Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Mint Meltaways

Earlier this year, I featured a week of copycat candy recipes, and afterward I took an informal poll asking what other knockoff recipes I should tackle. One reader suggested Frango mints, which are chocolate candies with a firm chocolate-mint center. It took a few months, but I finally got around to trying my hand at a recipe! May I present: Mint Meltaways. There are lots of chocolate-mint candies out there, but these are unique to me because the texture changes so much depending on how they're served. When they are fresh from the refrigerator the filling is firm, almost like a hard fudge, but once they come to at room temperature it's soft, almost like a mousse or frosting. I can't decide which taste I like better, but fortunately I don't really have to choose. Since the recipe makes 4 dozen candies, I can enjoy some cold, and some at room temperature, until--like Goldilocks--I find the texture that is juuuust right for me.

Get the recipe: Mint Meltaways

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Mint Meltaways Photo c2012 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Chocolate Cups

Attention, candy cohorts! This week's recipe are all based around chocolate cups--those adorable, edible candy delivery devices most commonly seen containing peanut butter filling. We will be tackling peanut butter cups soon--oh yes, we will--but before we get there, we need to start with the foundational skill of making the cups themselves. To get started, refer to this chocolate cup recipe or the chocolate cup photo tutorial.

Chocolate cups are not just used for making candies. They can also be filled with whipped cream, mousse, small scoops of ice cream, ganache, and any other soft and tasty filling you can think of. You can definitely buy chocolate cups--kitchen supply stores, Cost Plus, and even many liquor stores carry them--but it's several dollars for a dozen and I find mine are frequently broken, bloomed, or both when I open the package. So when I have the time, I save myself some frustration and money and make my own. It is a little time consuming, but they can be made in advance and stored for weeks before you use them, so with some advanced planning you can be rollin' in chocolate cups whenever you want!

Get the recipe:
Chocolate Cups
Chocolate Cups Photo Tutorial

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Chocolate Cups Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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How to Make Molded Chocolate Candies

While you wait for the ganache to cool, prepare the molds. If you have only one mold, you will have to repeat this process multiple times until all of your candies are formed. If you have multiple molds, you can do this all in one batch. Melt the candy coating, or take the tempered chocolate, and spoon some into each cavity in the mold, so that the cavities are entirely filled.

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Grasshopper Truffles

Here are three reasons why you should make these Grasshopper Truffles today:
  • They have an awesome mint-chocolate taste. Mint and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and it should be one of yours, too!
  • They are ridiculously, supremely, stupidly easy to make. Can you crush cookies? Can you mash cookies and frosting together in a bowl? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you can make these truffles. (And if you are thinking these sound a bit like Oreo truffles, you're right. They're not made with Oreos or cream cheese, but the concept of cookie crumbs forming the truffle base is the same. And isn't that a concept we can all get behind?)
  • They allow you the opportunity to make many truly groan-worthy jokes about "patience, young grasshopper" while making and eating these cookies.
Even one of these reasons would be good enough for me, but three? What are you waiting for? Get thee a package of cookies and get to truffle making, young grasshopper! (Told you it was fun.)

Get the recipe: Grasshopper Truffles

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Grasshopper Truffles Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Blueberry Gummies

Blueberry Gummies (c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Blueberry Gummies get their fruit flavor from blue gelatin and a hidden surprise--a fresh blueberry inside the candy! I love the two-tone look of these gummy candies, and the fresh berry taste and texture elevate these from your standard gummy candy recipe.

For this recipe you will need at least one candy mold that is fairly deep. I like to use what's called a "bonbon" or "truffle" mold, because it's deep enough to allow me to hide a blueberry in the center. If you use shallower molds you can omit the blueberry and also the two-tone gelatin effect. This recipe yields 8 gummies approximately 1" round and 1" tall.


  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 .25-oz package unflavored gelatin
  • 1 3-oz package blue flavored gelatin
  • fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk


1. Prepare your candy mold by spraying it lightly with nonstick spray, then wiping it gently with a paper towel to leave just a very thin layer of oil in the molds.

2. Pour the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin packets on top, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes to let the water hydrate the gelatin.

3. Put the pan over medium-low heat to melt the gelatin and stir until it is completely dissolved and smooth.

4. Pour the melted gelatin into a measuring cup with a spout, and then carefully pour the gelatin halfway into the prepared mold cavities. Gently place a blueberry in the middle of each cavity.

5. Place the tray in the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm up the gelatin. While that is setting, stir the condensed milk into the remaining gelatin in the mixing cup to turn it an opaque blue color.

6. After the first layer has set, pour the opaque gelatin on top of the first layer, and refrigerate the candies to set them completely.

7. Once set, pull the gummies out of the molds and serve. Blueberry Gummies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days, or for several weeks if you omit the blueberry inside.

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Inside-Out Peppermint Patties

Traditional peppermint patties are so last year. Embrace the future with Inside-Out Peppermint Patties! I'm sure you're familiar with old-school peppermint patties, consisting of a creamy peppermint center covered with chocolate. This recipe flips that idea around and instead has the peppermint candy on the outside, and a filling of rich chocolate ganache inside each peppermint disc. The taste is the same, but the appearance is what sets these creative candies apart. Try coloring the peppermint creams different colors to go along with holidays or party themes, or add different extracts instead of peppermint (coconut! almond!) to create fun new inside-out candies.

Get the recipe: Inside-Out Peppermint Patties

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Inside-Out Peppermint Patties Photo c2012 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

How to Make Fudge

After the condensed milk is added and incorporated, insert a candy thermometer and cook the mixture to 235 degrees, stirring frequently so that the candy on the bottom of the pan does not scorch. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down the sides of the pan occasionally to prevent sugar crystals from forming and making your fudge unpleasantly grainy.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter (boy, do I!) but I don't particularly like store-bought peanut butter cups. The peanut butter filling always seems too dry and crumbly, and the flavor of the chocolate and peanut butter always seems too artificial. So what's a candy lover to do but make her own? Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are easy to make and include a handy step-by-step guide with pictures, so you can see how your candies should look at every step. The resulting cups have a strong peanut and chocolate taste, with a creamy filling that melds perfectly with the chocolate.

If the photo tutorial still leaves you with questions, check out this video with step-by-step instructions for Making Peanut Butter Cups. The recipe in the video adds graham cracker crumbs for a crunchy, crispy candy cup.

Get the recipe:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Peanut Butter Cups Photo Tutorial
Peanut Butter Cups Video.

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Peanut Butter Cups Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Kid-Friendly Candy Recipes

Kids and candy go hand-in-hand, but sometimes homemade candy recipes can be too technical or dangerous for young kitchen assistants. These simple and safe kid-friendly recipes are a great way to introduce children to the joys of candymaking, and everyone in the family will enjoy eating the final product!

1. Candy Pizza

Candy Pizza(c) 2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

This candy pizza recipe is easy and fun for kids to make, and tastes as great as it looks! Chocolate is mixed with mini marshmallows and crispy cereal to form a chewy, crunchy, chocolatey crust, and is topped with candied fruit or candies, coconut, and drizzles of white chocolate.

2. Rocky Road Candy

Elizabeth LaBau

These classic Rocky Road drop candies feature dark chocolate, chewy marshmallows and toasted nuts. You can experiment with adding different nuts, chunks of white chocolate, or dried fruit to the mix.

3. Oreo Truffles

oreo truffles(c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

This recipe for oreo truffles calls for only three ingredients. Kids can help roll the balls and dip the candies, and they’ll like the familiar taste of oreos in cookie form.

4. Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels

chocolate pretzels(c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels are easy to make, and the combination of sweet chocolate and salty, crunchy pretzels is fantastic. Let kids choose the toppings and go to town adding sprinkles, nuts, coconut, or whatever else you can think of!

5. Chocolate Clay

Chocolate Clay recipe(c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Chocolate Clay is a delicious chocolate-peanut butter candy paste that can be used as an edible Play-Doh. Your kids will have trouble deciding whether they’d rather play with it or eat it!

6. Turtle Candies

Turtles Candy(c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Turtle Candies get their name from their whimsical turtle shape. The combination of toasted pecans, soft caramel and smooth chocolate is impossible to resist.

7. Chocolate Cherry Mice

Chocolate Cherry Mice(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Chocolate Cherry Mice are adorable chocolate-covered cherries, decorated with chocolate kisses and almonds so that they look like candy mice! This is a great candy to make with kids, because it doesn't require any cooking and only minimal assembly.

8. Tiger Fudge

tiger fudge(c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to

Tiger Fudge is a peanut butter and chocolate treat made from only three ingredients. It looks so sophisticated and tastes so good, no one will ever guess how easy it is to make.

9. Rock Candy

rock candy(c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Rock candy is a simple sugar candy that can double as a science experiment. The process can take up to a week, but it’s fun to watch the sugar crystals growing over time.

10. Sweet Potatoes Candy

Irish Candy Potatoes photo(c) 2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

Young helpers will enjoy shaping the potatoes; and rolling them in the cinnamon mixture. These candies don't contain actual potatoes, but they do feature an unusual but delicious cinnamon-coconut combination.

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Saturday, 5 May 2012

Ginger Truffles

Candied ginger is one of my favorite things. First of all, did you know it's excellent for settling upset stomachs? Truth! It's also a knockout addition to cookies, like oatmeal cookies or molasses cookies--it adds a little extra flavor boost and a great texture. But since this isn't a gastrointestinal distress blog, or a baking blog, I'll get right to my point: candied ginger is also fabulous in these Ginger Truffles. Ginger brings some much-needed flavor to a white chocolate ganache base, which in turn helps temper some of the ginger's heat. The slivers of candied ginger on top add a lovely chewy texture that contrasts with the smooth filling. I can't go so far as to recommend these for tummyaches, but given the smile they invariably put on my face, I have no doubt they're somehow medicinal.

Get the recipe: Ginger Truffles

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Ginger Truffles Photo c2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Mexican Chocolate Fudge

Mexican Chocolate Fudge features cinnamon and a hint of spice in a smooth chocolate fudge, topped by crushed Mexican chocolate. Mexican chocolate can usually be found in the ethnic food section of major grocery stores, and common brands include Ibarra and Abuelita. It differs from regular chocolate in that it is grainy, with a noticeable crunch from undissolved granulated sugar crystals, and it often includes spices like cinnamon. If you cannot find Mexican chocolate, you can omit this step from the recipe, but do not try to substitute other chocolate varieties-- they will not have the intended taste and texture.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 disc (3.1 ounces) Mexican chocolate, finely chopped


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

2. Combine the marshmallows and chocolate chips in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Place the butter, milk, sugar, cinnamon, cayenne and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to let the candy boil, stirring constantly, for five minutes.

5. Remove from the heat. Stir in the marshmallows, chocolate chips, and vanilla, mixing until well-combined.

6. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

7. While fudge is still wet, sprinkle the chopped Mexican chocolate on top. Place in the refrigerator to set the fudge. Once set, cut into 1-inch squares to serve.

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Friday, 4 May 2012

How to Make Old-Fashioned Fudge (Buttermilk Fudge Recipe)

Chances are, it's happened to you. You're making a batch of fudge--but not the easy, add-marshmallow-cream-and-stir kind. This is legitimate fudge, old-fashioned fudge, grandma fudge, the kind that needs to be beaten in order to set up. You're following the instructions and stirring dutifully, the fudge is starting to thicken, and--bam! Suddenly you have a rock-hard lump in your saucepan where creamy fudge should be.

Or perhaps you have the opposite problem. You stir and stir and practically stir your little arm off, but your fudge never seems to thicken, and you're left with a gooey sauce that might be a good ice cream topping, but is definitely not going to pass as fudge.

Both of these scenarios--and many, many others--have happened to me in my years of fudge-making. I call it "when bad fudge happens to good people." Although fudge seems like a fairly simple candy, I think old-fashioned fudge is actually a very tricky thing to do properly! So much success depends on knowing when to stop beating, and this is something that is really best seen and understood through experience, not read from a recipe page. But we don't all have grandmothers to show us how to make old-fashioned fudge, so I have a few tips and tricks to get you through the process of making old-fashioned fudge. These tips work for any recipe that requires a sugar syrup to be cooked and then beaten until thick--if you'd like to read an example of this method, check out this Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Fudge recipe.

Tips for Making Old-Fashioned Fudge

  • Check Your Candy Thermometer. The single biggest factor in fudge success is getting the sugar syrup cooked to the right temperature. If your syrup is overcooked, the fudge will be hard and grainy. If undercooked, it will be too soft and might not thicken at all. You can save yourself a lot of frustration and wasted ingredients by following these simple instructions to check your candy thermometer, and then, during the cooking, monitoring the candy closely to get it to the exact temperature specified by the recipe.

  • Beat the Fudge Until There is a Noticeable Change. I can't tell you how many emails I've gotten from people complaining about their fudge being thin and liquid. When I ask follow-up questions, they usually admit that they didn't beat their fudge for very long, or that it didn't really look or feel different after beating. This is a sure sign of under-beaten fudge! Specific recipes will give you exact guidelines, but as a general rule, the fudge should be nearly set when you're done beating it. It will have changed from a shiny, translucent liquid into a thick, matte, opaque fudge, with an extremely thick consistency. If it doesn't look almost set when you're scraping it into the pan, you haven't beaten it enough. And yes--this process can take a long time. It depends on the recipe and the size of the batch, but it can take anywhere from 5-25 minutes, so don't think a few quick stirs with the spoon will get the job done.

  • Stop Just Before It Sets. Look at the words I used above to describe when to stop beating fudge: "nearly set," "almost set." This is, for me, the hardest part of making fudge, because I always try to give it just a few more stirs, and then my fudge is suddenly thick and hard in the pan. Fudge is done when it has reached the matte, opaque look I mentioned, and your spoon leaves tracks through the fudge that are never covered up again. It's literally a matter of stopping before you give it the final stir or two, because you need a little fluidity in order to scrape the fudge into the pan and smooth it out. This is the step that takes the most practice.

  • A Spoonful of Hot Water Can Save the Day. If you don't quite succeed in the previous step, and find that your fudge has gotten too thick and can't be easily scraped into the pan, adding a spoonful of very hot water can help! Start with about a tablespoon of near-boiling water, and stir it into the fudge. The fudge should loosen up, and you can now pour it into the pan and smooth it out. If it loosens but is still too stiff, add a bit more water, trying to add as little as possible to be effective.

  • Wet Hands Help Too. I almost always use my (clean, washed) hands to pat the fudge smooth in the pan. If fudge is almost set, spreading it out with a spatula can leave drag marks and other imperfections on the top. Wet your hands lightly (or spray them with a thin layer of nonstick cooking spray) and press and pat the fudge smooth. The water or oil helps your hands glide over the fudge and gives the top a seamless look. Voila--perfect fudge!
  • Get the recipe: Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Fudge

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    Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Fudge Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

I have seriously mixed feelings about these Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans. I would like to give them a wholehearted endorsement, but I am unfortunately still recovering from the last time I made a batch. As soon as they came out of the oven, with their gorgeous mahogany color and fragrant aroma, I was hooked. I found myself hovering around the pan and nibbling them constantly. I ate them for pre-dinner snacks and post-dinner treats. It is safe to say that, except for the handful I used in another dessert, I ate the whole batch myself in a few days. So, although I love these crunchy, spicy devils, I have to warn you that unless you have a willpower of steel, or hate delicious candied nuts, you should exercise extreme caution around these pecans.

Get the recipe: Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

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Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans Photo c2009 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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Cinco de Mayo Candy Recipes

Cinco De Mayo seems to be Spanish for “Big Party” in the United States. This May holiday provides a great excuse to get together with friends and feast on traditional (and not-so-traditional) Mexican foods. These Cinco de Mayo candy recipes are designed to compliment a range of Mexican menus, and will provide the perfect finish to your Cinco de Mayo festivities.

Spiced Chocolate Candies

One hallmark of Mexican cooking is the use of fragrant spices like cinnamon and chile in all manner of dishes, including dessert. Try these unique, delicious spiced chocolate candy recipes and you may never eat plain chocolate again.

Caramel Candies

Caramel-flavored desserts are among the most popular in Mexican cooking. These candies and fudges all incorporate darkly sweet caramel in some form, whether it be the milky sweetness of Dulce de Leche, or the brown-sugar based Penuche and Orange-Caramel Fudge.

Fruity Candies

Where would Mexican cuisine be without fruit? Flavors like pineapple and lime are often used to accent dishes, while prickly pear cactus fruit is a traditional ingredient that produces an unusual candy.

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Orange Cream Cheese Balls

I have never been able to ride the marmalade train. I wish I liked it, but something about the too-sweet taste and the aggressively chewy texture just makes it too much work for a toast topper. (Which is unfortunate, because I've always fancied the idea of sitting down to a civilized afternoon tea with crumpets and marmalade and clotted cream. This fantasy also involves a butler and an English country manor, so it's safe to say I have a long way to go before I get there.)

I do, however, like to cook and bake with marmalade, because it's an easy way to pack a lot of citrus flavor into a dish without adding a lot of liquid in the form of juice. These Orange Cream Cheese Balls make good use of marmalade, mixing it with white chocolate and cream cheese to form soft, tangy candies that actually taste like creamsicles! Try rolling them in toasted coconut or chopped nuts, to add a little extra flavor and a crunchy texture.

Get the recipe: Orange Cream Cheese Balls

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Orange Cream Cheese Balls Photo c2011 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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How to Make Sugar Easter Eggs

One of the appeals of panoramic eggs is the beautiful miniature scenes contained within the egg. To make the inside scene:

1. Pipe a small amount of royal icing into the bottom portion of the intact egg half. This is to anchor everything else you add.

2. Add a layer of green-tinted coconut or Easter grass, if desired, and press gently to adhere it to the frosting.

3. Begin to add toys, pictures, small candies, or sugar decorations. It is easiest to add a dab of royal icing to the back or bottom of your decorations to help them stick.

4. Continue to add decorations until your egg is complete.

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Chocolate Sour Cream Fudge

My refrigerator doubles as a home for wayward dairy products. At any given time I might have two tubs of opened sour cream, a mostly-empty container of greek yogurt, a big vat of cottage cheese just waiting to go bad, and a forlorn, forgotten carton of buttermilk hanging out on the back of the second shelf. I don't mean to be a bad fridge monitor, but it's tough! I buy some sour cream for a recipe, use part of it, things get shuffled around, and boom! It's two months later and I'm finding a fuzzy green mess that used to be delicious sour cream. What's a girl to do?

The obvious answer is to keep better track of my dairy, and to use it up before it goes bad. I could do this the boring way (ie, in another dinner recipe) or the fun way! Guess which way I prefer? Chocolate Sour Cream Fudge uses a cup and a half of sour cream, which is guaranteed to cut down my excess sour cream stores by a good amount. You could also substitute full-fat plain greek yogurt (the naturally thick kind) for some or all of the sour cream, if you have a medley of dairy in your fridge, as I do. The sour cream adds a delicious tang to this old-fashioned chocolate fudge, but you don't have to stop there. Try one of these other sour cream candy recipes too:

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Photo c2012 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

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