Candy Making with Honey Part 2: touch

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To continue the candy making theme here we go…

Here (Instructables) is a fantastic discussion on using cold water to show what “stage” your sugar is at to decide when to take it off the heat. Honey doesn’t work the same way. Honey has three steps, soft ball, hard crack, and burnt.

These steps help you use the cold water test to get the texture of honey you want. Combines with the “sight” you get close to a consistent product every time you make candy.

You can also use ‘smell’, but once you smell the honey is burnt it is too late.

Henry Buttes in Dyets Dry Dinner* says “…ginger condite with honey, warms old mens bellies…it is very restorative.”

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch of ginger, ground (or saffron, black pepper, cinnamon)
  • 1 bowl of really cold water.

Directions

  1. Warm a frying pan on medium. Place honey in frying pan and bring to a boil. Skim the surface of any impurities as you work, stirring continuously.
  2. You should notice the honey change from golden clear to a light brown at around 4-6 minutes. Drip a few drops of honey into your cold water. The honey makes a pale platelet that sinks to the bottom. If you touch it, and eat it, it is very soft and chewy. At this temp you get a sticky mess if you pour it out on your nonstick surface. Good for shaping or caramel.
  3. After 2-4 more minutes the honey will suddenly change darker.  Drip a few drops of honey into your cold water. The honey makes a darker hard platelet that floats on top of the cold water. If you touch it, and eat it, it is crunchy.
  4. Quickly add the spice and stir.
  5. Pour the mixture onto a non stick surface to cool.
  6. break apart to serve.

You can test your candy by dropping it in the water as you go to reassure yourself that it hasn’t burnt. It will go from hard crack to burn in about 30 seconds so its good to test frequently.

  • Found at Early English Books Online as a pdf of the original printing, or my transcribed (annotated and redacted) version on amazon.ca

 

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Making Candy with Honey Part 1: sight

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This is a series of blog posts dedicated to making candy with honey (instead of sugar or corn syrup). I’m teaching a class on this in February so I am prepping for my class and blogging about it.

When making candy please have a bowl of water on hand to treat burns if the need arises.

This blog is how to use the changing colours of hot honey (or your sight) as an imperfect gauge for candy making (instead of a thermometer method). The cooking times given will be determined by the moisture content of your honey and the humidity of your kitchen. Raw honey is about 20% moisture, where candy is around 1-5%. Heating is what causes the moisture loss, obviously.

Honey boiled with walnuts, called nucato. Take boiled and skimmed honey, with walnuts chopped slightly and spices, cooked together; dip your hands in water and spread it out; let it cool and serve it. And you can use almonds and hazelnuts in place of walnuts. An Anonymous Tuscan Cookery Book

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped small
  • pinch of ginger, ground
  • 2 pinch of cinnamon, ground

Directions

  1. Place honey in sauce pan on medium, and bring to a boil. Skim the surface of any impurities as you work, stirring often.
  2. Mix the chopped walnuts, and spices, into the honey and coat well. Bring honey back up to a boil and stir continuously.
  3. You should notice the honey change from golden to a pale brown once it is brought to boil again, after the nuts are added, at around 4 minutes. At this temp you get a sticky mess.
  4. After 3-4 more minutes the honey will suddenly change slightly darker, more of a cardboard box brown.
  5. After 2-3 minutes the honey will suddenly change darker again, light brown leather coloured. This is a firm but slightly chewy candy. (If you keep going after another 30 seconds to 1 minute you will get, very dark brown, which is a hard, and brittle candy, but the risk of burning the mixture at this time is very high.)
  6. Pour the mixture onto a non stick surface to cool.
  7. Slice and serve immediately.

Pears in syrup or “Cooked Pears.”

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I am still test cooking for Feast of the Hare n November. I do not think today’s recipe will make the cut–not because it isn’t wonderful but because between the wine and the honey it becomes very expensive to serve to 80 people.

I think that I can edit the recipe to get the flavours by baking the pears instead of poaching and using the syrup as a glaze and still say mostly true to the recipe as written.

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Cooked pear. Lots of honey, black pepper, saffron, clove, cinnamon and a bit of wine. The Prince of Transylvania’s Court Cookbook (Hungary, 16th c.)

 

Ingredients

  • 6 pears, pealed
  • 1.5 cups of honey
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 6 peppercorns, whole
  • 6 cloves, whole
  • 1 pinch of saffron

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients into a sauce pan. (If fruit isn’t covered top up with water. ) Bring mixture to boil then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot with syrup*

*or store pears in syrup, in fridge, for up to two weeks because this recipe is really similar to some preserved pear recipes I’ve seen. 

 

Fancy Pear Tart for the Holiday Party or A Baked Mete

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I was flipping through the bible “Take a Thousand Eggs or More” by the goddess, Cindy Renfrow, and needed to find a recipe worthy of the precious beef marrow I’d saved from making something else. Her recipe on page 191 called “A Baked Meat” seemed like a great place to start.

Pears set in a yellow custard. You also make use of the strainer technique to smooth out the custard.

My recipe deviates from the one by Renfrow but it does so with respect.

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A bake Mete. Take an make fayre lytel cofyns; than take Perys, and 3if they ben lytelle, put .iij. in a cofynne, and pare clene, and be-twyn euery pere, ley a gobet of Marow; and yf thou haue no lytel Perys, take grete, and gobet ham, and so put hem in the ovyn a whyle; than take thin commade lyke as thou takyst to Dowcetys, and pore ther-on; but lat the Marow and the Pecy3 ben sene; and whan it is y-now, serue forth…

Doucete3. Take Creme a gode cupfulle, and put it on a straynoure; thanne take 3olkys of Eyroun and put ther-to, and a lytel mylke; then strayne it thorw a straynoure in-to a bolle; then take Sugre y-now, and put ther-to, or ellys hony forde faute of Sugre, than coloure it with Safroun; than take thin cofyns, and put in the ovynne lere, and lat hem ben hardyd; than take a dysshe y-fastenyd on the pelys ende; and pore thin comade in-to the dyssche, and fro the dyssche in-to the cofyns; and when they don a-ryse wel, take hem out, and serue hem forth. (England, 1430)

Ingredients:
* 2 9″ pie shells
* 5-6 small bosc pears, washed, halved, cored
* 4 tbsp beef marrow
* 1.5 cups whipping cream
* 4 egg yolks
* 3 tbsp honey
* 2 pinches of saffron

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Place pear halves cut-face down, stem side in the middle with the round bottoms around the edge like a flower in both tart shells. Distribute the marrow around the pears in each pie. Bake for 25 minutes, until tart is browning, and marrow is sizzling.
3) Stir together cream, yolks, honey and saffron then, while stirring, pour through a pasta strainer into a larger bowl. Divide into two parts.
4) Pour cream mixture slowly into each pear tart, careful not to fully submerge the pear bottoms completely. Bake on 350 for 30 minutes, until custard sets and pears are cooked through.
5) Serve cold.

Pynade or Chicken Candy

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Ever since I first cracked open the intimidating Take a Thousand Eggs or More by Cindy Renfrow I wanted to make some of the stranger dishes.

Pynade, is like peanut brittle but uses chicken and pine nuts instead of peanuts found in this book.

Most people make the version for lent, or without chicken. Chicken adds moisture so it is harder to get the sugars to the hard crack stage without burning–especially when using honey instead of sugar.

If you remove the dish from heat before the honey reaches 300F it is still a kind of sweet and (not very) sour chicken dish people seem to like so it is worth experimenting with.

Pynade. Take Hony & gode pouder Gyngere, & Galyngale, & Canelle, Pouder pepir, & graynys of parys, & boyle y-fere; than take kyrnelys of Pynotys & caste ther-to; & take chyconys y-sothe, & hew hem in grece, & caste ther-to, & lat sethe y-fere; & then lat droppe ther-of on a knyf; & if it cleuyth & wexyth hard, it ys y-now; & then putte it on a chargere tyl it be cold, & mace lechys, & serue with other metys; & if thou wolt make it in spycery, then putte non chykonys ther-to. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books

 

Ingredients
* 2 Chicken breasts
* Oil for cooking
* 1 cup pine nuts
* 1 tsp galingale, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
* Pinch black pepper, ground
* Pinch of grains of paradise, ground
* 1 cup honey

1) Fry chicken breasts in oil until cooked through, then chop chicken very small, and lie meat on cutting board to cool and drain. Too much moisture left in meat at this stage will change the dish.

2) In a dry skillet toast the pine nuts with the spices on a low heat.

3) Add chicken pieces and stir, coating the chicken liberally.

4) Pour honey into skillet and simmer, stirring constantly, until honey reaches just over 300 degrees or hard crack stage. The honey will change colour from golden to brown, and smell like candy.

5) Quickly pour honey mixture onto non-stick baking mat, or parchment paper, and let cool.

6) Finished product should look like “chicken brittle”, break into pieces to serve.