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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Candy

STOCKING STUFFER: Justin’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


Get them while you can! Photo courtesy Justin’s.


Justin’s makes delicious organic peanut butter cups in dark, milk and white chocolate. The salty peanut butter is a tasty counterpoint to the creamy, quality white chocolate. We’re hooked!

The white chocolate cups are available at Whole Foods Markets and other major retailers, as well as at

Learn more about Justin’s line of organic nut butters and PB cups at Peanut butter flavors include:
Almond Butter

  • Maple Almond Butter
  • Classic Almond Butter
  • Chocolate Almond Butter
  • Honey Almond Butter
  • Vanilla Almond Butter
    Hazelnut Butter

  • Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
    Peanut Butter

  • Classic Peanut Butter
  • Honey Peanut Butter

    The line is gluten-free and certified kosher by OU.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Candied Chestnuts

    Let us at them! Photo of marrons glacés


    Oh, do we love marrons glacés, candied chestnuts. They have been a favorite confection from our first childhood bite, atop a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a fancy silver dish in the tea room of a long-departed department store.

    Then, relatives visiting France would return with boxes of them, an annual treat. Sometime later, we discovered them in local specialty stores and we began to buy our own—until they became so pricey that we learned to make them. With today’s tip, you can, too.

    Following the fall harvest in France and Italy, local confectioners as well as large companies prepare marrons glacés, a popular holiday gift. They can be individually wrapped in gold foil or sold in a jar covered with sugar syrup.

    If you read the novel La dame aux Camélias (The Lady of The Camellias) by Alexandre Dumas fils, you’ll discover that marrons glacés are the only type of confection eaten by the heroine, courtesan Marguerite Gautier. Her clients were expected to keep her in good supply.

    But you don’t need admirers. Create your own supply with this recipe:



    Although it takes 1-2 days to complete the recipe, actual cooking time is less than 30 minutes. For the rest of the time, the candied chestnuts soak in their sugar syrup.

    Ingredients For 2 Pounds

  • 2 pounds chestnuts, shelled
  • 2 pounds granulated sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or a vanilla bean


    1. PLACE the chestnuts in a large pot with just enough water to cover the tops. Bring the water to a boil and cook the for 15 minutes; drain and discard the water. Remove the chestnuts one at a time with a slotted spoon.

    2. RUB the thin, bitter membrane off the cooked chestnuts, using a clean towel or your fingers). The chestnuts will be soft, so be careful not to damage them.

    3. BRING the water, sugar, and vanilla/vanilla bean to a boil in a medium pot, stirring constantly until it boils. Continue to cook the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The syrup will thicken.

    4. ADD the prepared chestnuts to the boiling sugar syrup and stir until the syrup returns to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring frequently (and gently!), for 10 minutes.

    5. POUR the candied chestnuts and syrup into a large, wide-mouth container; cover when cooled. Let the chestnuts soak in the syrup for 12 to 18 hours.

    6. REMOVE the vanilla bean; the chestnuts are ready to use. You can spoon them into dessert dishes and top with whipped cream; or in shot glasses with some of the syrup.



    Before cooking, cut an X into each chestnut. Photo courtesy



    Marrons glacés are an ingredient in many desserts and are also eaten on their own. Most fans agree that the best way to enjoy a candied chestnut is plain, with a cup of tea, as you might enjoy a bonbon or a macaron. But that’s just the beginning of a menu of delights:

    • As an ice cream topper, with the syrup. In fact, if the pieces break in the preparation, this is an ideal use for them.
    • In a “faux” Mont Blanc, atop a mound of whipped cream with some plain cookies or shortbread on the side. (Actual Mont Blanc uses sweetened chestnut purée instead of candied chestnuts.)
    • In ice cream. Mix chopped pieces and the syrup into a pint of softened vanilla ice cream and return it to the freezer to harden. (In France, you can buy it in pints, ready to eat.) Chestnut ice cream is delicious, but you don’t need marrons glacés to make it. Regular cooked chestnuts plus sugar do nicely, either chopped and mixed in or blended in as purée.
    • As sophisticated cupcake toppers, sliced or cut in half to make the delicacies go farther.
    • With fresh goat cheese or Brie. Serve candied chestnuts and your favorite mild bread or crackers (we like it best with toasted raisin semolina bread).
    • In holiday cakes and cookies. Add chopped candied chestnuts to cake batter or cookie dough. Try a batch with crystallized ginger or chocolate chips. Consider muffins, loaf cakes, bundts and other opportunities. Our grandmother used to add them to her coffee cake recipe.
    • The chestnut-infused sugar syrup can be used on ice cream, pancakes, toast, etc., with or without the chestnuts.


    The seasonal confection originated in southern France and northern Italy, where chestnut trees are plentiful. Prior to the Crusades (1095-1291 C.E.) there was no sugar in Europe. Sugar cane is native to Southeast Asia, from which it made its way to the Middle East, where it was discovered by the European crusaders. So the process of candying fruits in sugar syrup—and all of the other wonderful things we do with sugar—had to wait for the return of the crusaders to Europe.

    The first candied chestnut confections seem to appear at the beginning of the 15th century in the Piedmont region of Italy, among other places. The earliest written recipe is from the court of Louis XIV at the end of 17th century.

    In 1882 in the Ardèche département of south-central France, the first factory was built with the technology to produce marrons glacés industrially. However, many of the nearly twenty steps necessary from harvest to finished product are still performed manually, which is one reason why the treats are so pricey. [Source]



    RECIPE: Gouda Cheese With Spicy Pumpkin Seed Brittle

    Who but the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board ( would come up with this innovative pairing: Gouda cheese with pumpkin seed brittle! Serve it as dessert during “pumpkin season.”

    The result, while seemingly simple, is a complex dessert that is creamy, crunchy, spicy and sweet. (If you don’t like spicy foods, leave out the pepper.)



  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) hulled spicy roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes and/or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Gouda or other favorite cheese

    A seasonal “cheese course.” Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.



    1. STIR together the baking soda and melted butter; set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside a second sheet the same size. Butter the parchment on one side.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, water and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; wash down any sugar crystals on sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Simmer the syrup 10 to 12 minutes until it reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. With a wooden spoon, add the pumpkin seeds and pepper.

    3. RETURN the pan to medium-low heat while stirring; melt again until mixture turns amber brown and reaches 290°F (if the syrup becomes granular during cooking, continue to cook until it remelts). Remove from heat; stir in butter-baking soda mixture with wooden spoon.

    4. POUR the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet; cover with the second parchment sheet. Press the mixture with a rolling pin to 1/4-inch thick. Remove the top layer of parchment; cool completely; crack brittle.

    5. STORE the brittle between layers of parchment in a sealed container for up to two weeks. Plate with a wedge of Gouda cheese, or serve alongside a platter of assorted cheeses.



    RECIPE: Pumpkin Seed Brittle


    Surprise friends and family with some
    pumpkin brittle, garnished with a drizzle of
    chocolate. Photo courtesy Zulka.


    Here’s aother delicious recipe from our friends at Zulka sugar: pumpkin brittle. Enjoy it by itself, with a cup of tea or a pumpkin spice latte. Make a batch to celebrate Halloween, or to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.

    You can customize the recipe by adding other seeds—nutritious chia, flax, hemp, nigella or sesame, for example. We actually prefer the deeper flavor complexity of a pumpkin-sesame seed mix. Just keep the total of all seeds to two cups.



  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 8 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


    1. SET out a cookie sheet and top with a silicon baking mat or wax paper. Lightly oil the mat or wax paper.

    2. COMBINE the sugars, butter, salt and water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat; stir. Once the butter is completely melted, stir again and clip on a candy thermometer and heat to 300°F.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda. Add the pumpkin seeds and stir well. Quickly spread over the mat or wax paper and spread to the edges with a lightly oiled silicon spatula. Let cool 30 minutes. Gently break into pieces.

    4. POUR the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals until the chocolate chips are fully melted, stirring as they get more melted until smooth. Spoon the melted chocolate into a baggie or disposable pastry bag and snip a very small piece off one corner. Drizzle over the brittle pieces. Chill the brittle to set the chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
    Find more delicious recipes at



    PRODUCT: Marich Sugar Free Candy

    What’s Halloween like for people who can’t have sugar?

    While there’s no sugar-free candy corn (because candy corn is essentially sugar, corn syrup, color and flavoring), there are other sugar-free treats, from Gummies, hard candies including Cinnamon Buttons, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Jolly Ranchers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and much more (for a great selection head to

    Or, you could go gourmet at Marich.

    Marich Confectionery makes a lot of the all-American candies sold in bulk in better candy stories: bridge mix; caramels and toffees; chocolate-covered coffee beans, fruits and nuts; Holland mints, licorice; and our favorite malted milk balls.

    Some of the most popular items are available in sugar-free versions: Sugar Free Chocolate Bridge Mix, Sugar Free Chocolate Espresso Beans, Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Almonds and No Sugar Added Chocolate Cherries (the cherries themselves have natural sugar).

    Whether for Halloween gifts or for the holidays, in eight-ounce, ribbon-tied bags ($10.50, $11 for the cherries), we love these for gifting.



    Sugar-free treats Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.



    Easy sugar-free gifting. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.



    From the regular line, two items great for stocking stuffers or party favors are two-ounce boxes of:

    • Christmas Holland Mints (red, white and green, $2.50)
    • Cinnamon Spice Apple Caramels ($3.00)
    • Pumpkin Spice Caramels ($3.00)

    The line is certified kosher by by KOF-K.

    Dig in at




    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Lollipops For National Lollipop Day


    Your homemade lollipops can be free form with inclusions, like the bits of flower petals
    above. Photo courtesy Sacred Sweets.


    Looking for a fun activity? How about making lollipops?

    Today is National Lollipop Day July 20th, and Exploratorium has a recipe that lets you be a lollipop chef.

    You can make favorite flavors that aren’t often found in commercial products. We’ve got anise, banana, hazelnut, mint and rum extracts that are just waiting to flavor lollys.

    The other ingredients include sugar, corn syrup, water, cream of tartar and liquid food coloring.

    You can mix up standard or unusual colors with food coloring; but the idea that really appeals to us comes from Sacred Sweets in Greenport, New York.

    They turn lollipops into edible art with:

  • Clear or barely tinted candy that shows off the inclusions inside.
  • Inclusions (mix ins) like edible flowers and glitter (you can use sprinkles and other decorations)
  • Free-form shapes

    Lollipop sophistication has come a long way since prehistoric man licked honey off the stick he used to scrape it from the beehive.

    The ancient Arabs, Chinese and Egyptians made fruit and nut confections candied in honey, which may also have been eaten from sticks, owing to the stickiness of the confection.

    But what we think of as a lollipop may date to Europe in the Middle Ages, when sugar was boiled and formed onto sticks as treats for the wealthy—the only people who could afford sugar.

    By the 17th century, sugar was plentiful and affordable. In England, boiled sugar (hard candy) treats were popular. The word “lollipop” (originally spelled lollypop) first appears in print in 1784, roughly coinciding with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

    Beginning in the later part of the 18th century, industry, including confectionery, became mechanized. Horehound drops, lemon drops, peppermints and wintergreen lozenges became everyday candies.


    While we don’t know the inventor of the modern lollipop, the first automated lollipop machine was invented in Racine, Wisconsin in 1908. The Racine Confectionery Machine Company’s machine put hard candy discs on the end of a sticks, producing 2400 lollipops per hour, 57,000 per day. Today’s machines can produce 3 million lollipops daily.

    Far beyond the specialty Blow Pops, Tootsie Pops, Sugar Daddys of childhood, today’s lollipops come in all shapes and sizes, from hand-crafted works of sugar art to caffeinated Java Pops and bacon lollipops.

    And handcrafted lollipops still exist, made by companies like Hammond’s Candies, where artisans coil ropes of boiled hard candy into colorful jumbo lollipops.


    See’s Candies chooses the original spelling for its “lollypops,” but perhaps that’s to differentiate the creamy candy-on-a-stick from conventional lollys.



    See’s creamy “lollypops,” made with butter and cream. Photo courtesy See’s Candies.


    See’s are made with butter and heavy cream, in a square shape (see photo at right).

    Available in butterscotch, café latté, chocolate, chocolate orange, root beer and vanilla (plus holiday flavors), they have the consistency of butterscotch, and are certified kosher by KSA.

    And they’re addictive! Treat yourself to some at



    FOOD FUN: Popcorn Fudge

    This popcorn fudge recipe was a hit at our Memorial Day festivities.

    A fun recipe from Betty Crocker, it incorporates a dulce de leche fudge layer, salted caramel and caramel popcorn. Be sure to use caramel popcorn that is really well coated to prevent your popcorn from getting soggy.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, total time is 1 hour 40 minutes.


    Ingredients For 64 Pieces

    Fudge Layer

  • 1 can (14 ounces) dulce de leche (caramelized sweetened condensed milk)
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups caramel popcorn
    Caramel Layer

  • 25 caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt
  • 1-1/2 cups caramel popcorn


    A three-in-one treat: chocolate, caramel and popcorn. Photo courtesy Betty Crocker.



    1. LINE bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with foil, leaving edges of foil hanging over 2 sides of pan for easy removal later; spray foil with cooking spray.

    2. HEAT dulce de leche and chocolate chips in 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth (mixture will be very thick); remove from heat. Quickly stir in vanilla. Stir in 2 cups caramel popcorn. Spread in pan.

    3. MICROWAVE caramels and cream uncovered in a medium microwavable bowl, on High for 2 minutes. Stir every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Very slowly pour caramel mixture over fudge layer, and gently spread to cover. Sprinkle with salt and 1 1/2 cups caramel popcorn; press gently so it sticks.

    4. REFRIGERATE until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch squares (8 rows by 8 rows). Store covered in refrigerator.



    PRODUCT: Gimbal’s Jelly Beans


    Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    We’ve been tasting lots of jelly bean brands over the past few weeks, and have decided that our favorites are Gimbal’s.

    What makes them the best jelly beans? To our palate, there’s less sugar and fresh, bright, natural flavors, including real fruit juice.

    We can focus on the flavor instead of cloying sugar.

    There are 41 traditional flavors and 12 delightfully tart sour flavors.

    We won’t say that jelly beans are health food, but the recipe includes vitamin C (ascorbic acid), a powerful antioxidant.

    Gimbal’s Gourmet Jelly Beans are sold in 3- or 14-ounce bags and 40-ounce jars. You can buy them online at

    These are jelly beans to enjoy year-round—not just for Easter.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Australian Liquorice (Licorice!)


    Flower-like “shooters” and other specialty
    shapes. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE


    Today is National Licorice Day. There is much debate in the U.S. over Red Vines versus Twizzlers, but if you haven’t had English or Australian liquorice, as they spell it, you haven’t had great licorice.

    The natural flavors and chewy consistency are magnificent. Alas, our American-produced, artificially-flavored licorice can’t hope to compete.

    While there are American products labeled “Australian-style,” seek out the authentic Australian product or a U.K. brand like Bassetts. One of our favorite brands is Kookaburra from Australia (OU-kosher).

    There are bags of familiar red or black licorice twists, but Kookburra and other Australian and English companies take licorice to an art. At Kookaburra:

  • Twists are also available in apple, mango and raspberry flavors.
  • Creamy Strawberry & Cream Bites are dual color and flavor cylinders.
  • Liquorice Shooters are blue, brown, green, red and yellow flower-like shapes with white centers
  • Allsorts are a combination of all of these plus other colorful cylinders
    “Rich, Chewy & Delicious,” exclaims the package. “Best Liquorice in the World.” We don’t dare disagree—the kookaburras would laugh us down.

    You can buy all of them online at

    Of course, if you’d rather celebrate with Belgian salt liquorice, licorice cats, chalk (black liquorice with a white mint coating), coins, drops, Scotties, ropes, wheels or other shapes, just head to and search for “liquorice.”


    Allsorts is our favorite type liquorice—a variety of colorful and flavorful shapes and chewing consistencies. They were first produced in Sheffield, England, by Geo. Bassett & Co Ltd (now part of Cadbury).

    As the story goes, in 1899, Charlie Thompson, a sales representative, was in Leicester showing the liquorice to a client when he dropped the tray of samples, mixing up the various styles. He picked them up but before he could properly arrange them, the client was attracted to the mix of shapes and colors, and put in an order. The company quickly began to package “allsorts,” and they became very popular.

    Each company makes its own assortment of shapes, which can include balls covered in nonpareil-type sprinkles, colorful cylinders (rolls) and multicolored, sandwiched squares. They look beautiful in a candy dish, and more than one young girl has strung them into a necklace.



    Licorice is a confection flavored with the extract from the root of the licorice plant, combined with sugar or other sweetener and a binder (gelatin, gum arabic or starch). The big American brands use corn syrup*.

    Additional ingredients can include flavoring, beeswax for a shiny surface, molasses to provide the familiar black color, and ammonium chloride. Some brands substitute anise oil instead of with licorice root extract.

    The ingredients are dissolved in water and heated to 275°F, then poured into molds. The resulting pieces are sprayed with beeswax to make their surface shiny. Who knew?

    The original liquorice was black. Later, “red licorice” was made with strawberry flavoring. Today it is made in numerous flavors, including apple, blackcurrant, cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, grape, mango, raspberry and watermelon.
    *Red Vines ingredients include corn syrup, wheat flour, citric acid, artificial flavor and Red 40 artificial food color. Strawberry Twizzlers are made with corn syrup, enriched wheat flour, sugar, cornstarch, palm oil, salt, artificial flavor, mono and diglycerides, cytric acid, potassium sorbate, Red 40, mineral oil, soy lecithin and glycerine.



    Some of the shapes of allsorts licorice. Photo courtesy



    The kookaburra is a bird in the kingfisher family, native to Australia and New Guinea. Its loud call is said to sound like echoing human laughter.

    Here are some photos.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Decorate With Sixlets

    Recently a friend gave us a cache of Sixlets left over from Halloween. She didn’t want to keep them for next Halloween, and figured we could “do something for THE NIBBLE” with them.

    So we started to decorate desserts.

    None of our efforts looked as good as the examples on Sixlets’ Facebok Page, so take a look and get inspired.

    Sixlets are a boon for easy cake and cupcake decorating.

  • They’re perfectly round hard-coated chocolate candies like M&Ms, but less cloying* and less “commercial.” (M&M’s have their place, and it isn’t everywhere.)
  • They’re available in every color you could want, like jelly beans, but are smaller and easier to work with.
  • They’re larger than colored dragées, and are much more pleasant to eat.
  • They’re sold in individual colors plus seasonal mixes (autumn, Christmas, Halloween, etc.).


    You don’t have to be this painstaking, but it sure is impressive. Argyle Candy Cake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, authors of Hello, Cupcake!



    Get ready for Easter: You can buy pastel
    Sixlets in bulk online. Photo courtesy Sixlets.


    Sixlets are made by Sweetworks, a Toronto-based company. You may know them in individual packages from the candy stand, but they are available in bulk for serious decorating: in 1, 2, 5 and 10 pound bags.

    The line is certified kosher (OU-dairy) and is gluten-free.

    We used them:

  • To cover the sides of frosted cakes
  • To cover the exposed sides of whoopie pies
  • As cupcake toppings
  • Layered in a parfait
    We’re planning ahead for a red, white and blue “flag cake” for Independence Day.

    Now it’s your turn!

    *Unlike the super-sugary M&M’s chocolate centers, the centers of Sixlets are made from a mix of cocoa and carob, giving them a kind of “malted chocolate” taste.



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