2012-12-06 / Local & State

Great Ideas For Holiday Sweets And Treats

Everything tastes better when it’s fresh and made with love – and the holidays are the perfect time to try your hand at making homemade candy.

Creating your own candy treats is easier than most people realize. Indeed, many experienced bakers don’t know that making homemade candy can be a cakewalk.

“Folks have lost touch with their inner Willy Wonkas,” says Liz Gutman, co-author of the new cookbook, “ The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook.” She and co- author Jen King are debunking the myth that creating homemade candy is an insurmountable task.

“For the health-conscious, homemade candy is also a safer bet than the storebought variety, which often contains endless artificial ingredients,” says King.

To get started, try out this recipe for “Buckeyes” from Gutman and King’s new book:

Makes about fifty 1 1/2- inch buckeyes

For centers

1/4 cup room temperature cream cheese

1-1/2 cups creamy commercial peanut butter

1-1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1 cup almond or peanut flour

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

For dipping and garnish

About 4 cups chopped dark chocolate

Coarse sea salt (optional)

Combine all “centers” ingredients in mixer bowl and beat on medium-high until completely incorporated. Cover and refrigerate the peanut butter mixture until firmed a little (about 30 minutes).

Roll mixture into balls of 1 tablespoon each and place on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Prepare 4 cups dipping chocolate: Fill a large saucepan with water to a depth of about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Turn off heat and set a bowl on top. Add about two-thirds of the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally with a heatproof spatula. Once chocolate melts and reaches desired temperature (it should feel warm) lift the bowl, and place it on a folded dish towel. Wipe moisture off the bottom and side of the bowl. Add reserved chocolate, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring vigorously and constantly until lump-free and cool. This will take about 15 minutes. Allow to set. Place chocolate in a large bowl.

Stick a toothpick into a peanut butter ball and dip in the chocolate, leaving the top quarter undipped. Transfer to second prepared baking sheet. Remove toothpick, and cover hole left behind with a few grains of coarse sea salt. Repeat with remaining buckeyes.

Allow buckeyes to sit until chocolate is firm, about 15 to 20 minutes. Store layered with wax paper in a refrigerated airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

A variety of great recipes can be found in the “The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook.” For more information, visit www.LiddabitSweets.com.

This holiday season; don’t be intimidated by the prospect of candy making. Once you know some basic tricks and techniques, the possibilities are endless!

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