I like nice whiskey. I like WhistlePig TripleOne on the front porch, in early autumn, after dinner, with a cigar. What has been lacking in my life has been a fancy chocolate to pair with the WhistlePig on the porch after dinner before the cigar. I am not a true whiskey aficionado but I do feel strongly that high quality spirits should be served with high quality candies. Thank goodness we recently had a long weekend that gave me enough time to play around with candy making and come up with Apple Butter Candies to fill the WhistlePig gap. I’m already scheming for something to go with Barr Hill Gin next. . . .
Now, before I go into instructions for making these candies, a caveat that I am not a recipe developer. I am someone futzing around in her kitchen drinking whiskey. If you want to read professionals’ recipes for this type of thing, I recommend Hand-Crafted Candy Bars. But you will not find this particular recipe there because I just invented it.
Apple Butter Candies:Note – This recipe takes two days because you need to let it sit overnight in the fridge before dipping it in the chocolate.
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup white sugar
6 Tb cold, salted butter
Small amount of milk
1 1/2 Tb gelatin
1/2 cup bourbon (reduce the bourbon as desired by substituting in cold water to make up the difference – remember you get a lot of candies, so you aren’t actually getting much alcohol per candy).
1 cup apple butter or thickened apple sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup (preferably B or Dark Amber, if you don’t have this use brown sugar do not use fake syrup)
2 lb bittersweet chocolate
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Bottom Layer – Shortbread
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Grease a 7 x 11 inch baking dish.
In a food processor, combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar (a few pulses), then 6 Tb very cold butter until the butter is fully incorporated. Add cold milk a few tablespoons at a time just until the dough holds together (it won’t be very much).
Press into the pan and bake until lightly browned on top, about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool.
Top Layer – Apple
In a small bowl, dissolve 1 1/2 Tb unflavored gelatin in 1/2 cup of bourbon (yes, WhistlePig is a rye whiskey but I think TripleOne tastes like bourbon so we’re going with it – this is a pairing not a duplication).
In a small sauce warm up 1 cup apple butter* with 1/3 cup syrup. Stir in the gelatin mixture. When well combined, pour over the shortbread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
*A note on apple butter: I use this EatingWell recipe to make scrumptious apple butter. If you don’t have any on hand, you can cook down unsweetened applesauce until it’s thick.
Cut your solidified candies into 1 1/2 inch squares.
Dip the squares into bittersweet chocolate and sprinkle with toasted almond slivers. This is the trickiest part. You will be happiest if you take the time to temper the chocolate – I use the instructions in the Field Guide to Candy. If you don’t already have a method that works for you, I recommend their’s, which you can read here from Epicurious.
Because these candies should be kept in the fridge, it’s really not the end of the world if the chocolate isn’t tempered, so don’t worry if it doesn’t work.
Candy Bonus: At this point, you will probably have extra melted chocolate left over, which is simply an excuse to stir in a bunch of nuts, dried fruit, cereal, seeds, spices, potato chips, crushed candies, etc at the end, spread the mixture onto wax paper, sprinkle some salt on top, and have chocolate bark to share.