Sunday, September 9, 2007

Huge Baking Failure........

Last weekend I planned a stay at home, get caught up on random projects, list stuff on ebay and cross a recipe off the Martha Baking list kind of weekend. So I stopped at Hollywood Video and got the last season of the Sopranos (part one) and the movie Zodiac then went to the grocery store and purchased around $20 in nuts. I began baking the Caramel Nut Bars in the Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook page 119 around 11:00 pm. For this recipe the crust is baked and then the carmel nut topping is placed on top and then baked about 15 minutes longer.
All was going well....the crust is made and cooling on a rack and the nuts have been toasted and also cooling when I began making the caramel.

Lets just keep in mind this was my first candy making adventure....yes i know a strange little fact considering my place of employment. I went to my Williams Sonoma bag and pulled out my band new candy thermometer. I put all of the ingredients (sugar, cream of tarter and later all of the toasted nuts) in my All Clad soup pot and turned the heat all the way up and waited and waited for the mixture to get to 300 degrees and turn golden brown. I kept waiting and it was just hovering around 200 to 250 degrees. After what seemed like forever the mixture started turning light brown then golden brown then dark brown and it started to smell like it was burnt but the brand new thermometer still read 250 degrees. What do I do? Should I keep cooking and wait for the thermomter to get to 300 degrees or stop, because the carmel is deep brown and my house is filling with smoke. I decided to stop and add the cream and butter and hope for the best.

I poured the caramel on the crust and finished baking the bars. When I tried the bars the next morning they in fact did taste like burned caramel....yummm. I am not sure why the caramel was such a nightmare...was the thermometer not calibrated properly, do I need to adjust the flame on my stove, is the recipe flawed, or is this a sign I should NOT be in the candy business??? Who knows maybe I will give caramel another shot sometime in the future. The weekend was not a total faliure I got a whole bunch of random projects finished and I loved the Sopranos and can not wait for the final season to come out on DVD.

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