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Candy

Glossy, sweet candied lemon zest is the perfect topper to a citrusy cake.

Candied Lemon Zest

By | Cake, Candy, DIY, Entertaining, Fruit, Lifestyle, Tips And Techniques, Uncategorized | No Comments

Glossy, sweet candied lemon zest is the perfect topper to a citrusy cake.

Candied zest is nothing but the rind of citrus simmered in a sugar syrup. But the results are far from ordinary. The rind gets shiny and the bitter flavor disappears, but the candy retains its citrus taste.
I use a generous pile of candied zest on my Pink Lemonade Cake. You can use it to top any type of dessert, or chop it up and add it to cookies. It will keep in the fridge, tightly covered for several weeks, and the sugar syrup that goes along with it can be used in cocktails as a simple syrup.

Candied Lemon Zest

Ingredients

  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar

Instructions

  1. With a sharp vegetable peeler, cut long strips of zest from lemons, being sure not to take any of the biter white pith. Slice the strips into ⅛-inch-thick strands.
  2. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan; add the zest and simmer until translucent, about 20 min. Remove from heat and let cool in the syrup.
  3. Strain zest and use for garnish. Use the syrup in drinks or on pancakes. You can refrigerate both for 2 weeks.
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Cake pops that get their colorful toppers right from the pantry! Dried fruits, nuts and cookies make beautiful and tasty decorations for this classic treat.

Cake Pops With Pantry Toppers

By | Baking + Desserts, Birthdays, Cake, Candy, Cookies + Brownies, DIY, Entertaining, Fall, Holidays + Seasons, Kids, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Uncategorized | One Comment

Cake pops that get their colorful toppers right from the pantry! Dried fruits, nuts and cookies make beautiful and tasty decorations for this classic treat.

 

The gooey, soft centers of cake pops are irresistible!  Pretty sure that’s why they are ever-so-popular. They’re pretty fun to make (crumbling up a perfectly good cake into tiny crumbs and mashing it together with frosting!). They’re also very fun to decorate.

Cake Pops With Pantry ToppersThis variation is not claiming to be healthy because of fruit and nuts. But my goodness they make for pretty decorations. I love the pop apricots and cranberries make on the white and brown chocolates. I chopped the dried fruits into tiny little pieces to they look like little jewels on the cake pops.

Any nuts or seeds will do, but the green pepitas are the cutest; and white speckles of coconut are quite tasty. I don’t need to tell you crushed cookies are a great topper. You know that!

 

Cake Pops

Cake Pops

You'll be the coolest mom in your kid's class when you show up with cake pops.

Ingredients

  • 1 boxed cake mix
  • 1¾ cup prepared frosting
  • White-chocolate candy melts
  • Milk-chocolate candy melts
  • Chopped nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Sprinkles
  • Lollipop sticks

Instructions

  1. Prepare and bake cake mix and let cool. Grind the cake with your hands or in a food processor to form very fine crumbs.
  2. Mix the crumbs with 1¾ cups prepared frosting in a bowl until it forms a sticky dough. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and freeze for 15 min.
  3. Dip lollipop sticks in melted chocolate and stick each one into a cake ball. Freeze 20 min more. Dip the pops in melted candy melts and decorate with chopped nuts, dried fruit or sprinkles.
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Recipe Tara Bench
Photograph Lisa Hubbard
Food Stylist Susan Vajaranant
Prop Stylist Penelope Bouklas
Originally published Ladies’ Home Journal September 2011

Holiday Recipes On Studio 5

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Buffets, Candy, Christmas, DIY, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Lifestyle, Meat + Poultry, Party Foods, Tips And Techniques, Tutorial, Uncategorized | No Comments

Today on tv Brooke and I talked about holiday parties, holiday recipes, food buffets, how much to serve your guests and how to make food gifts at home that look like artisan delicacies!

I love visiting the beautiful Brooke Walker on Studio 5, on KSL here in Utah. She is honestly such an amazing host. So genuine and keeps the show upbeat, positive and informative.
We had so much fun talking about (well I talked everyone’s ears off) holiday-worthy apps and bites as well as delicious sweets that are perfect gifts.
Watch below!

Spicy Grapefruit Guacamole Holiday RecipesPeanut Butter Bites Holiday RecipesWonderful-Halos-Prosciutto-Bruschetta-Bites-1024x683 (1)
palette square holiday recipesHam Gruyere Mini Turnovers Holiday RecipesGINGERBREAD Caramel Holiday Recipes

Peanut Butter Bites

By | Candy, Christmas, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Snacks, Uncategorized | No Comments

I grew up making candy with my mom, especially around Christmas. But there would be times we’d make taffy or honey candy to pull at other times of the year. She was good at it. Candy making can be tricky, with all its science and particulars.

I still like doing it, but I also like the easy route, like these no-cook peanuty chews. They take 30 minutes to make, and suddenly you feel like the corner candy shop and want to decorate the kitchen in pink and stripes.
Peanut Butter BitesEven if you can’t make candy like See’s or Fauchon, you can definitely make these.
Chewy and peanut-buttery, they melt in your mouth and taste milky and sweet. Kids will love helping roll ropes of the candy and cutting it into pieces.

Peanut-Butter Bites

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes 30 pieces

Peanut-Butter Bites

How easy are these chewy treats? You don't even need to turn on the stove - this recipe is completely no-cook.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup nonfat dry milk
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ⅔ cup confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. In a food processor pulse dry milk until it forms a fine powder, about 5 pulses. In a mixing bowl combine peanut butter and corn syrup. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth.
  2. Add dry milk a little at a time and stir until mixture is stiff enough to work with your hands. Knead any remaining dry milk into mixture. Roll into ropes ½ inch thick. Cut into 2¼-inch-long pieces. Wrap in waxed paper or cellophane candy wrappers (you can order candy wrappers at clearcellobags.com) Store at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
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Peanut Butter Bites 3

Recipe: Tara Bench
Photographer: Kang Kim
Originally published in Ladies Home Journal December 2011

 

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

By | Candy, Christmas, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Fruit, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | One Comment

Chocolate bark gets a festive French makeover! If you wonder around Paris and make your way through every chocolate shop you see (which is what every food-obsessed gal does, right?), you’ll run across beautiful trays of little palettes. What you’re looking at is essentially chocolate bark, made the fancy French way!
Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)Chocolate bark is one of the most delicious holiday treats, gifts and the best part, it’s easy to make. I wanted something just that simple, but a little more fancy, and easy-to-package and give.

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

I topped these holiday palettes with little bits of dried fruit, candied ginger, those beautiful green, already shelled Wonderful pistachios, and of course some little silver dragees and holiday sprinkles. The kids can also help. Spoon the white and dark chocolate onto parchment and let their little hands sprinkle and arrange the toppings.Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

When the chocolate set, I packaged little stacks in mini cellophane bags and tied them up. Very French Christmas if I do say so myself! Take that chocolate bark! Ohh la la!

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 Palettes (6 semi sweet, 6 white chocolate)

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

A chic version of chocolate bark! The French call these little treats Palettes and they are simply fine chocolate with artfully arranged nuts and fruit. Stick to Wonderful pistachios and add some holiday sprinkles to make them your own.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz (¾ cup) good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips, or chocolate bar
  • 4 oz (¾ cup) good quality white chocolate chips, or chocolate bar
  • ¼ cup Wonderful pistachios
  • Dried fruit such as apricots, ginger, blueberries, bananas, plums, peaches, cranberries and cherries
  • Sprinkles and silver dragées

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolates in separate bowls. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spoon 1 tbsp chocolate onto parchment for each palette. Chocolate will settle into a circle.
  2. Decorate each palette with pistachios, dried fruit and sprinkles, cutting fruit into slivers or pieces as needed. Chill palettes for 30 min. If packaging, package while cold. Serve.
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Photography Tara Bench, unless where noted
Recipe Tara Bench

 

 

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels + Video

By | Candy, Christmas, DIY, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

My mom used to hand me the wooden spoon (there were no silicone spatulas back then) and hold her hand over mine with the spoon handle inside, then swirl the caramel in the pan in a “figure 8.” Always a figure eight pattern—so that there were no spots on the bottom of the pan that didn’t get stirred and then scorch.

Once I got the figure eight motion down she’d let go of my hand and let me do it. She’d attach the candy thermometer onto the side of the pot and show me a line where the mercury needed to rise to before I could stop stirring.

Buttery Black Licorice CaramelsI actually loved it. I would watch the sugar and butter mixture bubble and turn from blonde to gold, then to caramel brown. All the while watching the mercury rise. Then we would stir in the black coloring and anise oil and the entire house it seemed would smell like deliciousness.

Now when I make caramel I laugh thinking how smart my mom was to teach her 5 or 6 year old to stir the caramel for almost half an hour so she didn’t have to stand by the stove that entire time! Good form mom! Good form.

Watch my how-to video below to see how we made these Buttery Black Licorice Caramels. Don’t worry, we sped the almost 25 minutes of stirring up, so you can go on with your day! LOL

Also try my Vanilla Salted Caramels, recipe here. And find the pretty cellophane candy wrappers here if you don’t want to use waxed paper.

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: over 100

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels

The recipe for these divide black caramels came from Aunt Leila Ruth, my grandfather's little sister. Mom has made these for as long as I can remember. I grew up stirring the caramel and wrapping them. Convince everyone to try these! Even if they don't love black licorice, they will fall for these little candies.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp anise oil
  • 1 tsp black gel-paste food coloring
  • cellophane wrappers or waxed paper

Instructions

  1. Line a 9-by-13 inch pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Using some butter, coat the inside of a 4 qt heavy saucepan. Add the sticks of butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan and continue stirring constantly until the temperature is 244ºF (for sea level. check local temperature adjustments according to your elevation), or medium firm-ball stage. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in anise oil and black food coloring and pour into prepared pan. Pan will be hot. Transfer to a flat surface and let cool overnight. When caramel sets after a few hours you can wrap the pan in plastic wrap to rest overnight.
  5. Transfer caramel to a clean cutting board and remove any parchment. Cut with a sharp knife into desired sizes. I cut mine about 1/2 inch deep and 1 1/4 inches long. You will get over 100 pieces.
  6. Wrap well in cellophane or waxed paper. Will keep for up to 2 weeks.
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Recipe from Mom
Photography Tara Bench
Videography and editing Melanie Donahoo

 

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels + Video

By | Candy, Christmas, DIY, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Salted caramel started as a food trend. Something fancy chefs devised in restaurant kitchens and it made it’s way into fine chocolate shops, magazines, cookbooks, regular awesome restaurants and now, well, everywhere! (thank goodness!)

Tara Teaspoon Buttery Vanilla CaramelsIn cooking, salt is a preservative, a yeast inhibitor but also a flavor enhancer. The reason we put salt in baked goods is simply to enhance or bring out the flavors of all the other ingredients. It brings out buttery flavors, the caramels of brown sugar, enhances chocolates subtle flavors and balances each bite.

These caramels are super easy, thanks to a combo of sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup that speed up the process of homemade caramels by at least half! Use a candy thermometer (order it here) to get just the right consistency.

There’s a bit of extra salt (sea salt for a lovely flavor) in the caramel itself, but I also sprinkled gorgeous sea salt crystals on top of each piece before wrapping. Find the pretty cellophane candy wrappers here, or at specialty candy stores.

Tara Teaspoon Buttery Vanilla Caramels WrappingThe salt on top gives you a burst of that flavor enhancing power and immediately makes the butter, vanilla and caramelized sugar flavors explode in your mouth!

Watch my video for a glance at how simple they are to make. And check out the Buttery Black Licorice Caramels recipe in the demo for another amazing flavor.

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: over 100

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels

I used a vanilla bean paste so I get flecks of beautiful vanilla seeds in the caramel. You can just use vanilla extract if you'd like.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • cellophane wrappers or waxed paper

Instructions

  1. Line a 9-by-13 inch pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Using some butter, coat the inside of a 4 qt heavy saucepan. Add the sticks of butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan and continue stirring constantly until the temperature is 244ºF (for sea level. check local temperature adjustments according to your elevation), or medium firm-ball stage. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in vanilla bean paste and pour into prepared pan. Pan will be hot. Transfer to a flat surface and let cool overnight. When caramel sets after a few hours you can wrap the pan in plastic wrap to rest overnight.
  5. Transfer caramel to a clean cutting board and remove any parchment. Cut with a sharp knife into desired sizes. I cut mine about 1/2 inch deep and 1 1/4 inches long. You will get over 100 pieces.
  6. Sprinkle each piece with flaked sea salt before wrapping well in cellophane or waxed paper. Will keep for up to 2 weeks.
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Recipe by Tara Bench
Photography Tara Bench
Videography and editing Melanie Donahoo

 

Chocolate Malt Popcorn

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Birthdays, Candy, Entertaining, Healthy + Diet, Holidays + Seasons, Kids, Party Foods, Picnics, Snacks, Summertime Favorites, Uncategorized | No Comments

You know how good chocolate malt milkshakes are? How about putting that deliciousness on crunchy, buttery popcorn? Done and done!

Chocolate Malt Popcorn

 

Recipe:

Chocolate Malt Popcorn
Perk up your popcorn by tossing it with this sweet, chocolatey mix.
Makes 15 tbsp

6 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
6 tbsp malted milk powder

•Mix together sugar, cocoa and malted milk powder. Toss 5 tbsp mixture with 1 bag of butter flavor microwave popcorn or 8 cups of hot, buttered air-popped popcorn. Store extra cocoa mixture. Keep popcorn airtight up to 3 days.