Candy making class at the Pantry

GOAL: Be at home long enough to sign up for a real cooking class that involves something too intimidating to do at home with the help of google.  CHECK and DONE.

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In the winter of 2012, I deemed 2013 as the year of change.  Part of this year of change involves spending time rebalancing my personal portfolio.  This means dedicating energy to move from 90% work/10% fun to a 60% work/40% fun.  I call this ‘Ashley asset allocation’ (AKA: stop working 24:7).  Throughout this nearly 10-month journey (thus-far), I have been reminded of some important life lessons, like ‘live with no regrets,’ and ‘timing is everything’.

Ashley Asset Allocation

We can talk about living with no regrets, but most normal humans have had those afterthoughts of “dammit, why didn’t I…” or “fek, why DID I…”  So I’ll leave that lesson alone and just say that it’s been a good reminder to live each day like it’s your last.  Cheesy, yes.  Corny, also yes.  True?  Absolutely.

As for TIMING?!  WOW.  The right timing applies to so many things; picking the time to go for a walk so you don’t get stuck huddled under a boat to avoid the rain; not taking 5 hours to cook dinner for your friend (especially if you choose to start prepping at 5pm); meeting the right person at the right time in your life; and as I recently also learned…  preparation and timing is imperative to candy making success.

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The Pantry at Delancey in Ballard has some of the most relevant (to me) cooking classes in the Seattle area…  And apparently they’re the coolest to everyone else and their mother, because the classes almost always sellout within a week of being posted.  But I managed to get myself into the Candy Making class on a day that I was actually home from work travel.  I also managed to get into a class taught by Ashley Rodriguez herself (notwithoutsalt.com), which was equally exciting because her name is also Ashley and I’ve spend much Instagram-time (@ashrod) drooling over her photos.

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No duh lesson: Butter makes it better

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Team 2 melting sugar for nougat

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Sugar bubbling to the right temperature

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Adding melted sugar to egg whites… slowly…

Mixing peanut butter nougat

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Spreading nougat… HOMEMADE NOUGAT!

On a side note, I just thought of nailpolish chipping off while handmixing things…  Gross!  Self-note taken to remove nailpolish before hand-to-food contact.  Or invest in many more boxes of latex gloves from Costco.

Snickers Caramel

Caramel and peanuts to top the nougat

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Salt went on everything…

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…Including this Snickers cake

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Naked Snickers with vanilla bean freckles

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More salt on the finished Snickers

Snickers

Milk chocolate Snicker bites

Ashley gave us some basic lessons on candy making, which really centered around working with sugar.  That first chunk of the class alone, gave me enough info to look back at all my caramel making disasters with an ‘ahhhh’ moment and a renewed confidence in caramel making.  I’m still scared of working with chocolate, but that will come with practice, so unfortunately I will have to make more candy soon and therefore eat more candy too.

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Ground rice for shortbread cookie texture… AMAZING!

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Rolling out shortbread cookie dough

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Shortbread cookie dough shaped for Twix bars

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Baked buttery deliciousness

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Caramel Twix layer. Go Team 1!

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Magic of adhering caramel to cookie

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Extra cookies means sample time

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Naked Twix bars

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Caramel, peppermint patty, and vanilla bean… Too bad licking knives is frowned on.

The rest of the class went by with Ashley demonstrating how to make a component, then the class (which was split in groups) took turns making the same thing.  I spent most of my time being a ‘watcher’ and being called the food paparazzi. What can I say?  I’m Asian.  I take pictures… of everything.

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Peanut butter butterfinger crackins

Butterfinger

Peanut butter butterfingers

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Chocolate prep work

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When I dip, you dip, we dip… into chocolate heaven

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Necessary. Salt.. Ashley’s blog IS notwithoutsalt.com

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Peanut butter cups in the making!

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Savory snacks to cut through all the candy sampling

Peppermint Patty

Peppermint patties assembly station

The Pantry at Delancey had turned into Willy Wonka’s Chocoalte Factory by the end. Chocolate and candy everywhere… including my mouth.

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Anticipation of waiting to box up our candies

At the end of the class, we took home boxes of Twix, Snickers, Peppermint Patties, Butterfingers, and Peanut Butter Cups.  Those on my good side may be recipients of homemade candy in the future…

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Team 1 wins!

After only going to commercial-type cooking classes (William Sonoma, Whole Foods, etc.), I had no clue what to expect at the Pantry.  Conclusion? Amazeballs.  And although it turned out to be cold rainy Seattle Saturday, it was a perfect day to be stuck inside breathing caramel, peppermint, shortbread, and warm peanut butter fumes.  There’s something comforting in being surround by sugar glazed eyes, buttery hands, and salty personalities…  I found home.  I found my kind.  I found my new escape.