CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

December 18, 2013

FOOD: Christmas Candies and Treats

By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times

— The best thing about making candy at Christmas time, well, after eating it, is that you can make it ahead of time before the rush.

Candies, cookies, brownies, holiday trail mixes and snacks also make wonderful gifts and they are easy to make in bulk.

Here are some that I have used for years, and a few new ones that I intend to make this year.

Put your confections in a pretty gift bag or box and you have the perfect hostess gift or something sweet for a teacher, doctor or the mailman!

 

Reindeer Chow

By Sallee Chandler

1 cup of All Bran cereal

1 small box of raisins

Sprinkling of powdered sugar

Shake all together in a Ziploc bag, then place in a festive bowl or attractive "to-go" container. Leave near Santa's cookies so he can take along to feed the reindeer. For Rudolph’s portion, omit raisins and add craisins (dried cranberries).

 

Chocolate “Kiss” Divinity Candy

2 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup water

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 blocks (2 ounces) baking chocolate, melted

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

48 milk chocolate kisses (8 ounce package) unwrapped

Combine sugar, salt, corn syrup, and water in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil.

Continue to cook, without stirring, to 260 degrees, or until a small amount of syrup dropped into a glass of cold water separates into threads which feel hard but not brittle (soft crack stage).

When sugar reaches 246 degrees, beat egg whites in a large mixer bowl until stiff peaks form. When syrup reaches soft-crack stage, gradually pour in a thin stream, into the egg whites, beating at high speed on mixer.

Add vanilla and beat until candy begins to hold its shape.

Quickly blend in baking chocolate; stir in nuts.

Drop mixture from tip of a teaspoon onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet.

Divinity should be about the size of a walnut.

Gently press a milk chocolate Kiss on top of each piece.

Store in airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen pieces.

Variations include vanilla: Omit baking chocolate. c

Coffee: Omit baking chocolate and add 2 teaspoons instant coffee crystals to sugar syrup before cooking.

Orange: Omit baking chocolate and add 1 teaspoon grated orange peel to divinity with vanilla. Tint to desired color with red and yellow food coloring.

Peppermint: Omit baking chocolate and nuts. Add 1 teaspoon crushed peppermint candy to divinity with vanilla. Tint to desired color with red food coloring.  

 

Easy Divinity

I must confess here to burning up two mixers trying to recreate my grandmother’s divinity. Then I found this recipe. It’s not quite the same as her’s, but my mixer is still alive!

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

Dash of salt

1 pint jar of marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts

Boil sugar, water and salt to the hard ball stage (250º). Put marshmallow cream in a mixing bowl and stir in hot syrup. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla and nuts. Drop by the spoonful onto a plate or waxed paper.

Note: My grandmother always divided her divinity into several portions and colored them with different food colorings…red, pink, green and blue, then put one half of a pecan in the center of each.

 

Velveeta Fudge

You can whip this fudge up in about five minutes. I have made it in four different states and no one has ever suspected that its main ingredient is the same as for macaroni and cheese!

1 stick butter

1/4 pound Velveeta cheese

1/4 cup cocoa, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Melt butter and cheese over low heat or in microwave. Slowly stir remaining ingredients into butter/cheese mixture, stirring well to incorporate. Pour into an 8x8 buttered pan. Chill before serving.

 

Turtles

This is by far the most requested recipe I’ve ever had. My friends from high school demand it every time we get together. I usually multiply the recipe four times, not only because it goes so fast, but it also stores beautifully for weeks.

1 pound Kraft caramels

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

2 cups chopped pecans

1 pound dipping milk chocolate

Melt caramel in the top of a double boiler. Add whipping cream and stir until smooth. Add nuts and stir to coat nuts. Drop by the teaspoon on a buttered cookie sheet. Place in the freezer until frozen (you will dip the Turtles frozen). Melt chocolate in double boiler over very hot water. Dip frozen Turtles in chocolate, one at a time with tongs. Work fast, or if turtles start to thaw, put them back in the freezer until they refreeze. Put back on buttered cookie sheet to set.



No-Cook Chocolate Bon-Bons

2 sticks butter

2 cans coconut

2 1/2 boxes powdered sugar, sifted

2 cups chopped pecans

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 block paraffin

1 bag chocolate chips

Melt butter. Add coconut, powdered sugar, pecans, and milk. Mix well and roll into small balls, approximately 3/4 inches in diameter. Melt chocolate chips and paraffin in the top of a double broiler. Dip each bonbon in the chocolate and place on waxed paper.

 

Candy Cane Fudge

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup crushed candy cane or 1 1/2 cups nuts of your choice

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

In a round 1 1/2-quart microwavable dish, combine corn syrup and sugar. Stir well until blended. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Stir mixture (if using nuts instead of candy, stir in nuts now). Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes or until light brown. Stir in butter and vanilla, blending well. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes. Add baking soda and stir until foamy. Quickly pour onto lightly greased baking sheet (you can use Pam, shortening or butter). Pour crushed candy canes over brittle while warm and press lightly onto surface. Let cool and break into pieces.



Date-Nut Candy

Another of my grandmother’s really old recipes, this one is very different. It’s still one of my favorites after all these years. After you make it, it must be kept rolled in a damp tea-towel and refrigerated. Date-nut candy keeps for weeks. Re-dampen the towel as necessary. Not too wet, just slightly damp to prevent candy from drying out.

3 cups sugar

1 cup milk

1 cup nuts

1 can coconut, or equivalent fresh or frozen shredded cocoanut

1 pound box chopped dates

1 teaspoon butter

Cook sugar and milk to soft ball stage. Add dates and cook slowly until dissolved. Add coconut, nuts, and butter. Remove from heat and beat for 10 minutes. Roll into a log and then roll the log into a damp tea towel. Store in refrigerator, slicing into rounds as needed for candy trays.