Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Starting Making Chocolate

As the Guide to Candy, I often receive emails from enthusiastic home confectioners wondering how they can turn their interest and talent into a career. Unfortunately, it takes more than passion to start your own candy or chocolate business; like any entrepreneurial effort, it requires a huge investment in time, effort, and money. In order to get a sense of what such an enormous undertaking involved, I went searching for a successful candymaker who could shed light on the process.

Art Pollard, the founder and President of Amano Chocolate, was kind enough to answer some questions about his experiences starting a small gourmet chocolate business from scratch. Read on to find out how he began making chocolate (at home!), his biggest challenges, what books and classes he recommends, and what advice he has for YOU, the home confectioner. Candy Guide: Let's start with you. The website says your professional background was in the sciences. What sparked your interest in chocolate? How did you go from a personal interest in chocolate to deciding to make it a full-time career?

Art Pollard: I grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is unusual to grow up there without acquiring a solid background in the sciences. It is a beautiful town surrounded by ponderosa pine and I believe a wonderful place to grow up. I went to high school in the Seattle area. Seattle is in itself a food Mecca, and the wonderful fresh fish and produce found at the Pike Street Market greatly influenced my later culinary adventures. When I graduated from college, I started a small software company. We design and write search engines, or to be more specific, the actual search technology. Other companies license and use our technology for their websites or products. (Odds are that a major percentage of your readers have on their home and work computers some of the code I developed.)

While I was still attending college, I thought it would be interesting to make my own chocolate. I mentioned this to a friend whom I worked with in the physics department. At the time I did not know what was involved, only that it wasn't commonly done. He told me that I couldn't do it, and that it was mostly impossible without hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in equipment.

This caught my interest, though at the time, I did not pursue it very far. Not long thereafter, I was in Hawai'i on my honeymoon, and my wife and I found an outlet for a Belgian confectionary company. The chocolates were beautiful. They were in a whole spectrum of colors, and arrayed in a beautiful glass display case, they looked like glistening gems. At the time, they were probably the most beautiful confections I had ever seen. When I asked the lady at the counter how much they cost, she replied $2.00. I was floored. $2.00 for a little piece of "candy"! I was poor at the time, having recently graduated, and my software company was still limping along. And $2.00 was worth even more then than now. Even so, I sprung the $4.00 for the bon-bons for my wife and me. Immediately upon tasting it, we both looked at each other and knew that this was something special. I was hooked. Unfortunately, the company where I first discovered my love for chocolate is no longer represented in the United States. Even so, I will always remember that first moment when I discovered that a bon-bon could be not only a piece of candy but a piece of art.

As my software company grew, I started to experiment with building my own chocolate refiner as a way to escape coding when I needed to clear my head. I experimented with different designs to see how each design changed the flavor and texture of the final chocolate. Eventually, after much iteration, I came up with a design that I thought worked very well. Others apparently thought so too, because it was not long before my friends and family were clamoring for my chocolate. It was not long before I was regularly coding in one room while listening to the chocolate refiner chug away in the other room.

After a time, my software company landed a large contract, and my business partner and I decided that we wanted to do something out of the ordinary with the windfall. He suggested that we make chocolate, since I was already making incredible chocolate in the machine I had built. Initially, I was pretty hesitant, since at that time, I had enough experience to know what a huge job it was and that there were very good reasons why people did not make chocolate from scratch on a small scale. Even so, after many discussions with my business partner, my friends, family, and local chefs, I was eventually persuaded, and off we went.

Read more interview questions:

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Christmas Candy Recipes

Christmas and candy go together like Santa and reindeer. Whether you are looking for Christmas candy recipes to make as gifts, to bring to a party, or to enjoy with friends, you will find the best Christmas and seasonal candy recipes here.

Do you want to receive Christmas candy recipes straight to your email inbox? Sign up for my "12 Days of Christmas" newsletter and you'll get a different seasonal candy recipe delivered to your email every day for 12 days. The recipes include truffles, fudge, toffee, and meringues, so there is sure to be something to suit everyone's taste.

Candy Cane Christmas Candies

Seasonal Shapes Christmas Candies

Holiday Flavors Christmas Candies

Classic Christmas Candies

Munchies and Other Christmas Candies

View All Candy Recipes

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Peanut Brittle

Peanut brittle is a classic with a crunchy texture and rich, nutty taste. Be sure to check out the video showing how to make peanut brittle.

Prep Time: 30?minutes

Total Time: 30?minutes


  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups shelled and roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Stir until the sugar is entirely moistened, then add the corn syrup and salt.

3. Cook the candy over medium-high heat until it reaches 225 degrees on a candy thermometer. At this point, add the peanuts and stir to combine. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 290 degrees.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, baking soda, and peanut butter. Mix until well-combined, and then pour onto the prepared pan.

5. Spread the candy as thin as possible with a spatula or spoon and cool it to dry at room temperature. Once it is entirely cool, break it into small pieces to serve. Store the brittle in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature.

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Apple Cider Caramels

It has been (ridiculously, unbearably) hot in my neck of the woods, but I am doing everything in my power to will cooler weather to my city. I'm busting out the pumpkin bread, unpacking sweaters, and planning fall decorations. These Apple Cider Caramels are another part of my ploy to lure Autumn temperatures. The apple cider adds a slight bite and a fruity aroma to traditional caramels. I love how the sweet, slightly burnt caramelized sugar taste pairs perfectly with the tart apple cider, spicy cinnamon, and rich butter. I don't know if my plan will work, but if it doesn't, I can still have a taste of fall while suffering heat stroke.

Get the recipe: Apple Cider Caramels

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Apple Cider Caramels Photo c2009 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Royal Icing

This simple royal icing recipe produces a white, hard icing that can be used to decorate candies, cookies, cakes, and gingerbread houses. Royal icing dries into a very stiff consistency and does not have an appealing texture, so it should be reserved for small decorative touches or products that are not meant to be eaten. Be sure to check out the photo tutorial showing how to make royal icing.

Prep Time: 10?minutes

Total Time: 10?minutes


  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • food coloring (optional)


1. Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before beginning.

2. In the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer, place the egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, beat all together on low speed until combined. You can use a hand mixer if you desire, but it will likely take longer for the icing to reach the right consistency.

3. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Restart the mixer and beat the mixture on medium speed until very thick, shiny, stiff and white. This should take about 7-10 minutes.

4. Check the texture to ensure that it is suitable for your needs. If you require a stiffer icing, add a little more powdered sugar at this point.

5. If you want to dye your icing just one color, you can add a few drops of food coloring into the bowl and mix it for a few seconds until the coloring is evenly distributed. If you want to make several different colors, divide the icing into several different bowls and stir in the food coloring by hand.

6. Royal icing dries to a very hard consistency, and it will begin setting as soon as it is made. To prevent the icing from getting hard before you use it, thoroughly wet a paper towel and place it over the top of the icing in the bowl. It is very important to keep the icing covered! Likewise, if you are using a pastry bag and piping tips with the icing, twist the back end of the bag tightly, and wrap a wet paper towel around the tip when not in use so the icing will not dry in the tip.

7. Depending on the temperature, humidity, and amount of icing used, royal icing should harden within 15-60 minutes of application. Do not refrigerate products with hardened royal icing, as the icing can become soft and sticky.

View the original article here

Monday, 29 August 2011

Maple Fudge

maple fudge(c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Maple syrup and toasted pecans make this smooth fudge taste like autumn! Be sure to use real maple syrup and not maple-flavored pancake syrup.

Prep Time: 45?minutes

Total Time: 45?minutes


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped


1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place sugar, maple syrup, milk, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, then insert a candy thermometer.

3. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the candy reaches 240 degrees. Remove from the heat immediately and add the butter, stirring until the butter melts and the candy is smooth and well-combined.

4. Allow the fudge to sit, undisturbed, until it is barely lukewarm, about 110 degrees. To speed the process, it can be placed in the refrigerator and checked every 10 minutes until it is cool enough to beat.

5. Add the vanilla extract, and beat the fudge vigorously using a wooden spoon or a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Continue to beat the fudge until it loses its gloss and is thick, almost stiff. Stir in the nuts.

6. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth it to an even thickness. Allow it to set at room temperature. To serve, cut into 1-inch squares. Store excess fudge in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Almond Truffles

Almond Truffles have a double dose of almond flavor. The ganache is flavored with almond paste, and the finished truffles are rolled in a coating of crushed, toasted almonds. You can use this recipe to make homemade almond paste, or 7-ounce packages of almond paste are available in the baking aisle of many supermarkets. You can also substitute storebought or homemade marzipan.

Yield: about 48 almond truffles


  • 12 ounces (about 2 cups) semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 7 ounces almond paste
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
  • cocoa powder, for dusting


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.

2. Grate the almond paste using a box grater, or chop it finely with a knife.

3. Place the chocolate, grated almond paste, and cream in the top bowl of a double boiler. (Alternately, a regular glass or metal bowl can be used, as long as it fits snugly over the top of a saucepan.) Bring the water in the saucepan to a simmer and stir the chocolate mixture steadily with a rubber spatula.

4. Continue to heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Once the chocolate is entirely smooth, remove the bowl from the heat, cover the surface of the chocolate with cling wrap, and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

5. Place the truffle mixture in the refrigerator to firm up for 2 hours. Once firm, dust your hands with cocoa powder. Scoop teaspoonfuls of the chocolate and roll between your fingers into a round shape. Roll the truffles in the chopped almonds, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles.

6. Place the truffles back in the refrigerator to set for 30 minutes. Once they are set, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Click Here to View All Truffle Recipes

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How to Make Fondant

Once the fondant is melted and smooth, pour it into your desired receptacle. Fondant can be poured directly into small candy cups and topped with other candies or nuts. Once the fondant hardens, it can be served as-is, as the paper cups easily peel away. If it is difficult to pour the fondant from the saucepan, you can first pour it into a measuring cup with a spout.

You can also pour fondant into premade chocolate candy cups, for an easy chocolate-and-fondant candy. The fondant can then be topped with a layer of melted chocolate to completely enclose the fluid fondant.

Ready to try pouring fondant candies? Try this recipe for Chocolate Fondant Cups, with toasted pecans!

View the original article here

Apple Spice Truffles

An Ode to Apple Spice Truffles*

I think that I shall never spy
A food as yummy as apple pie.

But to get the crust exactly right
Takes luck, and skill, and all one's might.

It's hours before the baking's through,
So what's a pie-craving person to do?

May I suggest these humble treats
With an apple pie taste that can't be beat.

Apple Spice Truffles have lots of flavor
From apples and cinnamon, there's much to savor.

To finish them off, try a sprinkle of graham
One bite of these, and your mouth says "Wham!

"These truffles are great, they're truly delicious!
I get the taste of apple pie, without all the dishes."

*with thanks (or apologies!) to Joyce Kilmer, whose poem "Trees" does not deserve this type of shoddy parody.

Get the recipe: Apple Spice Truffles

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Apple Spice Truffles Photo c2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Sunday, 28 August 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pops

Cake pops are sooo 2010. And I say this with love, as someone who has a bunch of cake pop recipes on her website. But after years of celebrating cake pops, molding them into new and different shapes, and eating them by the handful, I'm ready for something different. Enter...the doughnut hole.

I propose that all cake pops now be made with doughnut holes instead. Yes, those little round doughnuts you can buy in grocery stores and bakeries. If you think about it, a doughnut hole is like someone already making a cake pop for you! How easy and convenient is that? Of course, I couldn't just feature plain doughnut holes, I had to stuff them with peanut butter & jelly to make Peanut Butter and Jelly Pops. You can follow my lead, or substitute frosting, or coconut butter, or Nutella...the list of fillings is endless. Just make sure you put them on a stick and dunk them in chocolate for a true "dougnut pop" experience.

Get the recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Pops

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Pops Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Basic Marzipan

Basic Marzipan is a great all-purpose marzipan recipe for dipping in chocolate, using in recipes, or forming figurines. Using this as a base, you can color, flavor, or form marzipan into many different candies or decorations. If you're simply looking to eat the marzipan, cutting it into squares is the easiest way to serve it.


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 cups ground almonds (or almond meal)
  • 2 egg whites
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


1. Prepare a workspace by sprinkling powdered sugar over a marble slab, wooden cutting board, or large baking sheet. Fill your sink or a large bowl with cold water.

2. Place the sugar and 2/3 cup water in a large heavy saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

3. Add the cream of tartar and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil and cover, boiling, for 3 minutes.

4. Uncover and boil until the temperature reaches soft-ball stage, 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.

5. Place the bottom of the saucepan in the cold water you’ve prepared, stirring the sugar mixture constantly until it becomes thick and creamy.

6. Stir in the ground almonds and the egg whites, the place back over low heat and stir for 2 minutes more until the mixture is thick.

7. Spoon the marzipan onto your prepared work surface, and turn it with a metal spatula until it cools down enough to touch.

8. Coat your hands in powdered sugar and begin to knead the marzipan, working it until it is smooth and pliant.

9. Your marzipan can now be used immediately or stored by wrapping it in plastic wrap and keeping it in an airtight container.

Click Here to View All Marzipan Recipes

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Illustrated Candy Temperatures

The syrup will form firm but pliable threads when removed from the water.

Many different recipes require cooking candy to soft-crack stage, commonly including toffees, brittles, and butterscotch. Often, candies that are cooked to soft-crack stage feature a caramelized sugar flavor and a hard, pleasingly crunchy texture.

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Marshmallow Caramel Pops

If you have ever eaten a marshmallow and thought, "This is good, but I wish it was sweeter," then do I have a candy for you! For all those who scoff at moderation, I am pleased to introduce you to Marshmallow Caramel Pops, which are marshmallows coated in a layer of caramel, topped with chocolate, and then covered in sprinkles. Sounds insane? Well, I won't argue with you. This is a candy for a serious sweet tooth.

You can class these up by using homemade or gourmet marshmallows, homemade caramels, or good-quality bittersweet chocolate. But even if you choose to use storebought EVERYTHING and top them with some chopped candy bars or something, there is no judgement here. Just be sure to have a little broccoli afterwards. You know, for nutrition's sake.

Get the recipe: Marshmallow Caramel Pops

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Marshmallow Caramel Pops Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Saturday, 27 August 2011

Salted Caramel Lollipops

Salted Caramel Lollipops (c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

This Salted Caramel Lollipops recipe contrasts the rich flavor of caramel with a hint of salt for a sweet-and-savory treat. This is a lollipop that kids and adults alike will enjoy. If you enjoy a heavier salt flavor, use salted butter and sprinkle a little bit of salt on the finished lollipops. This recipe yields about 2 dozen lollipops.

Cook Time: 20?minutes

Total Time: 20?minutes

Yield: 2 dozen lollipops


  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1.5 tsp vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp good-quality sea salt
  • 4 tbsp (2 oz) butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Lollipop sticks


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a Silpat sheet, or with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the water, corn syrup, vinegar, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar melts, then brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Insert a candy thermometer.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, and once at a boil, add the butter one cube at a time. Continue to cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer reads 300 degrees F (149 C).

4. Once at 300 F, remove the pan from the heat. Add the vanilla and stir until it is incorporated. Allow the pan to cool for several minutes, until the candy starts to thicken. You still want it to be liquid, but it's easiest to make lollipops if the sugar syrup can somewhat hold its shape.

5. After 4 or 5 minutes, start to form the lollipops. Using a spoon, drop circles of candy onto the Silpat or foil. Work carefully to try to make them as round as possible, without extra "tails" streaking off the lollipops. After you have done two or three, press a lollipop stick into the back of the candy, and either turn it in a circle so it's covered with candy, or spoon a small dab of candy onto the back so that the stick is covered.

6. Repeat until you have used all of the candy to form lollipops. If the sugar mixture starts to get too stiff, place it over low heat and stir just until it loosens up.

7. The candy will start setting almost immediately, so you should be able to enjoy your lollipops within 10 minutes of forming them. If desired, you can sprinkle the surfaces with a little more salt to intensify the flavor. If you're not going to be eating them immediately, wrap the salted caramel lollipops individually in cling wrap and store them at room temperature.

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Balsamic Glazed Strawberries

If you thought balsamic vinegar was only good for making salad dressings and tripping up small children in spelling bees, think again. This tangy kitchen staple is actually a delicious addition to candies, like these Balsamic Glazed Strawberries. I know it sounds a little strange, but hear me out.

If you've ever enjoyed putting strawberries in your dinner salads, then you know that the sweet, juicy berries pair very well with a bit of acidity like vinegar. This candy takes that pairing a step further by coating fresh berries in a shiny, crunchy sugar glaze made with balsamic vinegar. The syrupy vinegar is already a bit sweet on its own, so it seems natural to add it to a sweet syrup. After the berries are dipped in the glaze, the candy hardens, forming a crunchy shell that practically explodes when you bite into it, leaving you with a mouthful of crunchy, tangy candy and juicy, fruity berries. It's an odd pairing that completely works.

The skewers are optional, but they seemed like a fun way to make fresh "strawberry pops" during the summer. If you're not a pops person, use your glazed strawberries as cupcake or cake toppers, shower treats, or after-dinner desserts. Just don't wait too long, because the juice from the berries will soon turn your crunchy glaze into a sticky puddle!

Get the recipe: Balsamic Glazed Strawberries

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Balsamic Glazed Strawberries Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Coconut Fudge

Coconut Fudge(c) 2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Coconut Fudge is a rich, old-fashioned sugar fudge bursting with real coconut flavor. This fudge needs to be beaten in order to achieve the proper texture. If you have never made old-fashioned fudge before, review this illustrated tutorial showing how to make fudge.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3.5 cups sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coconut extract/flavoring
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut


1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melts. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

3. Insert a candy thermometer and bring the candy to a boil. Continue to cook the fudge, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer reaches 238 degrees.

4. Once the candy is at 238 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and remove the candy thermometer. Set the candy aside to cool for 20 minutes, or until it reaches about 110 degrees. Do not stir the candy during this time, or you will form sugar crystals that will cause the candy to become grainy.

5. Once the candy is barely warm, add the vanilla and coconut extracts and begin the stir the fudge vigorously with a wooden spoon. As you continue to stir the fudge, it will begin to thicken and lose its gloss. When the fudge has thickened and become opaque, add the coconut and stir about one minute more, or until it is quite thick. This process will take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Alternately, you can use an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, but watch carefully as it is very easy to overbeat fudge in an electric mixer.

6. Once the fudge has thickened, scrape it into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Let the fudge set at room temperature for several hours.

7. Once the fudge has set, pull it out of the pan using the foil as handles. Cut it into small one-inch squares to serve. Store remaining fudge in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

View the original article here

Banana Split Truffles

1. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat it until it simmers and small bubbles form all along the edges of the pan, but do not allow it to come to a full boil.

2. While the cream is heating, prepare the white chocolate and banana mixture. If you have a food processor, place the half banana in the food processor and mix until the banana has liquefied.

3. Add the white chocolate chips to the banana and process until the white chocolate is in small pieces. The mixture will clump together, so stop the processor several times to scrape it down. Once the cream is simmering, with the processor on, carefully pour the hot cream in a small stream down into the bowl of the processor and let it run until the white chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth and free of lumps.

4. If you do not have a food processor, this can be done in a mixer, or you can mash the banana by hand and add very finely chopped white chocolate to it, stirring until well-combined. Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate-banana mixture and whisk it until it is smooth. This method produces a ganache that tastes the same, but there might be small pieces of banana that are not incorporated.

5. Once everything is smooth, scrape the ganache into a bowl and whisk in the banana extract, if using. Cover the ganache with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to scoop and roll, about 2 hours.

6. Once the ganache is firm, coat your hands with powdered sugar and roll the ganache into small balls, dusting your hands with more powdered sugar to prevent sticking if necessary.

7. Keep the balls chilling in the refrigerator while you melt the white candy coating. Once melted, use a fork or dipping tools to dip the truffles into the coating, then set them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the tray to set the white chocolate for 10 minutes.

8. After all the truffles are dipped, it’s time for the best part: decorating them! For the chocolate “sauce,” melt the chocolate candy coating in a small bowl. In order to get the chocolate to drizzle just right, it needs to be very thin and fluid. If your candy coating is thick, add up to 2 tablespoons of oil, adding a little at a time and stirring and testing after your additions. It should easily flow off the spoon in a thin line.

9. Using a spoon, place a small spoonful of dark chocolate on top of a truffle, and use the tip of the spoon to nudge it off the sides in a thin stream. Alternately, you can place the candy coating in a bag and cut off the tip and pipe it onto the truffles.

10. After all of the truffles have their chocolate “sauce,” sprinkle the still-wet chocolate liberally with colored sprinkles. The last step is to add your red candies that represent the cherry. This can be a red M&M, jelly bean, red hot, or any other small red candy. Full-sized M&Ms are a little large for my taste, so I like to cut them in half for my truffles, but it’s definitely not necessary.

11. Refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate coating. Store Banana Split Truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. For the best taste and texture, bring them to room temperature before serving.

View the original article here

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Microwaving M&M's

Melted M&Ms (c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

We all know that M&M's "melt in your mouth, not in your hand," but what if you put them in the microwave? It turns out that they do melt in the microwave, and the results are amazing.

I recommend starting with plain M&Ms, or a plain variation, instead of some of the filled M&M's, like peanuts or pretzels. Remove them from the packaging and place them on a small microwave-safe plate. Set the microwave for 40 seconds. This should be enough for a regular package of M&M's, but you might need a few more seconds if you do a larger quantity.

After they're finished, you might notice that some of the candy shells have cracks, but that's okay. As soon as you bite into them, the shell cracks open and a flood of warm melted chocolate comes pouring out. The combination of crunchy shell and liquid chocolate is really good. This method of microwaving your M&M's can elevate even relatively unexciting candies, like plain M&M's, into delicious treats.

View the original article here

Chocolate Salami

chocolate salami(c) 2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

This Chocolate Salami recipe produces a beautiful log of chocolate studded with an assortment of dried fruits and nuts. It’s a great way to use up leftover cake or cookie crumbs, and can be customized with any fruits and nuts you like. I like using chocolate cake best, but you can use any flavor of cake, cookies, or brownies that you like. If you happen to have leftover ganache from another baking or candy project, you can use that instead of making it fresh as described in the recipe.


  • 1 lb cake or cookie scraps(4 cups, not packed)
  • 2 oz soft dried figs (about 15), coarsely chopped
  • 2 oz medjool dates (about 5 large), pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 oz (1/2 cup) dried cranberries
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz (1.25 cups) bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


1. To make the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heat-safe bowl, and place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the cream to a simmer, so that bubbles appear on the edges of the pan, but do not let it boil. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it soften for a minute, then whisk it until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well-combined and smooth. Set aside your ganache for now.

2. Place the cake or cookie scraps in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Put the cake or cookie crumbs into a large bowl.

3. Add the chopped fruit, nuts, and salt to the cake crumbs and mix until well-distributed.

4. Add the vanilla extract to the ganache, and then pour the ganache over the cake mixture. Stir until well-combined and there is a uniform texture throughout. Press some cling-wrap to the top of the mixture and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, at least 1 hour.

5. Once the candy has firmed up, scoop half of it from the bowl and, using waxed paper or parchment, roll it into a log about 2 inches in diameter and 9 inches long. Once it is a cylinder, roll it on the counter a few times to try and get it as round as possible. Repeat the process with the second half of the candy, forming an identical log.

6. Place the logs on a baking sheet and freeze them until firm, at least 2 hours. The salami can be kept frozen for up to a month, but if you plan to freeze them for that long, wrap the logs with plastic wrap to prevent odors or freezer burn.

7. About 15 minutes prior to serving, remove the logs from the freezer. Roll them in powdered sugar to make them resemble salami. Cut them into thin slices and serve. The logs can stay at room temperature for several hours before getting too soft. If they do start to get too soft, refrigerate or freeze briefly to firm them up. If the sugar coating starts to melt, re-roll them in sugar as needed.

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Divinity Candy Recipes

Nutty Divinity(c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

If you've tasted divinity, you understand how it got its name. Fluffy and sweet, divinity is a classic candy made from sugar and egg whites. Browse this list of divinity recipes to find the perfect divinity to suit your tastes. A word of warning--divinity gets its light, airy texture from beaten egg whites. If you are making divinity in a very hot or humid environment, you might encounter problems getting maximum volume from your whites, and as a result, the texture and taste of your divinity might be affected.
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