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Archive for Candy & Confections

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easter Candy Apples

M&Ms Caramel Apple

Easter Chick Chocolate Apple

Easter Candy Apples

TOP: Roll a caramel apple in M&Ms (photo Amy’s Apples). Center: Turn the apple into a chick with yellow sprinkles (photo Amy’s Apples). Bottom: You can make a hard candy coating like the red Halloween apples, switching the red food color for pastels. Photo courtesy Rose Bakes.

 

Candy apples have a strong association with Halloween. But the treat, which adds a good-for-you apple to the candy components, can be embellished for any occasion.

It’s the first full day of spring and a week from Easter, so what are you waiting for?

Join confectioners across the nation who make seasonal apples, typically caramel or caramel coated with chocolate. White chocolate can be used as is or tinted in Easter and spring colors.

You can also use a milk or dark chocolate coat, but some decorations look better against white. However, if you’re totally covering the apple with coconut or M&Ms, the color of chocolate underneath doesn’t matter matter.

You can also make a hard candy apple coating like the red Halloween apples, but with pastel spring colors instead of red. Here’s how.

You can use any candy apple, caramel apple or chocolate apple recipe.

The apples of choice are sweet-tart varieties: Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith.

If you’re using chocolate, you can melt baking chips; but if your palate is sensitive to the difference, spring for Lindt bars or other well-priced “premium” brands.
 
WHERE TO BEGIN

Click the links to take a look at different approaches to decorating Easter apples. Most are very easy to make; adding bunny ears does take some technique.

Popular decorations include:

  • Colored chocolate shavings or baking chips.
  • Himalayan pink sea salt. For a sweet and salty apple you can use 100% pink sea salt or blended with pink sparkling sugar), lavender sparkling sugar, etc.
  • Mini candy Easter eggs or jelly beans, placed around the stick end of the apple. First add with other decorations like sprinkles or green tinted coconut.
  • Pastel candy pearls.
  • Pastel sprinkles and confetti. Wilton has a nice Easter mix.
  • Pink or mixed color sparkling sugar (a.k.a. decorator sugar and sanding sugar).
  • Something exotic, like pink bunny sprinkles, or an actual marshmallow Peep sitting atop the decorated apple (the stick is pushed through it).
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    CANDY APPLES HISTORY

    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) probably date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century. Inexpensive toffee and caramels became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence confirms soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner.

     
    Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born. The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.

    Later, coatings evolved to include caramel and chocolate, along with candy decorations ranging from simple to elaborate.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Inside-Out Homemade Peppermint Patties

    Inside Out Peppermint Patties

    Conventional Homemade Peppermint Patties

    Gourmet Chocolate Bars

    Top: Hannah Kaminsky’s Inside-Out Peppermint Patties. Middle: Conventional Peppermint Patties recipe from SafeEggs.com. Bottom: Chop up some good chocolate bars for the mint centers (these are from DeBrand.com).

     

    It’s National Chocolate Mint Day. You can make a cool chocolate peppermint pie, warm chocolate mint lava cakes, have some mint chocolate ice cream or chocolate peppermint patties.

    How about your own, homemade peppermint patties—with a reverse approach: creamy chocolate on the inside, white mint coating on the outside?

    Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog who created this recipe, gives us the reason:

    “The only thing that could be improved [in a peppermint patty] is the ratio of chocolate to peppermint, which is why I decided to flip the classic patty inside-out.”

    RECIPE: INSIDE-OUT PEPPERMINT PATTIES

    Ingredients For 30-34 Patties
     
    For The Chocolate Centers

  • 6 ounces 70% cacao chocolate*, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  •  
    For The Mint Coating

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 100% cocoa butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil
  •  
    ____________________________
    *As always, the better the chocolate, the better the result. Look for two quality 3.5-ounce chocolate bars (Green & Blacks, Lindt, etc.) or consider buying a pound of the chocolate disks (wafers) that confectioners use.
     
    Preparation

    1. FORM the centers: Place the chopped chocolate and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 60 seconds. Stir vigorously; continue to heat at intervals of 30 seconds, stirring well each time, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a Silpat mat or piece of parchment paper, and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

    2. ROLL out the chilled chocolate mixture to about 1/4-inch thick and use 1-inch round cookie cutters to punch out the candy pieces. Should the chocolate become too soft or difficult to work with, just toss it back in the fridge for another 15-30 minutes. Once all of the center are cut, place them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before getting making the coating.

    3. PREPARE the coating: Place the cocoa butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1-3 minutes until it completely liquefies. Whisk in the sugar and peppermint oil, stirring vigorously to completely dissolve.

    4. REMOVE the semi-frozen patties from the freezer and dip each into the mint coating, one at a time. Place them back on the Silpat, allowing the coating to set. This top coat is thinner than the standard pure chocolate shell, so you may wish to double-dip once the first layer has solidified.

     
    5. SHARE the result with loved ones and raise a cup of tea (or whatever goes with peppermint patties) to National Chocolate Mint Day.
     
    FREEZE THE PATTIES IN SUMMER

    February 11th is National Peppermint Patty Day, February 19th is National Chocolate Mint Day. How can you celebrate in the summer?

    “Especially in the heat of summer,” says Hannah Kaminsky, “peppermint patties are one of my favorite treats. Best stashed in the freezer for full cooling effect, I love the way the chocolate shell shatters upon impact, releasing its soft, creamy center with minty-fresh flavor.
     
    IS IT PATTY OR PATTIE?

    Whether it’s candy, meat or veggies, to be perfectly correct, the spelling is patty. Patties is the plural form, so many folks assumed the singular to be pattie.

    The word first appeared in English around 1700-1710, derived from the French pâté (paste in English), a mix of finely-ground ingredients. Pasta is the Italian word for paste; and in modern French cuisine, pâté refers to a meat loaf as well as the more finely ground goose or duck liver pâté.

    Perhaps America’s most famous patty is the [incorrectly spelled] York Peppermint Pattie. According to a company history in Wikipedia, the York Peppermint Pattie was first produced by Henry C. Kessler, owner of the York Cone Company, in 1940. The company was named for its location: York, Pennsylvania. Today the company is owned by Hershey and the production is in Monterrey, Mexico.
     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Snowman Marshmallows

    Chef Ingrid Hoffman created these fun marshmallow snowmen as a project for kids.

    All you need:

  • Large and mini marshmallows
  • Wooden skewers
  • Red and black gel icings
  •  
    Chef Ingrid stuck the skewers into a piece of styrofoam covered with burlap. You can use half a melon, a stale loaf of bread, or present the skewers on a tray.

    Find more of Chef Ingrid’s recipes—serious and fun—at IngridHoffman.com.
     
    FONDUE, ANYONE?

    These snowmen make great fondue dippers to add to our list of 40 chocolate fondue dippers.

    If you want to whip up a batch of chocolate fondue, here are our favorite recipes.

  • Chocolate fondue
  • White chocolate fondue
  • White chocolate pumpkin fondue
  • Spiced chocolate fondue
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/snowman marshmallows ingridhoffmannFB 230

    Marshmallow snowmen can be food-on-a-stick or fondue dippers. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffman.

     

      

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    RECIPE: Christmas Peppermint Hard Candies

    Peppermint Stars

    Peppermint Christmas Trees

    Use your holiday cookie cutters to make these fun mint shapes from conventional peppermint candies. Photos courtesy Reynolds Kitchens.

     

    We love the recipe developers at Reynolds Kitchen, who often surprise us with their creativity. Just by looking at the photos, you can see what they’ve done with an everyday bag of striped peppermint candies.

    The result is like candy canes, but as Elle Woods would say, the shape is more funner.

    It’s also funner to make them with mints in both holiday colors, red and green. Brach’s makes their striped Starbrite Mints in both colors, as well as a sugar-free red and white mint*.

    So pick up the mints and get out every shape and size of cookie cutter that works for the holidays. Then, serve the mints:

  • On a platter, with after-dinner coffee
  • As decorations on holiday cakes and cupcakes
  • Wrapped in cellophane as stocking stuffers or party favors
  •  
    We’d suggest making them as tree ornaments, but can’t figure out how to affix something so that they hang evenly. We tried making holes with an ice pick before the shapes fully hardened, but it wasn’t neat. Ribbon didn’t stick to the peppermint with the glues we had at hand.

    Any other ideas?

    RECIPE: HOLIDAY SHAPE PEPPERMINTS CANDIES

    Ingredients

  • All of your holiday-appropriate metal cookie cutters (borrow as needed)
  • Cookie sheet and parchment paper
  • Baking spray (or bland cooking spray)
  • A bag of red and white and a bag of green and white hard mints
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds Parchment Paper.

    2. SPRAY oven-safe, metal cookie cutters with non-stick cooking spray, then place on the cookie sheet. Fill each cookie cutter with peppermint candies. Break the candies into smaller pieces to fill in the smaller areas of the mold (we used a meat mallet).

    3. BAKE for 3–9 minutes until the candies melt into cookie cutter shapes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the candy harden. Stretch the cookie cutter a bit to remove the candy.

     
    TIP

    This concept works for Valentine’s Day, too. Collect a bunch of heart-shaped cookie cutters.

     
    *We haven’t tested the recipe with sugar-free mints, but guess that they’ll melt in a similar fashion to the conventional variety.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Peppermint Crunch Marshmallows

    Peppermint Crunch Marshmallows

    Peppermint Crunch

    TOP PHOTOS: Minty marshmallow marvels for Christmas snacking. BOTTOM PHOTO: Buying peppermint candy crunch saves you the time of trying to evenly crush whole peppermints or candy canes. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

    To bring to a party or for homemade gifts, marshmallows are a delightful alternative to cookies. This holiday, from King Arthur Flour, pack lots of peppermint in every bite.

    For a milder peppermint flavor, simply omit the optional peppermint oil. (Personally, we love lots of mintiness. We also recommend the optional red gel paste to get the beautiful color in the photo.)

    Prep time is 20 minutes to 30 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Marshmallows are best made a day in advance, so they can set in the pan before cutting. Here are step-by-step photos.

    RECIPE: PEPPERMINT CRUNCH MARSHMALLOWS

    Ingredients For 24 Marshmallows

  • 3 packets (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cool water, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil for extra-strong peppermint flavor
  • 1/2 cup peppermint crunch, crushed hard peppermint candies or candy canes
  • Optional: 5 to 10 drops red gel paste for richer color
  • Glazing sugar or confectioners’ sugar, to sprinkle on top
  •  
    Ingredients

    1. COMBINE the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the cool water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Set the bowl aside. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan (glass or ceramic is best) and a dough scraper, and set both aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, corn syrup, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 238°F to 240°F on a candy or digital thermometer. Remove from the heat.

     
    3. TURN the mixer to low speed; slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy and and has cooled to lukewarm (3 to 10 minutes depending on the mixer and attachment you use; a stand mixer using the whisk attachment will work more quickly than a hand mixer equipped with beaters). The mixture should be cool enough that you can spread it into the pan without burning your fingers, about 95°F. Add the peppermint oil towards the end of the mixing time. NOTE: Don’t let the marshmallow get so thick that it forms a stiff ball inside the wire whisk; it shouldn’t be as stiff as meringue icing. When the marshmallow is fully whipped…

    4. ADD the peppermint crunch and red gel paste, and mix just until you can see swirls of red and white. Spread the marshmallow into the greased pan with the greased dough scraper.

    5. WET your fingers and use them to smooth and flatten the marshmallow in the pan. Sprinkle the glazing sugar or confectioners’ sugar over the top, and let sit for several hours (or overnight) before cutting.

    6. USE a greased knife or cookie cutters to make squares or other shapes. You can cut about two dozen 2″ marshmallows or eight dozen 1″ marshmallows (we prefer the larger size for visual impact).

    7. WRAP the marshmallows airtight in plastic. They can be stored for several days at room temperature.

     
      

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