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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 TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Candy

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Peanut Brittle

Americans have grown accustomed to a sweet dessert after dinner, or a baked treat as a snack with a cup of coffee.

Instead, consider a couple of pieces of peanut brittle. They deliver sweetness, satisfying crunch and protein-packed peanuts. This recipe has a hint of coffee to complement your cup of joe.

The prep time is 20 minutes, cook time 15 minutes, for a yield of ten 1/4-cup servings. And for those who don’t like corn syrup: This peanut brittle recipe is made without corn syrup.

Switch It Up

  • You can make chocolate brittle by replacing the coffee with 2 tablespoons of baking cocoa.
  • You can substitute another nut to make almond brittle, macadamia brittle, pecan brittle, pistachio brittle or walnut brittle.
  • After you taste the first batch, you can adjust the sweetness the next time. (We typically use less sugar.)
  •  
    You can also make batches as hostess/host gifts.

     

    It’s easy to make your own peanut brittle. Recipe and photo courtesy Nescafé.

     
    If you don’t want to make your own, head over to BrittleBrothers.com, where Grandma’s secret recipe is made into cashew brittle, peanut brittle and pecan brittle, sold in bags and tins for gifts and party favors.

    COFFEE PEANUT BRITTLE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • Wax paper or parchment paper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts or other nuts
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE. Line a large baking sheet or tray with wax paper; spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. COMBINE. Mix the coffee granules, baking soda and salt in small bowl; set aside. Combine sugar, water and cream of tartar in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Stir with wooden spoon over low heat until sugar is dissolved, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush if needed.

    3. BOIL. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes or until the mixture is a light brown color. Remove from heat; add butter and coffee mixture (mixture will foam) and stir quickly to combine.

    4. POUR & COOL. Pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Tilt the sheet to spread the mixture evenly (it should spread to roughly 12 x 9-inches in diameter). Quickly sprinkle with peanuts. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

    5. CRACK. Break the brittle into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

    Find more of our favorite candy products and recipes.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Gummy Worms Day

    Cherry Cola Cupcake, with cherry and cola
    gummy candies by Goody Good Stuff. Photo
    © all rights reserved, courtesy Hey Little
    Cupcake!
    , a cupcake specialty shop in
    Manchester, England.

     

    Today is National Gummy Worms Day. But not everybody can enjoy a juicy gummy worm.

    That’s because many gummy candies are made with gelatin, an animal product that’s neither kosher nor vegetarian/vegan.

    The traditional gummy candy is made with sugar, glucose syrup (more sugar), starch, flavoring, food color, citric acid and gelatin.

    Gummy History

    The first gummy candies, Gummi Bears, were produced in 1922 by Haribo, a Bonn, Germany, confectioner. Founder Hans Riegel invented the Dancing Bear, a fruit gum made in the shape of a bear. In 1967 the Dancing Bears became Gummi Bears, and spawned an entire zoo of gummi animals.

    Worms are not zoo creatures, however, and Haribo did not invent the Gummi Worm. Gummi Worms were introduced by another German gummi candy manufacturer, Trolli (named for forest trolls), in 1981. The U.S. Americanized “gummi” to “gummy.”

     

    The boom in gummy popularity spawned versions that are organic, kosher and halal. For the latter two, manufacturers have substituted pectin or starch for gelatin.

    Goody Good Stuff is an all-natural gummy candy line that is made with a plant-derived gum. It eliminates the need for animal-based gelatin, while maintaining a smooth and clear consistency. There are no artificial colors or flavors and no possible allergens, such as gluten.

    There are no worms, either. At this time, there are sweet and sour gummy candies in fruit, bear and cola bottle shapes. All of the products are vegetarian (some are vegan), kosher and halal. Here’s the company website.

    THINGS TO DO WITH GUMMY CANDIES

    Beyond snacking, bring out the gummies for parties:

  • Incorporate them into centerpiece decorations
  • Fill glass candy bowls
  • Garnish the rim of desert plates
  • Top cupcakes or cookies
  • Use as ice cream toppers
  • Make gummy fruit kabobs
  • Dip in chocolate for “gourmet” gummies
  • Decorate the rim of cocktails
  • Add to popcorn
  • Make gummy trail mix: gummies, M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, nuts, pretzels and raisins or dried cherries
  •  

    Gummy Worm Cake

    Back to gummy worms: Make this easy dessert or snack recipe for “dirt cake” using Oreos, gummy worms, vanilla pudding and cream cheese. It’s appealing to adults as well as kids—really!
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Some Chocolate Dragées, A.K.A. Panned Confections

    The original dragées* (drah-ZHAY) are sugar-coated almonds. Technically, the nuts are encapsulated in a hard-shell coating. English speakers call them Jordan almonds—not because they’re from Jordan (they’re from Spain). It’s a corruption of the French word for garden, jardin, which refers to the large variety of almond). The almonds can also have a chocolate coating under the sugar. The key is the hard sugar shell.

    In America, we see the word used to refer also to panned products. It’s not correct—they’re two different types of coating, dragées having a very hard (and potentially tooth-breaking) sugar shell and panned products having a softer chocolate shell.

    Panning is one of the four† basic methods of coating chocolate onto a center (typically hard centers, such as nuts and crystallized ginger). In panning, chocolate is sprayed onto the centers as they rotate in revolving pans (think drums); cool air is then blown into the pan to harden the chocolates.

    On a small scale (and before the industrial revolution), nuts are coated on a pan on the stovetop; hence “panning.” The centers can be rolled in cocoa powder or other coating before they harden.

     

    Sophisticated malted milk balls that multitask. Photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections.

     

    *In French, the word also refers to nonpareils and is slang for bullets (small shot). Dragée à la gelée de sucre is a jelly bean.
    †The other methods are enrobing, panning and molding or shell molding.

    RECCHIUTI CONFECTIONS MALTED DARK MILK REVOLUTION

    One of our favorite chocolatiers, Recchiuti Confections, sent us a new product, called Malted Dark Milk Revolution. The confection looks like chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, but the centers are crunchy malted cookies (think malted milk balls) accented with fleur de sel. The centers are then coated with layers of dark milk chocolate (high-percentage cacao milk chocolate, typically 38% or more).

    There’s no hard sugar shell, so they’re easy on the teeth.

    Recchiuti calls these gourmet malted milk balls are a revolution because they use dark milk chocolate and an accent of fleur de sel, which provides a nice counterpoint to what in other hands can be a too-sweet confection.

    For us, the concept of chocolate-coated malted milk centers has been around for a while, regardless of what type of chocolate or seasonings are added. So instead, we think of the name as a pun on the number of times the centers go around in the drum—from 20 to 60 “revolutions,” according to Recchiuti.

    We immediately used the little bites:

  • With after-dinner espresso and coffee, instead of a cookie or a carré/napolitan of chocolate (they more than satisfy).
  • As a topper for ice cream and frozen yogurt—much more delicious than a maraschino cherry.
  • As a quick chocolate fix. (Full disclosure: We love good malted milk balls. Our favorites are these mint malt balls from Marich.
  •  
    A YUMMY GIFT

    Malted Dark Milk Revolution is a lovely small gift, especially for those who like the play of sweet and salty. It’s available in two sizes at Recchiuti.com: a 5-ounce box for $11.00 and 12-ounce box for $19.00.

    Recchiuti also has a sampler of panned products (called the Dragée Sampler) that we love for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifting, 12 ounces, $29.00. It includes Recchiuti’s heavenly Burnt Caramel Almonds, Burnt Caramel Hazelnuts, Peanut Butter Pearls and Cherries Two Ways.

    Learn more at Recchiuti.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Your Own Marshmallow Peeps

    Marshmallow Peeps are an Easter tradition in many homes. Even people with very refined palates reach for them, a grasp at childhood nostalgia.

    But over the years they’ve tasted worse and worse to us—artificial flavor, and more texture than flavor at that! Perhaps it’s the carnauba wax. The mass production has taken away their good looks, as well. Sorry Peeps, but you look too roughly stamped out of factory molds.

    The “Sugar Mommas,” authors of Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story, offer their own recipe for prettier, tastier homemade Peeps. Pull out the Easter cookie cutters and start mixing. The recipe must sit overnight, so don’t wait until Easter Sunday.

    Peeps® are a registered trademark of Just Born, a candy manufacturer in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The original Peeps were yellow chicks; but the popularity of the marshmallow candies led to other flavors and shapes for every season, including jack-o-lanterns, snowmen and Valentine hearts.

    HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOW PEEPS RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Colored sugar crystals
  • Easter themed cookie cutters
  •  

    Make a tastier version of the iconic Peeps at home. Photo courtesy SugarSugarRecipes.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. Lightly spray a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle gelatin over a small bowl filled with 1/2 cup cold water; let stand to soften.

    2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together sugar, corn syrup, hot water and salt. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, about 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and gently stir in gelatin mixture; set aside.

    3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. With the mixer running, slowly add sugar/gelatin mixture. Add vanilla and continue beating for 10 minutes until the mixture looks like marshmallow.

    4. Transfer marshmallow mixture to prepared baking dish and spread evenly.

    5. Generously sprinkle 1-3 different colors of sugar crystals across the baking dish horizontally, covering any exposed marshmallow.

    6. Spray a piece of parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray and cover marshmallow. Let stand overnight.

    7. Remove parchment paper and invert marshmallow onto work surface.

    8. Generously sprinkle 1-3 different colors of sugar crystals across the marshmallow horizontally covering any exposed marshmallow. Try to match colors on the other side of the Peep (although it’s fine to have mismatched sides).

    9. Use cookie cutters to cut marshmallows into various Easter themed shapes. Spray the cookie cutters with nonstick spray so the marshmallow releases easily. Wash the cookie cutters between colors.

    10. Transfer marshmallows to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; set aside. Repeat process until all the marshmallow is cut into shapes. Use a skewer dipped in chocolate to make eyes, or use chocolate candies such as Valrhona Perles Craquantes for a more dramatic effect. Use marshmallow creme as “glue” to attach candies to your Peeps.

    11. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

     
    Find more Sugar Mommas recipes at SugarSugarRecipes.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

    The gourmet version of Raisinets, from Lake
    Champlain Chocolates
    (certified kosher).

     

    Today is National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day. In the form of Raisinets, the dried-fruit-in-a-candy-shell is a movie theater staple and the third-largest selling candy in U.S. history.

    To make the candy, raisins are coated with oil and spun in a hot drum with milk or dark chocolate. They’re then polished to a shine.

    Raisinets are the earliest brand on record, introduced by the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company of Philadelphia in 1927 (the brand was acquired by Nestlé in 1984).

    We don’t know that the Blumenthals originated the concept. Hard chocolate was invented in 1847, enabling confectioners to develop all types of chocolate candies (the history of chocolate). No doubt, chocolate-dipped fruit was in the repertoire.

    See all the food holidays.

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    COOKING VIDEO: Make Your Own Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

     

    Peanut butter cups: We love them!

    How can you make the everyday peanut butter cup even better? Create them yourself, using better ingredients than are used in mass-marketed PB cups.

    The trick is to buy the most delicious chocolate morsels (or gourmet chocolate) and the tastiest peanut butter. You can use your favorite “shade” of chocolate—dark, milk or white—as long as it’s great stuff.

    The good news: The “recipe” is easy.

    And it’s timely: You can make peanut butter cups for Easter, topped with jelly beans or other candy Easter ornaments.

    Have fun with this one!

       

       

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chocolate Chile Fudge Valentine Gifts

    Chocolate and heat: perfect for Valentine’s
    Day. Photo courtesy Wisdairy.com.

     

    Instead of shopping for chocolates for friends and family, make them!

    An easy option is chocolate fudge. This recipe, from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, has spicy heat, thanks to the addition of cinnamon and ground ancho chile.

    This recipe makes 64 pieces—enough to give 12 pieces to five different people and keep four pieces for yourself.

    If you save gift boxes, line them with wax paper and tie the boxes with red ribbon; no wrapping paper needed.

    CHOCOLATE CHILE FUDGE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 20 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (the better the chocolate, the better the fudge)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper*
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  •  
    *Use more or less ancho depending on desired spice level.

     

    Preparation

    1. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, allowing edges to extend beyond pan. Butter the foil.

    2. In a large bowl, combine chopped chocolate, cinnamon and ground ancho chili.

    3. In a medium saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, sugar and butter. Heat over medium flame, stirring constantly, until sugar and butter are melted and mixture begins to boil. Add marshmallows and stir for 1 minute until melted.

    4. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chopped chocolate mixture. Let stand 2 minutes or until chocolate is softened. Add vanilla; stir until smooth.

    5. Pour mixture into pan and refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. To cut fudge, pull on foil edges to remove foil and fudge from pan. Remove foil, place fudge on cutting board; cut into 64 pieces, using knife dipped in hot water. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

    Our favorite fudge and recipes.

    The history of fudge—an American accidental invention!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Chocolate Dipped Apricots

    January 9th is National Apricot Day. We’re not sure why, since apricot season in the U.S. is from May through August (any fresh apricots found in the winter months have made a long trip from the southern hemisphere).

    Yet, you can toast the day with an apricot brandy sour, have apricot jam on your toast or sandwich (cream cheese, goat cheese, ham, turkey), make a pork roast with dried apricots, or use the jam as filling in a Sacher Torte.

    Here’s a quick and easy way to turn dried apricots into something festive. If you don’t want to make your own, you can order chocolate-dipped apricots from Bissinger’s or Lake Champlain Chocolates (the latter are kosher-certified).

    CHOCOLATE-DIPPED APRICOTS RECIPE

    Makes 2 dozen pieces.

    Ingredients

     

    Make your own or buy them. Photo courtesy Bissinger’s.

  • 24 jumbo whole dried apricots (about 8 ounces—look for moist fruit)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) pistachio nuts, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate*
  • Parchment paper, wax paper or aluminum foil
  • Chocolate tempering machine or substitute
  • *Dark chocolate compliments the apricots best, but you can substitute milk chocolate or white chocolate. The finer quality the chocolate, the better the confection.
     
    Preparation
    1. For best results, temper chocolate in a chocolate tempering machine. If you don’t own one, melt the chocolate in a chocolate melting pot, microwave oven or double boiler.
    2. Place the chopped nuts on a plate or in a shallow bowl, for dipping.
    3. Holding an apricot by the rim, dip about half of it in the chocolate. Give it a quick twist, shake off excess chocolate and tap the apricot against the rim of the bowl if excess chocolate remains.
    4. Before chocolate dries, dip the top of the apricot into the chopped nuts. Place on parchment paper to set up and cool. If the set up seems slow, place in refrigerator for 3 to 5 minutes.

    If you want to sweeten the apricots, glaze them first. Glazed apricots can also be enjoyed without the chocolate dip.

    GLAZED APRICOTS RECIPE

    Makes 2 dozen pieces.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 24 jumbo whole dried apricots (about 8 ounces)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add sugar and stir until it dissolves and a syrup is created.
    2. Boil until the syrup reaches 310°F on a candy thermometer (do not stir).
    3. Place the pot in a pan of cold water to instantly stop the boiling; then immediately remove the pot and set in a pan of hot water. (This keeps the syrup at the right temperature.)
    4. Using a skewer, dip each apricot in the syrup. Shake off the excess syrup and and place the apricot on wax paper to dry.

      

    Comments

    GIFT OF THE DAY: Habanero Caramels

    Anyone who loves caramels and a little heat will shout yippee! after one bite of Buckin’ HOT Habanero Caramels from Cowgirl Chocolates.

    One of the most memorable caramels we’ve ever had (our first bite was back in 2007), they sizzle without taking out your taste buds.

    A wonderful combination of chewy, buttery caramel and habanero heat, the reusable gift tin is $19.00.
     
    Send them to someone special!

    What is caramel and the history of caramel candy.
     
     

     

    Luscious habanero caramels from Cowgirl Chocolates. Photo by Michael Steele | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    STOCKING STUFFER & YEAR-ROUND TREAT: Sun Cups

    If you love peanut butter, you may have the same reaction we do when we hear of someone with a peanut allergy: “I’m so sorry.”

    Those who know the joys of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or peanut butter cups empathize with those who can’t have them.

    But everyone can have sunflower butter!

    Sunflower butter is a smooth spread that looks and tastes almost identical to peanut butter. It’s made from sunflower seeds and is completely peanut- and tree nut-free.

    It’s healthier than PB, with one-third less saturated fat and 27% of a day’s recommended allowance of vitamin E, along with a much higher iron and fiber content (but 25% less protein).

    In jars, it’s available in the same variations as peanut butter: creamy, crunchy, natural, organic, unsweetened, even individual snack-size packs. Sunflower butter is also an ingredient in snack foods that previously relied on peanut butter, including energy bars, granola bars and peanut butter cups.

     

    All the lusciousness of peanut butter cups with no nuts whatsoever! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Sun Cups are chocolate cups filled with sunflower butter instead of PB. They’re made by Seth Ellis Chocolatier in Boulder, Colorado.

    They resemble Reese’s peanut butter cups, with a similar flavor (there’s just a hint of sunflower seed tanginess).

    How Sun Cups Differ From Peanut Butter Cups

  • Sun Cups are filled with sunflower butter instead of peanut butter (and sunflower butter is perfectly creamy-smooth).
  • They’re made with a better-quality chocolate.
  • They’re available in flavors: not just dark chocolate and milk chocolate but caramel and mint (we’re partial to the dark chocolate).
  • Unlike Reese’s, they’re organic, nut-free and gluten-free. The chocolate is Rainforest Alliance Certified. The wrapper is compostable.
  • Like Reese’s, they’re vegetarian and kosher (dairy) [OU-certified for Reese’s, EarthKosher—an organic kosher certifier—for Sun Cups].
     
    The manufacturing plant and the entire supply chain (the ingredients suppliers) is nut-free, so even folks with the strongest of peanut allergies can nibble safely. The Sun Cups team must wear “inside shoes” so nothing gets tracked in from outside. The sunflower seeds are even grown in a region too cold to grow peanuts, so the fields can’t be contaminated with migrating peanut plants.

    And the cost: about $1.00 per cup. A 20-pack of duos is less than $40 on Amazon.com.

    Or if you just want to test them out, Sun Cups offers a $1.99 sampler of the four flavors.

    Sun Cups are a safe bet for stocking stuffers, school lunch boxes and Halloween. They‘re a sweet treat for anyone—with nut allergies or without.

    And they’re a favorite at THE NIBBLE. Try them!

      

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