Introduction: Watermelon Chervil Saltwater Taffy !
After completing my Instructable for the Watermelon Dreamsicle and Watermelon Cream Cooler ( https://www.instructables.com/id/Watermelon-Dreamci... ), I realized I still had a bunch of ingredients left, including an entire watermelon and half a bag of fresh Chervil. Time to brainstorm another Instructable for the Ferrous Chef challenge !
This time, I decided to focus on a nice after dinner treat, and since I live just a pleasant drive away from Cape Cod, I decided to make a local classic, Saltwater Taffy !
Before I began, I went looking for a basic Taffy recipe, and found one here - https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Taffy-That-Turns-into-Hard-Candy/ - The author admitted to making a couple of mistakes along the way, so I corrected them & modified the recipe to comply with The Ferrous Chef Challenge. Special Thanks goes to locodiego.
Anyway, making taffy is easy and fun, and you'll get a workout along the way. (Stretching taffy will tire your arms out quickly)
If you want to try your hand at a classic candy, with a Chervil flavored 'twist', read on !
A cup of Chervil
2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of corn starch
2 tablespoons of butter (plus extra)
1 teaspoon of salt
Red food coloring (not required)
Measuring cups and spoons
Protective gloves (Nitrile, rubber, etc.)
Kitchen Shears (though a knife will do)
*Note - in this instructable, you will be making candy. You will need to keep a close eye on temperatures because candy will get hotter and hotter until it bursts into flames. Do not start this instructable unless you can dedicate time to it without fear of distraction.
Step 1: Dry Your Chervil
For this recipe, we will be slowly drying Chervil, and then crumbling it. The Chervil will be added to the taffy while taffy stretching.
Take about a cup of Chervil, spread it out on a baking sheet and place it into a 175 degree for oven for about 60 minutes to dry. You'll need to periodically check to make certain that the Chervil is DRYING and not BURNING. If it burns, toss it out and start again. Once its dry, pluck the leaves from the stems and crumble them. You'll find this real easy if the Chervil is fully dry, just run your fingers along the stem and the leaves will drop off. Put the dried Chervil aside.
Step 2: Blend Your Melon & Eyeball an Important Measurement.
Carefully chop your melons into the largest pieces you can still fit into your blender, and liquefy it. If you use about the same size melon as I did (about bowling ball sized) you will find you have about six cups of melon juice per melon. Starting off with about 12 cups of juice is about right - after its strained, you'll be down to about 10 which is what you need.
Next, grab your measuring cup and large saucepan. Dump 1 3/4 cups of water into it and get an idea how high in your saucepan that is. Once you are certain that you will remember what 1 3/4 cups looks like, dump the water out.
Step 3: Strain Your Melon
Push your melon through your colander to remove any solids directly into your saucepan. Try your best to capture all of the juice. Your melon is somewhere around 9% sugars, the remaining 91% is water. So, we can't afford to waste anything we don't need to. You will probably have about two cups of solids left. afterward. That's fine. The target is about 10 cups in the saucepan.
Step 4: Boil Down Your Melon
Once all the melon is in your saucepan, turn on the heat. You'll want to get the mix to somewhere around 220 degrees (check with your candy thermometer ). As the mixture boils, some foam may appear on top of it. Periodically remove it (Its essentially impurities - Candy Slag) Also make certain that the melon isn't sticking to the sides of the pan as you boil it down by stirring it.
Keep boiling it until you get to approximately 1 3/4 cups of melon syrup. (that's why we measured it first with water, so you'll know when its ready)
*NOTE : Watch your temperatures. You want to boil down the melon without burning it. As the concentration of sugars rise as the water boils off, the temperature will increase. You will need to keep turning down the temp to maintain 220.
Step 5: Add Sugar and Corn Starch to the Watermelon Nectar.
Next, combine the watermelon nectar, two cups of sugar, as well as the two tablespoons of cornstarch in your saucepan over medium heat. Keep stirring until its all melted together.
Step 6: Add All Remaining Ingredients But the Chervil
Once the sugar and cornstarch are fully incorporated, stir in all remaining ingredients except for the Chervil. You could also add a few drops of red food coloring, if you wish, otherwise, your taffy will end up golden brown. Once these ingredients are also dissolved let the candy continue to heat up until it reaches about 270 degrees F. Your candy thermometer is probably marked at 270 with the words 'Soft Crack' - that is your target. Do not stir the mix as it boils, however, you will need to periodically use a pastry brush moistened with warm water to wash any syrup stuck to the sides of the pan down into the mix so it doesn't burn.
Step 7: Prepare Your Sheet & Pour Your Mixture.
Prepare a cookie sheet by greasing it down with butter, and then pour the candy mix on to the sheet to cool. At this time, its pretty much lava and will leave you with 3rd degree burns if messed with. Just leave it be.
Step 8: Work Your Taffy
Once its cooled down enough to work with, put on your gloves, butter them up and grab your taffy and begin stretching and folding it. As the stretching aerates the taffy, it will get lighter in color and tougher and tougher to work. It will also get somewhat shiny. Periodically stop, and mix some of your Chervil in, then continue stretching. Working the Chervil in a little at a time will help it spread uniformly throughout. You'll need to keep working the taffy for at least 15 minutes.
Once the taffy starts to get tough, stretch it into a rope that's about a half inch thick, and cut it into pieces that are about an inch long with your kitchen shears. You may need to grease them with butter first to keep the taffy from sticking to them as you go.
Let the taffy rest for at least 30 to 45 minutes.
Step 9: Prepare Your Wax Paper.
Now that you know how many pieces of taffy you have, cut your wax paper into 2in. X 2in. squares. This will give you something to do while the taffy is resting. If you want to put fancy twists on the ends of your paper, make the squares 3in. X 3in. instead.
The batch I made resulted in about 50 pieces of taffy. Your mileage may vary.
Step 10: Wrap 'em Up ! - Flavor Profile and Conclusion.
Place a piece of taffy along the center bottom edge of a square of wax paper. Roll it to the top, and then fold or twist the ends to seal them up.
Place your Watermelon & Chervil Saltwater Taffy in a nice serving dish as a nice after dinner (or anytime) treat and you're done !
Flavor Profile :
The taffy is light and buttery, with just a hint of watermelon and caramel flavor. The dried Chervil leaves a slight parsley aftertaste that becomes more pronounced as one eats more and more taffy.
Pitfalls to watch for :
Candy making relies heavily on temperature. It is really important that your taffy is neither too hot, nor too cold when poured out on your sheet - but just right. If its overheated, it may burn, or become too hard to eat as taffy. If its too cold when poured, you'll end up with goo. Its also important that one works in an uncluttered environment. Candy can result in 2nd or 3rd degree burns if you aren't careful.
This was a fun little project that resulted in several days worth of treats ! I hope you enjoy making taffy as much as I have !