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Sep 22, 2014


First, before anyone calls this candy for grownups let's be clear, ALL candy is for grownups.

Some candies are not for kids...

Now that we've got that out of the way, it's time to make candy, yeah!

Even better it's candy that doesn't just have alcohol in it, it has built in cocktail recipes!

Our MxMo challenge for this month was the unknown. I have had this project on the back burner for so long, this gave me the motivation to bring it to life.

I have cooked with cocktails many times and I have made candy many times but this is the first time I've combined the two. The idea is to replace the water in a recipe with a mini cocktail. It works wonderfully in savory applications, I'll share some of those recipes soon. I was nervous about how the chemistry would play out when making candy. Candy making is on the one hand quite simple, on the other hand sugar can be finicky. It usually contains just a few simple ingredients, in this case we're complicating things a bit with the inclusion of the cocktails into the candy mixes.

The timing and equipment need to be just right. A heavy bottom sauce pan is mandatory and while you could get away with not using a candy thermometer, they are fairly inexpensive, easy to find and really helpful. You'll need parchment paper or foil, a whisk and a wooden spoon.

Haven't you always wanted to make sponge toffee? It's one of my favorites and the inclusion of the cocktail takes it to the next level. This is some serious indulgence, you'll probably want to share the love. Just one small batch makes a whole pan. I need to start giving away the pieces, now!

This gorgeous mountain of Honey Sponge toffee turned out to be the easier of the two and so much fun. I was happily surprised to see that the cocktail didn't seem to disrupt the process or chemistry at all.
Once completed it has so many uses, the crumbs from breaking it apart could easily be sprinkled over another dessert, you could dip it in chocolate or even a ganash that used more of the honey liqueur. You could also just eat it as is. The JD honey flavour stands out surprisingly well in all of that sugar.

After cooling, before the smashing!

Honey Sponge Toffee

2 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C honey
1/3 C corn syrup
2 oz Jack Daniel's Honey
1 oz Licor 43 or Galliano
1 tsp orange bitters

4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp reserved cocktail*

Line a generously buttered 9 in. cake pan with parchment paper. 
In a heavy bottom 3 L sauce pan, add sugar, honey and corn syrup. In a small bowl mix JD, Licor 43 and bitters. *reserve 2 tsp of this mixture add remainder to pot. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium low, bring to the boil. Insert candy thermometer and stop stirring, bring candy to 300° or hard crack stage. Remove from heat, whisk in baking soda, it will spurt and expand. Whisk in reserved cocktail. Pour into prepared pan. Cool completely and smash into pieces.     

Perhaps you prefer butterscotch.

Much to my dismay, the scotch in butterscotch has to do with scoring the toffee and nothing to do with real scotch. I think it's time to change that. Since we're updating the toffee we'll need to find another way to make it old fashioned.

See where we're going with this?

I added scotch, bitters and orange oil, so it's Old Fashioned...

Either way these are amazing! They are creamy, smooth and you can really taste the scotch. You could go all the way with this and use a scotch that is heavily peated. I wanted something that had a more caramel profile, and didn't annihilate the bank. To work this on an even tighter budget, you could use Canadian whisky in the cooked portion and just add 1 oz of your favorite scotch at the end.

I was once again surprised at how little difference there was using the cocktail instead of water. This one did darken much faster, which will affect taste. In the testing process I had to drop another version using cream because I just could not get up to the needed temperature without scorching the caramel. However, in this two stage version where there is just butter, the mixture was able to remain stable.

 Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pops
1 C + 1 tsp butter 
2 1/2 C sugar
1/4 C + 1 oz Scotch Whisky 
1/2 C corn syrup
1/4 c honey
pinch salt

3-4 drops Angostura bitters
1-2 drops orange oil

12 lollipop molds and sticks or cake pan 
(I used cocktail picks and buttered jiggers)

Butter molds or butter a cake tin lined with parchment paper

In a heavy bottom saucepan add sugar, scotch and corn syrup. Stir to combine over medium heat. Stop stirring, bring to 270°. Add butter, honey and salt. Stir to combine, bring candy to 300°. Remove from heat add remaining scotch, bitters and orange oil, whisk to combine. Pour into molds or pan, allow to cool. If using cake pan, score the butterscotch after 3-5 mins.

Candy making tips.

Always use the heaviest bottom sauce pan you have with plenty of extra room for the sugar to expand.

Remember to brush down the sides of the pan with cold water on a pastry brush. Any crystals will result in gritty candy.

Candy must be watched. Sugar is temperamental and accidents could be dangerous. Be ready to adjust the heat.

When adding ingredients at the end, stand back with face away from the pot, it will sputter. 

Another huge Thank you is owed to Mixology Monday

This really inspired me to work on something I had been putting off for a very long time. Thank you to ABarAbove for hosting this outstanding theme (read the round up). It was great to do something completely new even if I did lose a batch or two or way more but who cares there's candy!

I really hope you'll give these a try. I know they seem intimidating but it was so much fun. Let me know when you do!

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