We have a city celebration commemorating the strawberry fields that used to be a major economic contributor of the town in days long past (that is to say, before it was fiscally nonsensical to try to produce a major crop locally that you could get much cheaper from Chile). Sadly, even though we continue to celebrate Strawberry Days, there are no strawberries grown anywhere but backyards in our town.
We do continue to eat and observe with a parade, carnival, pie eating contests and rodeos, and really, what else do you need? The kiddies don’t have to know that the city orders five ba-jillion cases of strawberries from CA! All that matters is that we have tons of strawberries to eat (swimming in cream), and to make yummy recipes with!
The Chef brought some of these home last Valentines Day and I couldn’t wait to make them to honor our town’s Strawberry Days Shindig!! (which is different than a hootenanny……**name that TV series**)
makes 1-2 dozen, depending on the size of berries, and how fast you can dip!
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup (this aids in inhibiting the formation of sugar crystals)
strawberries (about 15-20, depending on their size)
block of styrofoam
In a small-ish heavy saucepan place the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Stir it well, and then let it alone as you turn up the heat to medium-high. Don’t stir while the simple syrup mixture cooks to a temperature of 295 F. (this is a sea-level temperature–calibrate your thermometer in boiling water and add or subtract degrees according to your sea-level.) Stirring will cause the syrup to crystalize. RESIST THE URGE!! Watch carefully as the temperature moves quickly when it gets to the correct stage.
Have your strawberries ready and skewered through the tops. If you are washing the berries, do it gently and let them dry thoroughly on a towel.
As soon as the sugar-syrup reaches the correct temperature, pull it off the heat and quickly dip the strawberries, letting the excess candy drip off the berry before inserting it upside-down in the styrofoam block to harden. The faster you move, the thinner the coat of candy shell will be, which is what you want! Serve promptly. They will hold for maybe an hour before the strawberries begin to drip juice.
The syrup will set up very quickly, so move fast, but be careful because the stuff BLISTERS and BURNS!!!!
If you like, you can take a spoon of the slightly cooled mixture and swirl it around the candied berries.