Tag Archive for Sweets

Dutch Food: Old Dutch Candy

OldDutchCandy2

What you see:
– peppermints from the famous Dutch brand “Wilhelmina”, named after then princess (1892) and later queen Wilhelmina from the Netherlands
– Koetjesreep (literally little cow bar), a candybar made with less than 35% cocoa, so it can’t be called chocolate
– mini candy stick (sweet-sour)
– Stroopsoldaatje (literally syrup soldier), candy made from caramel and a little butter poured into baking paper cones (you can do this yourself). They can be quite dangerous, because you can stab yourself quite nasty with the point (that gets sharper when you suck on it).
– Salmiak powder (also known as black/white powder): liqorice in powder form.
– Bakkes vol (literally mouth full), vanilla toffee
– A jar with assorted candy: pear drups (sweet hard candy in drop/pear shape), raspberries (small raspberry boiled sweets), napoleons (lemon boiled sweets with sour liquid middle), butter balls (hard outside, powdery buttery inside), mint pillows, cinnamon pillows, Haagse hopjes (coffee candy), haverstro (really don’t know why they are called “oatstraw”, but they are made from liqorice and sugar), hot lightning (quite pungent aniseed flavoured hard candy), babbelaars (butter candy) and tumtum (small, soft and chewy, fruity).

Honey Caramels

Kind of confusing: the sticky, chewy, melty confection I know as toffee, is actually caramel. Toffee, on the contrary, is hard and crunchy. These caramels are lovely soft and sticky and have loads of flavour. You will taste the honey very well, so choose one you like. Using another honey is a really nice way to make different variations on this caramel.
I did have some trouble while making them. I cooked them to the temperature for chewy caramels, which they were at first when set. I did not wrap them immediately (as you can see on the picture), and when I wanted to, they all were stuck together and molten into puddles. I think my thermometer is a bit off, and it was also quite humid. They still tasted great, so it wasn’t a big problem. But I advice you to individually wrap them immediately after cutting.
You can buy coffee extract online, but I’ve always made it myself. I make a double strength cup of coffee, then gently boil it down until very reduced. Take care not to burn it, this will make it bitter and yucky! I’ve also seen recipes on the internet which soak coffee in wodka to make extract, but I haven’t tried that myself.

Honey Toffee

Vanilla Honey Caramels
From “Advanced Bread and Pastry – Michel Suas”

125 g cream
60 g honey
260 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
15 g butter

Coffee Honey Caramels
From “Advanced Bread and Pastry – Michel Suas”

110 g cream
105 g honey
225 g sugar
8 g coffee extract
15 g butter

Bring all the ingredients, except the butter, to a boil in a pan.
Stir constantly and cook to the desired temperature.
After reaching the desired temperature, stir in the butter.
After the bubbles have subsided, pour into a silicone (cake) mold, to a thickness of 1 cm.
When it is set, cut to the desired size, and wrap (I used baking paper) to prevent them from sticking to each other.

A final temperature of 121C will give you soft, 124C chewy and 130C hard caramels. The resulting texture of the caramels will be determined by the maximum temperature reached in cooking. Humidity will also have an effect. When working in a humid environment, add a few degrees to the chosen temperature.

Toffee Popcorn

Popcorn is an easy, tasty and light snack. It is especially fast pre-made or with those microwave packages. Unfortunately, those are usually much too salty or too sweet and they make big portions as well. What most people don’t realize is that popping popcorn yourself is very easy and fast as well. It used to be quite tricky to get hold of corn for popping in the Netherlands, but nowadays some (organic) supermarkets stock it. The rest of the ingredients are pantry staples and you don’t need any fancy equipment as well. And the most important thing: making it yourself is a lot tastier!

Toffee Popcorn

Toffee popcorn (1-2 servings)
40 g dried corn for making popcorn
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of salt

Melt the butter on medium heat in a non-stick pan. When just melted, add the corn and place a lid on top (should be fitting well!). Turn the heat down to low. It will take about 1-2 minutes for the corn to start popping. While the corn is popping, leave the lid on the pan to prevent popcorn flying all over the place. Shake the pan occasionally. When there is a pause of 5 seconds between pops, the corn is finished (not all the kernels will be popped, but otherwise you burn the popcorn that is popped). Sprinkle with some salt and shake around with the lid on the pan. Pour out the popcorn in your serving container. Sprinkle the sugar into the pan and place on high heat until molten. Turn of the heat, add the popcorn back in and shake around with the lid on the pan to distribute the sugar. This gives a light coating of caramel, if you like it sweeter, start with more sugar. Pour back into the serving container and eat immediately, while it is still warm and crisp.

Alternatives: add some spice (chilli, cinnamon, or mixes like speculaas, pumpkin or chai) to make spiced sweet popcorn; omit the sugar to make salty popcorn.

Candied orange peel

Usually orange peel and other citrus peels are considered useless and thrown away. But actually, you can simply turn them into something delicious by candying them. Candied citrus peels are perfect for putting in all sorts of baked goods, work well as a decoration and are nice as candy too. The remaining syrup can be used to drizzle on all sorts of things, and the sugar in which you keep them has a nice subtle orange flavour and can be re-used in baked goods.

I messed my candied orange peels up a bit. I forgot about them, so they ended up as one caramelized clump of stuff in the bottom of the pan, which made it impossible to let them dry decently, which caused the end result to be quite rough and lumpy. But still very delicious!! The recipe, including a picture summary of the process can be found over here.

Candied Orange Peel

Apple cider caramels

I’ve tried to make caramel before as an experiment, which went horribly wrong. When cooking, it split, and after leaving it set it was very greasy and rock hard. But I don’t like caramel much, since it usually is just very sweet and sticky and doesn’t have some interesting flavour to cut through the sweetness, so I did not miss making them. So when I came across this recipe, I knew I had to give caramel making another try.

I love apple and cinnamon, they are perfect autumn/winter flavours and combined you will be sure of a heart warming result. And heart warming these caramels are! I just could not stop eating them, they have a lovely delicate and rich flavour, full with tangy apple and a hint of warming cinnamon. The original recipe suggests a sprinkling of coarse salt, so I tried it on part of my caramels, but I did not like it. For some reason the salt mellows the taste of the caramel, makes them sweeter, while I like the tangy-ness.

For this recipe you do need a thermometer, since the apple cider – sugar – cream – butter mixture needs to boil to a temperature of 122C exactly, no more and no less. You can test this by dropping some caramel into a bowl with cold water and feeling if it becomes a soft ball, but I find this a very fiddly method which easily leads to errors.

And a word on apple cider. Apple cider means different things in different parts of the world. Here in the Netherlands (and I believe in more European countries), apple cider is an alcoholic drink made from fermented apple juice. Very tasty, but not what is meant in this recipe coming from an American source. Over there, cider (or soft/sweet cider) is an unfiltered and sometimes unpasteurized apple juice. In the Netherlands this is available in the supermarket, Flevosap is my preferred brand as it has the best apple flavour. But it is also widely available in farmers shops.

Apple Cider Caramels

Apple cider caramels
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cup apple cider
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
60 g butter, cubed
100 g sugar
55 g brown sugar
40 ml cream

Take a 3 liter non stick sauce pan. This seems large, but the mixture will bubble up quite a bit later on in the process. The non-stick coating will prevent the caramel from burning and will make clean up easier.
Pour the apple cider into the pan and boil on high heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup in volume. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. Also line a tin with baking paper to pour in the finished caramel (I used a silicon cake form, which worked very well).
Take the pan with the apple cider reduction from the heat, add the butter, sugar, brown sugar and cream. Stir well until the butter has molten and everything is incorporated. Place the pan back on the heat and cook on medium-high heat until the mixture gets to 122C. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit. Don’t stir! Keep watching it every second, as it is important to take the caramel from the heat immediately when reaching 122C.
Take the pan from the heat, stir in the cinnamon and pour the mixture in the prepared tin. Leave it to cool for about 2 hours. Once firm, cut it into cubes (when the caramel sticks to your knife, grease it with some oil). You can wrap the caramels individually in waxed paper, they tend to stick when you stack them without wrapping, but I found that they disappear fast enough to not bother with packing them.

Trail mix and coconut flapjacks

In this holiday season it is nice to have a variety of things to take with you on day trips and vacation. It is always good to have some food (and enough water!) with you, you never know what will happen, even if you expect to be able to go to a shop or something.

This year I wanted something else than the standard stuff, and had a go with making trail mix. Trail mix is quite uncommon in the Netherlands, but it has some overlap with the Dutch studentenhaver (students oats). It is a mix of grains, dried fruits, nuts and sometimes chocolate. It is light-weight, calorie-dense, tasty and easy to store, so it is ideal to take with you on hikes… hence the name trail mix.

Usually trail mix uses sweet and salty things mixed together, but I don’t like that, so I made separate sweet and salty mixes. My sweet mix contained the following:¬†marshmallows, m&m’s, honey loops, tutti frutti (mixed dried fruit) and raisins & nuts covered in chocolate & yoghurt. My salty mix contained the following: dry roasted nut mix (peanut, almond, cashew), pepitas, salty pretzel/cracker mix and roasted chickpeas.

Another thing I wanted to add to the sweet mix were coconut-oat balls. In the end I adapted a flapjack recipe, baked it as a whole and then broke it in pieces. It became very, very delicious, coconutty and caramelly… but a slight bit greasy and very sticky. So I decided to keep them apart, to prevent the whole thing getting a sticky, greasy mess. I think they are a bit greasy because the original recipe only used oats and I swapped half for dessicated coconut, which of course also contains quite some fat. So the next time I will try it with less fat. It is a very delicious snack (high energy but not to healthy), which I will certainly make again.

Coconut flapjacks

65g butter
20g coconut oil
85g brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp stroop (golden syrup or treacle)
75g dessicated coconut
75g oats

Line a baking tin. Preheat oven at 180C.
Melt together the butter, coconut oil, brown sugar, honey and stroop on low heat. Mix in the coconut and oats, make sure that it is mixed well. Dump in the baking tin and flatten to 0.5 cm. Bake for 15-20 min, or until golden. Leave to cool completely before cutting/breaking into pieces.