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Ahhhh its Finally Fall!

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I have been really looking forward to these beautiful early Fall day and today is just gorgeous people! I live in Northern, sorta Central, slightly mid-state CA, but without a doubt closer to the Bay Area than Central CA. If I told you where, most of you would say, Huh? So I always place myself in the Bay area for the sake of trying to explain. I am like 30 minutes as the crow flies, East of Oakland. A large set of massive rolling hills dotted with white angels arms twirling non stop and a freeway filled with commuters divides us.

This is a beautiful valley I live in, but certainly we have really hot summers, those hills stand between 78 and 108 some summer days, and they don't mess around. I live in an area of CA with many mini-micro climates, where we can go up and down in tempertare as much as 30 degrees in 30 minutes. Nice but a stylists nightmare. I'm sure this is where the inception of layering one's clothes started, and yes I do layer. I know better than to go to a baseball game in short sleeves, and it's 112 degrees out here.

But what this weather is doing is making me want to do something a little different.
I want to make candy, now. I love Donna Hay and her wonderful magazine and her photos! I want to make her truffles, her caramel and most of all, her fat little round white chocolate, cranberry, pistachio candies in her June issue. At first I thought they were nougat. Not so. They are white chocolate. Is it just me or what. Everything looks so beautiful, the rose water lollipops are so pretty! The little domes of truffles in an egg carton with white sprinkles, I really want to make it all and then eat it!

So I'm planning on making candy this year for my holiday gift giving and having it out during my open house. I want to give it away with high hopes someone will enjoy it.
Do you have a tried and true wonderful candy recipes that you give during the holidays? An English Toffee? A peanut brittle?

I am collecting recipes, tips and seriously getting ready!

So far I have thought about:
Cranberry White Chocolate rounds
Peppermint Bark
Rocky Road

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  1. I love the Boston Cream Candy recipe from Fine Cooking:

    http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/re...
    - original recipe

    http://domesticat.net/entry/418
    - some stories about it

    It's deliciously caramelly-flavoured and creamy-textured and would make a lovely gift - though I always keep it all for myself!

    1. believe it or not, emeril has a terrific autumn-y, holiday recipe for 'three chocolate bark with spiced pecans and dried cherries'

      http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

      14 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Wow, both of these suggestions look so different! I would think they would be totally lovely wrapped individually or layered between parchment paper and boxed. Nice!
        Thank you!
        Can anyone recommend a particular candy thermometer? I do have one, just think its average. But maybe that's all I need.

        1. re: chef chicklet

          supposedly the newer digital, infrared models are really the best, but they're also pretty pricey. if you want to stay old-school, taylor makes some reliable ones.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            thanks for your help with the thermometer I really know nothing about candy making. Always found it intimidating, yet amazing. I need all the help I can get with this new project, so I'll price that one out. Thanks again!

            1. re: chef chicklet

              my pleasure. good luck, have fun, and be sure to let us know how everything turns out!

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I will and I hope to post a few photos for fun. I can't wait to get started, homemade candy looks like jewels to me. See how warped food has made me!

              2. re: chef chicklet

                One thing I found out -- don't get impatient and turn up the heat. Just go slow and wait for the temp to come up.

                1. re: mpalmer6c

                  with regards to caramel? or all the candy making?

            2. re: chef chicklet

              Remember, chef chicklet, I made the bark last New Year's? http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356776 There's pictures of it in that post. Everyone really enjoyed that recipe. The chocolate caramels went over the best.

              1. re: Katie Nell

                That's right I forgot! I do remember looking at your pictures and thinking how beautiful that all was. Thank you for the pictures again Katie Nell.
                I will revisit your recipes, I love them all!!!

                1. re: Katie Nell

                  Katie Nell...in those pics from your New Years boxes from last year it looks like the caramels are wrapped in plastic wrap. Is that what it is? I ask because I'm planning on a caramel assortment for some christmas gifts and I'm not a huge fan of how they look wrapped in parchment since you can't really tell which kind is which, not to mention that plastic wrap is much cheaper than parchment paper. Did the plastic wrap work out well? No sticking?

                  1. re: wawajb

                    It is plastic wrap. I think it worked fairly well. I always got frustrated with wax paper and parchment because I could never get it to stay folded, so I tried plastic wrap instead. The only thing that was frustrating about the plastic wrap was trying to cut it in smaller pieces. It didn't stick at all to those caramels, but those caramels are slightly oilier than some recipes too. Though, come to think of it, I did use plastic wrap for another caramel type too and did not have any trouble with sticking.

                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      ok, Thanks! I'll have to try plastic wrap then...I'm working on convincing the BF that my making piles upon piles of candy and cookies and jam and flavored vinegars (etc, etc) is actually going to save us money come christmas, and being able to use plastic wrap to package the caramels is just one more little expense I can cut away.

                      The hardest part now will be convincing him that I need to do trial runs of these recipes before christmas so I can make sure I have them right before the real thing. :)

                      1. re: Katie Nell

                        I have a box of waxed paper squares that I was thinking of using. I got it at Smart and Final, I was wondering did you ever try that or only parchment? This paper looks like parchment on one side and has a slight wax coating on the other.

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          I've tried both and wasn't happy with either. But, I also have people tell me that they have no problems with getting waxed paper to work and act like I'm ridiculous, so I don't know! Maybe I'm just more anal retentive than most! ;-)

              2. I have a great butter crunch recipe that I've done for a while now. It's one of my regulars, and while I was thinking maybe I'd do something else this year, various relatives have told me not to even try it. :b I'll dig up the recipe for you.

                I've made peppermint bark, but I don't have a formal recipe for it. It's pretty easy to throw together.

                This is a great candy cookbook: http://www.amazon.com/Truffles-Candie...

                8 Replies
                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                  That is terrific! I can't wait to get get started making some of these candies!
                  My friend and I were talking about making the peppermint bark and I know we're going to do that.
                  I love the idea of a wrapping boxes of different candies for my friends to give or bring as a hostess gift. I don't know what butter crunch is but I sure like the sound of it!
                  I'm also looking for a honey comb recipe ( or is it called sea foam?) used to get it a specialty candy store years ago, it was that crunchy candy covered in dark chocolate.

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    They aren't really candy, but the Sweet and Spicy Pecans featured in Best American Recipes are fun to make and an excellent holiday gift. I cut the cumin down from a tablespoon to a teaspoon.

                    http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/spe...

                    1. re: WendyBinCT

                      That would make an excellent addition to the candy box! Exotic too.

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        if you want a really terrific & unique variation, substitute chinese five-spice powder for the cumin & paprika.

                    2. re: chef chicklet

                      Butter crunch ... http://areyouhungryyet.blogspot.com/2...

                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                        Thanks!!! that is some pretty good looking candy! This is a winner!

                        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                          Can we get the recipe?

                          1. re: nissenpa

                            Here you go!

                            Almond Butter Crunch

                            1 cup butter
                            1 1/3 cups sugar
                            1 tbsp. light corn syrup
                            3 tbsps. water
                            1 cup blanched slivered almonds (toasted)
                            8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (melted) -- I use Ghirardelli chips
                            1 cup chopped toasted almonds (for the top) -- I like to use up to 1/2 c extra, so everything is covered well

                            *you can sub any kind of nut you want for this recipe

                            1. Melt butter. Add sugar syrup, & water. Cook to hard crack (300ยบ)
                            2. Take off the heat. *Quickly* stir in nuts & spread in well buttered, foil lined, pan or cookie sheet.
                            3. Spread w/melted chocolate & sprinkle top with nuts.

                    3. hee hee hee...I know exactly where you live! :) I used to drive from home over Altamont Pass to work all the time!

                      Now we're in a much more stable foothills climate (my neighbors think it's funny that I consider our climate to be "stable") but I feel your pain...many a day I woke up expecting to temper chocolate just to have the weather get too weird and the humidity spike like crazy.

                      Best of luck to you! :)

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: tsfirefly

                        Heh. I visited Tracy back in July. Did a little car racing at Altamont Motorsports Park. Wrote up a Tracy restaurant review here on CH.

                        Bringing this back on track, I'd urge you to pick up Claudia Fleming's The Last Course. She's got a terrific pistachio brittle recipe in there that's just awesome. Lots of other creative recipes that appeal to me, a non-pastry inclined cook.

                        1. re: Professor Salt

                          Really which restaurant Professor?
                          Claudia Fleming, thank you I will check see and if I can't find that at B&N.
                          Brittle is another candy that fascinates me and the prices charged! Crazy.
                          That sounds great i appreciate that tip!

                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            Lake of Fire

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/424099

                        2. re: tsfirefly

                          That's funny! The white angels twirling arms gave it away! I should host a murder mystery party. Wait maybe not. My clues are too good!
                          so you know why I say I live in the Bay Area! Tracy?Where is that???
                          Funny I worked there for years, and lived there most of my adult life, and moved over here about 12 years now. When commuting to work I made stories up about the "angels"... just bored in traffic! Are you my neighbor?

                        3. CC
                          That was a lovely description of Northern,Central,east of Oakland location. So how far from San Jose are you??. I lived there for 25 years and miss it everyday. But here I am in New England and I too am preparing for candy giving during the holidays. I use Paula Deans English Toffee and pralines. Easy and delicious!

                          1. This is the best toffee recipe I've found and so far for me, it's been fail-proof, which I think is saying a lot when it comes to candy making! Mixed-Nut Spiced Toffee: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... It's different, but not so far out there that people think it's weird.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Katie Nell

                              For an easy toffee recipe we've made Toffee McGreevy from Epicurious a number of times. Also, layered peppermint bark is always a big hit. I think we took a recipe from Epicurious for that too, but it called for three layers and that just overdid it, so we did one white and one dark.
                              Last year we made homemade marshmallows from the La Brea Bakery cookbook and their caramel and made the candies with marshmallow sandwiched between the caramel. The marshmallows were fantastic and a huge hit! The caramel recipe was terrible and we ended up having to make a different one which also wasn't perfect. If I could find a perfect caramel recipe for this candy with the right consistency I would highly recommend it. Even with the slightly too chewy caramel, people loved it.
                              We also used the marshmallow to make La Brea's version of rice krispy treats with salted peanuts which are highly addictive.
                              I also made bacon brittle last year which was a huge hit. I know, strange, but strangely delicious.
                              I love candy making! Can't wait to see what else gets recommended here and what you end up making. Please post back with successes and not-so-successes.

                              1. re: ScarletB

                                Thanks ScarletB your input is really helpful. I have been doing some reading today, caramel isn't easy! Marshmallows are another candy, I'd like to dip them in chocolate and nuts? Can that be done?

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  I think it would be worth a shot. The marshmallow is definitely soft and pillowy so you might have to firm it up in the fridge before the big dip. Besides the candy and the krispy treats we also gave them out with homemade hot chocolate mix. It's amazing how easy the marshmallow it to make, and how much better it is than store bought!
                                  have fun!

                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    you can absolutely garnish/adorn the marshmallows.

                                    as scarlet said, just firm them up a bit in the fridge first.

                                    then dip in melted chocolate or caramel...and press or roll in chopped or crushed nuts, candies, sprinkles...whatever suits your fancy.

                                    sounds like delicious fun to me :)

                              2. Here's a recipe for Pecan Cream Candy:

                                Ingredients

                                2 1/2 C. sugar
                                1/2 C. evaporated milk
                                1/2 C. light corn syrup
                                1/2 C. margarine
                                1 tsp. vanilla
                                2 - 2 1/2 C. chopped pecans
                                Directions

                                Mix all ingredients except vanilla and pecans. Bring to rolling boil; for 3 minutes. Remove from flame and add nuts and vanilla. Beat 3 to 4 minutes, drop by spoonful onto waxed paper.

                                Hope this helps!
                                I also love English Toffee so I'd recommend serving some of that too :)

                                Hillary

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Chew on That

                                  Thank you Chew on That! I'd love to make this, but I haven't ever had it. So that I don't mess it up, what is it? Or what is it suppose to come out like, is it caramel like, or harder?

                                2. It is so fun reading candy recipes and about all the candy you CH people have done. I was looking at the River Road Recipes, in there is a candy called Kentucky Colonels (made with 1 pound of bittersweet chocolate!) has anyone ever made this candy?

                                  Looks to be a fondant filled with bourbon (using a medicine dropper) and then dipped in the bittersweet chocolate, ending by placing a pecan on top. PRECIOUS!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    My family insists on Pralines from Paul Prudhomme's first cookbook every Christmas. They are unbelievably good and pretty easy. Sugaring can be a problem, but it just gives you a reason to test, test and test with the cooking times! After years, we've all decided that we prefer them with toasted pecans, the batter slightly undercooked, with a satiny finish, buttery, chewy. They're easy to wrap in plastic wrap that way, too.

                                    1. re: dhberry

                                      I'm really glad that you posted this, because I seriously have been thinking about them and reading different recipes. Wonder if the weather (its cool) will affect them?
                                      I've already been asked by my DH if I was going to make them.

                                  2. chef chicklet, I just came across this web page on eGullet and thought it might be useful in your candy making endeavors. I definitely plan on using her caramel recipe and hope it'll be easier and better than what I've tried thus far.
                                    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ScarletB

                                      Thanks! I can use all the help I can get. I see they have classes and I'm hoping to make caramel also. I have to start practicing pretty soon, I'll report back to you!