Monday, July 30, 2012

An Exciting Culinary Discovery!

When I started making the Treacle Fudge for our Harry Potter Day tomorrow, it crossed my mind that it was POSSIBLE that this could end up being similar to the See's Butterscotch Squares I like so much. But! I didn't want to get my hopes up, so I tried to ignore that thought.

Then as I started to mix them up, that little hope strengthened, and then when they cooled:

...they looked VERY hopeful, so I tried one.....

and I would say it is PRETTY DARN CLOSE! Not EXACT, of course, and I haven't had a Butterscotch Square since before my vacation, but not having had one in so long, I can say that this is a close approximation (not counting the chocolate)! The texture is just right: dense, moist, and a little grainy, and the flavor is very similar! Given that real Butterscotch Squares are about $20 per pound + a trip to the See's store, I think I'm going to be very happy with this recipe!


Treacle Fudge (from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, pg. 58)

My Notes: I could not find any sort of treacle at my grocery stores. For this batch, I used "Grandma's Gold Standard All Natural Molasses Unsulphured Original", but I'd like to try it again sometime with dark corn syrup to see how that would turn out. Also, I doubled the recipe and poured it into an 8x11 pan.)

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons black treacle or dark molasses or blackstrap molasses
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Grease an 8-inch square pan and set aside. Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, treacle, and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted and the ingredients are combined. Wash down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in hot water if sugar crystals form on the sides, to prevent recrystallization (I did this, JUST TO BE SAFE, because I haven't made fudge before and wanted to be extra careful about following the directions). Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and continue to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F on the candy thermometer (This part takes a while, and I kept glancing nervously back at the directions to be CERTAIN that I wasn't supposed to be mixing all this time).

2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Allow the bubbles to subside and the mixture to cool slightly, about 5 minutes (I set the timer for 5 minutes). Remove the thermometer and beat or stir vigorously with a wooden spoon (don't have a wooden spoon, so I used a heat-safe plastic spatula) until the mixture loses its gloss and is very thick, 15 to 20 minutes (I set the timer for 15 minutes; it is good to have energetic children nearby to spell you, if they can understand the concept of "DON'T SPLASH THIS ON YOURSELF BECAUSE IT IS VERY HOT!"). Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan (This wasn't NEARLY as awful as trying to scrape rice crispy treats into the pan!) and smooth the top (I did not feel the need to smooth the top). You can use a piece of plastic wrap and the palm of your hand to do this.

3. Cool completely before cutting into 1-inch squares.

So! Anyone who tries this, report back in the comments so we can get a broad sampling of opinions and any variations of the recipe!!

Here is one layer of Harry's Chocolate Layer Birthday Cake (to be frosted tomorrow):

And a cute Baby trying out our Sorting Hat:

Potpourri: CDP Ideas, Clothes, Harry Potter Day

Thanks to two Lovely People, it has come to my attention that, even if you only have a person's email address*, on you can buy a Kindle book or gift card for someone and Amazon will deliver a cheerful email to that person along with whatever sweet note you write! This is an AWESOME, VERY FUN idea with ALL SORTS of possibilities =)!!

*The recipient will be able to use the gift even if the email address it was sent to is not the same email address listed on the recipient's main account.

Lippy had a great idea about stocking up on school supplies right now, while they're so inexpensive, to make CDPs to give as teacher gifts in December!! Since she actually IS a teacher, you should click here and go read what she has to say =)!

I am finding it a little frustrating that I had a husky-sized boy, followed by a slim-sized boy, followed by a husky-sized boy. This is making the passing-down-of-the-clothes a little tricky.

Tomorrow because parenthood MUST be enjoyable every so often or else I GO INTO DECLINE we are having a Harry Potter Day! The kids have been excited ever since they came up with this idea and I agreed to it. I checked The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook out at the library, hoping that the children might be convinced to try something new (a "trying to feed the kids" post is coming, oh yes it is!), and they had a great time poring over all of the recipes. In the end, they decided on:
  • Breakfast: bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs (and I decided on English Muffins)
  • Lunch: sandwiches
  • Dinner: Mrs. Weasley's meatballs (except with spaghetti instead of onion sauce)
  • Treats: Treacle Fudge, Sugar Mice, Chocolate Layer Cake (in honor of Harry's first birthday cake)
Do you SEE all of the horizon-broadening there?! Me neither.

(Next year, I think I'll try The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book; it includes activities as well as recipes!)

Along with the delicious food, which will start being prepared today (wouldn't want anything to turn out badly for the celebration! I'd better test that fudge recipe THOROUGHLY before tomorrow!), we are going to do a sorting activity and some "homework" on "scrolls". I found a big package of paper rolls for adding machines or calculators, and we are going to make a scroll-timeline so the children can see how quickly the next few years of their lives are going to pass, and they can make goals for those next few years. (I will be using the rest of the "scrolls" in our home school; each child is going to make a timeline of the history of the world as we study history for the next few years.)

Finally, we will watch as many of the movies as we have time for! (So far, the children are allowed to watch 1-3.)

I hope it will be a fun day and memorable in a good way!
And now I am off to test that fudge recipe crack the whip get the children up and started on their morning chores!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Example of a Crappy Day Present #12

Have I mentioned that I am SO BEHIND ON EVERYTHING?! I am behind on Example of Crappy Day Presents posts and the Parenting A Child Who Has Intense Emotions book, I still need to tell you all about the new dishwasher, I'm pretty sure I'm 6 months behind on picture organization...and summer is practically OVER! On that discouraging note, here's a happy CDP post, and I finally opened the last CDP from this package and updated the post.

A Lovely, Lovely Person* sent a Crappy Day Package to help make life more bearable =)! (And it worked!)

Cute, dimpled hand courtesy of Baby (it was not included in the package)

First up: wee food cutters!

I had JUST been thinking that I needed to get another CD holder, and then I opened this bright, cheerful-looking CD HOLDER!

A soft, pretty scarf and those mittens that turn into gloves that I've always wanted but never managed to buy for myself!

The FUNNEST socks EVER and some pretty magnets that Baby has been having fun playing with

A pretty little snack container
(the matching chopsticks in a case are not shown because the children snatched those as soon as they saw them)
I really like this pink strawberry patter!

Thank you, Lovely Person!! I appreciate your thoughtfulness and your excellent taste in fun presents =)!
*I will be keeping Crappy Day Present senders anonymous so that the sender doesn't have to worry that Person Q is going to see what they (the sender) sent me and possibly feel bad that their (Person Q's) package was not as fabulous as mine ;-). But if you don't worry as much as I do aren't worried about that, you are welcome to claim your package in the comments!