12/22/10

molasses-peanut chews

So I set out to make caramels. Truly not knowing what I wanted when I first poured the sugar and milk into the pot what was going to come of it. (I love making new recipes that way--going in totally blind when the thermometer gauge is ticking away). I did have a little bit of inspiration from an article in the NYT article about a famous chocolate-caramel recipe from 1881? Wild, from 1881. So the first batch was awful, very molasses overpowering, and no chocolate taste whatsoever. (sorry NYT, but still love you and look up to you). I know I followed everything to the T and know you have to literally "set up camp by the stove, do not leave pot" when making candy and/or caramels. The end result needed a lot more "ummphf". So the second batch I added in more butter, more salt, used half & half, and added in salty peanuts. BINGO. This recipe is a keeper. And I swear the second day they tasted even better. Everyone who was my taste-tester loved them. So I renamed them molasses-peanut chews because, well, thats what they taste like.
Super easy to make too. If you are familiar with making caramels then these will be a breeze for you. Are there some of you out there that still have last minute baking gifts to give? Use this. Trust me, these will knock their socks off.
I don't know if I will have another post before Christmas...Sooooo. I want to wish you all a merry christmas, happy holidays, etc... But more importantly: thank you truly for being such wonderful, awesome, incredible and loving fans. As I've said before "you guys rock my world"!

molasses peanut chews

Cook Notes: if you have trouble with caramels here are a few things I can suggest to help you out. Get a good candy thermometer. Do not leave the stove when your mixture starts to boil. Set up camp at your stove until it's ready to pour. Stir like crazy. Be patient, it takes a good 15 - 20 minutes to get your caramels at the right temperature. The right temperature is 248 degrees (maybe minus 1 or 2 degrees)--watch that thermometer; anything higher in temp and you'll have hard candy.

molasses peanut chews
Inspired from 1881: Chocolate Caramels as seen in NYT
print recipe

4 TB salted butter
About 1 TB butter to grease ceramic dish
4 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup half & half
1 cup molasses
1 cup white sugar
1 ts high quality vanilla extract
Giant pinch of sea salt
½ cup of salted, roasted peanuts

Wax paper squares for wrapping caramels
Extra butter for greasing up your knife when cutting caramels

Remember this is hot sugar, never touch the hot sugar, never be tempted to taste test, and always use oven mits.
Butter an 8-by-8-inch or 8 x 9 baking dish. Get out a candy thermometer and clip onto pot.
In a large heavy duty pot (with high sides preferably) combine the butter, chocolate, milk, molasses, sugar, and salt. Place over a medium heat and stir constantly and CONSTANTLY scraping the bottom of pan. (You will be doing this for a while). Let it boil and cook until the temperature reaches around 247 -249 (soft ball stage). Once it hits this temperature remove from heat
And add in the vanilla extract (it will make a lot of noise and sizzle, just add in and stand back then stir in)
Once mixed, pour the hot mixture into your prepared buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle the peanuts on top of the caramel. Push peanuts down into caramel using rubber spatula—do not use your hands!
In about an hour or 45 minutes you should be able to handle caramel. Gently lift if out of baking dish and transfer to a wooden board or plastic cutting board.
Using a sharp knife cut long strips about ¾ of an inch, then cut those strips into 1 or 2 inch pieces.) Wrap in wax paper.
Should make about 70 pieces; all dependant on how you cut them (what size).

43 comments:

  1. Maybe I'll give this recipe a shot. The last two attempts at making caramels have been failures. The more recent one resulted in a sticky mess that I couldn't even peel off of the parchment paper. Two different recipes, two FAILS. I followed everything to the letter, but no luck. Gotta keep trying!

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  2. i never actually heard of buttering the knife beforehand, but that's genius!

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  3. these peanut chews sound so much better than the caramels, yum!

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  4. gorgeous, I wan the whole slab

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  5. ooh, i've been wanting to try some sea salt caramels! and marshmallows. but time is going by too quickly. love the salty peanuts in your version :) happy holidays dawn!!

    ps- my kitchen was out of butter and it was the wee hours of the morning when i was doing my cookie baking... thats when i turned to EB (hey, it was cheaper than butter that week!) next time i'm at costco i'll be stocking up on butter!! :)

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  6. Madre mía, que cosa tan rica.

    Saludos

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  7. Mmmmnn! I have never made candy except for saltine toffee bark. This looks like a good place to start. I am going to try to buy a candy thermometer tonight.

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  8. YOU rock my world. Love that deep molasses with salty peanuts.

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  9. Yum!...wish that I can chew one...

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  10. I'm not a big fan of caramel but this chews look very good. Happy holidays my friend!

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  11. ah - what in Scotland is known as Treacle toffee (of caramel dependant on the crack)

    We don't normally add peanuts though.

    Looks lovely !

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  12. Wow! Those look impressive. And I like how they are different than all the cookies around this time of year.

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  13. Oh that looks really good!!!!!Happy Holidays!

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  14. You put the NYTimes to SHAME! They should hire you to rewrite their flops into something edible. Seriously.

    I see a serious molasses-peanut chew addiction in my future. Can you make a 12-step program too while you're at it?

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  15. These chews sound amazing. You are amazing. You are quite the treats maker! Happy Holidays Dawn. I wish you grace and peace and health. What could be better? Okay love. Okay enough sappiness. Cheers!

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  16. Merry Christmas to you too!
    These are why I want to marry you!

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  17. Merry Christmas. Gosh you are so responsible for me developing sweet cravings. :)

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  18. butter that knife, chica! you don't want any accidents. i love the wrapping on these! I can smell them here!! :)

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  19. Mmmm. These chews would be extremely dangerous in my house. I don't know if I could stop eating them.

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  20. These look so rich and delicious! I think that it's a "Christmas plate" must.

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  21. Happy Holidays to you and Mister Vanilla - I hope the season brings you much joy. I would love to try these little chews - the way you wrapped them up they remind me of salt water taffy....

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  22. Those look so good. I wish i could stick my hand into the computer and grab a few of these (okay, more than a few).
    *kisses* HH

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  23. This sounds delicious! Definitely a great christmas goodie bag inclusion! Hope you have a Merry Christmas, as well!

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  24. I love chocolate and caramel together! and the peanuts make everything better!

    -Amalia http://buttersweetmelody.wordpress.com

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  25. Ooh, I'd love some of those in my stocking,in my purse and in my undies drawer. ha!

    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Dawn!

    Monica

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  26. i don't often like to break out my candy thermometer, but i'd totally brave it for this treat of all treats. nice work!

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  27. my mouth is totally watering over these babies....makes me wish I was more patient at candy making!

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  28. I have to tell you...you inspire me. I'm a pretty decent cook/baker type, but my sister still thinks of me as the one who cannot cook (don't know why). I'd love to take a couple of your recipes to her house on New Years and knock her socks off!

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  29. These peanut chews sound awesome & well worth the candy thermometer. Love the graphics & photography too! Happy holidays :)

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  30. Caramels are just about the only things I am willing to stand and stir for what seems like eternity! So glad you stuck with these chews after the first batch lacked that certain 'ummphf'. It's post-Christmas but who says I can't gift myself with these sweets? 8-)

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  31. Hope you had a VERY Merry Christmas. Sorry I'm late on commenting! Those chews look so fabulous. peanuts are a great addition

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  32. I love the molasses in these - glad you came up with a great recipe after the NYT debacle!

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  33. I love the rich flavor of molasses! I imagine it's real yummy paired with peanuts. I had one of the best Christmases I've had in a long time. Sorry I didn't get a chance to drop by and say Merry Christmas - hope you had a good one too!

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  34. those look incredible! i just love your blog! :)

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  35. I can totally just taste whose by looking at the photos. I'm having a total crazy food memory right now. My mom used to get these nut filled chews from her mother each year. They came in a tin from somewhere in New York. They were the only sweet thing I liked with nuts - I LOVED them. I have not had anything like it since. If I wasn't so sick of being in my kitchen, I would head in there right now to make them.

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  36. Wow how incredible! These chews look so good!
    I hope you have a wonderful New Year!
    Blessings~

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  37. I have the worst time with caramels, really should try again

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  38. the NYT one was awful... that is cracking me up

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  39. Hello Dawn, What a treat this is! I like the wrappings too. :)
    I wish you a, Happy New Year !!

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  40. Wow, right now I'm so not wanting candy, but these molasses carmels look amazing. Love the peanuts!!

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  41. Ahh that looks so good. I hate you for doing this to me. Can't eat any of these things till I have my braces :(

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  42. That sounds wonderful! I'd like to make this for my Dad since he adores both peanuts and molasses. I might make some for him for Father's Day. :) Thanks for the recipe. :)

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  43. we have the same knife!

    the henckles 7" santonku.

    Great minds think alike. And thanks for relinking these...holy delish. I love molasses and caramel and peanuts.

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