Manquer Le dîner à San Francisco

We always look forward to attending Le diner à SF and have only missed one over the years. Weeks before the event we find ourselves scouring recipes in our cookbooks and on-line. Then as the day gets closer, we spend hours in the kitchen preparing  for Le cuisine de jour, whipping up madelines or some other confection at the last minute, wondering the whole time where it is we’ll have to schlep it all. Over the years we’ve contributed a coconut cream cake that tilted a little, an array of white vegetable crudités, and an assortment of white candies and desserts. And always plenty of wine, usually sparkling.

However, and more importantly, it’s the wonderful time we have with friends that keeps us coming back each year. We hope all who attend have a wonderful time. We’ll be missing this year’s Le diner en SF, but for good reason. Instead of waiting for our day-of-event location alert, we’ll be attending the SF Crafts Spirits Carnival, where we’ve been asked by Bulleit Bourbon to bake 500 of our tasty Bulleit Pecan Bites. We’ll miss our picnicing friends and hope they have a great evening in white, wherever it may be.

One of our most favorite confections is a simple white chocolate caramel popcorn. A little herbs de Provence adds the perfect touch of France to this American standard. The recipe is a little odd, directing you to boil chocolate, butter, and brown sugar for 5 minutes. The first time we made it we thought it would be a complete disaster, but it all came together beautifully. This is hot caramel, so always be careful when tossing the popcorn and keep a bowl of ice water on the side near you in case of burns!

Bon Appetit!

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White Chocolate Caramel Popcorn
Recipe from McCormick
Makes 13 cups (16 servings)

10 cups plain popped popcorn
2 cups coarsely chopped mixed nuts
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 225°F. Mix popcorn and nuts in large bowl. Spray foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan with no stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Bring sugar, butter, corn syrup and chocolate to boil in medium saucepan on medium heat. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in Herbes de Provence and baking soda. Pour over popcorn mixture. Toss to coat evenly with spatula sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Spread evenly in prepared pan and place on middle rack of preheated oven.

Bake 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Break into clusters. Store in airtight container

Strawberry Rosé Gummy Hearts

For Valentine’s day we decided to forgo the chocolate and make it all about strawberries and Rosé wine. On their own, strawberries and Rosé seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, add some gelatin and put them in a cute heart shaped mold and you have a yummy adult candy that’s mild in flavor but fun to eat. Keep the kids away from this one.

Strawberry Rosé Gummy Hearts

2 tablespoons dehydrated strawberries
1/4 cup ultra fine sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup Rosé wine
4 tablespoons gelatin (4 packets Knox gelatin)
1 tablespoon cranberry juice (or other red fruit juice), for coloring

Special equipment: heart shaped candy molds

In a blender add the dehydrated strawberries and sugar. Pulverize until the sugar and strawberries becomes a powder. Dust the candy molds with a little of the strawberry sugar, tapping out any excess sugar. Set aside the molds.

Add the rest of the strawberry sugar powder and corn syrup to a small sauce pan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

In another pan, warm the Rosé wine to about 90 degrees (do not boil or you’ll burn off all the alcohol), slowly stir in the gelatin, try to avoid any foam or bubbles. Add the strawberry syrup and stir until combined. If the gelatin is still not dissolved, return to the stove, on very low heat, stirring gently, again to avoid foam and bubbles. Add cranberry juice and stir one more time.

Gently pour the gelatin in the prepared molds, if you’re careful the strawberry seeds will sink to the bottom of the pan and only the last few will have seeds, or you can disregard the last little bits of the batch. Place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Once set, remove the gummies from the molds.

Note: I attempted to make sour gummies with citric acid and also to dust the gummies with left over strawberry sugar. Both failed miserably. The sugar and citric acid just melted, becoming a gooey mess.

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