Candy & Piggies & Pie - Oh my!

Nutty Pop

Hopefully you've already read my two other posts about our day trip to Stratford and Perth County: Savouring Stratford and Down On The Farm. It'll help give you some background to why I ended up at the places I'm going to talk about in this post. The final stops on our culinary trek were Chocolate Barr's in Stratford, and Shakespeare Pies and Best Little Pork Shoppe on the way out of town. Each place exhibited it's own unique charm and offered all kinds of good eats.

At Chocolate Barr's Candies, owner and chief candy maker Derek Barr, led us through the making of their own Nutty Pop, which Derek describes as "an educated form of carmel corn". Derek and his wife Jaqueline opened their candy emporium in 2003, where they sell every sweet thing from gelato to truffles to sponge toffee to chocolate covered pretzels.

We were shown how to make their special caramel corn (recipe below) from raw sugar through to my favourite part, eating. A few of us even got a chance to try our hand at the figure 8 method of stirring the sugar syrup. I have to say, the kitchen smelled amazing with the boiling sugar and toasting nuts. The end result, which we ate still warm, was sweet, nutty, sticky and delicious. We also got to sample Barr's chocolate covered jellies, including a spicy habanero flavour.

Cherry Pie

Our next destination was Shakespeare Pies, which makes all their pies from scratch, with fruit from surrounding Mennonite farms. A Mennonite herself, proprietress Susie Wagler showed us around the back of her little shop just off the highway, where both sweet and savoury pies are created. We got to sample Susie's cherry pie, which was textboook. Flaky pastry with a barely tangy cherry filling. But, as you may already know from my love for Amish pies, I cannot resist a custard based dessert, so I was more than happy to taste the very seasonal rhubarb custard pie. So. Freaking. Good!

Big Pig!

Rounding up our day, we visited Linda & Gerry Knechtel at The Best Little Pork Shoppe. Not only does their shop, established in 1987, have an amazing array of piggy paraphenalia, but they sell some of the finest pork products from local, small, independent, government-inspected Perth County packing houses. Sadly, I wasn't able to get any of their sausages, pepperettes, or bacon, but by all reports they are delicious. I'll definitely be sure to keep enough aside to get some of their stuff the next time I'm in Stratford.

And I will be making a return to Stratford. This trip has definitely piqued my interest in the region, and The Stratford Tourism Alliance has a number of culinary tourism packages. Plus, the Savour Stratford Festival is happening around my birthday!

Since my last post, there've been a number of new posts and photos from other bloggers who were on the trip, so here's a roundup. If I've missed you, let me know in the comments!

Chocolate Barr's Nutty Pop

You can use almost any kind of raw nut for this recipe; just remember cook times. Things like pecans cook really fast and peanuts are much slower.

  • 230g white sugar

  • 140g brown sugar

  • 90g glucose

  • 230g raw whole almonds

  • 230g raw Mammoth pecans

  • 60g popped poppcorn

  • pinch salt

  • 90g unsalted butter

  • 90g water

In a large heavy bottom pot, mix the white sugar, brown sugar, glucose, salt and water. Bring to a boil and add the butter. Using a candy thermometer, cook the syrup to 260°F. add the almonds and cook the syrup to 285°F. Add the pecans and cook to 300°F and turn off the heat. Fold in the popcorn carefully and pour onto a greased pan or parchment paper.

Remember to always wash any sugar crystals that form on the side of the pot with a heat resistant brush and water. These can and will cause your batch to grain off. (While the product will still taste good, it will not keep as well and will look dull.)
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