Food Lab

How to Make Perfect Caramel Candy Apples

Apple cookers are perfect for caterers, dessert shops, schools and concession stands serving up caramel apples on a daily or weekly basis. Also referred to as apple stoves and apple kettles, these handy machines are easy to use, but do require the operator’s attention when in use.

Gold Medal 4016 Electric Candy Apple Cooker

Begin by taking stock of your inventory. You will need the following: Apples, mixture, dipping and setting tools and last, an apple cooker.

Apples

Firm, fresh picked and un-waxed apples work best. Waxed apples will not allow the mixture to stick. Any variety of un-waxed apples will do, however the most popular varieties include Granny Smith and Red Delicious as they provide a firm skin with a crisp and sweet bite. Be sure to keep all of the apples at room temperature prior to dipping in the mixture. Room temperature apples work best because condensation will form if cold apples are dipped into a hot mixture. The condensation will then prevent the mixture from sticking to the apple and will result in a gooey apple coating.

Mixture

Most apple cooker manufacturers recommend a specific type of pre-made mix, such as Gold Medal Reddy Apple Mix. These mixes come in a pre-measured package and only require mixing in a measured amount of water. Packaged mixes are a great option for busy operators as they cut down on prep time and keep costs down. Other mixture options include melting caramel candies with water or making caramel from scratch. These tactics work great for home chefs or small batches for specialty menus as they are costly and time-consuming for large batch production. To make your candied apples unique from your competitor, consider setting aside a mix of crushed candies, nuts, coconut, sprinkles or chocolate for extra coating. Once your apple is covered in the hot mixture, dip the sticky apple into a dry selection for extra texture and flavor.

Dipping and Setting Tools

Candy apple sticks are specifically designed to spear the top of the apple. This process can be a little tricky and hazards include receiving splinters from the stick. To avoid this, the apple setter sticker proves an easy ally. Simply place the apple stick into the apple setter, put the apple on top of the setter, press down and the setter guides the stick safely into place.

Sheet pans or candy apple pans lined with waxed paper provide a perfectly flat surface for freshly dipped apples to rest.  Be sure to have enough sheet pans for your batch to rest without any of the apples touching each other.

Oven mitts are essential for handling the hot apple cooker during the cleanup process. Do not attempt to pick up or handle the apple cooker with bare hands immediately after operation. It will be very hot!

Now, let’s get cooking! To use the apple cooker, an operator must first read the instruction manual that came with the equipment. This is to ensure that all cooking temperatures are accurate and safe.

Although cooking temperatures and batch loads may vary, apple cookers, stoves and kettles operate much in the same way.

  1. Plug in the unit and add the measured amount of water indicated in the owner’s manual along with the corresponding amount of packaged mix.
  2. Stir the two ingredients together until the mix is thoroughly drenched.
  3. Turn the temperature up to high and insert a candy thermometer into the mixture.
  4. Continue stirring the mix until it reaches a rapid boil.
  5. Once the mixture has reached the boiling point, stop stirring and monitor the temperature until it reaches the desired temperature as indicated in the owner’s manual or on the package of mix. This temperature is commonly 290º Fahrenheit.
  6. Turn the apple cooker off once the candy thermometer displays the desired temperature.
  7. Pick up an apple that has been speared by the candy apple stick. Do not attempt to coat the apple with your bare hands. The mixture is extremely hot and can cause severe burns.
  8. Dip the apple into the mixture and twist it all the way around until the entire apple is covered.
  9. Place the finished product onto the sheet pan.
  10. Continue until the entire batch of mixture is complete.
  11. Place the finished apples into a refrigerated storage space for at least one hour before serving.
  12. Follow the instructions in your manual for cleaning your apple cooker. This is often as easy as pouring in water, placing a lid on the cooker and steaming the cooker clean. Be sure to use oven mitts if you need to pick up or maneuver the hot apple cooker at any time.

And it’s as easy as that! The apple cooker is designed to allow operators to make candied apples quickly and without too much mess.

For more tips and tricks, check out the video below from our friends at Gold Medal Products!

Celebrate the Taste of New Orleans with King Cake!

King Cake PicThe King Cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a party, as pastry, and a plastic baby baked in a cake. Really, that’s it. As the tradition goes, a small plastic baby is hidden inside the cake; the person who gets the slice with the baby baked inside is the party host the following year.

It’s no secret that I love sweets, but I’m an average baker – at best. Below is a super awesome recipe I found some years ago, it’s easy enough and tastes great. This recipe makes a standard 8 serving cake. You can double the ingredients if you’d like to make more than one cake. If you have a favorite recipe, send it my way. I’d love to try something new too!

PASTRY:

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

1/4 cup white sugar

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup melted butter

FROSTING:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons water

Directions

Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours, then punch down the dough.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup raisins. Pour 1/4 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.

Roll dough out into large rectangle (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form an oval shaped ring. Place the ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the ring at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 teaspoons of water. Sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries.

Note: Be sure to tell everyone to inspect their piece of cake before they begin eating it. To be extra careful, use a plastic toy baby that is too large to swallow!

A Jigg’s Dinner Recipe for Beginners

St Patricks Day CatAh, St. Patrick’s Day! Is there anyone that doesn’t love this holiday? This year, I’ve decided to retire the green bear and shamrock shaped sunglasses, for a traditional Jigg’s Dinner. For those of you who don’t know, Jiggs’ Dinner – also known as boiled dinner – is a traditional meal that consists of salt beef, various root veggies, pea pudding, and more often than not, some kind of dessert.

In light of my ignorance to the whole affair, and with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to see what it was all about. I mean, “boiled dinner,” how hard could it be? As it turns out, much harder than you might think if you want the real Newfoundland version. In addition, I have a strong aversion to meat that comes in a can, as salt beef does.

Luckily, I found a New England version that requires just one pot and consists of corned beef or plain beef brisket with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Below you’ll find the very beginner-friendly recipe I intent to follow this St. Paddy’s Day.

Ingredients

1 corned beef brisket with spice packet (3 pounds)

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 medium carrots, quartered

1 medium onion, cut into 6 wedges

1 small head green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges

Prepared horseradish or mustard, optional

Directions

  1. Place the brisket and contents of spice packet in a Dutch oven. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves and enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is almost tender.
  2. Add potatoes, carrots and onion; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cabbage, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Discard bay leaves and peppercorns. Thinly slice meat; serve with vegetables and horseradish or mustard if desired.

Yield: 6 servings.

New Label Regulation for Gluten-Free Foods

GlutenFor those who suffer from gluten intolerance or are among the estimated 3 million Americans suffering from celiac disease – or preparing food for someone afflicted with this chronic illness – there is a new tool that will make food shopping easier. In August 2013, FDA announced a regulation that defines and standardizes the term “gluten-free” for food labeling.  The new definition ensures that gluten-free claims on products are consistent and standardized across the food industry.

  1. Why “Gluten-Free” Labeling is Important: Gluten is a protein found naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains. It gives breads and other grain products their shape, strength, and texture. But when someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, his/her body’s natural defense system triggers antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. This limits the ability to absorb nutrients, and can lead to other very serious health problems, too.
  2. Definition of “Gluten-Free”: FDA has set a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million (ppm) for foods that carry the label “gluten-free.” This level is the lowest that can be reliably detected in foods, and most people with celiac disease can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten. The regulation also requires foods labeled “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”
  3. Timing for Label Compliance: Many foods that were labeled as “gluten-free” prior to the new regulation may already meet the new federal definition. Otherwise, manufacturers have until August of 2014 to make whatever changes are needed in the formulation or labeling of their foods bearing a gluten-free claim in order to legally market them in the United States.

How to Plan a Mother’s Day Celebration

BrunchMother’s Day is right around the corner and you know what that means? Food!

My brother, sister and I celebrate Mother’s Day with our respective families, and then we head over to our parent’s house to celebrate our mom. We literally feast the entire day. I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate being a mom.

Thinking about celebrating the fabulous lady in your life? Here are a few steps for planning the best brunch, lunch or dinner before the weekend:

  1. Scout out recipes. My family loves brunch so I love to Pin recipes that we haven’t tried or start digging through my cookbooks in advance. I like to offer something sweet, and salty, and tater tots…with my family there is always tater tots. Check out Burkett’s Pinterest Board for weekend breakfast ideas. Also, I’ve included two recipes that will be part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year at the bottom of this post.
  2. Plan your menu. Once you’ve bookmarked, dog-eared, and pinned all the delicious recipes you can find, pick 3-4 options you want to make. I like cooking, but my sister prefers her kids cook for her. There are plenty of meals that are easy for kids to help make. Add one or two to your menu.
  3. Develop a meal prep timeline. There is nothing worse than not being able to enjoy yourself during a party or gathering because you’re stuck in the kitchen. Develop a plan of attack and start getting tasks out of the way a couple of days ahead.  Serving drinks? Make the mix the day before. Sausage patties? They can be frozen one or two days ahead. Baking a cake? Store it unfrosted in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. Get yourself organized so you can enjoy the day!

Ready to start shopping? Get to the grocery and pick up the necessary ingredients. Ensure you have the appropriate kitchen supplies as well. Burkett Restaurant Equipment carries all the baking supplies, catering equipment and cookware you could ever need. Now get your mother some flowers and get to work!

As mentioned above, here are two recipes from my Mother’s Day brunch this year.

Tex-Mex Migas:

Migas con huevos is a delightful and simple Tex-Mex breakfast made of scrambled eggs and tortilla strips. Don’t be intimidated by this list of ingredients. I like mine chock full of veggies, but you can tweak it to meet your preferences.

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1 medium jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed and finely chopped
8 eggs, beaten
4 large handfuls of tortilla chips, lightly broken up
kosher salt
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until lightly browned. Add pepper, green onions, and jalapeño and continue to cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.  Lower the heat to medium-low, add the eggs and stir to incorporate. Add tortilla chips and gently stir breaking up the eggs to create a scramble. Season with salt, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

Giant Chocolate Chip layered cookie cake

I found this recipe from Martha Stewart here.

4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 heavy cream
2 cups chocolate chips
2 pounds (4 8-ounce packages) cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Put butter and brown and granulated sugars into mixer bowl; mix on medium until pale and fluffy. Mix in vanilla, eggs, and yolks. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the cream. Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. For each of the 5 layers, drop 1 level cup batter onto center of a baking sheet lined with parchment (keep unbaked dough refrigerated). Using a small offset spatula, spread into an 8-inch circle. Bake until edges are pale golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven. Use offset spatula to reshape circle. Return to oven; bake until edges are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack; let cool. Can be stored airtight up to 1 day.
  3. Mix cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in clean mixer bowl on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Spread onto 4 cookies. Stack cookies, placing unfrosted cookie on top. Refrigerate until frosting is set, at least 20 minutes or up to 4 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Thanksgiving Eve: The Biggest Bar Night of the Year

The biggest bar night of the year, Thanksgiving Eve, is just around the corner. It’s a night when families, friends, and neighbors return to the place where they grew up to talk about the past year, declare what they are thankful for and just have an all around good time. Since very few people have work the next day you can expect customers to stay out longer and drink more than usual. Thanksgiving Eve will no doubt be a fun and wild night.

If you own a bar, you’re going to want to pull out all the stops to ensure that your establishment will be the busiest bar in town. Schedule the best bands to entertain customers all night and of course you’ll need great drink choices and specials.

Nothing says Thanksgiving (and Christmas is almost here) as much as Mulled Wine. Also known as Glühwein in Germany and Glogg in Scandinavia, it’s immensely popular in Europe and it’s gaining in popularity here in the US. Served hot, Mulled Wine is made using Red Wine, spices, and almonds or raisins and it’s rather simple to make.

Jamie Oliver’s Mulled Wine

Ingredients
• 2 clementines
• peel of 1 lemon
• peel of 1 lime
• 250g caster sugar
• 6 whole cloves
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 3 fresh bay leaves
• 1 whole nutmeg
• 1 whole vanilla pod, halved
• 2 star anise
• 2 bottles of Chianti, or other Italian red wine
Directions:
1. Put sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg.
2. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
3. Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup to create a wonderful flavor base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine.*
4. When your syrup is ready turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and both bottles of wine.
5. Gently heat the wine and after 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

*It’s important to do make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.

Feeling especially daring? Add a shot of Brandy or Cognac to give Mulled Wine an extra kick!

Vitamix Recipe: Gazpacho

No one needs to remind you or your customers how HOT summertime can be- especially this year. You definitely are not going to see hot soups like Cream of Asparagus and Minestrone being ordered like hotcakes this time of year. Instead, give your customers a more refreshing soup, like Gazpacho.

In honor of July’s Product Palooza, it’s only right to give you a recipe for Gazpacho that requires the use of a Vitamix Blender (although you can use any blender to make this of course).

Gazpacho (Makes 15 Cups)

Ingredients

  • 9 C Fresh Tomato Juice
  • 1 C Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 C Olive Oil
  • 6 Large Ripe Tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 Cucumbers, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Small Onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Sweet Green Bell Peppers, seeded and quartered
  • A few dashes of Hot Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garnishes: Sour Cream, Chopped Bell Peppers, Cucumber Spears

Vitamix Vita-Prep 3 Food Blender

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a Vitamix Vita-Prep 3 Food Blender Container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 5.
  3. Blend for 30-45 seconds.
  4. Stop machine and season soup.
  5. Serve in a chilled Rolled Edge Cup and garnish with a cucumber spear, chopped bell peppers and dollop of  sour cream.

 

Vitamix Recipe… Spinach Artichoke Dip

Looking for a tasty appetizer to put on your menu? With the Vita-Prep Food Blending machine you’l be able to whip up this delicious starter dish for your restaurant. Enjoy!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 C Light Mayonnaise
  • 1 C Light Sour Cream
  • 2 Lemon Slices, peeled and seeded
  • 20 oz Package of Frozen Spinach
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/4 t Pepper
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 C Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 C Artichokes, canned and drained or frozen and thawed
  • French Bread & Pumpernickel Bread, lightly toasted and sliced or Tortilla Chips or Pita Bread
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Place all ingredients, except artichoke hearts, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  3.  Select Variable 1.
  4. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 4.
  5. Blend for 15 seconds. Remove the lid plug.
  6. Add artichokes through the lid plug opening.
  7. Blend for an additional 5 seconds.
  8. Pour into an oven-safe dish and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.
  9. Serve with chips, pita bread, or pumpernickel bread.

Vitamix Recipe: Frosty Basil Lemonade

It’s been a sweltering couple of weeks in much of the United States, and the perfect time to serve your customers a refreshing beverage. With a Vitamix Blender, you can make just about any kind of drink to satisfy even the pickiest drinkers. We’ve spent some time checking out Vitamix’s recipe section on their website and this recipe made us drool! Prepare it this weekend.

Frosty Basil Lemonade

  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1 1/2 Lemons, peeled, seeded and halved.
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1 C Ice Cubes
Directions:
  1. Place all ingredients into a Vitamix Blender Container in the order listed and secure lid.

    Vitamix 1230 Bar Blender

  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 1 minute.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil and a wedge of lemon.

Andes Creme de Menthe Cheesecake Recipe

Andes Creme de Menthe Cheesecake Recipe

Made by Sales Consultant and Chef Jeff Hussar, this is a favorite dessert for everyone at Burkett. Make this decadent dessert for your customers and they’ll surely order dessert every time they visit. To perfectly create this dish, follow the advice of Chef Jeff when making it.


Ingredients:

  •  15 Oreo Mint Creme Cookies
  •  1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter
  •  1-3/4 Cup Sugar
  •  1 – 11.5 oz Bag Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  •  4 – 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, (Room Temperature)
  •  1t Vanilla
  •  2T Cocoa Powder
  •  4 Eggs
  •  3/4 C Heavy Cream
  •  3 – 4.67oz Boxes Ande Mint Wafers
  •  1/2 – 12 oz Container Non-Dairy Whipped Topping
  •  Non-stick Vegetable Oil Spray


Directions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Process Oreos in Waring Food Processor until finely ground. Remove, and pour into a bowl. Add 1/4 C of sugar and mix with fork.
  3. In a microwave, or in a pan over the stove with low heat, melt the butter. Add butter to remaining crust ingredients and mix.
  4. Spray bottom and sides of a 10″ Spring Form Pan with non-stick spray. Pour crust ingredients into the Spring Form Pan and spread evenly on bottom. Press ingredients down evenly to form crust.
  5. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, and place on counter to cool slightly while preparing rest of cheesecake.
  7. With an Immersion Blender, blend the cream cheese and remaining 1-1/2 C sugar. Add vanilla, and cocoa powder, and mix. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until throughly blended. 
  8. Pour 3/4 of the 11.5 oz bag of chocolate chips in a pan and melt on stove, over VERY low heat, (or double boiler if preferred). When just melted, add to cream cheese mixture, and blend.
  9. Unwrap one of the boxes of Andes, and coarse grind in food processor, using pulse setting. Fold Andes into cream cream cheese mixture.
  10. Re-spray sides of the pan and pour cream cheese mixture on top of crust.
  11. Bake cheesecake at 350 for one hour. (Chef Jeff’s Tip- I always like to take a 4″-1/2 size food pan, about half filled with hot water and place it on the spare rack under the cheesecake while baking. This incorporates some moisture and a little steam in the oven, which helps the cheesecake from getting too dry and cracking on the surface.)
  12. Remove from oven, and allow to cool on counter for 1 hour. Place cheesecake in Refrigerator, and allow to cool and set overnight.
  13.  Take a paring knife, and run it along the insides of the Spring Form pan, releasing any of the cheesecake that may still be stuck to the sides. Release the clasp on the pan and gently remove the collar. (Chef Jeff”s Tip- At this point, you can also remove the base if you prefer to place on a cardboard cake circle. I always use a carving knife and carefully separate the crust from the base and slide onto the counter.) 
  14. Pour the heavy cream, remaining 1/4 bag of chocolate chips, and 1 box of unwrapped Andes in a small saucepan. Heat on stove, stirring constantly, over low heat until all are melted. 
  15. Pour the “Andes Mint Ganache” over the top of the cheesecake, and spread evenly over the surface. Allow Ganache to cool and set. Using a pastry bag and star tip, decorate the cheesecake with the whip topping and remaining box of Andes.
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