A while back I wrote a blog post about crock pot candy, which I've made for several years, particularly during the holidays, and I included the recipe. The recipe was included in my bank statement back when A) that bank was in existence; B) they included recipes; and C) we got statements in the mail.
It is a fool-proof recipe. Unless a fool starts fooling with it.
I should know better than to experiment in the kitchen. I consider it a miracle of epic proportions if something turns out right when I FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS, so experimenting should be out of the question. Especially with something that turns out perfectly every time. But leave something well enough alone? Oh no... not me.
I decided this recipe, already delicious and decadent enough, needed a couple of additional ingredients. So I dumped shredded coconut into the mix (without measuring, of course, just poured it straight from the bag until it "looked right") and included an entire bag of caramels. Which I had to unwrap individually, of course. While I tried to peer around the corner to watch a football game. (I would prefer to have a television in the kitchen, but I don't have enough counter space as it is.) I thought the addition of coconut and caramel would give it an Almond Joy-ish flavor.
In the original recipe, after the candy has cooked for three hours, you stir it up and drop it by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. It hardens slightly and then you store it in an airtight container. At least, that's what you do to the three or four pieces you have left.
I was afraid the caramel would make the mixture too gooey and that it wouldn't harden. But it had almost the opposite effect. The mixture was barely stirrable (is that a word?), although it could somewhat be formed into balls. Unfortunately I also skipped the "allow to cool slightly" step, so I burned my hands experimenting with THAT and ultimately gave up.
I scooped enough "clumps" out of the mixture to fill all three of my wire racks, and then I dumped the rest into an aluminum pan, a la brownies. The clumps don't taste bad, and the caramel is definitely detectable. They just aren't very pretty, so I won't be giving this batch as gifts. I'll try to cut the ones in the pan into squares tomorrow and see how that goes. It may all go in the trash can.
I did learn something, however, and that means the time and money spent weren't completely wasted.
Any of you cooks out there have any idea as to why the addition of caramel and coconut ruined the consistency of my candy? I'm sure there's a scientific explanation, and if Pioneer Woman and I were better friends, she could tell me.