Bitters Rock Candy + Champagne

I love bitters.  Bitters are a blend of alcohol, water, herbs, aromatics and spices.  They are an important component to cocktails, making soda water more delicious and a cure for hiccups or  stomach ache.  

Angostura bitters are my favorite and are used here to make rock candy which can be enjoyed alone or paired with a glass of champagne as a riff on the classic champagne cocktail.  

Use two chopsticks or bamboo skewers.

Makes 2.

Bitters Rock Candy Sticks

1 cup water

3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon angostura bitters

Prep the sticks by lightly wetting them and rolling them in sugar.  Set aside to dry. 

In a small pot, heat water and add sugar 1 cup at a time.  Let dissolve in between additions.  Let boil 6 minutes.  Stir in bitters.  Cool slightly and pour into 2 pint size glass jars or cups.  Insert 1 chopstick into each jar so the tip is 1 inch from the bottom and floating in the center of the glass away from the sides.  Secure stick with clothes pins or a piece of paper laid over the top of the jar with a hole punched in it for the stick.  Place somewhere, out of the way and leave undisturbed for about 1 to 2 days, Checking occasionally until a large amount of crystals have formed.  If you let it grow too much, it will grow onto the sides of the glass and be almost impossible to remove whole. 

 

Chocolate Covered S'mores

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S'mores!  These are a nice idea for an edible gift.  Who doesn't love receiving home made candy?  

Tempering chocolate is easy and necessary for achieving professional quality chocolate treats at home.  Tempering chocolate is when chocolate is melted to one temperature and then brought down to a specific temperature range.  Tempering chocolate will leave you with chocolate covered candies that are glossy and maintain firmness at room temperature.  Untempered chocolate must be stored in the fridge or it will melt and will be messy when handled.  To temper chocolate you will need a metal bowl you can set over a pot of hot water and a thermometer. 

Makes 24 squares.

Chocolate Covered S'mores

12 graham crackers, halved into squares

24 marshmallows, halved lengthwise

1 lb dark chocolate discs or small pieces

.75 oz tempered dark chocolate, like Hersheys, Mast or Dove

Stretch 2 marshmallow halves over each graham cracker.  Use a chefs torch to toast marshmallows to a toasty brown.  Repeat with all graham crackers.  Set aside on a piece of parchment paper or silpat.  

Any chocolate you purchase will already be tempered when it leaves the factory.  However, once it is melted for coating other items, like graham crackers, it will have lost its tempered properties.  To regain the correct tempered property:  

In a double boiler with barely simmering hot water, stir the 1 lb of chocolate with a wooden spoon.  Heat the chocolate to 120-125 F.  It helps to begin with small uniform pieces of chocolate. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and cool the melted chocolate to 86F.  Adding the .75 oz of tempered chocolate will help lower the temperature.  (This is also called seeding.)

Raise the temperature of the chocolate by setting the bowl back over the hot water for brief intervals of 10 to 15 seconds.  Keep an eye on the temperature.  Heat to a maximum of 90F. (Milk and white chocolate would be to a maximum of 88F.)

The chocolate is now tempered and can be used for dipping and coating but must remain at 86 to 90F.  Continue passing it over the hot water to maintain this range of temperature.  

Dip toasted marshmallow graham one by one into chocolate until all are done.  Let set on parchment paper.  Store in air tight container. 

**Chocolate tempering instructions and notes are from the Components Design NW Inc which I found to be the clearest instructions and wanted to share.