Category Archives: Candy

Holiday Sweets

snickerdoodle 001Snickerdoodles

No matter which holiday you celebrate in December, I am certain there is a place for sweet food. This year, I am making some of my favorites again, and the recipes are already on this blog. I am going to call your attention to some of the many sweet eats that we have already.

Sweet eats come in many forms, although I suspect that many of us think first of cookies and candy. But, there are also dessert breads. And if you are having a party, perhaps a pie or cake will show at your table. If I don’t suggest enough ideas, then I would invite you to click on the “Index of Articles” at the top of the page and see if you can find something that will fill the bill.

Morning BunsMorning Buns

Before I get to the candy and cookies, let me call your attention to a couple bread items. Of course, in the breads there are the standard breakfast fair like Cinnamon Rolls (I actually have two recipes for these) or Cinnamon Bread. I will be making Morning Buns, myself. And then there are dessert breads such as Banana Tea Bread and my favorite- Steamed Bread Pudding!

If you are looking for something real different as a dessert, look at the Paska recipe. It is a winter treat, with candied fruit and all, but not a dense fruit cake.

Chocolate Bark with PeanutsChocolate Bark with Peanuts

In the area of candy, Fudge is always good start. If you want something very simple, I would suggest making a Chocolate Bark with nuts. I will be making Rum Balls because son-in-law James is looking forward to them. To fill out the candy possibilities, there is English Toffee, and Truffles; they both go over very well and make good gifts if you need to take one to someone that is hosting a party.

Cookies are another area where you can go simple, or do something special. Perhaps the easiest cookie I make is the Snickerdoodle; it is the first baking I ever did, and it is still one of my favorite cookies. Daughter Jenn has asked for Karo Lace cookies, and I will make those for her. I will also make a batch of Bon Bon cookies to test making them with almond flour instead of chopping the almonds.

kookie brittleKookie Brittle

Daughter Mindy likes to do her own baking, and she specializes in pan cookies. I will be visiting her and she has promised to make Lemon Squares and Kookie Brittle. Last year, I got the recipe for Slutty Brownies from her when I visited. She also mentioned Magic Cookies, she remembers those as the second kind that Marlys and the girls made each year, because the girls could do most of the work and participate in the cookie making.

Pub CookieGelato di Superior Pub Cookie

You will notice I haven’t mentioned the old standby of chocolate chip cookies. There are many recipes for those, although I only go with the Original Toll House cookie. However, if you would really like to blow someone’ mind with a giant cookie, there are a couple I can suggest. One is the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie, and the other is the original recipe for the Gelato di Superior Pub Cookie; your recipient will be chewing on one of those cookies for some time!

cutoutsCutout Cookies

And I nearly forgot the cutout cookies; again, these are something you can make with the kids letting them decorate the cookies after they have cooled. I have found the best recipe for making the cutout cookies is Ethel’s Sugar Cookies although the Kammerjunkere cookies also make good cutouts. For the decorating where you want icing, I would go with Royal Icing as it hardens nicely. If you are new to using Icing to decorate your cutout cookies, look at the article I wrote after taking the Cookie Decorating Class. About half way down the article you will find me talking about piping dams with the Royal Icing, and then flooding the area with thinned Royal Icing. I also talk about adding texture using sugars and candy pieces. I think if you make the Royal Icing, your young adult can learn to use it to decorate the cookies.

So, Have a sweet holiday, and we will find something new next year.

Errol

Halloween Cake Pops

all 001

Having just finished the Decorette Shop‘s Cake Pops class, I had some candy melts that needed to be used. I also felt I had learned something from making the Minion Army after the class. So I dug out the cake crumbs I had frozen, and started making my Halloween treats. There were many more lessons to be learned!

As I have said before, I do not like dipping chocolates, and dipping cake pops is the same thing. By the time you get the excess dripped off, the rest has started to set. If I were lucky, all the excess would have dripped off but more likely, I still have some thick spots, and a bunch of tails where the drips have set before leaving the cake pop.

skeleton 001

In class, Linette the instructor had trouble getting the dipped pretzels for the skeleton to stay in place on the skeleton’s stick. I had thought about that and decided that I would try doing it in reverse order. I would dip the pretzels, let them dry, and then put them on the stick before even worrying about the skeleton’s head. The trick I saw was in mounting the stick horizontally so that the pretzels would hang down while the glue dried. After I did the bones, I worked on the heads. Here I learned that if you are going to use shapes for the cake pop, the shapes must be exaggerated. I shaped the heads so the chin area was narrower than the forehead, and then I poked holes for the eyes, nose and mouth. After gluing the heads to the sticks, and dipping the heads, I discovered that all the indentations had filled in and were lost. So the face got painted on standing out from the skeleton rather than embedded into the skull.

I used Royal Icing for all the extra design work on the cake pops, except for the bug eyes which I bought and glued on.

The other thing about the skeleton is that when I bought the pretzel, I just grabbed a bag. I think now that the pretzels are out of proportion to the skeleton. I should have looked for a smaller size pretzel which would have kept the ribs in closer to the body. Linette had said that we could also glue pretzel pieces onto the ribs to represent the arms. I gave it a try but decided it was going to be very difficult to hold the pieces in place while the candy melt set, so I skipped that step.

ghosts 002

While I had the white candy melt warm and working, I also decided to do a few ghosts. In this case, I took the ball with which all cake pops start, and tried to flair out the bottom to be like the flowing sheet that we all think of when we make our ghost. I think the ghosts look weak because a couple of the other cake pops have so much size. However, the ghosts are the correct size for cake pops. A cake pop should start with a small ball of dough, not bigger that about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. As it gets larger, the dough has trouble holding together through the dipping and tapping off the excess operations.

witch 001

The witch is also something I thought about how to engineer, and came up short in a couple ways. First, I made the hats. Here I rolled the ball of dough into a cone, and when it was coated I placed it on a wafer of an Oreo cookie. Notice I said when it was coated; I tried to dip the cones without a stick, and failed. The candy melt would set on the dipping fork and other implements I used before I could get the excess melt off the cone, then I couldn’t get the cone free from the dipping tool. So I ended up “painting” the candy melt down the sides of the cone using a spoon. When I finished covering the cone, I placed it on the Oreo wafer.

Having learned from the skeletons that any features had to be exaggerated, I ended up making the witch’s heads too large so that I could get a nose and sink the eyes. The original witches were at the top of the stick, and after dipping the head, I would place the hat on top of the head where it would glue to the fresh green candy melt. Unfortunately, the hat size was small compared to the head, and appears comically on top of the head. So I experimented. I drilled a small hole in the bottom of the Oreo wafer- 3/16 inch- and made the witch head smaller and moved it about 1/2 inch down the stick. After dipping the head, I slid the hat onto the top of the stick. It all looks much better in proportion.

pumpkins 001

Finally, I used all the rest of the cake crumb dough I had in making pumpkins. I had tried to use some shaping on the dough to give the vertical segmentation that is natural to the pumpkins, but like most of my shaping, it seems to disappear in the dipping and dripping. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the pumpkins is that I used broken pretzel pieces as stems.

At this point, I have completed my Halloween Cake Pops for this year. The photos all show how I decided to present my cake pops; I filled a clear plastic 12 ounce glass with M&M candies to give it weight, and then stuck the sticks of the cake pops into the glass. It works, and the receiver also has a lot of M&M candy after the cake pops are gone.

I need to get some answers to why my dipping experience is not what I think it should be. I hope this gives you some ideas if you are making cake pops for Halloween.

Cake Pops and More

practice 006

The title of this article is the same as a class I took at the Decorette Shop. Then, a couple days later, I decided to try my hand at home to help reinforce what I learned at the class. In this article, I will try to explain what I learned to do, and not to do. In addition, I have decided to put a lot of photos into this article; there are photos of other students work, photos of my work in the class, and finally photos of the work I have done after class to reinforce the ideas of the class. This first photo- my army of minions- is from the latter group; other photos in that group will show you the army coming together.

To start, I have to say that the class did impart a lot of information, but like all classes, it was hard to really practice; it just takes too much material and equipment to let everyone have their own space. The class started with each of us receiving a quarter of a layer of cake, and needing to convert it into crumbs in bowls that we brought using forks that we had also brought to class. Once we had the cake into crumbs, Linette (the instructor) poured some white ganache into our bowls and we stirred and cut the ganache in so that all the crumb would stick together. Once we reached that stage, we started taking some of the crumb and rolling it into balls.

The ganache is a very stiff version; it has a ratio of 1 to 4 – one part hot heavy cream to 4 parts chocolate. It needs to solidify in a short time to hold the cake shapes together. I also believe there should be a couple notes about the cake crumb, and the balls. First, the crumb must be uniform; I think a lot of the failures we saw at the class, and some I found repeating at home were because there were lumps in the crumb balls. And the balls themselves need to be tightly packed. They need to hold together through all the operations of inserting the stick, and dipping them.

At this point, we started sharing the pots of melted candy melts. The sticks need to be glued into the cake crumb – or other objects that are being dipped. So the end of the stick is dipped and then inserted into the cake crumb object. (we also had marshmallows, Rice Crispy treats, and Double Stuffed Oreos to dip and decorate). It was suggested to put the object on the stick into the styrofoam block we were using to hold the dipped objects. For the most part, I think this was a mistake; we were waiting for the glue on the stick to solidify and we still were trying to let the ganache solidify. So some student’s objects started falling down the stick, or falling apart. I laid my objects down to let the “glues” dry.

practice 001 In this photo, you can see the “glue” that was wiped off the stick when I inserted it into the sausage shape cake crumb objects I used for reinforcement practice.

While it might seem appropriate to put the cake crumb and stick into the refrigerator to cool and lock both the ganache and “glue” tighter, we were warned that this is a no-no. Cooling shrinks the ganache and crumb slightly, and then after it has been dipped and is at room temperature again, it expands, and will crack the candy melt coating.

Now we started the dipping process. I have never liked dipping chocolate centers, and I felt the same way about dipping the cake crumb shapes. Mostly things worked out fairly well. I had a failure with the Rice Crispy treat that I think I can understand now. The candy melt needs to not be too hot. My experience with chocolate said that I had the smoothest results with the temperature in the 90 degree area. When it gets over that into 100 degrees, I had problem. In the case of the class, the white melt did not have a temperature control. I think it got too hot, and then melted the marshmallow that was holding the Rice Crispy treat together. I noticed that a lot of the classes Rice Crispy treats were also failing; one that didn’t fail did not use the white melt.

Pops 003This is a photo from class; the red apple has been painted with disco powder after the red candy melt dried. Below, you can see a better picture of the orange pumpkin. The green marshmallow with black hair shows the artistic capability of the student- all their own idea. And finally in the back corner there is the start of a ghost that melted the glue and slid down the stick- probably as I said, the white candy melt was getting too hot.

Pops 003a

The candy melt is really a chocolate based product, and so it has to be treated like chocolate; not too hot and never get water in it. However, the best way to keep an even temperature is to use a water bath, so there is a real conflict. I used water in an electric fry pan as my constant temperature. The other thing is that the candy melt needs to be fairly deep so that it can cover the dipped object. For that reason, the shape of the container is important. Linette suggested using mugs, and as the picture below shows, I used a rather tall mug for my yellow candy melt in my practice session.

practice 002

Of course, the dipped object can not be laid down until the candy melt has dried and hardened. The easiest method of holding the sticks upright is to use styrofoam to hold the pops.

Pops 005This is another students work.

I tried using a couple drying racks to make a grid to hold the sticks upright, but the spacing was too loose. However, I did take a couple pictures that way, which are shown here.

PicMonkey CollageThings to notice- the pumpkin stem, the round green of the oreo, and the rib bones on the marshmallow skeleton.

Once the candy melt is dry, there are many ways to decorate it. Some of the pops show redipping in a second color. The pumpkin show using a piece of broken pretzel as a stem, and using the food marking pens to draw the face- also the face on my marshmallow skeleton. The oreo has a couple eyes glued on; there are many small pre-made items that one can buy for decorating such as the eyes. The ribs of the skeleton are pretzels that were dipped first, and after they dried they were “glued” to the stick.

practice 005For my minions, I glued an eye on each one, then used Royal Icing colored black to go around the eye and around the head to may the minion’s glass.

I think from my practice reinforcement session, I learned that you do not want to be making all sorts of pops in one session. You only want to have a few things active at a time. Of course, in a class where they are trying to give us ideas and all, there is a wild bunch of things going on at the same time.

I am also going to still look for some better way to hold the sticks upright. I keep finding small pieces of styrofoam that were broken off the block and of course, it does not like to be swept up and dumped in the trash- it holds on for dear life.

November 2016: I had occasion to make some cake pops this month, and found myself changing a few of the things I say in this article. I had one layer of a white cake in the freezer that I used. After breaking it into crumb (I used the food processor to get an even crumb), I added a 4 to 1 part white chocolate ganache. It was not strong enough to hold the crumb together when the globes of dough were dipped into the candy melts. I ended up adding more melted white chocolate so that the balls were very firm and tight. This worked very well. I’m sorry I don’t have measurements for how much total ganache I used or for what the final ration of white chocolate to cream was. Just be certain that the balls you make are very tight and tough.

The second thing I found was that the thickness of the melted candy into which the balls are dipped works best if it is very thin. I used the paramount crystals (2 Tbs) to help thin the melt to make dipping better. There are many ways to thin the melts to make them easier to use, but Paramount Crystals seem to be the best way; they add fat into the pot. Others have used shortening, and cocoa butter, and even paraffin wax to thin the melts, although most have side effects that are absent with the paramount crystals.

I find with both my molded chocolates and cake pops that the melt seems to thicken with time as I work, and I add some crystals every once in a while to keep the melt flowing nicely.

S’more Pops

smorepops 004

I saw this idea and it is so simple I just had to try it, and yes, then give it to you. It looks to me that it would be a good way to involve the children; they can do everything but melt the chocolate. An adult should do that, but once melted, its temperature is only about 90 degrees F, so it is less than body temperature and not a danger for the children.

I say an adult should melt the chocolate because whether you do it on the stove using a Bain Marie, or in the microwave with several 10-20 second shots, neither of those techniques are for the younger children.

I think everything is fairly clear from the photo; Start by pushing a pretzel stick into the marshmallow. Then dip the marshmallow in the melted chocolate; I like the idea of leaving part of the marshmallow showing since a S’more shows the marshmallow. While the chocolate is still wet on the pop, dip it in the graham cracker crumbs. Then set it on a piece of parchment paper for a few minutes to let the chocolate harden. That is all there is to it! I did learn that the chocolate in the dipping pot will start to set up and harden after 10 or 12 pops have been dipped, and I reheated mine in the microwave for 5 seconds to get it melted again.

Fillings for Chocolates

Since taking the class at Blake’s Decorette ShopChocolate Boxes and Truffles Class– I have been making chocolates in molded shells. I like the way those come out better than the dipped chocolates. And I have experimented with quite a few fillings, including those I got in the class. I thought it might be time to either point to the fillings, or write them up here.

I also took a poll among friends as to which chocolate fillings were the best. It is interesting that fillings based on cookies seem to be universally liked among the best. When it came to using truffles as the filling, opinions got mixed.

This was universally the best liked filling. I got the recipe from the chocolate class; I had never heard of Biscoff Cookies and Spread, and finally found them at the World Market.

Biscoff Ganache

  • 1 cup semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Biscoff Cookie spread
  • 20 Biscoff Cookies (crushed)

Melt the chocolate, stir in cookie spread and crushed cookies. Let sit until firm enough to roll.

Probably the second best liked filling was the simple one made from OREO cookies. I happened to find this on the internet.

OREO Cookie

  • 16 oz package of OREO chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese

Crush 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in a medium bowl.

Add the cream cheese and mix until well blended.

The review comments for the OREO cookie filling mentioned that others had tried making other cookie type fillings. The most common mentioned was Nutter Butter. So I tried that, but discovered that you have to be a peanut butter lover to like it. It wasn’t quite as popular as the OREO cookie filling

Nutter Butter Cookie

  • 1 package Nutter Butter cookies
  • 8 oz cream cheese

Crush the cookies to fine crumbs and place in a medium bowl. Add the cream cheese and mix until well blended.

Once I got using cookies as fillings, I started searching the cookie aisle in the store for interesting flavors. I found a Lemon-Coconut cookie, and made that into a filling. I would say it was interesting, but it didn’t get a lot of votes.

Lemon Coconut Cookie

  • 7 oz Lemon Coconut cookies
  • 4 oz cream cheese

The cookies come in a smaller package, so I reduced the amount of cream cheese accordingly. Crush the cookies into fine crumbs and add the cream cheese; mix until well blended.


My last cookie type filling was a Fudge-Mint cookie. I felt the mint flavor was too strong, but people that like mint really liked the chocolates with this filling.

Fudge Mint Cookie

  • 10 oz Fudge Mint cookies
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract

Crush the cookies into fine crumbs and add the cream cheese and peppermint extract; mix until well blended.


I felt I needed to try another idea that I got from the chocolate class- jam with white chocolate ganache. They gave me the recipe for the white chocolate ganache, and believe me, a simple ganache doesn’t work. I tried a couple different fillings that didn’t work because they were lighter than the dark chocolate I used for the shell of the chocolates, and so the sealing chocolate would sink and the filling would rise and the shell was never sealed with the filling inside. Ouch! Like the simple white chocolate ganache, port is too light to stay in the chocolate when I went to seal it.

Jam with White Chocolate Ganache

  • 16 0z white chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 10 oz Heavy Cream
  • 4 Tbs butter (unsalted)
  • 4 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Combine the cream, butter and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Pour the heated butter/cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 -3 monutes. Vigorously stir the mixture until all the chocolate is melted; then slowly add the vanilla and stir until a smooth ganache is formed.

I use about 1/4 tsp of jam in the bottom of the shell, then pipe the white chocolate ganache on top of that. I like to use a red jam such as raspberry or strawberry.

Last year, I was making truffles, and developed my own recipe for a coffee and chocolate truffle. I took that recipe and used it as a filling, and it works very well.

Coffee & Chocolate Truffle

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, in small pieces
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, in small pieces
  • 1/4 lb butter, in small pieces
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbs Instant Expresso Coffee
  • 2 Tbs. Kahlua
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Measure into a couple dishes the sugar and coffee powder, and the Kahlua and vanilla seasoning.

Put the chocolate and butter into a medium bowl and melt the ingredients using either a bane marie or microwave technique.

When the chocolate & butter are all melted and smooth, take it off the heat and stir in the sugar and seasonings.

Now wait for the chocolate dough to come down in temperature so that it is workable. I use it at a stage where it can be piped. It will keep in the refrigerator, and then when wanting to use it again, heat it for a few seconds in the microwave, and stir it to re-incorporate the butter.

I like these with a touch of salt; I put a few grains of sea salt into the shell before piping in the filling.

When I was trying to develop my coffee/chocolate truffle recipe, I also found on the internet, truffle recipes from Ina Garten and Alex Guarnaschilli. I liked both of those truffles, and made them again as fillings for chocolate shells.

Other Truffle Recipes (Ina’s and Alex’s)

Because these are published elsewhere, I am not allowed to republish the recipes without permission from the site owners. Thus I am limited to giving pointers to the recipes.
Alex Guarnaschelli’s Valentine’s Day Truffles
Alex’s truffle as filling is best with a few grains of sea salt placed into the shell before piping the truffle mixture into the shell.
Ina Garten’s Chocolate Truffles
In all cases of using truffle recipes, be careful to not include any powdering of the truffle, but only use the center material of the truffle. Truffle recipes almost always include something that the truffle is rolled in after it is formed.

At the chocolate class, I got a hint about making a Peanut Butter Ganache. Since a lot of people like peanut butter, I made a ganache as a filling; I am surprised not more people liked it. How does Reese make their peanut butter cups so popular??

Peanut Butter Ganache

  • 2 parts peanut butter
  • 1 part confectioners’ sugar

I think this would be best using smooth peanut butter; it is difficult to control the placement of the nut fragments in chunky peanut butter.

This summer, I was experimenting with salted caramel in cookies. It seems to be a very popular flavor these days, and so I wanted to try using it as a filling for chocolate shells. There are two good sources of salted caramel; one is chips that I bought at the Decorette shop, and the other is Rolos. In this case, I used the chips and converted them into a simple ganache.

Salted Caramel Ganache

  • 16 oz salted caramel chips
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons butter

Heat the cream and butter until it is just starting to boil, then pour it over the chips. Wait a couple minutes for the heat to transfer to the chips, and then stir vigorously until the chips have all melted and the ganache has smoothed out.

In all cases except for the jam, I put the filling into a piping bag to use it. This sometimes required heating the filling first for a few seconds in the microwave, and then working the mixture until it was smooth and able to be piped. All of the mixtures kept easily in the refrigerator between chocolate making sessions.

November 2016: I had occasion to make some of the molded chocolates this month, and found a couple tricks that helped. First, I had been having a problem getting the chocolates out of the mold; many would break in different ways, but usually it was the bottom and part of the side would separate from the top. I learned that I was filling the molds too full of filling, and the bottom was not getting a good adhesion to the top and sides.

I also allowed the chocolate to set longer between steps. Once I filled the mold, I waited a minute before dumping the extra chocolate out of the mold. Then I waited again for a minute before piping the filling into the mold and making certain it was down in the mold and not going to interfere with the bottom chocolate. Finally after filling the bottom with chocolate and scraping the mold clean of extra chocolate, I let the mold sit for 7 minutes to get a good connection between the bottom and the sides. Finally, I put the mold in the freezer for 7 minutes and got it good and cold; when it came out, the chocolate had shrunk enough that the pieces came out of the mold fairly easily. I did learn that there were some spots in the freezer that got the molds colder that other spots, and it was the colder spots that worked best.

Finally, I used paramount crystals with the melted chocolate to make it smoother and easier to handle. I used 2 Tablespoons with the 11 ounces of chocolate in the bain marie, and then when that all was melted and smooth, I added 5 ounces of chocolate to start the tempering of the melted chocolate. Later, after making several molds of chocolates, I felt the melt was starting to get thick and added another tablespoon of crystals to the melted chocolate.

Chocolate Boxes and Truffles Class

I took another class at Blake’s Decorette Shop. This one was on making Chocolate Boxes and Truffles. I think a more apt name would be Using Tempered Chocolate. We used the tempered chocolate in two ways; first to mold chocolate boxes and cups, and to mold the shells for truffles, and then second to dip truffles to coat them with a hard chocolate shell.

choco 001Chocolate Cups

To make the chocolate boxes, we used special molds that created the two pieces of the box. We also used a mold that created chocolate cups. The trick was to fill the mold with melted chocolate that was tempered, dump out the excess chocolate so only the sides of the mold are covered, and then let the chocolate set. We also learned to paint the mold with Disco Dust before filling it with chocolate; this leaves a color on the finished product.

choco 007Chocolate Box with Disco Dust on lid

choco 003Dipped Truffles

We learned two ways to put a hard tempered chocolate coat on truffles; the first method was again using molds, and the second method was to dip the truffle centers in the melted chocolate.

choco 006Molded Truffles- square mold and disco cust

choco 005Molded Truffles- nearly round mold

So the real trick is to first get the chocolate into the tempered state, and then to hold its temperature at about 90 degrees so you can work with it. I know my previous experiences have always had problems because the chocolate cools and then can’t be used until it is remelted.

I have been thinking about how I can maintain a constant temperature for the melted chocolate. I had heard some people say that they put a heating pad under the bowl of chocolate. I decided to try my electric fry pan. Ninty degrees is low enough that I am not afraid of causing a fire, so I lined the fry pan with a hand towel to minimize hot spots directly over the fry pan’s heating element. Then, I filled a Corning bowl with water at 90 degrees, inserted an instant read thermometer and adjusted the fry pan temperature control to the point that the thermometer stayed constant at 90 degrees.

I think I have a solution. I hope to test it with real chocolate in September once my busy summer is somewhat past.

Chocolate Fudge

When I made this recipe for the holiday season, it quickly was apparent that I needed to work on changes to the recipe. The original recipe is at the bottom of this post so you can see it.

Mary Boese was a friend from our days in Forest Grove, Oregon. Our daughters were in school together, and our house was a gathering place for the students after school until their parents could pick them up.

The reasons I felt a need to modify the recipe is first, at one point in the directions it says to “spread into three 8 x 8 buttered pans”. Luckily, I was giving most of the fudge away so it didn’t bother me too much at that point. But, who wants to make so much at a time unless you are producing for some reason.

The second item that caught my eye was the need for 16 ounces of marshmallow cream. That is a problem; the big bottle of marshmallow cream is only 13 ounces now, and there is a small bottle that is 7 ounces. It is obvious that this recipe was originally developed around the availability of marshmallow cream, and it only came in 16 ounce bottles. As a result, we need a lot of ingredients and end up making the three 8 x 8 pans.

fudge 001

I originally cut the fudge into 2 x 2 inch pieces, and that is what the photo shows- the original fudge in large pieces.

After working on the altered version of the recipe, I took it to some chocolate lovers to give me feedback on whether I had kept the good taste and all of the recipe. One thing I did in altering the recipe is to put it into a larger pan; then I cut it into 1 x 2 inch pieces; my test audience all said that they thought the pieces I took to the test kept the good taste and they liked the smaller pieces I had formed. In fact, they did not want me to make the pieces any thicker. So, I am recommending that you spread the fudge into a 10 x 15 inch pan, and then cut it into 1 x 2 inch pieces.

I also decided to do away with the marshmallow creme; it is sticky and it is not necessary for the marshmallow to be in a creme state. So this it the final results of my changes.

Chocolate Fudge

(Mary Boese 1983, modified by Errol Crary 2014)

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. miniature marshmallow
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 oz. evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cups chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Combine in a large bowl the marshmallows, chocolate chips, butter and vanilla.
  • Boil sugar and milk together for 9 minutes. Pour over ingredients in large bowl. Beat until almost set. Stir in nuts.
  • Spread into 10 x 15 x 1 inch buttered pan. Allow to set up in refrigerator.


Using marshmallows instead of the creme means you need to beat the mixture that melts everything together a little harder, but it works.

You may use pans other than the 10 x 15 that I recommend; the results are just thicker fudge pieces. For example, a 9 x 13 pan would make pieces about half the depth as an 8 x 8 pan, and in the photo you can see the depth of an 8 x 8 piece. Everyone said that the 2 x 2inch pieces made in the 8 x 8 pan were too big, and most people cut them into fourths.

Here is Mary’s original recipe:
Chocolate Fudge
(Mary Boese 1983)
16 oz. marshmallow creme
36 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 lb. butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
15 oz. evaporated milk
2 cups chopped walnuts

Combine in a large bowl the marshmallow creme, chocolate chips, butter and vanilla.

Boil sugar and milk together for 9 minutes. Pour over ingredients in large bowl. Beat until almost set. Stir in nuts.

Spread into three 8 x 8 buttered pans. Allow to set up in refrigerator.

Rum Balls

Here is a recipe that is great for holidays. These little candies are a challenge to the truffle candies. Whereas the truffle gives you the chocolate flavor in depth, the rum ball has little chocolate flavor, but instead hits you with the taste of booze. And if you do not like rum as a flavor, then you may substitute bourbon or whiskey.

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Rum Balls

(This recipe comes to us from Peggy Whilihan, from the recipe book Calendar of Kitchen Halos, by The Ladies Of Saint Charles Borromeo ).

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, (12 oz. box)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup rum (or bourbon or whiskey)

Directions:

Blend wafer crumbs, powdered sugar, cocoa and nuts. Add corn syrup and rum. Mix well.

Roll into small balls and dust with powdered sugar. If the dough sticks to your hands, “flour” them with powdered sugar.

Set cookies aside for 24 hours, then store in tight tins.

I think the appeal of the rum balls is that when you take one, you can feel a little naughty with having a smidgeon of alcohol.

English Toffee

English Toffee is a favorite when it comes to Holiday Season candy. I find it difficult to make because of the changing state of the sugar from hard-ball to caramel is so fast you need to move quickly and use subjective judgment. There is no time to use a candy thermometer or the cold water testing of the sugar’s state. The key is the dark golden brown color, but not so dark as to be burned.

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I think there is a psychological factor in cooking the toffee that in order to prevent the burning I do not let the heating of the sugar advance completely to the caramel state. I have burned the sugar at times, and the burned sugar tends to be stuck to the bottom of the pan; so the problem is not with the caramelized sugar going into the toffee, but in cleaning the pan. And, my sister Rachael taught me how to do that- there is a powder known as Barkeepers Friend that seems to take the black burn right out of the pan. I buy my Barkeepers Friend at one of the Big Box building goods stores.

English Toffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1 package (12 ounces) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Stir butter and sugar together in a large sauce pan over high heat until mixture is melted.
  • Continue cooking while stirring constantly until toffee is very smooth and dark golden brown (about 10 minutes).
  • Add almonds and cook one minute longer, being careful not to burn.
  • Spread in a 9″ x 13″ buttered pan. Allow to cool several minutes.
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top. As chips melt, spread over entire surface.
  • Cool in refrigerator. Knock from pan and break into pieces.
  • Stores well in a covered can in refrigerator; I place wax paper between layers.


While the recipe is for a 9 x 13 inch pan, the recipe easily divides into half and can be made in a 7 x 9 pan. I have done that many times and recommend starting that way if you are not confident about boiling the sugar.

If your pan is glass, I would recommend lining it with foil before buttering it; I have been successful buttering with PAM spray. I broke a glass pan trying to knock the toffee from an unlined pan.

You are going to get a little burn in the bottom of your sauce pan; get the Barkeepers Friend I mentioned previously and it comes right out.

Daughter Mindy saw someone making English Toffee and putting it in a 10 x 15 inch pan; she felt the depth of the toffee looked better than when in the 9 x 13 pan. If you want to do this, you should increase the amount of chocolate chips to cover the bigger areas; try 16 ounces instead of the 12 ounces as a starting point.

Do NOT use the point of your good knife to break up the toffee. I lost the point of my knife that way. Depending upon how close to caramel the sugar got, you might even need to go out to the garage and get a chisel and hammer to break up the toffee.

Peanut Chocolate Bark

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This recipe is called Peanut-Chocolate Bark, but in reality, it is a discussion about how to work with chocolate, to temper it, and thus use it as a coating for some types of things. Using the tempered chocolate with some salty nuts, makes an excellent candy by itself. I have made other Barks using almonds, and even once with toffee chips. With this recipe, and my notes, we will cover all of these matters.

Peanut Chocolate Bark

  • 12 oz Milk Chocolate (a bag of chocolate chips)
  • 1 Tablespoon Shortening
  • 4 oz. SemiSweet Chocolate
  • 2/3 cup Salted, Roasted Peanuts
  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the Milk Chocolate. The original recipe used the microwave technique, but if you want to use a bain marie, it will work just as well.
  3. Stir-in the Shortening
  4. Stir-in the SemiSweet Chocolate.
  5. Spread on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  6. Sprinkle on the Peanuts, and press into the chocolate

That is as simple as it is; the trick is to not burn the Milk Chocolate. So discussing how to melt the Milk Chocolate is what follows, as well as a discussion on tempering the chocolate.

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You can melt the chocolate in a bain marie; you know, the bowl set over a simmering kettle of water that does not touch the bowl. It is the most controlled method for melting the chocolate, and after using it a few times, I am now an advocate. However, I note that some of the chefs are now using the microwave technique.

To melt the chocolate in the microwave, heat the bowl on HIGH for 15 seconds. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir the chocolate; you want to move the melted chocolate from the bottom center where the heat is highest, up the sides of the bowl. Now repeat the heating and stirring. After a few iterations, the remaining chocolate will melt just from the heat in the chocolate that is already melted. Keep stirring until all of the chocolate seems melted. Do not over heat the chocolate in the microwave; it can scorch very easily with the high heat created in the microwave.

The latest time I used the microwave technique, there seemed to be no change in the chocolate chips after the first couple heatings, then the spatula seemed to be sticky and drag for another couple heatings, finally, after the fifth or sixth heating, the chocolate stopped grabbing the spatula and seemed to be smoothing out. This is when I stopped using the microwave and just stirred until the chocolate was all melted.
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Once you have most of the chocolate melted, use a spatula and work the chocolate for a few seconds to move the hot chocolate around. After the chocolate is melted, add the Shortening and work it in, then add the SemiSweet Chocolate and work it in. Finally, spread the whole thing thinly on the parchment paper cookie sheet and sprinkle the nuts on the chocolate. (I have occasionally added the nuts to the chocolate, stirring them in, so that they don’t fall off when I break the Bark into pieces).
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While the recipe calls for peanuts, you can use any type of nut- salty tastes good with chocolate. You can even use prezels, or fruit like raisens. It all works the same.

Using less Chocolate While the recipe uses a total of 1 pound of chocolate chips mixed between the milk chocolate and the semi-sweet chocolate, I didn’t like having to open a second bag of chocolate chips and not using all of them. In fact, you can make the Bark by dividing the milk chocolate chips (or whatever flavor you decide to use). You need to reserve 25% of your chocolate for the tempering action, so if you have a 12 oz. bag of chips, measure out 3 oz. for the role of what is the semi-sweet chocolate in the recipe.

Tempering Chocolate All chocolate we buy is already tempered; that is what makes it hard and snappy. But when we melt it, it loses its temper. Now the wonderful thing is that a small amount of tempered chocolate added to the melted chocolate convinces the melted chocolate that it wants to be tempered and so it sets up its crystals as tempered chocolate. That is why we hold out some of the chocolate until we are nearly finished working with it, and then add it to the mixture. Tempering gives the chocolate a more glossy look and a firmer, more snappy texture.

Coating with Tempered Chocolate Previously, I have suggested that we could coat fruit and other things with the tempered chocolate to give them a nice coating. I am going to back away from some of those thoughts. There are a couple problems to overcome.

First, using the microwave technique for melting the chocolate seems to leave the temperature of the chocolate just above the melting value. I find that there is not enough time to work with the chocolate before it is trying to set up and gets too stiff to use as a dip.

Second, we must keep all moisture away from the chocolate, or it seizes. When chocolate seizes, it becomes hard and grainy. A single drop of water or whiff of steam triggers particles in the cocoa butter to solidify into a dull mass. (Some chefs think the steam from the bain marie is somehow getting into the bowl of chocolate, and why they are looking at the microwave technique for melting)

When we try to coat fruit, we are suddenly bringing moisture into contact with our chocolate. I can only say that for now, I have to leave the chocolate coated strawberries and bananas to the professionals. We can, however, coat our truffles, or the pretzels.
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I use a separate bowl for the chocolate that I am using for coating; primarily, this is to keep from contaminating the main bowl of chocolate. If somehow what I am coating is not perfectly dry, then I don’t lose the whole batch to seizing.
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Cooling the Bark and other Tempered Chocolate If we thought the chocolate was persnickety with respect to moisture and needing guidance to become tempered after being melted, then there is one more area in which we need to be careful. Tempered chocolate doesn’t like to be cooled too fast! It wants to be kept at a temperature of about 68 – 70 degrees until it is fully set. That means you don’t want to refrigerate it. When we cool it too fast, the fats (cocoa butter) set up first, and the result is the chocolate gets grey streaks through it and does not have the sheen that we were trying to get with tempering.
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I purposely cooled the pan on the left in the refrigerator to hopefully help you understand what happens. This close-up shows the dull, grey streaks in that chocolate.
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I think something else also happened; when I broke the slab up, it did not have a temper, but was limp. I think there was free moisture in the refrigerator which caused seizing.

While the basic recipe for making a Bark is very simple, I have taken this opportunity to expand your knowledge about working with chocolate. Luckily, truffles are not tempered chocolate, so while they may seem more complicated than the Bark candy, they don’t have many of the problems that show up when we do more than just make the Bark candy with tempered chocolate. Do try to make Bark candy, using the peanuts, or any of the other suggested flavors; then, when you feel comfortable with the basic tempering, move forward and try coating something that doesn’t add moisture to the chocolate. Look at how pretty the truffles appear with their coating of tempered chocolate.
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