Pink peppercorns lend foods a different kind of heat, closer to chiles than black pepper. They have the same peppery bite, but it’s wrapped in a sweet fruity flavor reminiscent of a berry with an attitude. The peppercorns have a thin, fragile skin that can easily be rubbed off (a great lightly-flavored colorful garnish for fish or chicken).
Based on this description, it only makes sense that you’d pair them with something sweet, and when you enhance the whole thing with some French Celtic sea salt, you’ve got a perfectly balanced bite.
- Prepare a rectangular baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying with oil or greasing with butter. Set aside.
- Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and 1 cup cream in a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat.
- Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes, then wash down sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in warm water.
- Place a warmed candy thermometer in the pan and cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil.
- Wash down any crystals that form on the sides.
- Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 244F, or Firm Ball stage.
- Remove the pan from the heat and with a clean wooden spoon, gradually stir in the 2nd cup of cream.
- Return to the heat, bring back to Firm Ball stage, or at least 245F.
- Remove from the heat and pour into your prepared baking pan.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle crushed peppercorns and salt evenly over the surface.
- Allow to cool completely – you may want to put it in the fridge to speed this process.
- Once cool, remove the caramel from the pan by lifting the foil liner.
- Peel off the foil, and cut into pieces.
- Wrap with waxed paper.
Aren’t they pretty? And I can tell you, the flavor is just as nice. These are a great little holiday treat for your friends and family. The pink peppercorns add a unique dimension to the flavor profile, while also adding a touch of holiday color to an otherwise ordinary salted caramel. Try them and let me know what you think.
Now, onto that marshmallow recipe:
2 1/2 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting.
You do need a candy thermometer for this. And a stand mixer. Without these two kitchen implements, this would be a very daunting task. With them, it becomes a 20-30 minute operation.
- Begin by putting 2 1/2 tablespoons of powdered gelatin in the bowl of your stand mixer and pouring 1/2 cup cold water over it.
- Let this sit for 20 minutes while you work on your sugar mixture.
- Put 1.5 cups of sugar, 1 cup of corn syrup, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
- Insert your candy thermometer and let cook without stirring, until it reaches the firm ball stage (244 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Once it reaches firm ball, remove it from the heat immediately and pour it into the mixer while it is on low speed. Increase the speed to high and let run for 15 minutes.
- Turn mixer off, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated.
- Prepare a baking pan – I used a half-sheet pan lined with foil – by generously coating it with powdered sugar.
- Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan. Right now it looks like a big mess – don’t worry. Wet your hands generously and spread it out flat. Dust the top with more powdered sugar and let sit for an hour or overnight to dry.
- Using a heated knife (I just turned on one of the gas burners on my stove and ran my knife through the flame a couple of times) cut into squares. Dust with more powdered sugar and store in a zip-top bag.
I used to love those candy orange slices you could get in the Brach’s candy section of most grocery stores (what ever happened to the Brach’s candy section?). You know the ones I’m talking about – the neon orange, sticky sweet, rolled in sugar, orange-segment shaped, jelly-like candies?
Well, this is like the grown-up version of that – huge orange flavor, sweet and sticky, sandy on the outside, with just a slight bitter finish (kind of like orange marmalade). And it’s sooooo much better than those fake orange-shaped candies!