I returned home today to find it filled with things from my living room. Unexpectedly my stair carpeting was being installed today. The end result is great but I’m still trying to get the kitchen back together so I decided to make a quick candy. Well, I thought it was going to be quick. I am making a recipe in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book that was contributed by Lottie Rittinger. It is titled To Sugar or Crystalize Pop-Corn however, I decided to make it with nuts as the last part of the recipe suggests.
I had to make this recipe as the first attempt was not a success. I’m pleased it wasn’t a big disaster since working with sugar and candy is always risky. I’ve learned to never to leave the stove when I have a pot of sugar syrup. My first attempt with this recipe failed I think, because the cooking pot was too large and I was too impatient. The sugar really never melted and simply became clumps of hard sugar.
I tried again with a small saucepan and didn’t stir or interfere until the sugar had melted. I kept the heat low initially and once it was liquid I raised the heat until the sugar was boiling. I put a package of filberts (hazelnuts) into the liquid and began to stir. Nothing much happened. I assumed the sugar syrup hadn’t cooked enough but I decided to try sprinkling a little sugar into the syrup. I have vague memories of high school chemistry talking about using crystals to start off the crystallization process. This idea seemed to work. As I stirred and the sugar cooled it began to crystallize around the nuts. Once they cooled I could taste!
Lottie Rittinger, like her mother, contributed a number of recipes to the Berlin Cook Book and I seem to have used several recipes from the mother/daughter team lately.
The nuts were okay but really it was just sugar on nuts. I think if I’d allowed the sugar to caramelize there would have been more flavour. I love the kind of nut mixtures sometimes called beer nuts. They often have cinnamon added and I think a modern cook might try adding some spice to this recipe. I’d be interested in trying it with brown sugar too. In the mean time I’m going to keep using Lottie’s recipe for Pop-Corn Balls which I tried just after Halloween.
TO SUGAR OR CRYSTALIZE POP-CORN
Put into an iron kettle 1 tablespoon of water, and 1 teacup of white sugar, boil until ready to candy then throw in 3 quarts of corn nicely popped, stir briskly until the candy is evenly distributed over the corn, set the kettle from the fire and stir until it is cooled a little and you have each grain separate and crystalized with the sugar. Care should be taken not to have too hot a fire less you scorch the corn when crystalizing. Nuts of any kind prepared this way are delicious.