Monday, September 28, 2009

3 Musketeer Bars!

Hello everyone! I am back today with a recipe for homemade 3 Musketeer Bars. Can I just say, YUM! After purchasing a candy thermometer a couple of months ago, I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to make some candy. I have a feeling this trend will continue as the holidays approach since candy and sweets are always the perfect gift. Here's the recipe:

3 Musketeer Bars

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup water
1/8 tsp. salt
3 egg whites
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 bags milk chocolate chips (12 oz. each)

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Heat, stirring, to boiling, then continue to cook, using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature (this took a good half an hour or so for me, it's possible I could have done it faster but I didn't want to risk burning the mixture). Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and form peaks. Don't use a plastic bowl for this. When the sugar solution comes to 270 degrees F, or the soft-crack stage, remove from the heat and pour the mixture in thin streams into the egg whites, blending completely with a mixer set on low speed. Continue to mix until the candy begins to harden to the consistency of dough. This may take as long as 20 minutes (this part is true!). At this point, add the semisweet chocolate chips.
  • Remember that the candy must already be at the consistency of dough when you add the chocolate; the nougat will thicken no more after the chocolate is added. When the chocolate is thoroughly blended and the nougat has thickened, press it into a greased 9x9-inch pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. With a sharp knife, cut the candy in half down the middle of the pan. Then cut across into 7 segments to create a total of 14 bars. (I used an 8x8 pan and cut the bars into cute squares - they turned out soooo rich, I was glad I made them smaller) Melt the milk chocolate chips in the microwave for 2 minutes on half power, stirring halfway through the heating time. Melt completely, but be careful not to overheat. Resting a bar on a fork (and using your fingers if needed), dip each bar into the chocolate to coat completely and place on wax paper. (This is where I ran into trouble. I couldn't seem to get the choc chips to melt into a thin enough texture, so when I was dunking the squares they were getting overloaded with choc. I ended up mixing what was left from the first bag of choc chips with some "chocolate discs" made specifically for melting. I also melted about 1 tsp of veg shortening into the mixture for additional smoothness. This seemed to really help) Cool till firm at room temperature, 1 to 2 hours.
  • Makes 14 candy bars. (or about 36 squares if you go that route!)
Here is some of the process.
Greg carefully monitoring the temperature - it's the chemist in him coming out!

Greg combining the "liquid hot magma" (name the movie!) mixture with the eggs - it's starting to look like he did all the work but I promise I did everything else!

Action shot of my shiny, new Kitchen Aid doin' it's thang.

Cooled bars cut into squares.

And a few of the finished products - it was fun decorating with the leftover chocolate:)

Greg approves!

See, not only does it taste like a 3 musketeer bar, it also looks like one on the inside!

This recipe was so much fun. Greg and I enjoyed a few each and then I sent the rest to work with him today. I knew they were too dangerous to keep around the house!

I will be back later this week with my final cake from the Wilton course I'm taking and I'll fill you in on class 1 and 2 - hopefully I "graduate" tomorrow night!

So what was everyone's sweetest moment of the day? Other than sneaking in one last 3 musketeer square, I was really uplifted to stumble upon this website called Operation Beautiful. It's a site focused on spreading positive body image among women via post it notes left secretly on bathroom mirrors, drive thru windows, dressing rooms, and other places women are likely to see them. It's great to see women encouraging one another for a change! Hope you all have a wonderful day!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall Leaves

Over Labor Day weekend my parents came up for a visit which meant planning several Wisconsin-y excursions. After living up here for almost three years I have learned that us Wisconsinites must make the most of our time outdoors. People up here are very into outdoor activities. The most hard core continue even in two feet of snow but I prefer to get my time in during the summer.

Although the snow and cold are enough to drive me insane, I must admit that autumn time in Wisconsin in BEAUTIFUL! As the leaves turn all shades of yellow, red, orange, it's time to collect the last of the summer crop.

It's the perfect time for apple pickin'! So, we decided to head over to the Elegant Farmer. It was our first time at the Elegant Farmer and it was an awesome day trip. The giant smiley face barn is packed with fresh cheeses (it was Blue Ribbon cheese day the day we went-YUM!), produce, and baked goods, most famously their "apple pie in a bag," which was even featured on Bobby Flay's Throwdown!
The giant somewhat freaky, yet cute, smiley face barn, and toot! toot! All aboard! We hope to go back sometime for a romantic train ride dinner cruise or beer tasting trip!

Of course we had to buy the apple pie and give it a try for ourselves. Now, I am a huuuuge fan of pie in general and this one did not disappoint. However, the point of the paper bag is to make the top crust extra crisp while keeping the bottom one soft and flaky, and I felt it was almost too crisp for my liking. That said, warmed up with a dallop of vanilla ice cream - oh, boy don't even get me started! Now, the apple picking never happened because their "fall harvest" didn't officially begin until the following weekend, but there is a point to telling the story of visiting the Elegant Farmer. While drooling over all the yummy baked goods, my mom pointed out these absolutely beautiful jumbo chocolate covered sugar cookies, shaped like fall leaves. I knew immediately that these had to go on the "must bake" list and so I did it over this past weekend! I think they turned out really well and I have a box of 'em in the mail to my parents and my brother and sis-in-law - shhhh, don't tell them, it's a surprise! Here are the pix.

Nakey Cookies

All dipped and beautiful!

Brushed with golden luster dust. So pretty!

I couldn't pick just one. I love how each one is unique.

I used a new sugar cookie recipe and three different fall leaf cookie cutters. Then came the messy part, melting the chocolate and dipping the cookies. My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you have a very thick "puddle" of chocolate to dip into, otherwise the cookies get smeared and don't come out as "smooth" looking. I waited until the next day to brush with the luster dust - that was the funnest (most fun??) part - I felt like a real arteest! Let me know if you would like any details on how to make these beauties. Making these really got me in the mood for making Greg's "all-time-favorite" cookies. You'll have to wait to find out what they are, and trust me, you want to know! Have a great night!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I completed a few projects this weekend, making granola and granola bars being two of them. Now, when I set out to do something, I tend to weigh the effort versus benefits of said activity. We have been eating Nature Valley g-bars for quite some time now, and they just keep getting smaller and smaller, like we don't notice, come on! So my goal was to create a healthier, cheaper, more filling version. I got the recipes from my How to Cook Everything cookbook, by Mark Bittman. I love this cookbook! He gives lots of recipes and then shows how they build upon one another. For example, he teaches how to make granola, and then shows how to make granola bars using the granola you just made. The good thing about granola is that there are a million ways to make it and update it. I think my first batch didn't come out chunky enough and therefore I can't eat it by the handful. Not quite sure how to remedy that problem except to mix it with some yogurt and get on with life. As for the granola bars, they turned out decent, as well, but are a little to honey-y. The top part of each bar is great but the bottom, where all the honey sunk to, is very heavy and realllly sweet. At the end of the day, is granola something I want to continue making on a regular basis? The answer is, I'm not sure. You will have to get back to me on that one after I experiment with a few more variations! Right now, effort-wise they are about a 5 on a scale of 1-10. Benefit-wise, they are probably at about a 4. So you see, I am looking at that smug Nature Valley box right now thinking it may have won this round. But I will try at least one more time before I admit defeat - muahahaha!

Whew! Enough about granola. I feel like I'm turning into one of the ladies from SNL's Delicious Dish, remember that skit? Hilarious.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Sweet Touch

So I am starting this blog with hopes of recording some of my journey as a new baker, homemaker, and wifey. I want to focus mostly on my baking exploits but based on the blogs I currently read, I think it's also fun to learn about people's lives as I read along. I hope to share with you some of the sweet things in my life, hence the name of the blog. I think it can be easy to focus on the negative but that by documenting the positive, you start to realize how great life really is! So, here we go.

Yesterday, Greg surprised me with flowers for what would have been our five year dating anniversary (had we not gotten married this summer!). Here they are and I think they are beautiful!

Isn't he so sweet!? So after he surprised me with these lovelies, we decided to not cook, again, for about the twelfth time in two weeks - oops! So off we went, just me, Greg, and Lin. Who is Lin you ask? Oh, she is just happens to be our new best friend who just happens to live across the street and just happens to be an Chinese restaurant. Actually, her full name is Lin's Garden and I am in love with the C10 Combo. Cashew chicken w/ fried rice and a mini egg roll. It's sooooo good, I can't help it! So we brought the food back (how do they get it ready so fast?) and watched a few shows on DVR, including Big Brother. I really want Natalie to lose! It was a really fun, relaxing night celebrating five years of love with my new hubby.

So, back to the flowers. I took a lot of pictures because I am taking the Wilton cake courses (more on that later) and I am learning how to make all kinds of flowers so I want to recreate the bouquet in the form of a cake. It's a new goal I have, you know how these things go. Other baking endeavors on my "to do" list include: caramels, breads, finding the perfect sugar cookie (working on that one this weekend) and making my own granola bars. Oohhhh so exciting, I know! Well, with that I am signing off. What was your sweetest moment today? Mine, knowing all day that it was Friday and I would get to do whatever I want for the next two days!