Easy Peasy Candied Rosehips

In my home town, we have a very special place called the Dushanbe Teahouse. The tea house was a gift from our sister city, which is located in Tajikistan (a country I’d love to visit someday), and is a stunning building that is carved by hand. When I was in high school, the tea house opened as a restaurant and (of course) a purveyor of wonderful teas. The tea house is a place that has gifted me with many great food memories, and served as the venue for meals and conversation with some of my favorite Coloradans. One of these was the candied rosehips that were brought out as a nibbler for guests while they looked over the menu. I remember gobbling down the entire serving before the waiter even returned with my water during my first visit!

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, because the teahouse stopped serving the rosehips not long after (when I asked, they said that the starter was so popular that it was costing them a lot of money to provide them to patrons). That experience is what got me interested in rosehips though, and is the reason I always leap at the chance to eat anything with rosehips in it. Today, I was pondering on what to make for New Year’s treats, and glanced over at a box of dried rosehips I bought before the holiday mayhem and set aside. This is my last New Year’s in Tallahassee (I’m moving to Brooklyn in May), and I’ve made some truly incredible friends during my time here. A few of them are coming over to have champagne and snacks on New Year’s Eve, and I thought the best way to celebrate them and all the wonderful things they’ve brought to my life would be to share a dish with them that takes me back to my home.

If you have a special event coming up (New Year’s Eve party, perhaps?) or are looking for a way to use up rosehips, this is a great last-minute treat. Candying dried rosehips is super easy (I promise!) and you’ll be rewarded with a pretty and tasty snack that is incredibly addictive. If you don’t have dried rosehips on hand, don’t fret: you can usually find them in specialty markets and Middle Eastern markets. I used the vanilla sugar to add a bit of warmth, but regular ol’ granulated sugar works just fine here, and you can play around with adding your own flavors. This amount serves 4-6 people.

Candied Rosehips

-2/3 c vanilla sugar
-pinch of sea salt
-1/4 cup water
-1 cup dried rosehips

1. Add sugar, water, and salt to a flat-bottomed pan (I used a medium skillet)
2. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it forms a hard ball when dropped in ice water (Read more about candy-making stages here.)
3. Toss the rosehips in the pan, and toss to evenly coat. Work quickly, since the sugar will start to harden once you remove it from the heat.
4. As quickly as possible, transfer the rosehips to a baking sheet that has been coated with butter and sprinkled with sugar. Make sure they are in one layer (rather than piled up on top of each other) for cooling
5. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes, then serve!

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Lavender Caramels

Welcome to the first post on my food blog! I’ll admit, I’ve felt a bit sheepish when I’ve posted comments about the food I’ve made and the response has been ‘you should put that in a blog!’ Enough people are curious about what I’m up to in the kitchen that I’ve decided to actually start said blog and share some of my favorites (“enough” here means 4 or 5 people, so not rockstar status. Yet.)

I’m starting with a recipe that never fails to get compliments–it’s my new stand-by for bringing to parties because it travels well, is light, doesn’t require reheating/refrigeration and tastes delicious. I started out with a basic caramel recipe that was lurking in an old Betty Crocker cookbook, then adapted it by swapping out some of the ingredients (like corn syrup) for others (like honey) that I enjoy using more and that bring some extra flavor to the party. I love cooking with lavender, so I usually stick with it, but these are also good with rosemary or citrus zest. They’re great for experimenting!

-pinch of salt

-1 cup sugar

-1/4 cup stick butter

-1 cup heavy cream

-1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp honey

-1 tbsp lavender flowers

  1. Grease 2 loaf pans with butter, set aside.
  2. Place ingredients in a skillet with high sides.
  3. Heat over medium, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  4. After mixture has thickened, test it for doneness by dropping a little bit into very cold water. If it holds its shape when pulled out of the water and until pressed, it is done.
  5. Immediately pour the caramel into pans and let cool.
  6. After the caramel has cooled, cut it into bite-sized squares or rectangles. At this point you can either leave them unwrapped if they’re to be eaten right away, or cut up some wax paper or parchment paper and wrap them. I usually do this to prevent sticking and because this recipe makes a ton of caramels, so wrapping them makes them easier to carry with me and give away!