Monday, October 24, 2011

Squash Candy

I took a giant leap outside of my candy making comfort zone and set out to make squash caramels with the candied spaghetti squash I had leftover from making the Candied Spaghetti Squash Custard Tart. I knew that caramels could be tricky. The process was fun. I ended up with a squash sugar candy with lots of flavor and a nice burnt sugar squash chocolate covered brittle, but no caramels. I found this Ginger Cinnamon Caramel recipe after the fact and realized that I did not add enough butter and cream into my mixture. Plus, I may have taken it off the heat a little early. I think this calls for a consultation with my friend and caramel expert, Kai over at Nosh This to know for sure... what a good excuse to plan for another trip out to San Francisco!
In the end, my squash candies were tasty. I was really impressed when one of my scientist friends could taste a hint of the ginger in the softer, lighter pieces. I still plan on making another attempt at conquering the caramel at a later date! 

 ~2Cups candied squash mixture 
(refer to "Candying The Squash" in Candied Spaghetti Squash Custard Tart)
Candy Thermometer
Parchment Paper
Chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60%)
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 Cup heavy cream
Candy wrappers (optional)

Butter a glass baking dish (I used 11x7). Heat the candied squash mixture in a medium saucepan on medium high until warm and easy to pour. Blend using a hand blender or if you are like me and do not have a hand blender, use a countertop blender and blend until smooth and squash pieces are no longer visible. Return to saucepan on medium high heat. Add butter and heavy cream. Bring the temperature to soft ball using candy thermometer. Remove from heat, pour into glass baking dish, smooth and cut into pieces. Now, this is where you should have nice, chewy caramels. For me, the candy was sugary and soft, but not chewy. It was more like a maple sugar candy. Curious to see what would happen, I decided to return some of the candy to the saucepan and heat a little more. The candy darkened and ended up as a burnt sugar brittle. I cut the brittle when it was cool enough (yet still soft) with a strong pair of kitchen sheers. This really helped to create nice little squares. I had some Ghirardelli chocolate close by (I always have chocolate close by), so I melted a bar and dipped the squares. I then put the chocolate dipped squares in the freezer until set and wrapped in candy wrappers to be extra fancy.

The candy almost started to look like caramel when it came in contact with the buttered dish. 


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