Sunday, February 27, 2011

Purim Basket Treat Pt. III - Beach "Glass" - Easy

There's still some snow on the ground.  The temperature outside is a balmy 30-something.  Seaside Heights hosted the annual Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics this weekend.

Let's honor this hardy group by making beach glass candy, a confection named for the broken glass left behind by day-tripping Bennies who descend upon NJ beaches every summer.

If you own a candy thermometer, this is a really easy recipe.  No corn syrup needed for this version; no strange ingredients either.  You probably have everything in your pantry, even the food coloring from the time you absolutely had to dye a birthday cake pink because your daughter was in Pink Mode and everything, down to the food and clothes, had to be pink until the day before the party when suddenly purple became her favorite color.  But I digress ...

Make a batch in turquoise (because it looks really cool).  Some people add mint or another flavor.  I, personally, hate mint.  But in all honesty, because everyone will say that the idea of eating something that resembles glass is so gross disgusting novel that no one will care if the flavoring is omitted.

When you realize how relatively little effort is needed on your part, turn around (figuratively, of course) and make a second batch in brown.   Fill up baggies with a combination of both, and watch the kids go nuts over them.

Beach Glass
adapted from Bed & Breakfast Inns
Yield:  about 1 lb.

2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup  water
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. flavoring (optional)
Food coloring:
      1 drop green and 4 drop blue for turquoise "glass"
      1 drop green, 1 drop red and 3 drops yellow for brown

Line a rimmed baking pan with foil, letting foil extend a couple inches over both ends.  Lightly spritz foil with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a 2 quart saucepan, stir together sugar, water and cream of tartar over medium-high heat until sugar completely dissolves.  Try to stir gently to avoid slopping the mixture on the pan sides.

When mixture starts to boil, place candy thermometer in pan and lower heat to medium. Without stirring, continue to heat to about 250F, then add food coloring.  No need to mix; the boiling action will mix and distribute the colors.

Continue to heat the mixture, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 305F, about 20-30 minutes since it first began to boil. Do not let the mixture go over 310F because the sugar will begin to caramelize, and not in a good way.

Remove from heat and stir in flavoring, if desired.  Immediately pour mixture onto prepared baking pan, allowing it to spread to around 1/4 inch or so thickness.  Be careful when pouring because the mixture will be hot and burn like napalm.   Allow to cool a bit at room temperature, then pop into fridge to speed up the cooling.

Remove from foil (you might have to peel the foil off).  Break into irregular pieces about 1 inch each or to whatever size you prefer.

Stored in a tightly closed container.  The candy will keep a few weeks at room temperature.

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