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Candy makes Christmas special

December 11, 2013
By ESTHER MCCOY - Food editor (emccoy@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

Fudges of all flavors, ribbon candy, peppermint sticks, chocolates in Santa and Rudolph shapes, Hershey's kisses and coconut bonbons.

Christmas is for having a bit of candy as a treat, sugar-free or not.

Children love to find candy treats in their stockings, and women are never adverse to a box of Edward Marc chocolates or that from any good chocolatier.

Article Photos

CANDIES OF CHRISTMAS — Some of the candies of Christmas are store bought and some are made in the kitchen. Among them are ribbon candy, candy canes, Marc chocolate covered peppermint Oreos and molded suckers, and the confections that come from the kitchen stove are peanut butter and chocolate fudge. If it seems like it would not be the holidays without a bit of candy, check the recipes below.
-- Esther McCoy

You can have Christmas-decorated Oreos in milk, dark and white chocolate, with poinsettia or wreath decorations on top; chocolate dipped candy canes; peppermint marshmallow pops; molded chocolates in all shapes; or how about those back-in-time nonpareills.

I remember my dad bringing home chocolate cream drops and ribbon candies, and every time I see them in stores or in catalogs, I go back to the Christmases of my youth, although I never liked the orange-flavored cream drops, though.

Dates and figs were other things that he brought home over the holidays. When he came in from work at night, he seemed to have something new to surprise us with. It was like the 12 Days of Christmas.

There is nothing like a taste of something homemade, and candies are in that category.

Here are some recipes that are quite easy to make, and others are more time consuming, but everyone will appreciate the effort.

While on the subject of dates, I will start with a recipe for a cookie-type candy from the "Let's Get Cooking" treasury of recipes from Helen McDiffitt and her family. This one is from Jean Burwell.

Date Balls

2 tablespoons oleo

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped nuts

2 cups Rice Krispies

Small package flaked coconut

Combine oleo, sugar and chopped dates in a saucepan and cook slowly on low heat until thick. Stir constantly to keep mixture from sticking. Pour over nuts and Rice Krispies. Cool slightly. Butter hands, roll mixture into balls and then in flaked coconut.

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This is from Helen's cookbook as well. The recipe is from Jody Gallagher.

Cashew Brittle

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 to 1 1/2 cup salted cashew halves

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a microwave safe bowl, combine sugar and corn syrup. Microwave uncovered on high for 4 minutes and stir. Heat 3 minutes longer. Stir in cashews and butter. Microwave on high for 30-60 seconds or until mixture turns a light amber. Watch out, Helen warns - the mixture will be very hot. Quickly stir in baking soda and vanilla until light and foamy. Immediately pour into a greased baking sheet and spread with a metal spatula. Chill for 20 minutes or until set. Break into small pieces. Store in airtight container. Makes 3/4 pound.

These confections start with Nutter Butter sandwich cookies and turn into adorable reindeer on a stick. Family Circle was my source for this tasty and cute candy.

Nutter Butter

Reindeer

12-ounce bag light cocoa candy melts

1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening

24 Nutter Butter sandwich cookies

24 pop sticks

24 red peanut butter M&M's

24 thin pretzel twists, cut into small pieces

48 white M&M's

48 brown M&M minis

Combine candy melts and shortening in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave stirring often until smooth, about 60 to 90 seconds. Line two cookie sheets with wax paper. Separate cookies, Dip one end of a pop stick in melted chocolate and place at one end of an opened cookie. Top with another cookie half and arrange on sheet. Repeat with remaining cookies and refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes. Reheat melted chocolate if necessary. Dip a chilled cookie into chocolate to coat. Allow excess to drain off, tapping lightly. Return cookie to sheet. Add pretzel pieces as antlers and red candy as nose, gently pressing into the wet chocolate to adhere. Press white candies into chocolate for eyes. Repeat steps with remaining cookies. Refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes. Pipe dots of chocolate on white candies and place brown candies on them. Refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes.

Note: You can watch a video on how to make the reindeer by visiting familycircle.com/holidayvideos.

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My sister, Dorothy Toth, would get wonderful rum balls from her mother-in-law, Anna Toth, and I would be sure to pay a visit next door to get some.

This recipe was in Woman's Day magazine and is said to be from an 87-year-old relative. The printed recipe card has a spot on it and below is a notation that the dribble is circa 1973. I have seen another recipe for bourbon balls, and it seems to have the same ingredients with the substitution of bourbon for the rum.

Rum Balls

1 cup crushed vanilla wafers

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

2 tablespoons cocoa

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/4 cup rum

1/2 cup fine granulated sugar

Combine fine crumbs, confectioners' sugar, 1 cup pecans and cocoa. Add corn syrup and rum and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll half in granulated sugar and remainder in 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts. Makes 3 dozen.

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Now for a few lower calorie treats from Cooking Light magazine. This one is a state favorite -Ohio Buckeye. The classic confection was created as a replica of an Ohio tree nut.

Ohio Buckeyes

2 cups powdered sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups reduced-fat creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

8 ounces dark chocolate, 60-65 percent cacao, chopped

Place powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs; beat until blended. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape peanut butter mixture by tablespoonfuls into 38 balls. Place on baking sheet; refrigerate 1 hour. Place chocolate in top of a double boiler; place over simmering water, stirring until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until smooth. Let cool slightly. Place each ball on a fork and dip into the chocolate until partially coated; return to parchment paper to harden. One candy is 141 calories, with 8.3 grams fat.

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If you want a spicy brittle that has less calories, according to Cooking Light magazine, you will have to try this peppery brittle.

Peppery Pepita Brittle

1/4 cup butter

1 cup unsalted pumpkin seed kernels

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup light-colored corn syrup

1/4 cup water

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add pumpkin seed kernels and the spices. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside. Combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Cook until a candy thermometer registers 335 degrees. Remove pan from heat; add pumpkin seed mixture and baking soda. Working quickly, spread mixture in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; let stand until set. Break into 24 pieces. This is 83 calories per piece of the brittle.

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I don't know where I got this recipe, but it's easy to make, and I'm told it tastes like a Bun candy bar. It is made in a crockpot so the chocolate does not have to be constantly watched.

Peanut Clusters

16 ounces unsalted peanuts

16 ounces salted peanuts

12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

4 ounces German chocolate, chopped

2 pounds almond bark, chopped

Put ingredients in a crockpot in the order listed. Keep on low heat, with the lid on and do not stir. It will be melted in 4 hours in a small crockpot and 3 hours in a large crockpot. Stir thoroughly and drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper to cool.

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These pops are made with cake crumbs but are put on lollipop sticks, coated with melted candy coating and decorated with colored sugars or sprinkles. It is from Family Circle magazine.

Chocolate Peppermint Cake Pops

18.25-ounce chocolate cake mix

2 large eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup canned chocolate frosting

1 1/2 bags, 14-ounce each, white candy coating disks

4 drops peppermint oil, optional

6 ounces red candy coating disks

Assorted red and white holiday decorations

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13-by-9- by-2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, 1 1/3 cups water, eggs and oil. Prepare according to package directions. Pour into prepared pan; bake at 350 degrees for 32-35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Crumble cake into fine crumbs in a large bowl. Stir in frosting and press together with the back of a spoon. Shape mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 20 minutes. Once cake balls are chilled, melt candy according to package directions, adding peppermint oil to white candy disks. Remove a few balls from the refrigerator or freezer. Dip a lollipop stick about 1/2-inch into melted candy. Press a cake ball onto stick, being careful not to press stick too far. Dip ball into desired coating and gently tap so that excess coating drips back into bowl. Garnish with red drizzle, holiday decorations, nonpareils or colored sugar. Transfer decorated pops to a wax paper-lined sheet. Repeat, reheating candy melts as needed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes then store at room temperature for up to two weeks. Makes 48 pops.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronlilne.com.)

 
 

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