I think sometimes it's hard to keep promises. I think it's always hard to be honest, when there are so many excuses I could use as to why I got lazy with responsibilities this summer. I tell myself it's work, I tell myself it's exhaustion, I tell myself it's having people over every week since May. But I'm only telling myself these things. In reality, I just got silent. Bursts of creativity came late for me this summer and I chose my time more wisely (finishing TV series and taking three hour naps). Instead of living through my work, the work that I create through whisks and butter, I died through the work I do for a living. Five-thirty comes very fast when you've been running in your head all night, trying to remember if you prayed that day (trying to even remember if you still prayed and what for). Commitment has never been a scary word, I'm co-dependent by nature. I've dated the same person for the majority of my adult years, but it's the commitment to myself that makes me find something else to do, anything else to not have to sit in front of the blinking space bar and the words don't come like they used to, when I was naive about failure and everything smelled like pollen in the Springtime.
But just because I didn't write about it doesn't mean it didn't happen. I had a good month away from writing, away from commitments that I've married myself to. But, today, I come back to you all in the hopes of welcome arms. And in the name of marriage and commitments, I want to share with you the present sent all the way to St. Louis, a package of sweets and savories, a package I did to celebrate complementaries. A package for my friend, Anne, on her wedding day. I had originally planned to do a candy week, but I want to make it up to everyone and give them all at once, like Christmas morning instead of Hanukkah evenings.
Usually, if I mess up a cake, I throw it out and start again (after some swearing and desperate attempts to fix it) ((read: the carrot meringue fiasco of March 2014)). With these, I wanted to make sure they were perfect, combinations that would amaze the newlyweds and let them know I cared. I went with the four basic flavor profiles: sweet, sour, salty, and umami, as I thought that any relationship should have these aspects. I didn't have time to test and retest. I could only mail out and hope for the best. So, enjoy these treats and make someone's day special, even if it's your own.
Anne's Wedding Treats
1. Honey-Peanut Butter (makes about a cup and a half)
- 15 oz. bag of peanuts (I used honey roasted)
- 1 TB clover honey
- 1 TB canola/peanut oil
- Put bag of roasted peanuts in food processor and start to blend (please make sure the motor on your food processor can handle the mixing capabilities of this recipe; otherwise, it will start to smell like a furby that was on too long)
- As the peanuts start to break down and oils are being released, you will notice the consistency will start to change. At this point, I began to add the honey and oils (both of these are to taste, as the oil will change the texture to less crunchy and the honey is used as the sweetener)
- Continue to blend until the texture and taste are desired. If it is not "peanutty" enough for you, add more peanuts to blend. Also could add chocolate while mixture is still hot, more honey, or anything else you may like.
- Put in airtight jar and store in fridge to firm up.
2. Candied Bacon
- One pound of thick-cut bacon
- 3/4 cup good quality maple syrup
- 2 TB artificial maple syrup (it's sweeter and works here...sue me)
- 2 ts Dijon Mustard (Grey Poupon)
- A pinch of black or cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- As the oven preheats, line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper (I preferred foil here because the mixture was so sticky). In a medium bowl, whisk the syrups and the mustard together.
- Once the baking sheet is lined and the syrup mixture is whisked, dip the bacon in the mixture and place on the prepared sheet. Give them some room as you space them so they can cook evenly.
- Bake 12-14 minutes, turn over, and bake an additional 3-5 minutes (to desired crispiness)*
* A note on this one: the bacon is very hard to get to a good crispiness if you continue to open up and watch it. I suggest going with the lowest time setting and to trust that it will crisp. If that doesn't work, then continue to do a minute at a time
3. Butter Toffee
This one is actually my mom's recipe that she suggested a couple times for various events I was giving gifts for. I never really paid attention, but it stuck out as a perfect option for Anne's gifts. This one is completely hers, so when I share it, I'm sharing my mother's words.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ts vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper (buttered on each side to stick on the pan and also for easy peeling for the toffee). Set this aside along with the almonds
- In medium saucepan, put butter and sugar together and heat on medium
- Stir slowly and steadily. As you stir, you will notice that the solids start to break down in the pan, slowly coming back together. Make sure to stir constantly, for nearly a half hour. It seems like a lot of work at first, but it is therapeutic. As the sugars start to caramelize and the butter starts to brown, you will see the signature toffee color slowly form. When a deep, chestnut color becomes heterogenous in the mixture, you are done.
- Take the pot off the heat and pour onto the prepared sheet pan. It will cool quickly, so add the almonds to the top and try to shake the pan to distribute the mixture evenly (my mother also suggests using a greased rubber spatula to spread the mixture).
- Place pan in fridge to cool completely, break into chunks and enjoy!
4. Preserved Lemon Peels
- Peels of four lemons (make sure to not get the white pith), cut into strips
- One cup sugar
- In saucepan, cover peel strips with water and bring to a boil. Drain.
- Repeat twice more. (this ensures all the bitterness of the pith is taken out)
- Bring peel (should now be pretty limp), 1/2 cup water, and sugar to a boil
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until translucent
- Drain and let dry, 2-4 hours (I did mine overnight)
- Toss with additional sugar
I hope you guys enjoy the recipes and if you need any proof that these recipes are great for gifts, here's the bride herself, posted on my instagram about her present: