Someone asked me recently what blogs I read. That's like trying to answer when someone asks about your favourite food or type of music. Where do I start? With the blog question I answered "a lot of food blogs." Then the person replied: "Like which ones?" "Oh she Glows; it's a vegan blog." "Oh, are you vegan?" No, I just like the blog." Then there are the healthy living blogs, vegetarian blogs, clean eating blogs, classic cooking blogs and of course, the baking blogs. Sally's Baking Addiction is one of those blogs I have followed for years. I read a lot of blogs and it is neat to see them grow year after year, and grow so much that the authors land cookbook deals, media appearances and thousands of shares. Like many bloggers, Sally started out writing her blog as a hobby and then turned it into a full-time baking empire.
I was excited to receive a copy of Sally McKenney's newest cookbook "Sally's Candy Addiction: Tasty Truffles, Fudges and Treats for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix." This is actually her second cookbook. Her first book "Sally's Baking Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix" included 75+ baking recipes for cookies, cupcakes and treats. The latest book is a foray into candy making, which is something I have little experience with and wanted to try.
The book I received features many beautiful recipes for truffles, caramels, brittles and barks and also features ways to incorporate pre-made candy, such as Snickers or Oreos, into baked goods. This is a gorgeous cookbook with step-by-step instructions, photos and tips for candy making. Besides classic candy recipes, there are innovative variations and interesting flavours using ingredients you can find at bulk food stores or grocery stores. I love when a cookbook lists recipes with ingredients I already have on hand without having to find something obscure.
One of the essential tools for candy making is a candy thermometer. Candy has to reach a certain temperature to set properly. Depending on the temperature you let the candy cook, the texture can be a soft ball, a firm ball, a hard ball, soft crack or hard crack. Yes, those are candy cooking stages and not baseball terms. In the front of the book, Sally lists the basics, including candy making equipment, cooking instructions and kitchen essentials.
The first recipe I tried from the book was the "Salted Honey Cashew Brittle" (pg. 114). All the recipe basically called for was some sugar, honey, butter and cashews. You combine sugar, honey and a bit of water and cook it down. Then you take it off of the heat and add the butter and cashews. After that, you spread it out into a baking sheet and let it set. I have made barks and brittles before, so this recipe was no problem.
Salted Honey Cashew Brittle1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 cups salted, roasted cashews
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
sea salt, for sprinkling on top
Directions:1. Line a baking pan with a silicone baking mat. Alternatively spray a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2. Combine the sugar, honey, salt and water in a heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
3. Once the mixture has dissolved, begin stirring occasionally as you bring the candy to a boil. Once boiling, stop stirring. Lightly stir until the mixture reaches 200 degrees F. Cook the candy until it reaches 305F.
4. Remove candy from the heat and add the butter, cashews, baking soda and vanilla until combined. Pour onto the prepared pan and pull it apart with a fork until the cashews are in an even layer. Sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool completely for about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into pieces.
I still liked the taste even though my brittle didn't quite have the caramel colour of the photo. Getting the right temperatures before you burn sugar is tricky business. The charm of brittle comes in the uneven pieces and bumpy textures. The honey added a nice sweetness to the flavour and of course, a dash of sea salt always elevates things.
Then there were the truffles. I have never made truffles before, and definitely not by myself. This is the part where I tell Sally that I am sorry these didn't turn out. It was totally me and not you. Your book is lovely and the recipes are easy to follow for beginner candy makers. Unfortunately, this was not my day. Maybe I was being too ambitious when I dove into a meticulous truffle recipe? As you can see, my attempt to make "Chai Tea Latte Truffles"(pg. 86) did not go well.
The ganache was supposed to be a smooth, velvety filling for the chocolate coating. I melted white chocolate and spices together with a touch of milk. Sally might be upset with me because I used almond milk instead of cream, which is all I had on hand and was probably the falling point of the filling. That was my first problem. I let the chocolate mixture set in room temperature for an hour and then transferred it to the fridge for a few hours. It was still not "manageable by hand" as the recipe suggested.
Apparently I was somehow supposed to roll the ganache between my hands into a little ball and dip it in the dark chocolate. The ganache did not cooperate with any of this so I first attempted to scoop the ganache with a scooper and dip it that way. After freezing the ganache for a few more hours it was still not manageable. I ended up dumping layers of ganache and chocolate into a cake pop pan so the truffles resembled something truffle-like.
You can see that they did not turn out like the original photo. The longer I left them out on the counter the more they melted into a chocolate mess. I don't blame the cookbook at all. She said in the recipe that these would be a "sticky situation" and that was what happened. The ganache was not in my favour this time. Maybe I will leave complicated truffles to the chocolate connoisseurs. This is why hand crafted truffles are so expensive to buy from a chocolate shop.
The one thing about reading amazing food blogs is you're always like "how did they make that thing look so nice?" With perfectly styled photos, amazing recipes and great results, it makes you think about how much goes behind creating a blog post or recipe. But seriously, how are they so talented that their food and photos look perfect every time? Sometimes things don't work out perfectly and you have to post a photo of a complete fail to keep things in perspective. Just because one recipe didn't work out for me the first time, doesn't mean this book is not good. I loved flipping through the pages of this cookbook and bookmarking things to make, especially near the holidays, with amazing ideas for homemade candy gifts to make. Or you could give this book to someone and ask them to make everything in it for you.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this cookbook for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own based on my own experiences.