DIY: How To Make Licorice Twists

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

Black (in this case holiday green) Licorice –you love it or you hate it.
I love it and Chia hates it. We both find beauty in the making.

Candy Making, Licorice Making, Holiday Candy, Black Licorice, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life

Holiday Green Licorice Twists
(A dark green holiday slant on traditional black licorice –we used all of our black food coloring testing this recipe…a happy accident if ever there was one.)
Makes: 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 60 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

What you need:
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
pinch of kosher salt
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tablespoon anise extract
Green, blue, red and yellow food coloring

What to do:
1. Gather your ingredients.

2. Stir together the butter, sugar, dark corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, salt and blackstrap molasses in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat.


3. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and allow the mixture to come to a boil.  Continue to boil until the temperature reaches 255º F.


4. Remove from heat and, working quickly, stir in the whole wheat flour and food coloring until well combined and perfect color is reached.


5. Stir in anise extract.


6. Pour mixture into a parchment paper lined 8-inch square baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Chill for 30 minutes.


7. Cut into 1/2-inch wide strips and twist!

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8. Chill for an additional 30 minutes to set before serving.
Check back in tomorrow and I’ll show you how this licorice inspired a Christmas Tree!

 

The New Cracker Jack (holiday snack)

By Libbie Summers (from Brown Sugar by Libbie Summers, Short Stack Editions)
Photography by Andy Lyons

Green handsaw. Pink sword. Gold pistol. What prison inmate thought up these toys for Cracker Jacks, anyway? As a kid, I’d devour box after box of the crunchy caramel-coated popcorn snack, all the while questioning what kind of person came up with this “surprise inside” marketing plan. Then one day, Cracker Jacks became cool. Suddenly, my “surprise inside” was a small book of temporary tattoos, a kid’s very definition of awesome. This recipe for my grownup version has a rich, crunchy, deep molasses flavor, as well as its own “surprise inside”—a hint of cayenne to finish each bite. The kick doesn’t linger—it stays around about as long as that first temporary tattoo stayed on my skin.
Snack Recipes, Popcorn Recipes, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life, Andy Lyons Photography, Humor Writing about Food,
Cracker Jerks
makes 10 cups

What You Need:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup Spanish peanuts, husks removed (available in most grocery stores)
1 cup light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 250°. In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add the oil and 2 popcorn kernels. Cook over high heat until the kernels pop, then add the remaining popcorn, cover and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook until the kernels stop popping, shaking the pan often. Discard any unpopped kernels and spread out the popcorn on a large, deep, nonstick, rectangular cake pan or lasagna casserole dish (I use a 14-by-10-by-4-inch nonstick cake pan). If you use a pan that isn’t nonstick, grease it with butter or nonstick cooking spray first. Toss the popcorn with the peanuts and place the pan in the preheated oven to keep warm.

Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a medium sauce- pan over medium heat and add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow the mixture to cook until the temperature of the candy reaches 260° to 275° on the candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.

Working quickly, remove the popcorn and peanuts from the oven and pour the hot syrup mixture in a fine stream over the popcorn to cover
it evenly. Using a nonstick spatula, carefully toss to coat. Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, mixing every couple of minutes to evenly coat the popcorn and peanuts. Remove the pan from the oven and let the mixture cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. The Cracker Jerks will keep for up to 10 days.
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Note: 1 tablespoon of popcorn kernels yields just over 1 cup of popped corn.
Warning: Don’t even try this with bullshit microwave popcorn.

Turnip Fries with Sweet Heat Dipping Sauce

Recipe by Brenda Anderson
Photography by Chia Chong
Styling by Libbie Summers
Wine Pairing by Grapefriend 

Not to be out shined by its potato cousin, this turnip can fry with the best of them!
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Turnip Fries with Sweet Heat Sauce
serves 4-6 

Ingredients:
4 large turnip roots, peeled and sliced in to a 1/4 x 1/4-inch strips (we used a chef’s knife, but you could use a mandoline or French fry slicer)
6 cups vegetable oil
¾ cup honey
¾ sour cream
¼ cup Sriracha sauce
Sea salt

Directions:
Line a baking tray with paper towels and set aside.

For the Sweet Heat Sauce: In a small mixing bowl, stir together the honey, sour cream and Sriracha. Set aside.

In a dutch oven or deep sauce pan over medium-high heat, add oil and bring to 250 degrees F (use a thermometer to gauge the temperature). Working in batches, add the turnip fries to the oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft (about 4 minutes). Remove with a spyder or slotted spoon and drain onto the paper towel lined baking tray. Turn heat to high and heat oil to 350 degrees F. Plunge the fries into the oil and cook until golden brown. Remove from oil, drain onto fresh paper towels and season with additional salt to taste. Serve hot with the Sweet Heat Sauce.
Turnip Recipes, Fries, Dipping Sauce Recipes, A food-inspired life


Pumpkin Seed Brittle

By Libbie Summers
Video by Candace Brower
Assisted by David Dempsey

I. Love. Making. Brittle. What makes this not your ordinary brittle is the kick of cayenne and cinnamon…oh and the pepitas!!!
(written recipe below video)

Pepita Brittle
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Pepita Brittle
serves 6-8 (yields 3 cups)

What you need:
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup corn syrup
1 3⁄4 cups pepitas (raw hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons butter
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄8-1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (depending on how much heat you like)
Pinch of flake sea salt

What to do:
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large skillet over high heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and 1⁄4 cup water and bring the mixture to a full boil. Stir in the pepitas with a heatproof spatula. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the syrup becomes thick and honey colored and you begin to smell the pepitas cooking. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Working quickly, stir in the butter, cinnamon, and cayenne and continue to stir until the butter has melted. Turn the brittle out onto the prepared baking sheet and, working quickly, use the back of your spatula to spread the mixture out to a thin 8-by-10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the top with sea salt and let the brittle cool completely, for about 20 minutes, then break into shards. Store the shards in an airtight container until ready to decorate the cake (shards will keep for 10 days).
Candy Recipes, Brittle Recipes, Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkins,

Macadamia Nut Brittle

By Libbie Summers
Asssisted by David Dempsey
Photography by Teresa Earnest Photography

Why is brittle so intimidating? It’s really one of the easiest candies to make. It just takes patience and a good nose.

This macadamia nut brittle is everything!
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Macadamia Nut Brittle 
makes enough for 6 people to heartily snack on

What you need: 
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup corn syrup
2 cups roasted and salted macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons butter
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cayenne

What to do: 
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large skillet over high heat with a heat proof spatula, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and 1⁄4 cup water and bring the mixture to a full boil. Stir in the macadamia nuts. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the syrup becomes thick and honey colored and you begin to smell the macadamia nuts cooking (THIS IS A KEY STEP, TRUST YOUR NOSE! You’ll be able to smell a slight roasting smell). Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Working quickly, stir in the butter, cinnamon, and cayenne and continue to stir until the butter has melted. Turn the brittle out onto the prepared baking sheet and, working quickly, use the back of your spatula to spread the mixture out. Don’t worry about any shape, it will harden quickly, just push it out so it’s all one thickness.  Let the brittle cool completely, for about 20 minutes, then break into shards. Store the shards in an airtight container until ready to decorate the cake (shards will keep for 10 days).
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