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Dulce de Frijol {Bean Candy}

As I sit next to the window thinking about a new year and a renewed outlook, I see raindrops battling the cold.  The cold is wrapping itself around the falling water as it slants through the sky, turning it white.  But the minute it hits the cobbled bricks, the white spreads into a shimmering sheet of water.  A crow as big as a chihuahua is pecking for sustenance in the moist earth, anticipating a freeze, I imagine.   The sky is bright, yet muted with fat grey clouds.  Fierce winds whip through the barren trees and the wind chime with the faded yellow glass pendulums that I forgot to take down is clanging urgently.  I can feel a static charge in the air, yet it's as if the world around me is stuck in limbo.  Change is coming.

I don't make resolutions.  I won't keep them.  No matter how resolute I am.  It's more like striving to be in a better place...or mind set...always looking forward.  Embracing the good and holding negativity at bay.  Since this is the way I hope to live daily, it's much easier to keep up throughout the year.  Of course I do hope to get a bit healthier, see a new place or three, and take more time to write; I just don't want to announce it so solidly that I'll surely shrug it off in a month or two.  Since that's what I do.  

So, as I ease myself toes first into this new year vast with possibilities, I offer a change...a transformation, if you will...that is at the time baffling and comfortable.  The bean, a humble work-horse in the kitchen becomes a rich, seductive sweet worthy of the ooohs-and-aaahs it induces.  Most people's eyes grow wide with disbelief when they find out the humble origins of this cinnamon-tinged gooey sweet studded with raisins and rolled in a thin jacket of sugar.  It reminds me that subtle twists and shifts in direction can lead to bright, unexpected paths.  Happy 2012.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."  -Mahatma Gandhi
Dulce de Frijol {Bean Candy}

by Heather Schmitt-González (adapted from My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson)
Prep Time: overnight
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Keywords: dessert legumes cinnamon Christmas Day of the Dead Dia de los Muertos Easter candy Mexican

Ingredients (~40 pieces)
  • 1 c. dried pinto beans , picked & rinsed
  • 2 qts. water
  • 1 stick canela (Mexican cinnamon)
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • ¾ c. raisins
for rolling:
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground canela

Cover the beans with cold water by a couple of inches and soak overnight in the fridge.

Drain beans and place in a medium pot with the 2 quarts of water and the stick of canela. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until beans are tender, ~60-75 minutes. Remove canela and stir in salt. Remove from heat and let cool.

Purée in a food processor or blender together with any remaining liquid (which shouldn't be more than 1 cup). If there is no liquid left after cooling, you could add a bit of extra orange juice to help it move smoothly through the food processor or blender, if needed.

Combine sugar with the orange juice and zest in a medium pot over medium-high heat and cook until slightly syrupy, ~10-15 minutes.

Add the puréed beans and continue to cook, stirring almost continuously with a wooden spoon, over medium-low heat, until there is no more liquid and you can see the bottom of the pot when you pull a wooden spoon through the mixture, 35-45 minutes. The mixture should be thick and hold together when you lift it.

Turn off heat and stir in raisins. Transfer to a bowl to let cool. I think it's easiest to work with once the mixture has been refrigerated overnight.

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Using a scant Tablespoon of the mixture, roll into gumball-size balls. Drop into sugar-cinnamon mixture and toss to coat. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
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