Microwave Maple-Walnut Brittle with a Touch of the Blues #COOKYOURSELF
Jeannine L in a nutshell
Vencolini has come up with a true challenge. On the surface, it might seem a simple task to come up with a food that might represent oneself. But I found the introspection and working up the courage to share my inner self to be very difficult... and then of course came the chore of transmuting my personality quirks into an edible form - that was when the fun began!
I've mentioned in previous posts that my brain is wired a bit differently than most folk's. I have ADHD, which means that I can be a bit of an airhead, and have a canine concept of time, so I am always running short of it. I also have clinical depression - my almost eternal cheerfulness is most likely a defensive mechanism, but the depression is always hiding just under the surface, a deep, dark secret - though I guess not so much so, now. 🤫
I decided that my dish needed to be nut-based, for obvious reasons, and that nut brittle might be an interesting experiment. I'm not patient or careful enough to make candy the traditional way, which involves careful measuring and temperature monitoring, so I looked around the 'net to see if there was an easier way. And discovered microwave brittle!
I looked over a few recipes and grabbed bits and pieces from each, and worked in my own ideas as well, until I ended up with a formula that was my very own. I cooked my candy in the microwave because I am always short on time. My nut of choice, walnuts, was considered to be "very profitable for the brain," by British botanist William Coles, (1626-1662), and modern research seems to validate this belief. My brain may be a bit loopy, but it works pretty well. ☺
I used maple syrup to represent the hint of sweetness in my personality and to celebrate my New England roots. I added blueberries as a symbol of depression and my efforts to transcend my natural tendency towards the dark side.
Adding baking soda to the mix makes lots of air bubbles, perfect for my sometimes air-headed personality, and stirring in a bit of vinegar (since I can be a bit astringent at times), causes a cool chemical reaction that some of you might remember from making grade school volcano models... a tip of the hat towards my nerdy, slightly mad scientist attitude towards life.
The broken pieces are imperfect and original, just like me. And the dark chocolate signifies the secret darkness hidden deep inside my brain - I picked a variety with a bit of chili pepper in it because I can be a bit spicy.
And of course I have to keep it low on sodium so I can share with my father-in-law, because what good is making something good to eat unless it can be shared with loved ones? 😊
The gilded lily
I've noticed that the longer it sits, the better this candy tastes, just as I find that the older I become the more I learn to accept myself for who I am, warts and all. 😊
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup dried blueberries
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter (or coconut oil, if you'd like to keep it vegan)
- 1/2 teaspoon low or no sodium baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Dark chocolate infused with chili pepper (optional, but I like building lilies)
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°F. Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and place it in the oven to warm up.
- Stir brown sugar and maple syrup together in a microwave safe dish (Please note: A large, tall dish works better than a wide, shallow dish - using a shallower dish for this recipe may lead to a mess in the microwave as the candy bubbles over... at least that's what happened to me 🙄). Microwave uncovered for two minutes at power level "5." Stir and cook three more minutes.
- Stir in walnuts and berries. Microwave uncovered on for two minutes at power level "5." Repeat until the mixture is bubbling like a witch's cauldron (it took me two cycles). Beware, it will be *very* hot!
- Stir in the butter. Microwave uncovered for one minute. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven.
- Quickly stir in the baking soda and vinegar - the mixture will foam up and sizzle like a grade school science experiment. Now work fast! Pour the molten candy onto the warm cookie sheet, using a spatula to spread it out before it hardens - this happens quickly, so hurry-scurry!
- Cool the candy for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Melt the dark chocolate (for me: 80 grams at power level "5" for one minute - stir - cook two minutes - stir - cook one minute - done!) and drizzle it artistically over the cooled brittle. Break it into pieces.
Most of the recipes I studied suggested cooking the candy over long stretches of time with the microwave set on "high." I'm not sure that is wise, so went lower and slower with cooking times and temperatures, periodically pausing to check and stir, in order to avoid making an unholy mess in the microwave oven and filling the kitchen with smoke, and it worked out fine. You know your equipment, so use your best judgement! 😉
All done - would you like a piece?