Candy & Confection Recipes

Hazelnut Heaven

If you are a hazelnut freak like me, you just can’t get enough. My favorite experience  while in Italy was finding the outrageous gelato shops there with their incredible displays and finding Nocciolo, or hazelnut, gelato. Heaven, for only €2.

Here’s a recipe that I found at one of my favorite cooking sites that promises to be hazelnut intense and delicious. Tho not strictly a candy, they certainly fit the definition of a dessert.

http://www.joyofbaking.com/HazelnutGanacheCups.html

Hazelnut Ganache Cups:

8 ounces (226 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream (contains 35-40% butterfat)

1 tablespoon alcohol (brandy, Grand Marnier, rum or bourbon) or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

2/3 cup (100 grams) hazelnuts plus 60 whole hazelnuts to be used for garnish

Hazelnut Ganache Cups: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).  Bake the hazelnuts for 10 – 15 minutes or until the skins start to blister and the nuts are fragrant.  Remove from oven and wrap the nuts in a clean towel and steam for 5 minutes.  Rub the towel briskly to remove the skins.  Let cool.  Remove 60 hazelnuts to be used as garnish and then place the remaining cooled hazelnuts in a food processor and process until finely ground.  Set aside.

Coarsely chopped the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.

In a small saucepan bring the cream to a boil.  Immediately, remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate.  Gently stir the mixture until smooth and then add the alcohol (or vanilla extract) and finely ground hazelnuts.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the mixture until thick but not solid (about 30 minutes).

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe the ganache into small candy cups until they are 3/4 full.  Place a toasted hazelnut, pointed end up, on top of each cup.  Chill the ganache cups until they are firm (about 1 hour).

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks or they can be frozen for a few months.  Best served at room temperature.

Makes about 60 1-inch (2.5 cm) ganache cups.

Pecan Clusters

Being from the South, pecans were all around me as a kid. Not surprisingly, I still love them. Combine them with chocolate and you’ve got a crowd pleasin’ fave.

Ingredients

  • 7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
  • 3/4 pound chocolate broken into small pieces ( I would use semi-sweet, Guittard)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 cups pecan halves

Directions

Place marshmallow cream and chopped chocolate into a large bowl. Set aside. Combine sugar, milk, and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 8 minutes.

Pour over marshmallow and chocolate, stirring until well blended. Stir in pecans. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. Add pecan halves to tops if you want that look. Either way, they’ll be delicious.

Photo by swisscolony.com

Peanut Butter Fudge

One of my all-time favorite candies is peanut butter fudge. I first had it when I was around 10 years old, in Beaufort, Texas, made by a friend of our military family. We lived in Louisiana at the time and I only got to eat this fabulous creation a couple times a year. The lady who made it never parted with her recipe and my Mom never tried making it, so with such a high standard, it’s been difficult finding fudge as good as hers. This recipe I found on the net comes close. Who knows, it might even be better, it’s just that childhood memories are so strong!!

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

1. Prepare an 8×8-inch baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Melt the butter In a medium saucepan. Once it is completely melted, stir in the brown sugar and the milk slowly and mix well.

3. Boil the mixture for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. After 2 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla. Again, mix carefully.

4. Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl, and pour the peanut butter mixture over the sugar. Stir by hand, using a non-reactive spoon until the candy is well-combined and has no lumps.

5. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan. Cover the pan with cling wrap, and refrigerate until firm. Once firm, cut into small squares to serve.

Then, stand back and let your favorite fudge lovers indulge themselves!!

Chocolate Sauce Recipe

Not sure if chocolate sauce qualifies as a candy, since you can’t really carry it around to eat it, but it’s an essential element in so many sweets that I choose to consider it.

My premier recipe  for the world’s best sauce comes from Alice Medrich, of Cocolat fame. She invented the California truffle, which is a French style ganache center that has been dipped in chocolate. I took several classes with her in Berkeley, mostly having to do with the proper tempering of dark and milk chocolate.

But along the way, I picked up this chocolate sauce recipe and have been using it successfully for 20 years or more. Never had it fail, and guests always rave about it. The real secret is to use really good chocolate, dark or semi-sweet with a high cocoa percentage.

The basic recipe is as follows:

10 ozs. of semi-sweet/dark chocolate, in small pieces

1/2 cup milk ( whole or 2%) with a little more on hand if needed.

1 Teaspoon good quality, organic Vanilla extract.

Add the milk to the chocolate in a microwaveable container and heat slowly (15 secs. at a time), stirring after each heating, until the sauce is smooth and evenly melted, no clumps. You may need to add a little more milk to get the sauce to the right viscosity. Should take no more than 2 minutes total. Add the teaspoon of vanilla, stir to mix well, and, voila, you have the sauce. If you need to use it soon, I put the container into a water bath of warm, not hot, water. If not needed right away, then let it harden in the container and reheat (gently) before using on top of cookies, fruit, doughnuts or what have you!!

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