Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

This Side of the Pond

Notes from an Uprooted Englishwoman

 

July 4, 2019



On a recent drive to Denver, we took the first of several breaks in Lusk. I have been led to believe that it is against the law on a long journey to stop for gas without checking the snack selection, so off I went to see what chips and sodas were available to supplement our stocks.

Imagine my surprise to see a familiar red box on the candy shelf – one I had never seen on this side of the pond. Inside was a type of candy called Maltesers®, which are chocolate-covered malted milk balls.

They’re theoretically the same as Whoppers, only larger and less dense, with better quality chocolate (sorry). They’re decidedly more-ish because each Malteser compounds the delicious taste of the previous one, which means the last candy in the box is always the best.

Not to criticize a classic, but my bias forces me to argue that Maltesers are a lot tastier than their American cousins. I quickly grabbed three boxes from the shelf with the intention of hoarding them until I located a steady supply.

It was only later – a hundred miles or so down the road, while crunching my way through the box – that I realized I should have bought more for my friends and family, as these chocolate delights would cast a favorable light on my culture. We pulled in again on the way home to rectify my mistake.

But then disaster struck. Clearly, Lusk is a town for the gastronomically curious, because the entire display box was now empty save for one, lonely package.

I had no choice but to approach the sales clerk and beg her to check for additional stock. She looked at the box and her face scrunched up in confusion; “I’ve never seen these in my life before,” she exclaimed.

I explained they are a British candy and was surprised to see her expression change to one that I can only describe as slight disgust. She felt sure there were no more in the store cupboard and informed me that the store carries Twinkies® and I should try one of those instead.

I smiled to hide my bafflement and confirmed I am also a fan of Twinkies. As a Twinkie is an entirely different food group, however, it was not what I was looking for at that moment.

When I returned to the counter with the rest of our groceries, she peered at my sole Malteser box and asked me the usual question: where am I from? I gave my usual answer, which is that I hail from the south of England but I live right next door in Sundance.

“Oh! I assumed you were here on vacation,” she said. “I was thinking it was a shame to come all this way only to eat things you could get back home.”

Her strange reaction suddenly made sense. I really must stop forgetting it’s not obvious to strangers that they’re talking to a neighbor.

I never did get more Maltesers, though I did find some online for a fairly reasonable price. This inspired an internet-based quest to discover out if it’s possible to make my favorite candies at home.

Nobody seems to have quite captured the Malteser magic in a home recipe, but I came across a few promising options I thought you guys might be interested to join me in trying. First up, Toffee Crisps®, which were a favorite during my preteen years to the point I once ate eight of them in a single afternoon and I’m still not sorry.

To make these chewy toffee treats, line a 7 x 10 inch baking dish with greaseproof paper. In a large saucepan, melt five Milky Ways® and a generous 6 oz of butter. Add 4.5 oz of rice crispies and mix well, then pour into the baking dish.

Cool for an hour, then melt 10.5 oz of the best milk chocolate you can find and pour over the top. Cool and place in the fridge to set before cutting into squares or rectangles.

Next up, the Crunchie®. Per its long-running advertising campaign, this honeycomb toffee candy is what British people thank when it’s Friday. It’s a filling I’ve never seen Stateside, though if anyone would like to correct me I will thank them for it.

Again, line a baking tray, then place a quarter cup of sugar with four tablespoons of honey in a pot and heat until it turns gooey. Allow it to simmer for three minutes until it resembles maple syrup then remove from the heat.

The next bit needs to be done quickly. Add 1.5 tsp of baking soda and whisk it into the mixture fast. The syrup will become a pale gold cloud. Quickly pour it into the baking tray to set, then break it into pieces and dip into melted, high-quality milk chocolate.

Finally the Double Decker®, named for its twin layers of crunchy rice crispy chocolate and nougat. Line your tin once again, then melt 16 oz of your favorite milk chocolate in a pan and mix in 5 oz of rice crispies before pouring it into the tin to cool in the fridge.

Next, dissolve 19.5 oz of sugar in 75 ml of water with 17.5 oz of glucose syrup, stirring continuously. When the mixture reaches 248 degrees Fahrenheit on a sugar thermometer, place two egg whites in your stand mixer and whisk until firm peaks are formed.

At 302 degrees F, remove the sugar mixture from the heat carefully and pour it into the egg whites in a steady stream without allowing it to pour down the side of the bowl or on the whisk. Beat for three minutes until thick and glossy. Stir in a teaspoon of honey and half a teaspoon of vanilla essence, then pour over the rice crispy layer and place in the fridge for an hour.

Finally, melt 12 oz milk chocolate and pour over the top. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars once cooled.

It’s a controversial opinion, I know, but if there’s one thing Britain does better than anyone, it’s our chocolate. Mind you, if these homemade versions are anything like as good, perhaps Crook County’s excellent chefs will soon be threatening that crown.

 
 

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