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Category Archives: Candy

Tiger Butter


If you need an idea for last-minute Valentine’s Day treats for your loved ones, I gotcha covered!  I’ve made four batches of this Tiger Butter fudge since Christmas and everyone has been so impressed with it, I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed of how easy it is to make!  Three ingredients, melt, stir, and swirl, and you’re done.

And if you’re wondering about the taste, it is oh so good.  The peanut butter layer is incredibly creamy and of course the chocolate is the perfect complement.  Need I say more?

Tiger Butter

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (24 oz) package vanilla almond bark candy coating
1 (1 lb 2 oz) jar creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for one minute and stir well. Microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring well in between, until completely melted. This takes 2 intervals for my microwave. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate and stir well after each interval, allowing the residual heat to melt the chips before microwaving again. If you overheat them, they will get too thick and you won’t be able to use the melted chocolate for swirling. Once melted, set aside.

Melt the almond bark according to package directions. Usually that would be to place them in a microwave safe bowl, microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes, stir well, and microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Once melted, stir in the peanut butter until creamy and smooth. Spread into prepared baking sheet.

If the melted milk chocolate has become too firm with standing, microwave for ten seconds, stir, then pour it over the peanut butter mixture in long horizontal lines. Drag a spatula through the lines in a vertical pattern, going up on one line, then down on the next, repeating until the pan is swirled. Allow to set for several hours or overnight before cutting. You may refrigerate the fudge to set it up quickly.

Stores great at room temperature, and you don’t even have to cover it. Great shelf life. I’ve left some uncovered for up to two weeks with no spoiling.

Veronica’s notes: although I haven’t tried it, you should be able to substitute 1 1/2 lbs white baking chips for the candy coating if you can’t find it in your area, or even real white chocolate if you don’t mind the big price tag. I like to use milk chocolate with peanut butter, but semisweet chocolate is perfectly fine and would create a more dramatic stripe effect.

Recipe source: adapted from The Better Baker

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Pumpkin Pretzels

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I ran across the cutest idea for making pumpkins out of mini pretzels on Butter with a Side of Bread.  I found a limited edition of Wilton’s candy melts called “Pumpkin Spice” and thought of those cute pumpkins.  I couldn’t resist!

Jessica made solid pumpkins, covering the holes with the candy coating (see photo below for my attempt at this), but I decided to just keep to a thin coating and leave the holes because it seemed to turn them too sweet to use that much coating.  Also, I think the texture of my coating made it harder to do the way she did hers.  In my experience, adding food coloring (the gel kind used in frosting, like Jessica used) to candy coating changes the texture and makes it thicker, which probably helped her coat her pretzels completely with no holes.  Mine was thinner and it was a lot easier to coat the pretzels thinly – the two I did like Jessica’s actually took more time because the coating kept wanting to fall through the holes.  Whatever you decide to do, these are fun, easy, and tasty! Kids are sure to love them.

I highly recommend the Pumpkin Spice flavored candy melts if you can find them – they are so good!  I found mine at Walmart in the Halloween section where all the Halloween sprinkles and treat-making supplies were located.

They almost looks like spooky jack-o-lanterns!

Pumpkin Pretzels

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

50-75 mini pretzels
1 (10 oz) bag orange colored candy melts (Wilton’s Pumpkin Spice recommended)
Green M&M’s*

Melt the candy melts according to the package directions.  I recommend being even more careful than the package recommends and after doing 1 minute at 50% power in the microwave, doing only 15 second intervals and stirring extremely well between zaps.  These candy melts tend to get very thick if you overheat them at all, so be careful.  Once melted, dip each pretzel in the coating using a fork and tap off the excess chocolate before placing on waxed paper.  Take a green M&M and press into the top (I dipped mine in the coating a little to help them adhere, but it’s probably not necessary) to make a stem.  Continue with remaining pretzels until all the M&M’s are used up, gently reheating the coating as necessary when it becomes too thick or starts to harden.  If you still have coating left when the M&M’s are gone, keep dipping pretzels until it’s used up.  Allow the coating to set completely before removing the pretzels to a bowl to serve.  Keep covered until ready to serve.

Makes about 50 pumpkin pretzels

*I got about 50 green M&M’s from a regular bag, which turned out to be an almost perfect amount. I only had a little bit of candy coating left once I ran out of the M&M’s, and I just coated about a dozen more without stems and mixed them in with the others.

Recipe source: adapted from Butter With a Side of Bread

Traditional Turkish Delight {gluten-free & vegan}


Turkish Delight is perhaps the recipe I’ve been wanting to make longer than any other, for  over twenty years!  I’ve wanted to try it ever since I was in elementary school and read about the Turkish Delight which the witch seduced Edward with in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  It just sounded so delicious!  Dennis also told me years ago that he also has wanted to try Turkish Delight ever since reading the book.  So this year I decided to make it for him for Valentine’s Day, and to send it to my matches for The Sweetest Swap as well.

I decided to go with the traditional recipe, which doesn’t include gelatin and takes quite a long time to make.  But the texture is worth the effort!  I took my recipe and method from Titli’s video, and I tell you this woman is mad, but I love her.  You have to watch a few of her videos to start jiving with her craziness.  Anyway, we discovered that we quite liked Turkish Delight, especially the nice soft, chewy texture.  It’s similar to a jelly candy but really so much softer that it’s not really jelly-like at all, it’s just the closest thing I can compare it to. And so smooth!  The flavor is very nice, bright from the lemon juice, and mysterious & romantic from the rose water.  While the rose water is nice, I think I would like this a lot better using lemon extract and would suggest it if you don’t have the rose water, but cutting the amount down to maybe a teaspoon (or to taste) since it’s much stronger than rose water.

The downside is that they tend to weep.  You should store them packed in the extra powdered sugar, but even so, after only a day mine were pretty much a mess.  I wish I’d taken photos right away because right after cutting and dredging in powdered sugar, they were so pretty with such smooth surfaces.  Instead I took my photos two days later when the bowl had turned into  the nastiness above. :( I had to cut off the worst of the edges and then roll them in fresh powdered sugar for my photos, but believe me they are so much prettier the first day!  I asked Titli if this was normal and she said it was likely our damp weather to blame, but even so, hers start weeping after four days.  Her cure for the weeping?  “Eat them quickly!” lol

This is what my poor swappees received (along with a dozen oatmeal candies–thank goodness I sent enough of those to make up for the Turkish Delight mess!)–photo courtesy of Shesten M.

If I haven’t scared you off with my cautionary photos, here’s the recipe!  Just be sure to make this when you’re enjoying a spell of dry weather and perhaps when you have enough company to polish them off within a few days.

Turkish Delight

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Note: I followed the gram measurements for this recipe, using my kitchen scale.

3 ½ cups water, divided
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups (800 g) sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup (120 g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon rosewater
Few drops of red food coloring (I used icing gel coloring)

For dusting
1 cup (160 g) powdered sugar
¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch

Oil an 8” square pan, then line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Oil the parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups of the water, the lemon juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil while stirring and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 115C (soft ball stage). Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine the remaining 2 cups water, the cream of tartar, and the cornstarch. Bring to a boil, using an electric mixer to beat it on low speed the entire time. It will get thick quite quickly. It will be very milky and opaque in the beginning, but will get more clearish. Once it is a thick gluey paste and turns more and more clear, add in a little of the sugar syrup and beat with the mixer until blended. Scrape down the sides of the pan, and add a bit more at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth. When all the syrup is added, it will be thick but fluid. Turn on the heat again and bring to a gentle boil. Turn heat to low and simmer very, very gently for about an hour, stirring frequently (I stirred every 1-3 minutes). It will turn a light golden brown color. Add in the rosewater and food coloring if desired, and mix well.

Pour into prepared pan and shake the pan to make sure the mixture reaches all the corners. Allow to sit at room temperature until set, about 3-5 hours, or overnight.

Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch for dusting and sift them together into a large bowl. Sift some on top of the pan of Turkish Delight. Sift some over a surface, then turn the Turkish Delight upside down onto prepared surface. Carefully remove the paper and sift some sugar over the top. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the Turkish Delight into small squares. Put the squares into the bowl of sugar and toss them around every so often. Once all are added, toss them around really well to make sure they are well coated with the sugar/cornstarch mixture.

To store, place Turkish Delight in a container with an airtight lid, and pour the sugar/cornstarch mixture over the top to keep them from weeping or sticking together.

Recipe source: Titli’s Busy Kitchen

Sweetest Swap Recap

The swap went very smoothly and I was lucky enough to get 6 packages in the mail!  They disappeared all too quickly…

Oreo & Biscoff Truffles from Shania, Lemon Muddy Buddies and Pretzel Caramel Bark from Lynn.  Dennis ate all the Oreo Truffles by the time I got home, so I’m glad I got one before I left for work! I enjoyed the Biscoff Truffles all to myself, which was fine by me because I liked them even better.  Lynn wasn’t a match of mine, but she was kind enough to send me two packages! One stuffed with the Lemon Muddy Buddies (YUM!) and another with the Pretzel Caramel Bark (love salty and sweet!).  Thank you ladies!

Snickers Bars from Laurie.  Wow!  Talk about impressive.  These were every bit as good as they look and I had trouble saving any for Haus.  I had to beg him to hurry up and eat some before I ate the whole package. LOL!

Vanilla Sea Salt Caramels from Shesten (that’s Hawaiian Black Lava Sea Salt on them). Oh so incredible.  These I ate one after another until they were all gone, in just a matter of minutes.  Poor Haus.  Poor me! I need a refill, Shesten. ;)

In total, 1,275 candies were exchanged through our swap, and because swapper Marcia L. registered us with Cookies for Kids Cancer, Barmioli Rocco matched $1 for each and we raised another $1,275 for pediatric cancer research just by doing what we love to do.  And I’m also very glad to report that we had zero flakes for this swap!  Every single person sent out their candies.  These swaps just keep getting better.  Thank you to all who participated, I had a ball.

 

Oatmeal Candy


I have already shared Grandma’s original recipe from 1890 for her oatmeal candy in her writing, but I have to share my updated version that I submitted to the fair. The original is good, like caramel with oatmeal in it, but with a little cinnamon and vanilla, it reminds me of a candy version of oatmeal cookies!

Like most old recipes, this one is simple. There are a lot of candies I’d consider better, but I love these for their old-timey-ness. They even taste old-timey and are truly delicious. If you are nostalgic for the days of yore, try these out.

Oatmeal Candy

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

½ cup salted butter
1 cup light corn syrup
2 ½ cups light brown sugar
2 cups quick-cooking oats (uncooked)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for rolling

Bring butter and corn syrup to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar, oats, flour, and cinnamon, and mix well. Return to heat and turn burner to medium heat. Cook slowly, stirring often, until mixture comes to softball stage, 240F.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a 9″x13” buttered dish and cool completely, about 4 hours or more. Cut into squares, roll in powdered sugar, sprinkle with a little cinnamon, and wrap in waxed paper.

Veronica’s Notes: Butter was likely salted during the time this recipe originated, as it acts as a preservative, so that’s what I used. I used corn syrup, and though I’m not sure that’s what is meant by “white syrup,” it seems to work quite well. And while I know from personal research that quick-cooking oats did not exist until the 20s, I thought rolled oats to be too chewy and took the liberty of updating the recipe with quick-cooking oats, and adding in some cinnamon and vanilla. Those were probably expensive or maybe less common during the time Dennis’ great-great-grandmother was making this candy, but I hope I’m doing her proud with these additions since they are easily accessible now and add a nice flavor.

Kansas State Fair 2012 part 3: You Miss Every Shot You Don’t Take


*Update: You can now get my updated recipe that I submitted to the fair here.

So that you won’t have to endure reading this whole blog to find out whether I won or lost, I’ll tell you right now.  I got a ribbon. :)  Read on if you’d like to hear the whole story.

Wayne Gretzky is famously quoted as saying, “You  miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

That is really good life advice, and though I do miss a lot of shots because I’m too scared to take them, I can proudly say I would have made Gretzky proud with the way I put myself out there for the state fair competitions this year!  Well, either proud, or at least impressed by my audacity. ;)

From my snot sauce cookies, to my un-risen bread (not to be confused with the risen dead, though almost as horrifying from a baker’s perspective), to my burnt up and crust-fallen-off pies, I took a lot of chances this year and really set myself up for a lot of criticism, which I will be reading come this Sunday when I get my judging papers.  But as with the short loaf of bread that won third place, you just never know what the judges will think or how your entry will compare to others, and sometimes you just gotta take the shot and put yourself out there, ready to be disappointed & embarrassed, so that when you succeed, it’s even sweeter.

Such is the case with Grandma Joy’s Oatmeal Candy.  I did learn a lesson this year (make that many lessons), which is READ THE RULES VERY CLOSELY.  I scanned the information about the Heritage Recipes Contest, gathered that they were looking for old recipes that had been passed down in families since at least 1950, got excited and stopped reading.  I made Grandma Joy’s Oatmeal Candy recipe, which has been in Dennis’ family since 1890, put six of the candies on a white paper plate, following the requirements for the baked goods contests, and sealed it in a Ziploc bag, ready to submit it for judging.

It wasn’t until 1 AM the day I was to enter the contest that I read the rules and information more closely.  To my chagrin, I discovered that not only were they looking for “recipes suitable for family or community dinners” but they wanted you to include an entire aesthetic set-up with props.

Since there were only about five hours left before I needed to get up in order to get to the fair on time to turn in my entries, and I was already sleep-deprived, I decided I wasn’t going to enter it after all.  How could I?  Candy isn’t served at a dinner, is it?  And what in the world would I use for props? I had no idea, and no time to figure it out.

I was crushed.  This was the contest I was most excited to enter and that mattered most to me, because the recipe was special and I’d actually harbored fond dreams of presenting Grandma Joy with a ribbon for her recipe.  But I underestimated the power of my hope.  I do know after almost thirty-two years (yikes) of living with myself, that my hope has great strength and is very hard to kill, if not impossible.  If I want something bad enough, that hope inside me will rise up even after I mentally decide against trying for it, and force me to find a way to make it happen.

So only a few minutes after telling Dennis I wasn’t going to enter the Heritage Recipes Contest, and should probably just opt out of the pie contest too, that hope forced me to find a way to make it happen.  Maybe candy isn’t usually served with dinner, but I oculd see the judges accepting it because at a big dinner, it might be passed out afterward.  On my second wind, I hustled to the kitchen and piled the candies on a Blue Willow plate because although the plate is new, the pattern has been popular since the 1800s so I thought it would be suitable as a prop.  I searched desperately for any picture of Grandma Joy that I could frame and place beside the plate but couldn’t find one that had the right old-timey feel.  I did find several copies that my Mom made of an old photo of my Great Grandma Millner (her Grandma) and in a crazy act of desperation, I cut one down to fit a frame and stuffed it in there to set beside the plate. Well, I never said anything about the woman in the photo being the Grandmother mentioned in my history write-up.  So it wasn’t even a lie.  I mean, I can’t help it if they just happen to assume the woman in the photo was the one who gave me the recipe, simply because she’s sitting right next to it.

I then experimented with using dried roses and potpourri to round out the setting but it just looked terribly wrong and in the end, decided to use ingredients in the recipe as part of the props–oatmeal in a measuring cup, and powdered sugar and cinnamon in little dishes.  I knew it wasn’t the best, but I thought it was passable.

As I set up my presentation later that day next to the other ladies and gentlemen that entered, oh how unprepared I felt.  This was the first entry I saw and that unfailing hope nearly died on the spot.

Now this lady was prepared.  Miniature cast iron stove with miniature baked Zwieback rolls in miniature foil baking pans and the regular sized ones in front, with a gorgeous display with sunflowers, wheat, miniature enamelware used as backings for old family photos, and a sign over the top!

And here’s my sad presentation by comparison.

I didn’t even have a place mat.  I knew I was doomed.  But still…my hope was there.  Small, but alive.

I was watching the pie judging nearby and would get up and check on the Heritage Recipes contest judging from time to time.  I happened to get up just as they were reading and tasting mine…

It went fairly quick.  They each took a bite of the candy and set it down, reading the history about it and the recipe.  I felt even deeper that it would not place.  There were so many attractive entries…

I got caught up with talking to one of the other ladies that entered the contest and almost missed it when they announced I won third place!  The microphone was so quiet it would have been easier to hear her without it and I moved forward, catching only that they liked my presentation and the taste and history, and mostly how unique it was.

Everyone somehow knew it was me that had won despite no one there knowing my name, perhaps by the look of pure shock on my face, and they all turned to me, clapping.  If I had been alone, I would have been jumping up and down.  But knowing that almost-thirty-two-year-old women are generally more collected and mature, I smiled and nodded  and celebrated with the second and first place contestants.  Then I proceeded to exclaim “I can’t believe it, Dennis!” at random intervals throughout the remainder of the day.  So much for acting my age.

I went back later to see how they had put the winning entries on display and ran into Jane, the first place winner with her beautiful Zwieback.  We took pictures of each other in front of our displays and she sent this one to me by email:

I know I don’t look excited here but I was pretty exhausted by that point, only having had a couple hours of sleep.

She also sent me a picture of the second place entry, which I failed to catch somehow!  These are kolaches. a Czeck pastry (I actually have a recipe for them here, though my fillings aren’t the best):

And here’s Jane with her blue ribbon winner!

So there you have it.  I nearly opted out of a contest that I ended up placing in!  And if I hadn’t entered, I wouldn’t have met Jane, which I count as one of the best things abut my fair experience this year-the ladies I met.  There are definitely times when I regret my decisions, but as for this one, I’m just so happy I went through with it.  I can’t wait to give Grandma her ribbon! :)

If you’ve missed the previous entries in my 2012 State Fair series, you can check them out here:

2012 State Fair part 1: Murphy’s Law

2012 State Fair part 2: How I fared at the fair

Operaton Postcard for Beverly, and Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcake Bites


Remember The Postcard Project?  Yeah, I sort of lost steam on it and forgot about it myself!

However, I received this message from my friend, Margaret, that revived my sense of purpose.

***********

I have a cousin that has a postcard project going for a lady that will be 90 years old her birthday. I think this would be a great project for the postcard group. She will let us know how many postcards she received and I will let you know. Thanks whether yes or no.

This is how I received it:

“You are invited to join Operation Postcard! The Regency Manor, where my Mother-in-law, Mrs. Beverly Harris, lives, has a map of the US and they mark each state a postcard comes from. Sadly, the map is not very full. Will you help me flood the map and Beverly’s mailbox with a postcard from your state? Please have your postcard sent by March 15, 2012. Also send an email to me (purpleisland@sio.midco.net) so I can keep a running total of postcards being sent.

Mrs Beverly Harris
3425 Dakota Ave, #32
South Sioux City NE 68776

Thank you in advance for helping in this very special display of appreciation for one great lady…Charlene Harris”

************

OK, this makes me SUPER excited.  I’m so on this!  I already sent my postcard, and I told Margaret I’d spread the word  I hope many you will join me and that Mrs. Beverly will be able to mark every single state (and maybe even a few overseas countries) on that map!  I can just imagine her anticipation as the cards roll in each day and seeing her marking the map and later making a scrapbook with the cards.  I confirmed her address is a nursing home through a Google search, so just imagine the happiness all these cards will bring to this lady on her 90th birthday!

If you would like to get a card to her, please do it as soon as you can (by March 15th) and email her daughter, Charlene, at the email address she gave above.  Also, please put a return address label at the top if you don’t send a postcard featuring your state, that way she will know where it came from.  Thank you so much!

In the spirit of celebration, I thought I’d share this cupcake bite creation I made using leftovers from a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake (the cake domes I sliced off, plus the leftover frosting).  If you like the combination of chocolate and raspberries, you’re going to love these!

To make them, just use the original cupcake bites instructions, using the cake and frosting recipe from my Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake.  Or, if you make the cake and want to use the leftovers for these, here is the “recipe.”

Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcake Bites

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Printable recipe with picture

Cake domes leftover from a Dark Chocolate Cake
1-2 tablespoons leftover Raspberry Buttercream
4 ounces (2 rectangles) chocolate candy coating/almond bark
4 ounces pink candy melts
sprinkles for decoration

Crumble up the cake tops in a bowl with your hands, or in a food processor. Using your hands, mush in the frosting until well mixed. Roll the mixture into balls (I got ten but you might get more if you had really high domes on your cake) and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Melt the chocolate candy coating according to package directions, being careful not to overheat it. Spoon the melted coating into miniature peanut butter cup molds, filling about 1/3 full. As you fill each one, press a cake ball down into the chocolate until it comes up the sides to the top of the mold. Once the mold is full or you’ve done all the balls, place in the freezer while you melt the pink candy coating.

Melt the pink candy coating according to package directions. Add a little oil or shortening if your chocolate becomes too thick (Wilton is especially prone to this). Pop the cupcake bites out of the mold onto foil or waxed paper. Pick up one at a time by the chocolate bottoms and dip upside down into the pink candy coating, making sure it covers the whole cake ball. Gently shake off excess and set right-side-up on the foil/waxed paper. Immediately sprinkle with sprinkles and continue to dip and sprinkle until all cupcake bites are finished. Serve at room temperature. You don’t need to refrigerate unless they will be outside the fridge for more than three days.

Toffee Crack(ers)


Salty + sweet = addictive for me in most cases, and this saltine toffee is no exception.  It’s very easy to make, and very delicious to eat.  I’ve made it with and without the nuts and really, I like it both ways!

Toffee Crack(ers)

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Printable recipe with picture

40 saltine crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ c chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 10×15 cookie sheet with foil and spray with oil. Cover cookie sheet with the whole saltines (don’t crust them). Melt the sugar and butter together in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour mixture over saltines and spread evenly. Bake 5 minutes, or until the toffee is bubbling evenly over the whole surface of the crackers. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips Let sit for one minute, then spread melted chips with spatula. (An offset spatula works very well here.) If using nuts, sprinkle them on now, and press down lightly.  Cut on diagonal immediately or cool until firm, then break up; pieces can be frozen in an airtight container.

Yield: about 30 pieces

Recipe source: adapted from the back of a Kroger saltine box.

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