a very long cooking time in the oven, so it is important to cook your apples down enough so they will be able to finish in the oven without cooking them down so much that they disintegrate when you bake them.  It’s not as hard as it sounds – and the best part is that the most reliable way to make sure they are oven-ready is to taste them!  Once they are soft enough to cut with a spoon but still hold their shape, they are good to go.

“baked” streusel topping Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

I used a technique from Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for Quick Dutch Apple Crisp (the recipe is available to subscribers of their website) – they recommend baking your streusel for a few minutes first and using melted butter rather than cutting cold butter into your flour/oat/sugar mixture, and I thought I’d give that a try.

Once it was all prepped, it went in the oven for about 12 minutes, and presto – delicious apple crisp in April!  I served it room temperature with some slightly sweetened “cream on the top” whipped cream from our local Twin Brooks Creamery (the one in the glass bottles).  I thought that since I had a 9×13 baking dish full that the sampling might last for a couple of hours, but boy, was I wrong!  64 samples and 55 minutes later, my dish was empty but I was full with the knowledge that I had a hit on my hands!

Melissa’s Apple Crisp

INGREDIENTS

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 c all-purpose or GF flour blend
  • 1 c GF or regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 c packed brown sugar
  • 8 T salted butter, melted and slightly cooled (use margarine for vegan option)

Apple Filling:

  • 5 # peeled, cored, and sliced apples (1/4” thick)
  • 1 T butter (or use margarine for vegan option)
  • 1 T honey or agave syrup (use for vegan option)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • Large pinch ground nutmeg
  • Whipping cream or ice cream for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Apple Filling: Heat butter over high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan large enough to hold all the apples (and still have room to stir them) until foaming subsides; Add the apples, honey/agave, vanilla, and spices, and stir to coat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook covered,  stirring periodically, until apples become tender and the spices have bloomed, about 10 minutes.  Taste the apples mid-way through to make sure that they are sweetened and spiced enough for your tastes.
  4. Pour (mostly) cooked apples into a 9×13 baking dish and distribute evenly.
  5. Streusel Topping: In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  6. Slowly pour the melted butter over the flour/oats mixture and toss with a fork until evenly moistened and it has formed pea-sized chunks throughout the mixture.
  7. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and pour streusel evenly over it.  Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  8. Cool baking sheet on wire rack until the streusel is cool enough to handle.
  9. Cover apple mixture with streusel mixture.
  10. Bake for 10-15  minutes, until apples are all the way tender and they are bubbling, and the top is golden brown and crisp.
  11. Serve warm in a bowl with ice cream, or cold on a plate with some whipped cream.

Apples:  Ideally you want a mix of sweet and tart apples.  Sometimes one apple will give that to you (like Pink Lady) and sometimes you may want to use a mix of apples (like Macintosh and Granny Smith).

* This can easily be made vegan if you substitute margarine for the butter and use agave syrup instead of honey.

Apple Crisp PDF

Double Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

I realized yesterday, about 10 minutes before I was going to head home, that I hadn’t picked a recipe for my Friday demo.  I keep a stash of recipe ideas, so I delved in to see what I had already available to me.  Back in September, I found a recipe for cookies with no flour (hence they are also gluten-free) that were also vegan and I decided it was high time that I gave them a go.  After baking them and tasting them, I have to wonder why I waited so long to demo them!

I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com, and found out that the Almond Board of California had submitted it to the website, but that it was originally created by Elana Amsterdam in her cookbook The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook (she has a new cookbook coming out soon that is all about cupcakes made with almond and coconut flour).  I had somehow never heard of this cookbook, but I will be buying a copy soon (we don’t carry it at the Co-op, but I’ll check my favorite bookstore Village Books).  I love almonds, and they are a great source of protein and fiber, so a whole cookbook of recipes sounds great to me!

As always, I made a few adjustments to the original recipe according to my personal tastes – instead of grapeseed oil, I used organic canola oil (grapeseed oil gives me a stomach-ache, but it is a healthy oil that promotes “good” cholesterol and has a high smoking point) and I toasted the sliced almonds and the almond flour/meal as well.  You don’t have to do either, and I only indicate to toast the sliced almonds in the recipe – if you want to go the extra step and lightly toast the almond meal/flour, then make sure you cool it before finishing the recipe, and you’ll only need to toast it (stirring constantly) for about a minute.

I was a little concerned because the batter seemed really wet, but the cookies turned out to be soft and delicious!  They are pretty fragile when they come out of the oven, and you need to let them cool on the baking sheet for at least 20 minutes.  I put them in the fridge (still on the sheets) after they had cooled the allotted amount of time, and they became much less fragile but still stayed soft and moist.  They were loved by all who tried them, and are great if you can’t have grains, gluten, and/or dairy products.  They were super easy to make and I had the whole batch prepared and cooled in under an hour.

Double Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from The Gluten-free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 c gluten-free almond flour/meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 c grapeseed or organic canola oil
  • 1/2 c organic agave nectar
  • 1 T organic gluten-free vanilla
  • 1/2 c organic dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c sliced almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
  2. Place sliced almonds in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Toast almonds until they are fragrant and slightly browned.
  3. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, sea salt, and baking soda.
  4. In a 2 c measuring cup (or a medium bowl) combine oil, agave, and vanilla.
  5. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.  The batter will be very wet.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips and toasted almonds.
  7. Spoon dough 1 heaping Tablespoon at a time onto your prepared baking sheet, pressing down with your palm or the back of your spoon to flatten, about 1 inch apart.
  8. Bake for 8—12 minutes, until lightly golden.
  9. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 20 minutes, then remove and serve!

You don’t need to toast the sliced almonds—it just adds a little more flavor to the cookie, and if you are not gluten-intolerant (or don’t have access to organic versions of the ingredients) then you don’t need to be overly concerned with the specific ingredients listed.

Suggestions from Allrecipes.com members:  You can omit the chocolate chips and make jam thumbprint cookies with this recipe as well.  After you put the heaping T of batter on the cookie sheet, make an indentation in the center with your thumb.  Fill with a small scoop of your favorite jam and bake as directed.

Double Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies PDF

No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

For yesterday’s Cordata recipe demo, I wanted something tasty and sweet.  Our annual staff party was Friday night (a Co-op Prom!), and I knew that I would want to have something easy to prepare because I would be doing my own preparations at home that evening.  I came across a post from Amy Green’s blog Simply Sugar and Gluten Free – No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars, and I knew I had found a winner.

Amy uses only unrefined sugars in her recipes, and I have kept my eye out for something that used coconut palm sugar.  We started carrying it at the Co-op a little while ago, but I hadn’t used it in a recipe yet.  Coconut sugar is derived from the sap of the coconut palm, and is a low-glycemic sugar (it has a glycemic index of 35, which is equal to figs, quinoa and wild rice).  It is gaining popularity as an alternative to agave syrup (although this recipe calls for both).

I of course made a few artistic changes to the recipe to suit what I had in my pantry.  I used Republica Del Cacao‘s organic 75% cacao chocolate chips (in bulk!) in place of the carob chips in the original recipe (you know I’m a sucker for dark chocolate).  We do carry unsweetened carob chips in bulk, so if you are looking for the lowest sugar level possible, give those a try (we also have grain sweetened carob chips).  I also used my favorite Santa Cruz dark roasted crunchy peanut butter in place of the smooth peanut butter in the original recipe – just make sure the peanut butter you use has no sugar, as it is commonly added to most conventional brands of peanut butter.  Nature’s Path GF Corn Flakes and Puffed Rice worked really well in this recipe as well.  They are headquartered in Richmond, British Columbia, a short 25 mile jaunt across the border, and are produced locally in Blaine (just down the road from my dad’s house!) as well as in Delta, BC (which is also in the lower BC mainland).

The bars were very easy to make, and turned out great.  The NP corn flakes gave them a satisfying crunch, and they were very popular with customers.  I love recipes that you can adapt to what you already have in your cupboard, and this is another gem!  They remind me of my granola bar recipe ingredient wise, but end up tasting very different.  Enjoy!

photo chocolate peanut butter bars

No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars © 2010 Sassy Sampler

No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

INGREDIENTS

For the chocolate filling:

  • 2 T organic unsalted butter (or organic shortening)
  • 7 oz unsweetened carob or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ t vanilla extract (use high quality vanilla if using carob)

For the crunchy bit:

  • 2 ½ c GF corn flakes, lightly crushed
  • 1 ½ c GF puffed rice cereal
  • ¾ c peanut butter (unsweetened)
  • ¼ c agave nectar
  • ¼ c coconut palm sugar
  • 1 ½ T organic unsalted butter (or margarine)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (let the edges hang over the side).  Lightly mist with cooking spray.
  2. Put 2 T butter (or shortening) in the bottom of a glass or stainless steel bowl (that will fit snugly on top of a saucepan) or in the top of a double boiler.  Top with carob/chocolate chips, chopped baking chocolate, and vanilla.  Bring an inch of water to a boil and place the bowl on top of the pot.  Turn off burner.  Let sit until the mixture melts, stirring occasionally.
  3. Put the corn flakes and rice cereals in a large bowl.
  4. Put the peanut butter, agave, palm sugar, and butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil for one minute, stirring.  Pour hot peanut butter mixture over cereals and stir until coated.
  5. Press half of the cereal mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan.  Spread with the melted chocolate mixture.  Top with the remaining cereal mixture, pressing them into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until set, about one hour.  Cut into desired size with a sharp chef’s knife.
  7. Enjoy!

No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars PDF