Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Candy

Our wedding is four days away! I am now experiencing a roller coaster of emotions that range from excited anticipation, loving tenderness, and barely controlled panic. So much to do and so little time left to do it.
Oh, and Christmas is the day afterwards. Just when I have a handle on the wedding stuff, the holiday stuff reminds me there is more to do.

So I take a lot of deep breaths and vow to enjoy these next few days of celebration.

My Christmas gift to all of you are my favorite holiday candy recipes. The peanut brittle, broken glass candy, and raisin-peanut clusters are old family favorites. The truffle recipe is perhaps the easiest one I’ve ever come across. Plus, I’ve added instructions for easy chocolate tempering I received years ago from Granite State Candies in Concord, New Hampshire, a candy shop that has been in existence for almost 90 years!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I’ll see you after the holidays with stories of the wedding and my honeymoon to Branson, Missouri.

Classic Chocolate Truffles
From Truffles, Candies & Confections: Techniques and Recipes for Candymaking by Carole Bloom ($24.95, Ten Speed Press, 2004)
Makes 60 1-inch truffles

2 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, divided
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 to 4 tablespoons cocoa powder

Place 1 pound of the chocolate in a 2-quart mixing bowl. In a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Let the mixture stand for 1 minute, then stir together with a rubber spatula, whisk or immersion blender until thoroughly blended. Cover the truffle cream, let cool to room temperature, and chill in the refrigerator until thick but not stiff (2 to 3 hours). Or let the truffle cream sit at room temperature for several hours or overnight until completely set and thick.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Fit a 12-inch pastry bag with a large, plain round pastry tip with a 1/2-inch opening and fill partway with the truffle cream. Holding the pastry bag 1 inch above the paper, pipe out mounds about 1 inch in diameter. Or use a small ice cream scoop to form the mounds. Cover the mounds with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 2 hours or in the refrigerator for 6 hours.

Dust your hands with cocoa powder and roll the mounds into balls. These will be the truffle centers. Cover and chill the centers for another 2 hours in the freezer.

Remove the truffle centers from the freezer and bring to cool-room temperature so the outer coating won’t crack when they are dipped. Line 2 more baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Melt and temper the remaining 1 1/2 pounds of chocolate. Place a truffle center into the tempered chocolate, coating it completely. With a dipper or fork, remove the center from the chocolate, carefully shake off the excess chocolate, and turn the truffle out onto the paper. After dipping each sheet of truffles, dip the fork into the chocolate coating and form lines across the tops of the truffles by moving the fork from one side of the baking sheet to the other, letting the chocolate drip off.

Let the truffles set up at room temperature, or chill them in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes. When the truffles are set, place them in paper candy cups. In a tightly covered container wrapped in several layers of aluminum foil, the truffles will keep for 1 month in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer. The truffles are best served at room temperature.

Variations: Instead of dipping the truffle centers into tempered chocolate, roll them in a small bowl of cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, finely chopped toasted nuts, or toasted coconut as soon as they are rolled into balls.

Peanut Brittle

2 cup sugar
1 cup white (Karo) syrup
1/4 cup water
Pinch of salt
2 cups of raw, unsalted roasted or cocktail peanuts
1 Tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering pan
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter a large cookie sheet and set aside. Place the sugar, syrup, water, and salt in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 260° on a candy thermometer (hard ball stage). Add the butter along with the raw peanuts, if using. Continue to cook until the temperature reaches 300° and the mixture is golden. If using roasted or cocktail peanuts, add them now. Remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda and vanilla. Stir well and pour on to cookie sheet. When cook, break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Broken Glass Candy
3 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup white (Karo) syrup
Food coloring

Dust a large cookie sheet with powdered sugar and set aside. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan mix well the sugar and syrup. Cook over medium heat until mixture reaches 300° on a candy thermometer. Set off the heat immediately and add 3 to 4 drops of flavoring oil or 1 teaspoon of a flavoring extract. Then add food coloring until you get the desired color. Pour mixture onto the cookie sheet. Let set until hard and clear, then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Easy Raisin-Peanut Clusters

1 12-ounce package of chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup peanuts
1 cup raisins
Cover two cookie sheets with waxed paper and set aside. Melt chocolate chips in either a double boiler or in a microwave on a 50 percent power setting. Mix in the can of sweetened condensed milk, peanuts and raisins. Drop teaspoon sized portions of the mixture in clusters onto the cookie sheets, cool and let stand overnight in a cool place. Store in an airtight container.

Easy Chocolate Tempering
The folks at Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord, New Hampshire have come up with two simple ways for the home cook to temper chocolate.
Microwave Method: Break chocolate into small pieces. Put 2/3 of chocolate into a bowl and melt on 50 percent power in one-minute intervals, stirring in between. Temperatures should be around 110°. Add remaining chocolate in small amounts while stirring. Be sure that pieces are completely melted before adding more. The chocolate will thicken and become cool, shiny and smooth. When the temperature is around 90° the chocolate has been tempered and is ready to use.

Table Top Method: Break chocolate into small pieces. Melt chocolate over a very low heat using a double boiler, stirring constantly. Do not let the water in the bottom of the double boiler come to a boil. When the chocolate has completely melted, remove from heat. Pour 1/3 of the chocolate onto a smooth surface (preferable a marble slab) and work with a spatula to spread out the scrape together until the chocolate cools to around 84°. Then add the cooled chocolate to remaining warm chocolate in the bowl and stir until smooth. Chocolate should then be at around 90° and ready to use.

To check if chocolate has been properly tempered, drop a spoonful onto wax paper and cool. If the chocolate is shiny and not streaky, it is ready.


  1. Merry Christmas! Happy Wedding Day!

  2. So many congratulations are in order, Linda! I hope you had a beautiful wedding!