Sunday, December 22, 2013

Last Minute Microwave Gifts

Need a last minute gift?  Have a microwave?  With a few ingredients you may already have on hand you can make delicious candy and very happy friends.

Microwave Nut Brittle
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups nuts or seeds, whichever you like/have on hand*
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Measure out the butter and vanilla, put them nearby in a small dish.  Ditto for the baking soda.  It must be in it's own dish.  Do it now, you won't have time to be measuring at the end.

Line a jelly roll pan with a silpat or aluminum foil.  If using foil, oil the foil.  Place in oven set to 200F.  The warm pan will help you spread the brittle later.

Have ready a cooling rack to place the hot pan on later.  Also set out a heatproof mat to place the hot bowl on.

In an 8 cup microwave safe bowl, combine corn syrup and sugar until uniformly wet.  Microwave on high, uncovered, for 4 minutes. 

Using an oven mitt, remove from microwave and stir in nuts/seeds.  Cook 3-5 minutes longer, until pale amber.  Don't walk away or it will burn.  I don't know how it knows you've left the room, but it knows.

Stir in butter and vanilla.  Stir until butter melts.  Add baking soda and stir to combine.  It will foam.  Immediately pour out onto the prepared pan.  Using a metal or high heat proof silicone spatula, spread the candy as thinly as you like.  If you like your brittle thicker leave it thicker.

Allow to cool until room temperature, at least 1 hour.  Break into pieces.  I find my meat mallet handy for this.  Store in a cool, dry place.

Don't try to wash the bowl until it comes to room temperature.  The boiling sugar is far hotter than boiling water and you may crack your bowl.  Once it comes to room temp, fill it with hot water and let it soak.  The sugar will dissolve and all you'll need to do is give it a quick wash.

*Cashews, peanuts, sliced almonds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds are all very good.  Dry roasted or heavily salted nuts are not as tasty.

When I was a kid, I used to save my nickles and dimes to buy Fanny May Mint Meltaways. Do you have a chocolate loving friend?  Make them Mint Meltaways.

Microwave Mint Meltaways
12 oz. bag mint chocolate chips
1 1/2 Tablespoons plain vegetable shortening (Crisco)

Place both in a microwave safe bowl.  Cook on high 45 seconds, stir.  Cook another 30 seconds, stir.  Continue until chocolate has melted and runs off the spoon.  Pour into chocolate molds.  I use a dollar store plastic ice cube tray.  Chill until firm; pop out of trays.  Store in the fridge, take out 30 minutes before serving. Taste one, if it's too firm for your liking, melt them down with a little more shortening and re-chill.