If candy bars grew on trees

I wish candy bars grew on trees. Whenever that urge for a treat would hit me. I would go to my candy bar tree, reach up and harvest a mouth watering treat. If candy bars grew on trees, surely they would be full of vitamins and minerals to make us healthy. I have a feeling candy bars would be hard to grow organically. I think they would be very attractive to ants.

If candy bars grew on trees, there would be less garbage littering the streets. If candy bars grew on trees, I bet we would buy them from small farmers or grow them in our backyards instead of purchasing them from large corporations because they would be farm fresh and delicious instead of coming from places and people we don’t know or trust.

You know and I know the candy bar tree is a fantasy, but what if a candy bar could come from trees instead of grow on trees? Would they be just as virtuous? I think so. I can’t lie to you and tell you that a candy bar that comes from trees would have less calories than a regular candy bar, but I don’t think I would be lying if I told you that it would be healthier for you. It might take some getting used to, because it would not be the same as biting into a chunk of fat, sugars and salt, but I think you could easily get used to a candy bar that was made of luscious whole food ingredients.

Wanna make a candy bar?

The first tree we’ll have to look for is Prunis dulcis: The almond tree.

Photo by Alfonso, creative commons 2.0 license
 
 We’ll go pick some almonds. We’ll roast them and use them whole and chopped.

Our second tree will be Phoenix dactilylifera: The date palm.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia.org, creative commons 2.5 license

 

We’ll pick close to a couple of dozen dates and pit them

Those first two trees can be found within driving distance of me, but the third one grows in the tropics. We’ll have to get on a plane to find Theobroma cacao: The cocoa tree.

Photo by Claus Bunks courtesy of wikipedia, public domain license

 

We’ll need to pick the fruits, ferment them, clean the beans, roast the beans, liquefy them and then make dark chocolate.

Ha! You knew I was lying about harvesting the ingredients, didn’t you? If not, I got you! Valrhona makes a good 71% bittersweet chocolate, let’s use that.

That’s it. Our chocolate bars are three ingredients. These three ingredients are rich in manganese, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, potassium, B vitamins, fiber, polyphenals and minerals. The bars are super healthy and luxurious. Can your snicker’s bar claim that?

Dark chocolate covered almond stuffed dates

3 ½ oz bar bittersweet chocolate (I used a 71% dark chocolate bar)

About 20 pitted fresh dates. Use Deglet noor or any other large date

1 cup roasted whole almonds. (I used unsalted almonds. Using salted almonds is your call but I don’t think it’s necessary).

Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Stuff each date with one or two almonds depending on the size of the date. Chop the remaining almonds coarsely and set aside. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler stirring until smooth. Dip a stuffed date into the chocolate, turning to coat. Set it on the parchment lined tray and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Repeat with each stuffed date. Put cookie sheet into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to help the chocolate set. Serve immediately or store in a airtight container in the refrigerator

 

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An indulgence in autumn treats and a eulogy for an old friend

Today was a slightly emotional morning for me.  I took my car of seventeen years to be scrapped.  To be sure, the poor thing was an absolute beater.  It was dented.  It had peeling paint.  The driver’s side seat was wearing thin enough for holes to start to appear. Pieces were starting to fall off of the car both inside and out.  I had that car from the time when we were both shiny and new to when we were, both of us, used, creaky and cranky.  I loved that car.  It gave me freedom. It got pretty decent gas mileage.  My Mitsubishi Eclipse was shaped like a sports car even though it had a four-cylinder engine. It had a power button, which made me feel like James Bond.

Two years ago, the car didn’t pass the California smog test.  The mechanic tweaked some things for me and got it to pass so I drove it around for another two years.  My car did not pass the smog check a second time because it needed a new engine.  The car would have been worth $100 dollars in trade in if I fixed it.  The science of economics trumped the emotional value, society found me foolish for keeping it as long as I did.  Friends and coworkers heckled me.  The car was termed a gross polluter.  It was time for it to go.  It easily qualified for a program the state of California has for people who can’t let go of their gross polluting cars. This program bribes people like me to take these gross polluters for dismantling.  We drove the gross polluter forty miles (which seemed ironic to me) to an approved dismantler.  They inspected my once pretty car, and wrote its fate all over its body.  My boyfriend said it was as if they put a toe tag on it before wheeling it to the morgue.  I got a little misty eyed as we watched it round the corner, never to be seen again.  I bought a shiny new car last month, but it doesn’t feel like it is mine the way my Eclipse felt like a part of me.  A chapter in my life is complete.

 

This afternoon, I decided to indulge myself to make myself feel better.  Tonight is “Lights out Santa Barbara”.  This event is a citywide conservation event where residents are asked to turn off their lights between 8pm-9pm for global warming awareness. We plan to light a couple of candles and play a board game tonight.  I thought it would be fun to have sweets while we play our game.  Making sweets always brightens my mood so I figured it would be positive in a couple of different ways.

 

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Baking and Books is a blog I love to go to.  Ariela is an avid reader and always has wonderful historical trivia to go with the foods she cooks.  She is a talented photographer, baker and writer, which makes it fun to stop by and see what she is up to.  Last week, she made Pumpkin currant cookies.  I was dreaming about these cookies all week!  These cookies already had all of the healthy goodie attributes that I like to have in my baked goods.  The only thing I did different was to use a full two cups of whole-wheat pastry flour instead of half white flour and since this is a no walnut household, I substituted pecans.  I will send you over to her blog for the recipe for the pumpkin currant cookies since I am lazy and they are perfect and you’ll enjoy her blog…. But wait!  Before you go…

 

I also made candy today.  I was ripping up old magazines the other day before recycling them and I came across a recipe I was dying to make but never got around to.  Being lazy, I did not want to go to the store even though I did not exactly have the right ingredients.  The candy turned out really good regardless.   This was a super easy recipe.  It was also a forgiving recipe.  I had evaporated cane juice but not enough for candy so I had to use brown sugar too.  I did not have mild molasses I had black strap molasses.  If you have kids, go ahead and make this for them.  Blackstrap molasses is loaded with minerals and vitamin B6 so this candy is a little better for them than commercial candy.

 

molasses-sponge-candy.jpg

Molasses Sponge Candy

Adapted from a recipe which appeared in the April, 2002 edition of Gourmet magazine

 

1 ¼ cups evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar

 

¼ cup dark brown sugar

 

1/3 cup water

 

3 tbsp unsalted butter

 

¼ tsp cream of tartar

 

½ cup blackstrap molasses

 

2 ½ tsp baking soda

 

Line bottom and sides of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with foil, then butter or oil the foil.

 

Bring sugar, water, butter, and cream of tartar to a boil in a deep 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil without stirring until syrup registers 265°F (hard-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Add molasses (don’t stir) and continue to boil undisturbed until syrup registers 295°F (hard-crack stage), 4 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and sift baking soda over syrup, then whisk to incorporate. (Use caution: mixture will bubble vigorously.)

 

Immediately pour syrup into lined baking pan and cool completely. Lift candy in foil from pan, then discard foil and break candy into pieces.