Today is Valentine’s Day. If you’re looking for something special to celebrate, I think candy’s dandy. And you can whip up some homemade candy that’s delicious and inexpensive in no time.
I wasn’t always an advocate of making candy at home; as a matter of fact, of all the things that I am afraid to cook—candy takes first place. Let me explain.
Years ago (never mind how many) when I was a young bride, I decided to make a birthday cake for my husband. His favorite cake and frosting was a specialty of my mom’s and I thought I’d call and get her recipe. The frosting for the chocolate cake was a true fudge frosting made like old-fashioned fudge—cooking the sugar and chocolate and cream or milk until the soft-ball stage, then cooling it down without stirring, adding butter and beating until it set up to frosting consistency.
I made the cake without mishap and confidently began the frosting. I was too young and cocky in those days to even worry about a failure. But a failure would be putting it mildly. Since I didn’t own a candy thermometer, I used the cookbook advice of testing the mixture by dropping a small amount in cold water and rolling it into a “soft ball.” If it just spread out in the water, it wasn’t done yet; if it rolled into a hardball or a stiff, crackly thread, it was overdone.
I made my batch of frosting and when it tested done (I thought), I cooled it and beat it. And beat it and beat it and beat it. It wouldn’t set up. I called my mom. She said cook it longer and try again, which I did.
Several hours later, with a kitchen piled top to bottom with chocolate: pans, counters, spoons, and me. After kneeling in front of the refrigerator with my pan of chocolate, beating it in the refrigerator because I thought it was too hot in the kitchen for the frosting to set up, I finally gave up and went to the bedroom and cried until I fell asleep in exhaustion.
When my husband arrived home he took one look around and suggested we go out to eat. I have never made that frosting or any cooked candies since.
This year, I decided to find some recipes for candy that would taste delicious and still keep my sanity. I think you’ll agree that these fill the bill.
½ 8-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. real maple syrup
1 pound chocolate candy coating
½ cup chopped peanuts
Beat cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and syrup until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Shape into 2-in. balls. In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt candy coating, stirring often. Place balls of candy on waxed paper set on a large baking sheet. Spoon chocolate over candy; sprinkle with peanuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. whipping cream
1-1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
7 ½ tsp. seedless raspberry jam
6 ounces white or dark chocolate candy coating
1 Tbsp. shortening
In heavy saucepan, combine butter, cream and chocolate chips. Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat; stir in jam until combined. Transfer to a small freezer container; cover and freeze for 20 minutes. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a foil-line baking sheet. Freeze for 25 minutes. Roll into balls; freeze until very firm. In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt candy coating and shortening, stirring often. Cool slightly; spoon over balls. Place on a wire rack over waxed paper. Let stand for 15 minutes or until firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: 4 dozen