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RECIPE: Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds

February 25th is National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day.

While you can easily head to the nearest store to pick up some chocolate-covered nuts, nut clusters or turtles, chocolate-covered nuts are something that you can easily make at home.

Prefer to buy them?

Our favorites are the Triple Chocolate Almonds from Charles Chocolates, coated in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

They’re also made in Mint Chocolate Almond and in Dark Chocolate Hazelnuts.

RECIPE: CHOCOLATE-COVERED SEA SALT ALMONDS

The recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction, a wonderful place to find delicious baking ideas.

Prep time is 25 minutes, plus setting time; total 1 hour.

Ideally, use the 3-pronged tool from the chocolate tool set to lift the nuts out of the chocolate pool and shake off the excess chocolate. We used fondue forks; but if we make these again, we’re going for the chocolate tools.

Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, high quality*/li>
  • 1 and 1/2 cups raw, unsalted whole almonds*
  • Sea salt
  • Turbinado sugar or other raw sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST the almonds by spreading them on a large baking sheet; bake for 10-12 minutes in a preheated 300°F oven. Allow to slightly cool before coating with chocolate.

    2. LINE a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

    3. MELT the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in a heat-proof bowl at 30-second increments. Stir every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

    4. STIR the almonds into the chocolate, making sure to coat each one. Using a dipping tool or a fork, lift the almonds out one by one. Gently tap the fork against the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, and place the nut onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining almonds.

    5. SPRINKLE the almonds with a bit of sea salt and turbinado sugar. Allow the chocolate to completely set. You can place the baking sheet in the fridge to speed up the setting.

    6. STORE the almonds in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, in an airtight container.

     

    Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds

    Chocolate Covered Almonds

    Sally's Candy Addiction

    [1] Warning: addictive!. Photo and recipe © Sally’s Baking Addiction. [2] For you or a friend: Sally’s Candy Addiction, the cookbook. [3] Our favorites to buy, Triple Chocolate Almonds from Charles Chocolates.

     
    ________________

    *Dark, milk, white: Use whatever chocolate you prefer, as long as it’s a premium brand. Ditto with the nuts: You can substitute hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, mixed nuts, etc.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Your Own Marshmallow Designs

    Valentine Marshmallows

    Marshmallow Snowflakes

    Heart Cookie Cutter

    Blackberry Marshmallows

    [1] Cut heart shapes for Valentine’s Day (photo courtesy Kavemania | Facebook). [2] Use cookie cutters to create special designs (photo courtesy Martha Stewart and [3] SXC). [4] These artisan marshmallows are delicious, but too tall and pillowy to cut into shapes (photo The Nibble).

     

    If you have an eye out for delicious confections, you may see all flavors of artisan marshmallows—usually super-sized. If you want to cut them into more manageable pieces, don’t use a knife: It sticks.

    HOW TO CUT MARSHMALLOWS

    Instead, use sharp kitchen scissors. Dip them in warm water, or use a paper towel to apply a very thin coat of neutral cooking oil, like canola or grapes.

    You can try both methods to see which you prefer.

    Then, snip away and use the smaller pieces.

    Slices can be placed into petal designs. If your palate and doesn’t like supermarket marshmallows (or prefer vegan marshmallows, sugar-free marshmallows, etc.), this is also the way to get mini marshmallows.
     
    WAYS TO USE MARSHMALLOWS

    Beyond garnishing hot chocolate, you can:

  • Add to pancake batter (how about Rocky Road pancakes?).
  • Add to peanut butter or PB-and-banana sandwiches.
  • Add to whole grain cereals for a better version of Lucky Charms.
  • Create a pie topper: Bake the pie at 400°F for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the marshmallows are toasted.
  • Dip in chocolate fondue.
  • Garnish ice cream.
  • Garnish sweet cocktails.
  • Garnish sweet potatoes.
  • Make ambrosia salad.
  • Make fruit and marshmallow skewers or marshmallows-on-a-stick.
  • Make rocky road brownies or cookies.
  • Make S’mores.
  • Toss coffee-flavored marshmallows into hot coffee.
  •  
    MAKE YOUR OWN MARSHMALLOW DESIGNS

    It’s easy to make flatter marshmallows in the shapes you like, as special garnishes. Use the marshmallows immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

    We adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart. The process is the same if you want regular size marshmallows. Just use fill a baking pan to the height you want, and cut the marshmallows into the size and shape you like.

    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 2 envelopes (each 1 scant tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: food color
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  •  
    Plus

  • 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Offset spatula
  • Snowflake cookie cutter (or shape of choice)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPRAY the baking sheet with cooking spray; line with parchment paper and spray the parchment. Set aside.

    2. ADD the water to the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle with gelatin and let the mixture soften (about 5 minutes).

    3. PLACE the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and the second 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove lid; then cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the syrup reaches 238°F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes.

     
    4. TURN the mixer to low speed, whisk the gelatin mixture and slowly pour the syrup in a steady stream down the side of the bowl (this avoids splattering). Gradually raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick, white, and has almost tripled in volume (about 12 minutes). Add the vanilla, and beat 30 seconds more to combine. If you want to color your marshmallows, add a drop or two of food color at this time.

    5. POUR the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth with an offset spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

    6. CUT: Coat a 1- or 2-inch snowflake-shaped cookie cutter with cooking spray to prevent it from sticking. Cut out individual marshmallows as possible, re-spraying the cookie cutter as needed. Use the marshmallows immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. If they become hard, pop them in the microwave for 2-3 seconds (not longer or they’ll begin to melt).
     
    USING MARSHMALLOWS FOR KITCHEN TASKS

    A marshmallow can stop ice cream cones from dripping, soften brown sugar, steady tapers in candle holders, and more.

    Plus, tips to keep them soft, unstick th em and freeze them, and Check ‘em out.
     
    THE HISTORY OF MARSHMALLOWS

    The ancient Egyptians were the first to use sap from the root of the marsh mallow, a swamp plant, to make candy. (It was also used medicinally.)

    Here’s the history of marshmallows.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Blooming Marshmallows For Your Hot Chocolate

    First there was blooming tea: a specially tied bundle of tea leaves and flower petals that opens into a flower when placed in hot water.

    Now, there’s the blooming marshmallow, from innovative pastry chef Dominique Ansel.

    Blossoming Hot Chocolate—more accurately, blossoming marshmallow—is a thin marshmallow, cut like a flower, and bunched up to resemble a closed flower bud. Some dabs of white chocolate keep the bud closed.

    When placed in a cup of hot chocolate, the chocolate melts and the bud expands into the flower.

    Check out the videos from Ansel, then the fan recipes (we like the poinsettia the best), in the videos below.

    Make plain versions (all white or tinted pink marshmallow) before you try more elaborate colorations.

    TIP: Ansel added a small chocolate truffle to the center of the flower. The flower itself is anchored in chocolate. We think that’s a lot of chocolate!

    Instead, we’d use a small pecan cookie ball (a pecan sandy), a ball of cookie dough, a piece of caramel hand-rolled into a ball, or a small hard candy ball (as in the photo at right).

     

    Blooming Marshmallows

    Drop the “bud” into hot chocolate and watch the “flower” open (photo courtesy Dominique Ansel).

     

    WATCH THE MARSHMALLOW “BLOOM”

    THE RECIPE

    PIPE BEAUTIFUL SNOWFLAKE MARSHMALLOWS

      

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    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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