Quick Bite: Homemade holiday candies
These homemade candies are easy to whip up and make great gifts for the holiday season
’Tis the season to be jolly, but with deadlines to meet, kids home on break, and a list this long to check off before the holidays, the old adage is easier said than done. This year, simplify, with our easier-than-they-look sweets that take novice talent but yield plenty of oohs and ahs.
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. instant espresso granules
- 12 oz. good-quality bittersweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
- Finely ground pistachios
- Shredded sweetened coconut
- Cocoa powder
- Crushed, toasted, and skinned hazelnuts
Heat the heavy cream and espresso granules in a double boiler over medium heat. Once warmed, add the chocolate, stirring until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly before transferring the mixture to the refrigerator. Chill until firm, about one hour. Once firm, use a melon baller or miniature scoop to portion out loosely rounded teaspoonfuls of chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (They do not have to be perfectly round at this point, only equally portioned.) Return the chocolate to the refrigerator for a few minutes once all portions have been made: this allows mixture to firm up slightly. (Truffles can be made a day in advance up to this point and kept covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature for 10 minutes before proceeding the next day.) While the truffles are chilling, line the desired toppings out in individual shallow dishes. Once you are ready to form the truffles, remove the portioned chocolate from the refrigerator and roll each between your palms to form a ball. (The surface will soften slightly when doing this, allowing the toppings to stick). Working with one at a time, coat each truffle in the desired topping and place back on parchment-lined surface. Store prepared truffles covered in the refrigerator or freezer. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3 packets unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup water, divided
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
Spray the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the cornstarch and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle some of the cornstarch mixture over the bottom of the baking pan, shaking to evenly coat. Shake off any excess lumps or powder and set both pan and cornstarch mixture aside for later use. Pour the gelatin and 1/2-cup of the water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk. Immediately proceed to the next step. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and corn syrup with the remaining 1/2-cup of water over medium heat. Stir over medium heat until sugar and corn syrup dissolve. Increase heat to high and attach a candy thermometer. Let the mixture cook (do not stir) until the temperature reaches 240ºF. Remove from heat and, with the mixer set on low speed, add the sugar solution to the gelatin mixture in a slow, steady stream. Once combined, whip the mixture on high for 10 to 12 minutes until the batter has thickened (batter will double in size), is milky white, and forms medium peaks. Stir in the vanilla extract. Meanwhile, heat the coconut over medium heat in a dry nonstick skillet. Once the coconut starts to brown, stir constantly to avoid burning. When it is evenly golden, remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour marshmallow batter into prepared pan and spread with a rubber spatula to form one even layer. Sprinkle toasted coconut generously over the top, gently pressing down to adhere. Leave marshmallows uncovered and at room temperature to dry overnight. Cut into 12 squares. Coat sides of portioned marshmallows in remaining cornstarch mixture and store in an airtight container. Fresh marshmallows will keep tightly covered for two days at room temperature, or up to one week if refrigerated.
makes approx. 2 lbs.
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tbs. molasses
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- Dash of salt
- 2 cups chopped pecans, divided
- 1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
Spray a 10 x 15-inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan over low heat. Add the sugars, water, molasses, allspice, and salt, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine and dissolve sugars. Increase to medium heat and attach a candy thermometer. Let the mixture boil, stirring constantly, until thermometer registers 300ºF, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1½ cups of the pecans. Pour the toffee onto the prepared sheet, spreading all the way to the edges. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and allow toffee to harden for one minute. Spread the chocolate over the toffee until completely melted. Sprinkle the remaining pecans over the top and refrigerate until completely chilled, about two hours. Break into bark pieces and transfer to airtight container. Toffee will keep tightly covered and refrigerated for two weeks.
makes approx. 40
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
- 1 Tbs. hot water
- 3 drops oil flavoring, such as cinnamon, peppermint, or spearmint
- 2 drops desired food coloring
- 1½ cups plus 2 Tbs. powdered sugar
- Flexible rubber candy molds
- Superfine sugar* as needed
Combine the melted butter with water, flavoring, and coloring. Stir in the powdered sugar with a rubber spatula until well-combined, free of lumps, and evenly colored. Invert the candy mold and coat with superfine sugar, shaking off any excess. Firmly pack the mold with the colored sugar mixture, scraping off any excess to make the candy level with the mold and in line with the mold’s shape. Pop candy out of mold onto a surface lined with a paper towel. Repeat process for each candy. Allow candies to harden overnight uncovered. Candies can be stored tightly covered and lined between sheets of wax paper for up to one month. *If superfine sugar is unavailable, you can process granulated sugar in a food processor for 30 seconds.