Archive: Candy

Wanted: Your Candy-Coated Sweet Nothings

(Courtesy of NECCO) Valentine’s Day may be months away, but the folks at New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) are already planning ahead for next year’s Cupid fest. Probably best known for its retro wax-papered roll of pastel candy wafers, NECCO also manufactures Sweethearts, those candy conversation hearts that we’ve come to associate with February 14. In preparation for next year’s lineup of messages (there are a total of 80), NECCO is turning to the public for inspiration in the sweet nothings department. The company has set up a Web site, My Sweethearts, for online submission, until May 31. Eighty new messages will be chosen, 11 of which will win a candy-coated prize. Ten second-prize candy gift baskets (with NECCO treats, of course) are up for grabs, but the grand prize might be one of the quirkiest I’ve come across: A custom run of conversation hearts, printed with messages of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 6, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

From the Recipe Crypt: Halloween-y Treats

October 31 is just a week away. Are you practicing your apple-bobbing maneuvers? (Kim O'Donnel) This year, Halloween falls on a Friday, which means tricksters can frolic all weekend long. The Friday night monster mash can easily segue into a Saturday morning-after pumpkin pancake brunch or an afternoon candy-making workshop before the next round of evening festivities (and a costume change, of course). Roll up those costume sleeves and whip up a pot of homemade caramel for dipping apples. While you oversee the super-hot cooked sugar, the under-12 set can spear the apples with sticks (use up those unused take-out chopsticks) and assist with the dipping. Aprons (and a candy thermometer) are a must! For more of a kitchen challenge (and something more arts-and-craftsy), consider a batch of homemade candy corns. I had a ball making these last year, but my only regret was not having a partner. A team...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 24, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Easter Crack, I Mean Candy

So I'm in Target over the weekend, on a research mission (that's how I rationalize my frequent visits). On my way to the toothpaste, I'm suddenly blinded by an intense burst of color, a swath of uber-pastels that lock my vision and bring me into a state of altered consciousness. I walk toward the light, slowly and methodically, as if in a trance (along the lines of "Scooby Doo"), unaware of everything around me but the end of the rainbow, an entire aisle of Easter candy, filled to the gills with bags of eggs, row after row seamlessly stacked as if it were one big sea inviting me to dive in and swim with the dolphins. Robin's Eggs: You need a sharp knife to cut these candy-coated malted milk balls in half. (Kim O'Donnel) I inch closer, in hopes of getting a good whiff, and all I really smell is...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 25, 2008; 11:54 AM ET | Comments (20)

The Peppermint Patty Project

A few weeks ago, some of you expressed interest in learning more about making peppermint patties, those chocolate enrobed, creamy mint confections that many of us grew up with. (I loved unwrapping the foil as a kid and taking that first bite.) Interestingly, the "feel the cool sensation" candies made an appearance in two foodie magazines this month, and last night, I made good on my promise to give them a test run in my own kitchen. I chose the recipe from Saveur (the other appears in Gourmet) because it involves making the fondant center, an interesting and enlightening lesson on cooking sugar and dairy to very high temperatures and then playing with it on a marble slab. Homemade peppermint patties: Worth the work. (Kim O'Donnel) Now about that slab: You really need one for this project, but you don't need to drop a bunch of money (Williams-Sonoma wants $129...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 18, 2007; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (15)

Halloween Looking Glass

I was Elvis once. A can of Campbell's soup, too A faded photograph reveals that I was a football player Back in the day And a for a brief moment, I Transformed into Pippi Longstocking (I think). O'Donnel Halloween, 1976. (Kim O'Donnel) The details are sketchy But as my mind's eye travels Back in time I can see the old neighborhood And the 100-pound cut-out pumpkin Perched on the wheelbarrow in the front yard On Penarth Road. My father's doing. He loved Halloween. I can smell the damp leaves That rustled under our feet As my brothers and I, and our assorted friends (I can see Julie Lerner, who lived around the corner) Set out at dusk Plastic pumpkins in tow For our evening of Candy begging. ...Trick or treat Smell my feet Give me something Good to eat.... I can hear the chanting The trick-or-treater's plea The candy mantra...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 31, 2007; 09:49 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting Handy With Candy Corn

Many of you may know that one of my secret guilty pleasures is making candy, particularly if it's the home-spun version of something typically found in the supermarket candy aisle. To that end, I've taken on marshmallows, lollipops, caramel apples, pumpkin seed brittle and chocolate truffles. Home-spun candy corn. (Kim O'Donnel) Imagine my delight when I learned that I could make my own candy corns, one of my all-time Halloween favorites, even with its high fructose corn syrup content. All I need is a handful to take care of my annual fix, so I make an exception and bite off those little white waxy tips (not a perception but a reality -- candy corns do contain carnauba wax, the same ingredient used in mascara and shoe polish). Thanks to the folks at Bon Appetit, the DYI candy corn party got started when they tinkered with the stuff this time last...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 26, 2007; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (7)

Chewing Gum As Eye Candy

I have no idea when last I gave my jaws a workout on a piece of chewing gum, and it's been even longer since I purchased my very own pack. The refusal to support the corn syrup industry notwithstanding, I've got nothing against the stuff -- except when I step into a wad carelessly spewed onto the pavement by some miscreant, or better yet, unknowingly park my butt into a gum-encrusted movie seat waiting for me like a mischief night prankster. Looking at gum in a whole new way. (New York Magazine) And really, I'm okay if you're okay chewing with your mouth open, tongue and teeth snapping against the give and the pull of an edible rubber band, making more noise than the youngsters in the Great Ape House at the National Zoo in a race to maximize a flavor surge that lasts about as long as the average...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 25, 2007; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (3)

Chocolate Bark With Bite

I can't predict what you want or need to be the best gift-giver, mostest-hostess or big honking holiday Pollyanna. But I can predict that if you make chocolate bark, everyone will love you, praise your culinary genius and spread the kudos all the way to the North Pole. Bark on bark. (Kim O'Donnel) Here's why making chocolate bark will make you fabulous and the mistle in everyone's toe: * It looks ultra glam but requires very few elementary steps, like chopping stuff and melting chocolate, * It looks like a difficult and complicated kitchen project, but most of the work is at the store, sourcing the ingredients and * The bark begs questions such as "Oooh, what's that little zip on my tongue?" or "What fruit is in there?" When you offer up your secret ingredients, you can also mention the antioxidant boost not only from the dark chocolate but...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 8, 2006; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (13)

Sweets Clinic Office Hours

Tuesday's chat ended with a bunch of lingering questions over some pressing issues in the holiday sweets department. Below, a few are included to whet your whistles. And as always, chime in when you deem necessary or if you've got a sweet question that needs attention. Truffles Arlington, Va.: Do you have a good truffles recipe? A friend of mine told me that she loves the things I bake and wanted know if I knew how to make truffles. She has been through a bad year and I would like to surprise her with something special but have never made truffles. If your pal has requested truffles, it might be really fun to make them together. Truffle-making is a team activity and in fact, I highly recommend it, particularly for first-timers. A few years back, I taught a friend who was gearing up for a massive batch of 300 for...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 7, 2006; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (10)

Chocolate Vision

It was the summer of 1980. I was an exchange student in St. Gallen, Switzerland. It was my first trip to Europe, and I was 14 with a mouthful of braces, earnestly trying to like being away from home. Whenever a bout of homesickness would set in, I'd board a bus and go into the center of town, where I'd roam and study faces and houses that were so different from those at home. I always ended up at the train station, a center of activity, and an important pit stop. It was at the station newsstand where I'd buy a copy of the International Herald Tribune to catch up on anything familiar, and to wash down the news with a bar of chocolate. A small sampler of the choc-choices on the market. (Kim O'Donnel) Even at the newsstand, the chocolate choices were far more varied than at the pharmacy...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 6, 2006; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (36)

Brittle Love Don't Come Easy

For the love of candy, I earned a blister on my thumb. I wish I could tell you that my injury is due to a wrestling match over a Clark bar or something equally brutish and street-corner scrappy. Pumpkin seed brittle.(Kim O'Donnel) But no, my thumb is sore for a far more maniacal reason: I was stirring sugar nonstop with a wooden spoon for about 30 minutes. (Who says making candy isn't good exercise?) On my mountain, recipes typically fall into two categories. The first is those that come easy; they're imprintable on the brain, requiring only a brief visual reminder of how the dish comes together. Who doesn't love an easy sail through a recipe? Then then are "the beasts," the dishes that need coaxing with extra time, energy -- and in this case -- muscle. Pumpkin seed brittle falls into this more challenging category....

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 30, 2006; 11:04 PM ET | Comments (1)

 

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