Showing posts with label candy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label candy. Show all posts

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

By Leslie Budewitz

About a year ago, when I was wrapping up GUILTY AS CINNAMON (out December 1; available for pre-order now), I had an urge to make a cinnamon-spiced pumpkin brittle. Why, I have no idea—we’re not big candy makers or eaters, though at Christmas time, I occasionally haul out a classic peanut brittle recipe copied years ago from a friend’s recipe collection. I didn’t make it. Too many questions: What spices? What amounts? Peanuts or pumpkin seeds? Toasted or raw?

Fall returned, and with it the urge. So we experimented. This year, I was able to find a few pumpkin seed brittle recipes on line, but I didn’t want to stray far from my classic, so I drew from them only a hint at the amounts of spices to use, and the marvelous idea to dip the pieces in chocolate and sprinkle them with flake sea salt.

We used Cinnamon Toast Spice from my favorite spice shop, World Spice Merchants in Seattle. A cinnamon-cayenne combination would be yummy—similar to the cinnamon-cayenne and maple syrup used in the Spiced Glazed Nuts mix in ASSAULT AND PEPPER. My mouth also waters at the thought of a basic pie spice combo or cinnamon alone.

If you haven’t used a candy thermometer before, don’t be scared by it. Just make sure you get one with print large enough to read without sticking your face too close to a hot pan, and that it will clip on to the side of your pan and stay put!

So celebrate Halloween week with a tasty treat for all the goblins and ghouls. (The things that go bump in the night? A whole ’nuther story!)

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

2 cups toasted pumpkin seeds (see below)
1-1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cups clear or light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons spice*
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
semi-sweet chocolate (optional)
flake sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and toast the pumpkin seeds on a sheet pan about 8 minutes, until they start to pop. Remove from the oven.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet and set aside.

Clip the thermometer to a 2 or 3 quart sauce pan. Cook sugar, syrup, and water until the soft ball stage, 230 degrees. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook until the mixture turns golden brown, the hard crack stage, 305 degrees. Remove from heat. Add the spice, butter, and baking soda, and stir until mixed and foamy; make sure the butter is melted. (My apologies; I got so focused at this point that I forgot to take pictures of adding the other ingredients and the fun foamy mess!)

Pour onto the parchment paper or silicon sheet. The mixture will be very thick, so spread it out as you pour. You can use your spoon or a knife to spread it a little; it may look spongy, but it will harden smooth.

Allow to cool. Break into pieces. If you’d like, melt the chocolate and dip the ends of some pieces, or use a spoon to spread chocolate on about 1/3 of a piece. When the chocolate is nearly cool, sprinkle with sea salt.


*The Spices: 

I used Cinnamon Toast Spice from World Spice, which includes brown sugar, true cinnamon, Indonesian cassia, Vietnamese cassia, ground nutmeg, and kosher salt. Alas, I have no idea of the proportions, so I offer these suggestions instead:

For a spark of spice:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne

For a classic pie spice flavor:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
OR two teaspoons of a pie spice mix

For a more exotic flavor:
1-1/2 teaspoons Harissa blend (a Moroccan blend of caraway seed, smoked sweet paprika, garlic, coriander, Hungarian paprika, cumin, salt, and cinnamon or cassia)

GUILTY AS CINNAMON (Spice Shop Mystery #2, out December 1, from Berkley Prime Crime)

Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…

From the cover ...

Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.

Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili—a spice Pepper carries in her shop.

Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening—before someone else gets burned…

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher. 

Connect with her on her website or on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's #bookclub week w/ #recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisp Bonbons from @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl aka Avery:

It's book club week! Hooray! Yay for book clubs and people talking about books and people sharing books. I love it.

Momentary pause for another Hooray! For Victoria Abbot's new release: 
THE WOLFE WIDOW! Love this series!!!!

Back to book club week:

For one book club this week, I'll be giving away a shipment of bookmarks and swag, so make sure you leave a comment about your book club and your email so I can contact the winner!

I've included a few book club questions below for my upcoming book, STIRRING THE PLOT, the 3rd in the Cookbook Nook mysteries. It comes out in less than 4 weeks: September 30. It has a Halloween theme, but it is NOT a paranormal. It's a traditional cozy with recipes. On my website, I have book questions for all of my books. Check them out!

But you've come to Mystery Lovers Kitchen, where authors, who love to cook up crime, share recipes. So here's a recipe that is perfect for your next book club.

When I write or go to a book club or talk to a book club, I want sweets. I love them. Don't you? There's something about sugar (and chocolate) that makes the brain kick into gear.  Shhh, don't tell anyone. It's our secret.

These goodies are easy to make. Just a few ingredients. Why am I telling you that it's easy? Because Jenna, the protagonist in the Cookbook Nook mysteries, is an avid book reader and a foodie, but she doesn't know how to cook. She never learned. Her mother did it all while Jenna and her siblings were growing up. Once Jenna entered the business world of advertising, she had no need to cook. Dinners out. Lunches on the go. When she lost her husband in a tragic accident and decided to return to Crystal Cove to help her aunt open a culinary bookshop and cafe, Jenna jumped at the chance. Now she's determined to learn how to cook. She's in love with cookbooks. But she needs recipes to be simple.

In Final Sentence, the first of the Cookbook Nook mysteries, I share a recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisp Bonbons. I, personally, had never really made candy before. Fudge, sure. Easy. Rock candy? Oh, yeah. String, sugar. Simple. But bonbons? I had to learn a whole technique: how to roll them AND how to keep from eating all of them in one sitting!


1 c. peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped Rice Crispies
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips (dark)
2 tbsp. paraffin

Beat together powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and Rice Crispies (gluten-free, if needed).

Form into small balls, smaller than walnuts, and place on a tray lined with waxed paper.

Set the tray of balls in the refrigerator while preparing chocolate chips.

Melt chocolate and paraffin over hot water (not boiling).

Remove the balls from the refrigerator. Reshape so smooth and round. Dip bonbons in chocolate mixture (using 2 forks to handle * super easy). Return the bonbons to waxed paper. Cool completely.

Store in airtight container.

PS Lucy asked, so I'm adding this, so that no one is worried about paraffin. It will go right through your system with no ill effects. (per Internet searches). You could substitute beeswax. Paraffin is used in lots of Easter candies, too. 

* * *

Here's an additional recipe that you might enjoy. I blogged about it a bit ago. It's from the 2nd Cookbook Nook mystery: INHERIT THE WORD.

Peanut butter crunch cookies. Click on the picture for the link to the recipe.

* * *

Stirring the Plot
Trouble is brewing, with a dash of murder...

Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster…  Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder.

Book Club Questions

Note: I am available to talk with your book club by telephone or iChat or Skype or FaceTime.  Please email me to arrange a date and time. CONTACT ME LINK

1. The Winsome Witches are throwing their annual luncheon to raise money for literacy. Do you belong to any volunteer programs? Do you, like the WWs, aim for one big blowout of an event or do you feel it’s better to stretch the events over the course of a year?

At the opening faire, Jenna learns that a lot of people are superstitious. She isn’t; not really. But as spooky occurrences increase, she finds herself a little bit more so. Are you superstitious?

3. When Aunt Vera claims to lose her power to see the future, Jenna scoffs. Do you know anyone who is psychic? Does it bother you that they are or you are not?

4. Jenna’s relationship with Rhett is heating up. His past isn’t entirely brought to light yet. Should she or shouldn’t she?

5. Jenna might not be superstitious, but she certainly is suspicious. When she coordinates events so that she might overhear a conversation, do you feel she has overstepped her boundaries?

LINK TO MORE QUESTIONS (on my website).

Hey, if you are up for some fun, here's a link to a book club survey with 9 questions that should take you all of about 15 seconds to do. I'll reveal the results next week! Here's the link: SURVEY

* * * *
And now for

For the release of STIRRING THE PLOT,  I'm doing a number of giveaways. Books, mugs, stuffed kittens!  On Facebook, on Goodreads, and in my newsletter. Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter and "like" me on Facebook or Goodreads, where information about the giveaways will appear.

Here's a picture of the one coming up for the launch of STIRRING THE PLOT -
for mailing list/newsletter fans only! This will go to US fans only, but I'll be giving away sets of the first two books in the series to all, including international fans.

Remember, today leave a comment about your book club so you can enter to win "swag" for the club! (Don't forget your email so I can contact you.)


Friend Daryl on Facebook
Friend Avery on Facebook
Follow Daryl on Twitter
Follow Avery on Twitter
Follow both of us on Pinterest
Check out our website.

Days of Wine and Roquefort 
is out!
order here

Inherit the Word
  is out!
                                    order here

STIRRING THE PLOT is available for preorder: order here.

If you haven't done so, sign up for the mailing list 
so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What are the Top 10 Halloween Candies in the USA? Find out in Cleo Coyle's Trick or Treat Poll and tell us YOUR favorites...

Take my Candy Poll (below), and tell me about
your own favorite candies in the comments...

Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
and Haunted Bookshop
Gourmet chocolate is a wonderful thing. But Halloween is not a holiday for "boutique bittersweet" and "single-origin" cocoa beans. Halloween belongs to Hershey's—as you will see when you take my Trick or Treat Poll at the end of this post. 

My poll is based on this year's sales figures for the Top Ten most popular candies in America. According to the National Confectioners Association, over 70% of the candy sold in the US this Halloween will be chocolate candy, so it's no surprise to see several Hershey brands on this year's Top Ten list. 

I must admit, I have a soft spot for Hershey's milk chocolate bar and the place where it was first made...

In Hershey, PA, even the street lights are shaped like Kisses!
(This photo was taken at the intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues.)
Have you ever visited Hershey, PA, "the sweetest place on Earth"? It’s a beautiful little town in Eastern Pennsylvania. When I was a kid, that town even smelled like chocolate, and the man who built it was… 

No, not this guy!

This one... Milton S. Hershey.

* At the age of 15, Hershey (a Mennonite farmer's son who spoke "Pennsylvania Dutch" and had little more than a fourth grade education), began an apprenticeship with a candy maker.

* At 19, Hershey struck out on his own and started his own candy business in Philadelphia. But after six years, it failed.

* Undaunted, he relocated to Denver, Colorado, where he learned how to make caramels using fresh milk.

* Milton Hershey tried and failed again to launch a candy business. Finally, he went back to Pennsylvania, opened the “Lancaster Caramel Company” and became a great success. Before long it was employing 1,400 people and shipping all over the country.

* It wasn’t until Hershey reached the age of 36 that chocolate became his passion. In 1893, he traveled to Chicago for the World Expo where he stood mesmerized in front of machinery from Germany that made chocolate. He bought the machinery, shipped it back to Lancaster, and began coating his caramels with chocolate.

It’s here in the story that kids
across the country
owe Hershey a debt of gratitude.

* In the 19th Century, the process of making edible milk chocolate was a secret closely guarded by the Swiss. Drinking chocolate was more common than eating it; and the best-tasting chocolate (imported from Europe) was far from affordable for working families. But Hershey had a vision, and through trial and error, he came up with his own formula of milk, sugar and cocoa that allowed him to mass produce and distribute a melt-in-your-mouth milk chocolate candy bar.

Thanks to Milton Hershey, chocolate was no longer a luxury for the rich. His five-cent "Hershey Bar" was an edible chocolate that anyone could afford.

The company insisted on maintaining that five cent price from 1900 through 1969. (Click here to see historic wrapper designs.)

Given the Hershey's candy long history and its creator's commitment to remaining affordable for families, I must say it's nice to see it still placing high on a 21st Century list of America’s Top 10 Halloween Candies. 

You can read more about this list (and the sales in units and dollars) by clicking here.

In the meantime, I invite you to...

Now I invite you to take my
"Trick or Treat Poll" below and
leave a comment on this blog post.
(I would love to know your poll answer!)

Congrats to the Winner of this
adorable Reese’s Latte Cup:

Wendy West!

then click here to jump to a place
where you should be able to take it.

Culinary Inspiration!

America's #1 candy 
is the culinary inspiration for my 
Halloween Recipe!

To get my recipe for...

Chocolate Peanut
Butter Cup Cake
click here.

Happy Halloween!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

Billionaire Blend: 
A Coffeehouse Mystery

Countdown to Release:
December 3rd

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.