"Together let us beat his ample field, Try what the open, what the covert yield ; Content if hence the unlearned their wants may view, The learned reflect on what before they knew."
Shell the nuts and pour boiling water upon them. Let them stand in the water until the skin may be removed, then throw them into cold water, rub off the skins between the hands, and dry the kernels between towels.
Shell and blanch the almonds, spread them out on a bright tin pie-plate, add a piece of butter the size of a hickory nut, and set them in a hot oven until they are of a golden-brown hue. Remove them from the oven, stir well, dredge thickly with salt, and turn them out to cool.
If but one square of chocolate is needed, draw a line across the two squares at the end of the cake, dividing them in halves. With a sharp knife shave off the chocolate until the line is reached. In this way there is no waste of time or material. If two squares are needed, shave off to the dividing line. The pound packages of Baker's chocolate contain two cakes, each of which consists of eight squares; one of these squares is, therefore, an ounce.
Remove all the pebbles, bits of dirt and long stems from the currants, add a pint of flour to two quarts of the fruit, and rub the latter well between the hands; this starts the stems and dirt from the currants. Place the fruit and flour in a coarse colander, and shake well until the flour and stems have passed through ; then place the colander and currants in a pan of water, and wash the currants thoroughly, leaving them still in the colander. Lift the colander and currants together, and change the water until it becomes clear. Drain the fruit between towels, pick it over carefully, and dry it in a sunny place. Do not dry currants in the oven, as the heat hardens them. When perfectly dry, put them away in jars. If currants are prepared in this way as soon as purchased, they will always be ready for use when wanted.
Free the raisins from all stems, place them in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let them stand two minutes. Pour off the water and open the raisins, when the seeds can be removed quickly, without the usual stickiness.
The degrees of boiling sugar are variously classified by different cooks, some giving six degrees and others as many as eight. The French boil sugar for nearly all of their desserts. For all practical purposes, however, a cook need understand but three degrees. Place a cupful of granulated or loaf sugar and half a cupful of water on the fire to boil, and when they have boiled fifteen minutes, dip the forefinger and thumb in cold water and take up a little of the syrup between them. If, upon drawing them apart, the syrup forms a thread, it has reached the second degree and is at the best stage for use in frozen fruits, sherbets and preserves. If, after more boiling, some of the syrup being taken up with a spoon and blown hard, flies off in tiny bubbles, it is at the fourth degree, called the souffle, about twenty minutes of boiling being required to reach this point. This syrup is used for biscuit glace and various kinds of creams, and it gives sherbets and fruits a much richer flavor than when used at the second degree. If the boiling is still continued, and a little syrup on being taken up on the point of a stick or skewer and dipped in cold water breaks off brittlely, the sixth degree has been reached. At this stage the syrup is used for icing fruit and cake, the dishes being known as fruit glace or gateau glace. The syrup must never be stirred, as this would cause it to grain. Great care must be taken that it does not boil after coming to the sixth degree, because it burns quickly after that point is reached.