Land of Sweets

I don’t make as many sweets and candies the whole year as I make the week or two before Christmas. It’s so nice to give homemade gifts to family, friends and neighbors during the holidays. Of course, it’s even better to get some sweet treats in return.

I hope you will enjoy trying the recipes below and we’d love for you to share your favorite candy recipes or ideas with us. Just drop us a line on Facebook at City Social Food. I hope your holiday season is filled with sweet treats and small gestures from big hearts. Happy holidays!

Read the full article in the December issue of City Social for some candy-making basics. Pick up an issue around town or read it online at www.citysocial.com.

tigerbarkTiger Bark
20 ounces (1 package) vanilla almond bark
1/2 cup cashew butter
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Break vanilla almond bark into pieces and melt over low heat in a heavy saucepan.  Stir bark constantly until it is melted and smooth, being careful not to let it brown on the bottom. Stir in cashew butter until smooth.

Pour bark onto a rimmed cookie sheet (1/2 jellyroll pan) or baking dish and smooth out into a thin layer. Melt chocolate chips in a small saucepan, stirring until melted and smooth as well. Spoon chocolate over bark and cashew butter mixture in lines about 1/2 inch apart.  Swirl with a spatula, toothpick or knife to create a marble effect.

Place in refrigerator 10 minutes or until set.  Break the bark into pieces and store in an air-tight container in refrigerator or at room temperature. Allow the back to come to room temperature before serving.

Peppermint LollipopsPeppermintLollipops
2/3 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint or spearmint extract
1/8 teaspoon red food coloring.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay lollipop sticks down several inches apart on the baking sheet. Prepare an ice bath in your sink.

Heat sugar, corn syrup, and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan (one with a spout is helpful, but not necessary) over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring. Put a candy thermometer into syrup and continue to boil until it registers 300 degrees Fahrenheit (hard-crack stage), then stir in peppermint extract and food coloring. Immediately dip bottom of pan in ice bath to stop cooking and remove quickly.

Pour a 2-inch pool of syrup onto the baking sheet over each lollipop stick or fill in lollipop molds. If syrup becomes too thick to pour, heat to thin it, then continue to pour. Let lollipops cool and harden, about 10 to 15 minutes, then gently loosen from the paper. If desired, individually wrap lollipops in cellophane wrappers and tie them closed with a festive ribbon.

FudgeChocolate Orange Fudge
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Triple Sec or orange liqueur
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons orange zest

Butter or line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Cook sugar, milk, half and half, corn syrup and liqueur in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Add butter and orange zest.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to 150 degrees Fahrenheit without stirring. Then stir mixture until it is thick and no longer shiny. Spread in pan and smooth out evenly with the back of a spatula or place wax paper over the fudge and smooth it with your hands.  Allow the fudge to cool completely, then cut it into squares. Sprinkle a little more zest before serving. Store in an air-tight container.

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