Food: Celebrate sweet season with homemade candy
THE KITCHEN DIVA
CHRISTMAS CONFETTI CANDY
2 pounds white chocolate chips
1/2 pound red and green peppermint sticks or crushed candy canes or crushed peppermint candies
Melt chocolate in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, watching carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Stir and heat for another 30 seconds, as needed, stirring until smooth.
Stir in crushed candies. Spread on parchment-paper-lined baking sheets. Chill in refrigerator 8 to 10 minutes.
Break into small pieces; store in airtight containers. Makes 20 servings (about 2-1/2 pounds)
Everywhere you look, there are holiday delicacies — and a staggering, even alarming, array of sweets. There is eggnog in the dairy section, Italian Panettones on every bakery aisle and oodles of Christmas cookies for sale. But the star of all the Christmas confections, kind of like the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, is the huge variety of holiday candies. Candy is a decadent pleasure throughout the year, but at Christmas-time it is a beloved staple, a classic confection.
Candy canes, the most famous candy of the season, date back to the 17th century. Legend has it that a very wise minister gave sugar sticks to the restless children in his congregation. When making these homemade treats, he turned the top of the sticks downward to resemble a shepherd’s staff. Much later, stripes were added, and the candy cane led the way for the multitude of colorful hard sugar candy shaped like ribbons, bows and disks, indicative of the holiday season we enjoy today. Amazingly, well into the early 21st century, many of these candies are still manufactured or are made by skilled home cooks.
During the holiday season, candy has become a special and festive part of the celebration of Christmas. Holiday candy may be the “once-a-year” luxurious chocolates you order from a specialty store. Or, the season may spark memories of a cherished recipe for homemade fudge or the divinity you make from your mother’s recipe.
The idea of making homemade candy may seem daunting. Many of the candies that our mothers and grandmothers made required a high level of skill and patience. Without the hands-on training passed down through generations, and with the pace of our modern lives, homemade candy at Christmas could quickly become a lost art. For those who want to preserve our past, Christmas is the best time to pull out the recipe for that sweet family favorite. Be daring, and try your hand at making candy. Your friends and family will be glad you did.
Home cooks have invented, and sometimes re-invented, many simple candy recipes. These are the best kind of recipes, ones that are not intimidating and are accessible even to novice cooks. Another important ingredient in a homemade candy recipe is that it can become a family tradition. Try this easy recipe for Christmas Confetti Candy. It’s great as a gift or to share with holiday visitors.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is http://www.divapro.com. Read Gina Harlow’s blog about food and gardening at http://www.peachesandprosciutto.com. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
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