I feel a little behind in my holiday baking this year but made some time to plan out baking to share with neighbors. A few of my favorites made the list right away (mystery cookies, Mexican wedding cakes and gingerbread). While ‘thinking’ I heard the bag of peanuts singing a song of brittle from my pantry. Brittle hits all the high points – salt, sweet, crunchy, science-y, quick. I decided to add a little cayenne a la Alton Brown, so add spicy to that list. Recipe below is adapted from my vintage 1951 SeaFair cookbook. Thank you to the Ruth Fratt, KOMO’s first on air home economist “Katherine Wise”.
This recipe makes a big batch, suggest having two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Also, you can speed up or slow down the process by the intensity of heat, but will caution to not heat up too quickly for risk of burning or overshooting the goal temperature of 280 F.
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
3/4 cups water (I use hot water)
3 generous cups of roasted peanuts (suggest lightly salted; raw are ok as well)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne or other spices (cardamon, curry, cinnamon etc), optional
Sprinkle the spice in a bowl with peanuts and toss to combine
Add sugar, corn syrup and water to large sauce pan. Turn on heat and stir to dissolve.
Using a candy thermometer, heat sugar liquid to a boil and let it boil until it reaches 280 F. While liquid is boiling/heating up, pre-measure your baking soda.
Once liquid reaches 280 F, add peanuts and stir to mix and let them cook for about three more minutes. The candy temperature will drop when peanuts are added, but keep the heat on. Stir frequently. You also want to watch the color of the syrup as it might start to turn golden. Your candy may also be already starting to foam. That is ok!
Remove pan from heat, and add in baking soda, then vanilla and butter. This will make the candy foam (furiously bubble) and is the ingredient that gives brittle it signature fluff/airiness. Stir stir stir and watch it expand.
After it seems that foaming has slowed down (just a few minutes), pour hot liquid brittle into prepared sheet pans. Try to smooth peanuts into a single layer.
Allow to cool and then break into pieces to enjoy.
Here is a fun link with some history on peanut brittle, from Serious Eats.
My plum trees are at it again. Thankfully this is the lighter crop year. They reliably produce a giant bumper crop every other years, well over 100 plus pounds per tree. As such, I have quite a few go to recipes to enjoy plums throughout the year. however, my favorite option is to use City Fruit, a non-profit based in Seattle, to pick the fresh fruit (super helpful, given my time is more limited now) and distribute it to food banks across the city. Everyone deserves access to fresh health food.
Hopefully I did not lose you at beans for dessert. Stick with me on this.Bean desserts are common in Vietnamese cuisine (che đậu). Lots of variety and add-ins (pandan, coconut, tapioca pearls). They likely started with digestive benefit in mind, which for this recipe is hypothetically applied given the ginger (gừng). You should just eat them because you like them or maybe your mother in law made them and it gets you brownie points (mmm, brownies).
chè đậu gừng / gingery sweet beans dessert recipe
Ingredients for generous 4-6 servings in a bowl or lots of spoon-sized bites (~ 40)
1 cup dried beans
4 cups of water plus a lot more for overnight soaking
Crushed ginger in a jar or smashed whole ginger, about 2 tablespoons
at least 1 cup of sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt to balance out sweet at the end
Crystallized ginger for topping
re-useable tea bag or holder if using crushed ginger
Soak the dry beans at least overnight, 12 -16 hours. Rinse beans and discard the soaking/rinsing water.
In a saucepan, add 4 cups fresh water and beans. Bring to a boil and then let them simmer for about an hour. Stir occasionally and check to see how they are softening up. You could also do this in your pressure cooker and dramatically reduce the time but I like to taste and adjust as I go with this recipe.
Add in the sugar and ginger. I put the crushed ginger from the jar in a loose tea bag (the paper kind) but you could use a tea ball etc. Basically you want to be able to remove the ginger before serving. Stir and keep simmering for another 30 minutes. Add in some additional water 1/2 cup or so if it has evaporated.
Taste and see if the balance of sweet and ginger is how YOU like it. Add a little salt. Mix last again. If you want sweeter, add more sugar, a little at a time, maybe a teaspoon or so. More ginger, add more or let it steep longer.
If you have the time, make the day before and after simmering leave the ginger bag in to steep.
When ready to serve, remove ginger, stir well and either heat back up and serve hot or serve cold.
Optional but nice touch, add some sliced crystallized ginger either on top or mixed in.
For this recipe I used mixed dried beans from my CSA box. Suggested beans to try include: black-eyed peas, kidney, broad (hyacinth) or red beans. Do not limit yourself. You can also use canned beans but need to watch the cooking time to avoid mush.
Recipe is adapted from Diana My Tran’s book The Vietnamese Cookbook.
This easy three plum galette graced our late summer table and will likely make a fall comeback as a pear version. Galette is a Frenchie word describing a variety of flat freeform flakey, crusty desserts. Crusts can be made with puff pasty or pie crust or somewhere in between. I always have a box of puff pastry on hand from baked brie with honey and garlic (self, why no blog post?); top pie crusts, empanadas, beef wellington (on my list!) and caramelized onion tart.
Don’t worry if it is not perfectly rectangular or round or the rolled edges are a bit wonky – call it rustic and take its photo. See below. You can also make them individual portions, like this Bon Appetite idea, using a knife or cookie cutter. Key with puff pastry is working fast so it doesn’t warm up to much. You could also make puff pastry from scratch – never attempted, best left for LeCB chef extraordinaires.
I promise I am done with plum recipes for the year. Pin this away for next year or for inspiration with whatever is seasonal.
Plum Fruit Galette
Approx. 1 lb of plums, I used three colors for flare! Or apples, pears, berries etc.
1 sheet of prepared puff pastry, defrost according to package, about 14 ounces, but this doesn’t need to be exact
1-3 tablespoons of honey for drizzling
Fresh thyme or rosemary or basil or mint – depending on your taste and fruit.
1 T Olive oil
Optional; beaten egg white with water or cream to brush on edges to help brown
Preheat oven to 425 F
Slice and pit the plums into wedges, not to thick but about the same size.
Unfold/roll the puff pastry sheet onto a piece of parchment paper on the counter. Fold or roll over the edges all the way around OR run a knife around the edge about ½ inch in, without cutting through. This will allow it to ‘puff’ up and make a border. It never works all that well for me.
Brush the pastry with the olive oil, lay down the plum slices. Top with herbs and drizzle with honey. You can warm the honey up a tad so it drizzles easier and faster.
Bake 25-35 minutes until brown and fruit is soften with some carmelization. Suggest rotating the pan part way through if your edges are browning up equally.
Sprinkle with salt sparingly before serving. Goes great with ice cream! (but what really doesn’t…)
You can make a lot of modifications to this recipe, could spread jam lightly on the pastry instead of olive oil and pair with a different fruit or savory item, add spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. Sprinkle with sugar, play around with herbs etc. Enjoy!