Sunday, March 15, 2009
My mother's family has an interesting family dessert. We call them carmel crackers. They have no caramel in them and no connection with Carmel, CA. Essentially it is a fudge sandwiched between two saltines, reminding me of a quick and poor version of a pain au chocolat. They provide a juxtaposition of sweet and salty with chocolate holding it all together. No one measures and everyone in the family does it slighly differently, all going by what "looks right". As in all candy making, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
Today, I decided to start measuring. So, this is Carmel Crackers, Take #1.
1/3 c. cocoa - this time I used Hershey's Dark Chocolate blend cocoa. My mom always uses regular Hershey's cocoa, which makes a lighter chocolate, but I didn't have any
2 1/3 c. sugar
a little bit of salt
1 1/2 c milk (I used 2% today)
You mix this together in at least a 4 qt or larger pot as it will boil up eventually. The trick is to stir over high heat until it is a rolling boil and then keep going. You want the soft ball stage of about 238 F. I don't currently have a working candy thermometer and I am pretty sure my grandmother never had one. So, we do the cold water drop test. Drop some of the mixture in a cup of cold water. It will initially dissolve/make the water cloudy. Keep cooking and stirring until it rolls into a soft ball when it hits the water. This test is a bit iffy until you know what it looks like.
Then, take off heat and add in 2 Tbsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla and stir. Now, this time, I took it off too early (despite the test) and ended up re-heating it. That isn't ideal.
You keep stirring until it cools and starts to get thick. As soon as it starts to thicken, you put a Tbsp on a saltine and then top it with another saltine. The fudge starts to turn thick quickly -- so be ready.
In the end, this take showed me that I used too much milk and might need a bit more sugar to get it to set up. At first it was a thick syrpy consistency adn then started getting too granular. Next time, I'll try 1 c of milk.
Of course, the girls and I are not wasting them--they are still good enough to eat.