Sunday, April 7, 2013

Homemade Longhorns/Turtles and a trip to Texas

This post is certainly long long long overdue. But such is the life of a grad student. 

Over Christmas break I had the pleasure (not kissing ass here) to meet my boyfriend's family. I could try to find something to complain about regarding the trip, but it would be quite hard. It's difficult to remember a week so filled of cooking, eating, talking, laughing and just relaxing. 

The boy's family is all about food when it comes to the holidays. As such, we spent about 11 hrs making cookies two days before Christmas. Now this might sound like a nightmare to you. But I got to use a giant kitchen with a kitchenaid and so many baking supplies you'd think you're at some fancy store. There was a batch of sugar cookies, a batch of gingerbread men and women, big and small, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate mint cookies. I made dough and formed into balls. The boy rolled the sugar cookies and gingerfolks. All said and done, it was 1 AM and there were more cookies I've seen together in my life. 

Come to think of it, it might be all because the boy is from Texas. And everything is bigger in Texas, right?. Oh well, those stereotypes that I've come to realize are so incredibly not true in a lot of ways. 

Anyway, the day before Christmas we made pies. Pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, pumpkin pie and cherry pie. On Xmas eve we watched 'A Christmas Story'. (I fell in love with the movie, btw) and prepped some food for the day of. While eating, of course. Stuffed mushrooms, some homemade dips, veggies and other snack-y things. The list of Xmas food is gonna sound ridiculous to you. And it might be ridiculous. But there were a lot of hungry people expecting to eat all their favorite things. There was turkey, of course, along with lots of appetizers, cornbread stuffing (amazing), potato salad, broccoli salad, roasted ham and homemade cranberry sauce. I'm sure I forgot something but you get the idea. 

Christmas was full of food even when it came to gifts. I got a box of Longhorns. What are longhorns? Same thing as turtles but better. Delicious Texas pecans covered in chocolate and caramel. The box made it to Oregon but didn't survive the week after  being opened. So for Valentine's day I decided to make some more longhorns. With dark chocolate, pecans from our friend's tree and homemade caramel. Here's the recipe. 

Homemade longhorns

6 oz chocolate
1 cup pecans roughly chopped
1/2 cup homemade caramel sauce (recipe follows)

Melt about 80% of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over boiling water. Once it is all melted, add the rest of the chocolate and check the temperature. You're looking for a temperature of 90F in order to ensure the chocolate has been tempered. This step is optional but it ensures that the chocolate will be nice and shiny as opposed to opaque and gritty once it dries. 

Pour enough of the melted chocolate in a mold of your choice to cover the bottom. I used a peanut butter cup mold that makes chocolates of a reasonably small size. You can also try free-hand longhorns and do the whole process in parchment paper. In that case, pour a small amount of chocolate in a rounded shape over parchment paper. 

Once the chocolate is set, add the chopped pecans in each mold

 Now add the homemade caramel sauce on top of the pecans. In order for it to be runny it'll have to be slightly warm. This could potentially melt the chocolate but I had no problems with it. If you're afraid this could happen, place the mold with the chocolate in the fridge before adding the caramel. 

Finally, cover the tops with more melted chocolate and let it all set for at least an hour. And you'll have this!

Oh and here's the recipe for the homemade caramel

Homemade caramel sauce

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream 

Pour the water and sugar in a pot and heat at medium heat until it boils. DO NOT STIR. This is very important. If you stir, you'll evaporate the water before the sugar cooks and will end up with a white goopy paste that doesn't look like caramel. You are aiming to slowly caramelize the sugar (Grignard reaction, for the nerds out there). Let the water evaporate and the sugar cook and do not walk away from it or it'll burn. You can do this without adding water, but this way, the process is slower and the risk of burning it is lower. Once the sugar acquires an amber color, it is ready for you to pour the heavy cream. Now, there's very many tones of amber, you're aiming for something that looks like honey. Once you get to this stage, remove the pot from the stove and add the heavy cream. Do not panic if all the sudden you have a solid blob of caramel surrounded by liquid. And be careful not to splash yourselves with hot caramel. Once you've added the heavy cream, put the pot back in the stove and stir with a whisk until you have an homogeneous mixture. Basically, until the cooked sugar dissolves. You can cook the sauce as little or as much as you want, depending on how thick you want it. Take in account that it'll become thicker when it cools down. Pour in jars and store in the fridge for 2 weeks or the freezer for months. 


Stephie said...

They look wonderful!

I'm glad you had a good time in the Lone Star State. :')

Miss you!

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mohamed nabwy said...

They look wonderful!

I'm glad you had a good time in the Lone Star State. :')

Miss you!
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