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Archive for Candy & Confections

TIP OF THE DAY: Red Licorice For Chocolate-Covered Anything Day

Christmas Twizzlers

Chocolate Covered Licorice

Christmas Candy Cake

[1] These Christmas Twizzlers are available at Target and elsewhere (photo courtesy Candy Warehouse). [2] You can buy the artisan version from confectioners. These are sold on Etsy by Nicole’s Treats. [3] Wowsa: a kid’s fantasy Christmas Cake from Cake Whiz. Underneath: a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

 

December 16th is Chocolate-Covered Anything Day.

We love chocolate-covered apples-on-a-stick, bacon strips, berries, citrus peel, cookies, dried fruit (apricots and figs are our favorites [sorry, raisins]), graham crackers, gummies, ice cream pops, maraschino cherries, marshmallows, nuts, orange segments, popcorn, pretzels and potato chips. You can buy them or make them.

What we haven’t tried:

Chocolate-covered baby octopus, calamari, carrots, insects, Cheetos, corn dogs, edamame, garlic, jalapeños, jerky, kimchi and seaweed (from Korea), mashed potatoes (a Paula Deen recipe), onions, pickles, roses (real roses on their stems!), Slim Jims and wasabi peas.

One source even recommended dipping these latter items in chocolate fondue!

So today’s proposal, chocolate-covered licorice, should not sound far out. For licorice lovers, it’s quite a tasty variation.

While it’s the week before Christmas and we propose a red-and-green theme, you can use this easy recipe for any holiday where the licorice stick colors work (black, brown, green, orange, purple, red, yellow-green, etc. (Check out the colors at Candy Warehouse.)
 
CHOCOLATE-COVERED CHRISTMAS LICORICE

Twizzlers makes red, green and white twist (photo #1), which you can find at Target, Candy Warehouse and elsewhere.
 
RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COVERED LICORICE
(OR OTHER CONFECTION)

Ingredients

  • Red licorice sticks (soft, not stale)
  • White chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate bar
  • Green food color
  • Optional: red and green sprinkles, confetti or other decorations (we had gold and white dragées at hand)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the licorice sticks in half. You can skip this step, but the half-sticks are easier to eat, and more size-appropriate when covered in chocolate.

    2. MELT the white chocolate in the microwave. We used a pie plate, which makes it easy to dip the licorice.

    3. TINT the white chocolate green. If you like, you can keep some of the batch white for drizzling over the green chocolate.

    4. DIP the licorice and set on wax paper to dry.

     
    TIP #1: We used sugar tongs. Ours have a serrated gripping edge.

    TIP #2: If you plan to store the licorice for a few days or longer, cut the wax paper in sizes that fit into the container. Then, just lift the wax paper and pop the sheet(s) into the storage container.

    5. DRIZZLE the optional white chocolate or add the sprinkles promptly, before the chocolate sets. If not using the same day…

    6. STORE in an airtight containe. We used our Le Creuset red rectangular baking dish, which makes a beautiful presentation; but you can use any baking pan and plastic wrap. Store at room temperature.
     
    WHY IS LICORICE PRONOUNCED LICORISH?

    The Scots pronounce it “licoriss,” from the Old French “licoresse.” In England and the U.S., it is “licorish.” Here are two theories as to why:

  • The phoneme may have shifted from /s/ to /sh/, as happened with the words “pressure” and “sugar.”
  • A 1685 spelling of “licorish” in England leads to speculation is that this pronunciation originated in a regional dialect of English, which changed many final “s” sounds to “sh.”
  •  
    The history of licorice.

     
      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Swedish Gummy Horse Stocking Stuffers

    Gummy Horses

    Swedish Gummy Horses

    Dala Painted Horse

    [1] and [2] Swedish Gummy Horses, the best thing since Swedish fish (photos courtesy Candy People). [3] The painted wood horse that inspired the gummies (photo courtesy Scandinavian Butik).

     

    We love gummy candy. Our entire family does.

    That’s why it’s so easy to give them what they really want: different types of gummies, which, we might add, are pretty inexpensive.

    We found these luscious Dala Horse gummies at Ikea (in the store, but not online). We just put in a big order for more.

    The Dala Horse is inspired by the famed Swedish folk art, Dalahäst (Dala horse), a painted wood horse that originated in the early 1800s in the Dalarna Province of Central Sweden. They are still handmade there.

    At the time, the toy horses crafted in Dala began to be decorated with bright colors and painted flowers. The flower patterned saddle design derived from a Biblical story in which Jonah sat outside the city of Ninevah; the Lord caused a kurbit, or gourd vine, to grow up beside him to protect him from the desert sun.

    The Dala Horse gained worldwide recognition at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, where a giant version welcomed visitors outside the Swedish Pavilion. The following year, 20,000 Dala horses were produced for shipment to New York.

    BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CANDY?

    Dala Horse gummy candy is imported from Sweden. We like them even more than Swedish Fish.

    In fact, we can’t get enough of the gummy equines. They’re:

  • Pineapple, citrus, and raspberry, in natural colors and flavors.
  • Gluten free, gelatin free, GMO free, HFCS free.
  • Sold in 5.3 ounce bags.
  • Great stocking stuffers: 3 bags are $13.95, 6 bags are $23.95.
  •  
    But we went whole hog (actually, whole horse) and bought the 15-pack for $49.95, $3.33 a bag.

    In addition to holiday tips, we’ll be gifting everyone gummy horses, with a bow tied through the opening at the top.

    Dala Horses are sold at all Ikea and World Market stores (in-store only) and online at Amazon.com (links above).
     
     
    MORE GUMMIES

    Check out the Chocolate Covered Gummy Bears and Worms from Baron Chocolatier. Heaven!

     

     
      

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    RECIPE: Peanut Butter Fudge

    Peanut Butter Fudge

    Three-ingredient peanut butter fudge (photo courtesy Justin’s).

     

    November 20th is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day.

    An American confection, fudge was a happy accent in the 1880s, created by a woman trying to make caramels.

    Read the history of fudge and you’ll see that it wasn’t so easy to re-create the accident.

    Over time, however, recipes and techniques were perfected. The original recipe(s) used cream and butter. Today, everything from sweetened condensed milk to non-dairy milks are used.

    You need just three ingredients to make this peanut butter fudge from Justin’s, the artisan specialist in nut butters.

    RECIPE: PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (substitute cream)
  • 3/4 cup honey peanut butter (substitute the PB you have)
  • Optional mix-ins: chocolate chips, honey-roasted peanuts
  • Preparation

    1. BRING the sugar and almond milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

    2. MIX in the peanut butter. You can add the optional mix-ins and stir, or use them as a topping, pressing lightly. Spread into a greased 8″ x 8″ pan and refrigerate until set. Cut into squares.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF FUDGE

    THE HISTORY OF PEANUT BUTTER

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Jim Beam Caramel Apples (Or Other Favorite Whiskey)

    To celebrate its Apple Bourbon—available year-round but especially popular in fall recipes—Jim Beam has stepped beyond cocktails to caramel.

    Yes, you can dip your caramel apples into an easy homemade caramel that incorporates a cup of Jim Beam Apple Bourbon.

    No time to buy Jim Beam Apple Bourbon? Use what you’ve got on hand (including another whiskey) and pick some up Apple Bourbon when you can. You’ll definitely want to make another batch of these!

    RECIPE: BOURBON CARAMEL APPLES

    Ingredients For 10 Caramel Apples

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces cold half and half
  • 8 ounces Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
  • 10 Granny Smith apples on thick wooden skewers
  • Optional garnish: 4 cups chopped salted peanuts, honey roasted nuts or other garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a large pot over medium high heat until a light boil begins. Whisk in the half and half and the bourbon and continue to whisk until the caramel sauce reaches 248°F. Remove from the heat.

    2. DIP each of the apples into the caramel, coating on all sides. Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If desired, coat apples on all sides with chopped salted peanuts.

    3. ALLOW the caramel to cool before serving.
     
    MORE CANDY APPLE, CHOCOLATE & CARAMEL APPLE RECIPES

  • Classic Red Candy Apples
  • Easter Candy Apples
  • Matcha White Chocolate Granny Smith Apples (for Christmas or St. Pat’s)
  • Modern Art Chocolate Apples
  • Sugar-Free Red Candy Apples
  •  
    You can also host a candy apple party!

     

    Jim Beam Caramel Apples

    Jim Beam Apple Bourbon

    [1] Bourbon caramel apples. The caramel is made with [2] Jim Beam Apple Bourbon (photos courtesy Beam Suntory).

     
    CANDY APPLE 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) date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century, buy inexpensive toffee and caramels for all became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence dates 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.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12 Ways To Use Toasted Marshmallows

    National Toasted Marshmallow Day is August 30th—not a day of the year that begs for a steaming cup of cocoa.

    So we put on our thinking toques to see how to best use toasted marshmallows in the summer, and how to to toast them without a campfire or fireplace.
     
    USE TOASTED MARSHMALLOWS FOR…

  • S’mores, of course, or a variation. Check out these S’mores recipes and variations other than graham crackers. (National S’mores Day is August 10th).
  • Cocktail garnish for a Black or White Russian, Chocolate Martini, Espresso Martini, Irish Cream Liqueur.
  • Cookie or brownie sandwich.
  • Cupcake, cake, pie, pudding or tart garnish (make an easy tartlet with lemon curd).
  • Grilled marshmallow and fruit skewers.
  • Iced coffee, iced latte, iced hot chocolate.
  • Ice cream or sundae topping.
  • Milkshakes.
  • Peanut butter toast: Top toast with PB and marshmallows, and chocolate if you like!
  • Shots, with marshmallow vodka (made by Pinnacle, Skyy and Smirnoff).
  • Sweet potato garnish.
  • Toasted “Fluffernutter” sandwich, replacing the fluff.
  •  
    PLEASE ADD TO THIS LIST!

    And remember: There’s marshmallow goodness beyond Campfire and Jet-Puffed. Check out gourmet marshmallows.

    Vegan? There are delicious vegan marshmallows from Dandies, all delicious.
     
    TOASTING MARSHMALLOWS WITHOUT A FIREPLACE

    Even if you have a fireplace, you sure don’t want to light it up today.

    Who needs a fireplace—or a campfire? There are other ways to toast marshmallows.

  • On a stove: If you have a gas stove, you can toast the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown—about a minute, depending on how “toasty” you like it.
  • With a candle, an unscented one. Turn down the lights for romance.
  • For best results, hold the marshmallow about two inches away from the flame and turn it continuously. This way, the marshmallow will melts from the inside out and brown evenly.
  • A fondue fork is ideal for toasting because it has a protective handle, but impaling the marshmallow on the tip of a regular fork works, too. You can use skewers, as well; bamboo skewers will not heat up and are easier to hold. You’ll need to soak them first, though, so they won’t catch fire!
  • Avoid toasting over Sterno: The marshmallows will smell and taste of it. A votive candle will work, and if you’re having guests, you can put a votive at each place setting.
  •  
    The Fastest Way To Toast A Batch Of Marshmallows:

  • The Broiler! Place the marshmallows on a baking sheet and set the oven to Broil. When one side is at your desired tastiness, turn them over. If the marshmallows are not browning evenly, rotate the pan.
  •  

    Chocolate Martini With Toasted Marshmallow Garnish

    Toasted Marshmallow Garnish on Milkshake

    Toasted Marshmallow Garnish

    [1] The best garnish for a Chocolate Martini? A toasted marshmallow—and maybe a rim of graham cracker crumbs (that’s a S’mores Martini). Here’s the recipe from Eclectic Recipes. [2] Serve a toasty marshmallow with a cool shake. Here’s the recipe from Honey and Birch. [3] Garnish any dessert or sweet snack, like this cupcake from Cake Boss Baking.

     

      

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