Salted Pistachio Caramels

I have put away my oven gloves this week and handed the kitchen over to Mr LG. As can be expected the end result involves a lot of sugary goodness in the form of salted pistachios combined with a chewy caramel….. Karen

Whenever I am asked to write a blog for my lazy (oops I meant lovely) wife I always think of doing some form of confectionery as I simply can’t compete with her baking. So confectionery it is. Looking through a range of Karen’s cook books and foodie magazines I kept being drawn towards the pictures of rich looking caramels.

After much umming and ahing I decided to adapt a Donna Hay recipe for ‘Chewy Caramels with Salted Peanuts’. I was intending to take the caramels to work so I had to substitute the peanuts with pistachios as one of my work colleagues is allergic to peanuts (always good to know if you like your work colleagues, mind you it also good to know if you don’t like them …. if you catch my drift :)).

Now I have never made caramels before and according to Karen you must follow the temperature guidelines to the degree! In general, when working with sugar, the higher you take the temperature the harder the end product will be (i.e. soft, chewy or hard). For these caramels the recipe recommended a top temperature of 122°C (251°F) although other books suggest a range of 118-121°C (244-250°F) for chewy caramel. I did as this recipe suggested and the texture of the caramels was satisfyingly chewy.

One thing I learnt making these caramels is that if you ask your partner to add ingredients to the weekly shopping list you better be very clear. I asked for salted pistachios and I got salted pistachios. However, I should have asked for ‘hulled’ salted pistachios as this would have saved me quite some time hulling every single nut! Oh well, we live and learn.

If I make more confectionery I will definitely invest in a large quality thermometer as the one we have is quite small and it was hard to record the temperature without burning fingers.

I cut the caramels into 8cm (3″) lengths, but some people felt they were too big so I would recommend half this size.

Note: Be very careful working with sugar as you can burn very easily. Use a long metal spoon and a large pot as the mixture may rise quickly.

Recipe

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Issue 72.

Ingredients

Makes approx. 25 caramels (8cm/3″ lengths).

 

  • 210gm salted pistachio nuts
  • 550g white sugar
  • 600ml pouring cream
  • 175g golden syrup
  • 50g unsalted butter, chopped.

Grease an 8″square baking tin (20cm x 20cm ) and line with non-stick baking paper.

Place half your pistachio nuts into the baking tin.

Put the cream, golden syrup, sugar and butter into a large pot and turn the heat to high. Stir continuously with a long metal spoon until the sugar and butter have melted.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir continuously for approx. 25 minutes. Using a thermometer check the temperature regularly and once it reaches 122°C (251°F) remove the pot from the stove.

Pour the caramel into your baking tin and then cover with the remaining pistachio nuts.

Cool your caramel at room temperature for 3-4 hours or until it is cool.

Place the caramel into the fridge for approx. 30 minutes until it is firm.

Once the caramel is firm, cut it into the required sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Whisky Marmalade

 

 

It has been all about Glasgow in our household for the last 11 day as our athletes have fought their way on to the medal table at the Commonwealth Games. For anyone who isn’t aware the Commonwealth Games is like the Olympics for the countries of the British Commonwealth. Countries that range from the Pacific Islands to as far away as Kenya and Jamaica. As armchair cheerleaders it is tough to pick a side as we both have vested interests in the Kiwis, the Scots and of course our adopted homeland Australia. Luckily all teams have performed well and it is fun to be able to cheer on three countries as they swim, run and cycle their way to Commonwealth glory and of course what’s not to love about stadiums of enthusiastic Scots singing “500 Miles“; the unofficial anthem of the games.

It should be no surprise then that this week’s blog post is inspired by the flavours of Scotland or one flavour in particular; whisky. Now for anyone who thinks I can’t spell, whisky from Scotland does not contain an “e”. The word whisky in Scottish Gaelic is “uisge beather” which translated means ‘lively water’ or ‘water of life’. So does that mean this whisky marmalade is the marmalade of life?….hmmm food for thought. I have carried the small bottle of whisky, pictured above, around with me for years. It was given to me by a friend when I travelled around Scotland and as luck would have it I may be married to the only Scot in the world who doesn’t like whisky with or without an “e” ….oh wait that is definitely a really bad stereotype :).

Moving right along, the orange and lemon trees are positively groaning with fruit so now is the perfect time to make jam or marmalade. It wasn’t until I was halfway through the process that I remembered why I hate making marmalade (chopping up peel is no fun) I just have to remind myself that the end product is worth all the effort and fuss. As per the name this is a dark marmalade due to the dark brown sugar and the treacle that has been added.

Dark Whisky Marmalade

Recipe

Adapted from The Australian Womens Weekly Preserves.

 Ingredients

  • 6 medium oranges approx. 1.2 – 1.3kgm
  • 2 medium lemons
  • 1.5 Litres water
  • 440gm white sugar
  • 440gm dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons treacle
  • 2 tablespoons whisky.

Method

Peel oranges and lemons and slice the peel thinly. Chop off any hard pith from the edges of the segments and remove seeds. Chop the orange and lemon segments into chunks.

Place the chopped peel, chopped segments and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover saucepan with lid, reduce heat and simmer for approx. one hour or until peel is soft.

Measure the peel mix and then add 1/2 cup of each sugar to every cup of mixture.

Add both sugars return to the heat and stir until dissolved. Bring to the boil then boil uncovered for 40 minutes. Test using the gel method as described below.

Gel Method:  To check if the jam is set, place a small dish into the freezer. Once the dish is cold pour a small teaspoon of jam onto the dish. Place the dish back into the freezer to cool. Remove from freezer and run your finger through the jam, if the line sets then the jam is ready to pour into jars.

Stir in the whisky. Pour immediately into HOT sterilised jars. Seal immediately. I use transparent preserve covers to seal my jams.

Once opened, keep jam refrigerated.