Good morning! I know, I know, I have been neglecting you again, but I am all finished uni for ten weeks now and work should calm down a bit after Christmas so I look forward to some lovely Cookie House time over summer.
I have a bit of a sweet treat to share today, sesame caramels. These are a wonderful thing to make and give as Christmas gifts and we are going to do some lovely edible gift recipes over the next couple of weeks that will see you covered too.
Ooooo! They look good, don’t they? And they are, I ate four last night, and that is greedy bad me, because they are bigger than they look in that photo, about an inch by two inches.
1 tin coconut condensed milk (you can use regular if you can eat dairy)
40g coconut oil
100g brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
100g sesame seeds
Makes a half kilo slab
Toast the sesame seeds until they are lightly golden, you can do yours in the oven if you want to, I toasted mine in a medium sized pot over a medium heat, shaking often to prevent any burning.
Lovely! Now, while those are still warm and the oils in them are all nice and pliable, I want you to grind them until they are a clumpy, golden powder, I did mine in my nutribullet.
Good. Now set that aside and in a small pot put all of your other ingredients.
Onto your cooktop on a low heat, stirring, stirring, stirring and not allowing it to boil until all of the sugar has dissolved.
Now turn up your heat to medium and, still stirring very often, boil the living daylights out of it until it is deep coloured and reaches a soft ball setting point, what do I mean by this? Here, let me show you.
So I have my caramel here, it is getting some nice colour and when I lift the spoon it drains away more sluggishly, it is trying hard to burn around the edges of the pot, but I am not allowing that, and it is giving off that unmistakeable caramel smell. So we drop about a half a teaspoon full into a cup or ramekin of iced water.
And it will instantly set and show you how firm that caramel is going to be. Fish it out.
And try it. Is it holding its shape? Is it firm and chewy to the bite? But not brittle like a toffee? Yes? Then it is done. No? Then keep stirring back on the heat and try again until you are satisfied.
Tip the ground sesame seeds into the caramel, stir until well combined, pour into a baking tray lined with baking paper, allow to set on the bench for an hour or so until it is set firm. Cut into portions and then, when it is absolutely cold, store it in a air tight container, in single layers, separated by your baking paper.
I am not sure how long these will keep, I will get back to you on that. I made these yesterday and they spent the night in their air tight container in the pantry and are, if possible, even more delicious than they were yesterday! We shall see if they can be resisted for long enough to do a longevity test. If not, we are going to make some different flavours later in the week, I am thinking macadamia and wattle seed and maybe a nice dark chocolate one.
Now, for all of you who come for the nutrition portion of our program, I want to talk about calcium. I can feel you scratching your heads from here, what has nutrition to do with what is obviously a confectionary recipe? Well, here is the thing. I have a daughter who is a moral eater. First she refused to eat chicken, then pork, then almonds, then cashews and now, her latest moral elimination is dairy. At first I just nodded and watched, chicken and pork, this is okay, she can get her protein from elsewhere, cashews and almonds, okay, well, so long as her diet is balanced elsewhere.... But this latest one has me worried. My husband’s family has a strong incidence of osteoporosis and I am worried about her bones. So I told her the things she needs to eat if she is not going to partake in dairy, and she said, she does not like those things, so I have put the old thinking cap on and we are going to come up with some recipes to boost her calcium that she will eat that will not offend her (many) moral sensibilities.
So what do we have here that is going to help boost those levels? Have another look through the ingredients list. Do you see them? That is exactly right. Sesame seeds!
So. Sesame seeds. Let’s look at them in comparison with dairy. Milk contains about 125milligrams of calcium per 100 grams, so that is about half a cup. Yogurt contains 110 milligrams per 100g. Sesame seeds contain a whopping 975 milligrams of calcium per 100g! But here is the rub, none of us are going to eat 100g of sesame seeds a day. And we need between 1000 and 1300 milligrams a day of calcium to maintain our bone health. So that would be just over 100g of sesame seeds a day to meet our calcium needs. Emma (daughter) said, excellent, I will eat a sesame bar every day (those Europe ones), but here it the other rub when it comes to sesame seeds, in their whole form they tend to trundle into the digestive system at one end and out the other end, intact, with all of that lovely calcium all bound up in its little seed package that our body struggles to open. So, this is why I ground them. I cooked them first, not only to enhance the flavour, but also because heating actually makes the calcium in food more available to the body. So I know that if I am funnelling in 10 grams of cooked and ground sesame seeds in one end, then I have a good chance of absorbing a good percentage of the 97 milligrams of calcium that is going in with them. These sesame caramels had almost one thousand milligrams of calcium in the slab, which I cut into ten pieces, so that means that every piece has about ten percent of the calcium Emma (and the rest of us) need per day, though for the sake of our oral health I would not advise eating that much sugar every day.
Our bones are our framework, without strong bones our health is compromised. So I have made a little list of things that have good calcium for us, though some of those things need careful preparation, like sesame seeds, for us to access the calcium, we will look into that over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here are a few things top pop into your shopping trolley, sardines and canned salmon with the bones, if you take out the bones you are taking out most of the calcium, I know they are unpleasant but let’s eat them anyway. Oranges, mandarins, yes really, I know! Who knew? Tofu, bok choi, spinach, (though we need to blanch and discard the water to get rid of the oxalates that bind to calcium and prevent us from absorbing it), rhubarb, again, high in oxalates, so same thing, blanch or steam and discard the water, kiwi fruit, sunflower seeds, watermelon, pepitas, almonds, mint, strawberries, pumpkin, sweet potato..... So you see? There are plenty of things we can eat instead of dairy for calcium, but for the sake of the integrity of the frame our body hangs from, we need to be very careful to make sure we are getting enough of them every day.