Forgive the hiatus. When Alan Arkin’s character in Argo (my pick for Best Movie of the Year even though I know those fools will give it to Lincoln) says something to the effect that the darkness of the movie business will eat your soul…Well, let’s just say it’s not an exaggeration, at least when it comes to my month.
When life gives you a pain in the ass? Make candy. Yes, it was raining this week, and my own blog tells us you shall not make candy on a wet day, yet if you aren’t particular about what kind of candy you end up with, go for it.
I started by riffing off of this recipe, brought to you by Disney: http://spoonful.com/recipes/dark-chocolate-praline.
What appealed to me about this recipe was it didn’t involve candy thermometers. It hearkened back to the days when you determined the candy was ready by eye.
We made two different versions of the recipe — one where we substituted all of the sugar for maple syrup and I got nervous and boiled it twice and it turned out chocolate caramel, and another where I subbed some of the sugar with maple sugar and some with syrup, poured it thick (because my Silpat was still in Michelle’s fridge, covered with caramel) and ended up with a nutty maple fudge or super thick pralines. Either way, a win/win, thanks to the power of positivity, brought to you by my other favorite movie this year, Silver Linings Playbook.
Watching great movies like Argo and Silver Linings Playbook has helped me not become like those bitter stuck-in-development-hell screenwriter types who can no longer write a word. Yet. Or maybe it was the bark.
Chocolate Praline Maple Nut Bark (vegan)
(adapted from Spoonful.com)
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup maple sugar
8 oz. of good, dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (which is usually vegan — check)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup of nuts (I used pecans and hazelnuts)
In a good saucepan, heat the syrup, maple sugar, salt and vinegar while stirring constantly. When the mixture boils, stop stirring, turn down the heat, and allow the mixture to boil for 3 minutes without stirring it.
Pour onto a greased porcelain platter, no-stick baking pan, or Silpat and refrigerate until the candy is ready, about an hour. If you want pralines, use a spoon and make puddles, if bark, pour it all.
Other recipes will tell you to use buttered foil or waxed paper. You will never get the candy off if you do that. Insert clever metaphor for the movie business and/or writing here. I’m not a good enough writer to think of one — or so I’ve been told by producers on two continents. Stand by for me to prove them wrong.