Articles in Candy
Around our house, Valentine’s Day is about family and love. And when it comes to dessert my family loves chocolate, peppermint and marshmallows, though not necessarily in that order. I wanted to make a treat that would satisfy everyone’s dessert fantasies. After much contemplation, I came up with the idea for Chocolate-Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Pops.
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I had another requirement for our Valentine’s Day treat — it had to be a no-bake recipe. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate to bake anything except bread, and I’ll come up with any excuse possible to make sweet treats that don’t involve actual baking.
While thumbing through the dessert section of my personal “favorite recipes” notebook, I stumbled across my recipe for seven-minute frosting. I suddenly realized this could be the starting point for Valentine treats. I love seven-minute frosting. In our family, we eat coconut cake with seven-minute frosting for Christmas, Easter and birthdays. It’s a special occasion cake, but I figured it would be even better if I could get rid of the cake entirely and focus on the frosting. If you’ve ever made seven-minute frosting, you know it’s just a step away from marshmallow. I decided to take that step.
The joy of homemade marshmallows
For most people, marshmallows are unnaturally rounded cubes found in plastic bags in supermarkets. Yet there are an infinite number of ways to make marshmallows. Most call for some combination of sugar, gelatin and corn syrup.
I began my experiment with my traditional recipe for seven-minute frosting, but replaced my usual vanilla with peppermint. I added unflavored gelatin to the mix to give the final product its marshmallow-y sponginess. Once I had made the marshmallow, then let it cool overnight, I used cookie cutters to cut the marshmallow into Valentine shapes. The final steps: Shove it onto a popsicle stick, dip it in chocolate and decorate with candy sprinkles.
This recipe does contain egg, which is important to tell people who might have egg allergies. However, unlike most marshmallow recipes, this one has no corn syrup. I also did a double-check on the food safety situation of the egg whites. According to foodsafety.gov, the egg whites used in seven-minute frosting are cooked with a sugar syrup long enough to kill any salmonella bacterium that might be present.
But because I was planning to share these treats with the all the kids in the neighborhood, I decided to play it safe and make this recipe with pasteurized powdered egg whites. They’re handy to have when you run out of eggs, and I happened to have them in my pantry already.
Get messy and feel the love
Fair warning: this can be a messy affair, as powdered sugar tends to fly, especially if your kids are getting into the act. I experimented with several versions of the recipe, varying the level of sweetness, marshmallow thickness and pepperminty-ness.
This final version appealed to children and adults alike, assuming, of course, that the eater had a love of chocolate and a serious sweet tooth. The dessert is as pretty as it is delicious, and the finished chocolate pops can be used as Valentine Party table decorations or given as gifts.
They would never last that long at our house. I presented my first batch of chocolate peppermint marshmallow pops to my two daughters, which caused their outdoor play to screech to a halt as they snatched the heart-shaped suckers out of my hand. They were such a hit that when my youngest daughter dropped her half-eaten pop in the dirt of our front yard, a river of tears began to flow. The flood stopped when I sighed and told my daughter she could pick it up and eat it anyway. She dusted off the biggest specks of dirt and happily shoved it back in her mouth.
Love can be messy. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate-Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Pops
Makes approximately 12 to 15 pops
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons (three packets) unflavored gelatin
⅔ cups water to mix with gelatin, plus ½ cup water to mix with egg whites
Pasteurized powdered egg whites equal to two egg whites (I used Deb El’s Just Whites. If you use another brand, change the amount of water to whatever is required by the egg-white instructions plus five tablespoons of water.)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups refined white sugar
¼ to ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Pinch of salt
24 ounces (two bags) good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
Assorted sprinkles, coconut, or finely chopped nuts for decoration
1. Butter a 9-by-13 inch sheet pan with at least a ½-inch edge and line with parchment paper.
2. Sift together ½ cup cornstarch and ½ cup powdered sugar. Use about half this mixture to completely cover sides and bottom of pan. Reserve the remainder.
3. Mix 3 tablespoons gelatin with ⅔ cup hot water in a small bowl. Stir until gelatin dissolves and set aside.
4. Heat about 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler. In top half of double boiler add egg white, cream of tartar, peppermint extract, sugar and ½ cup cold water (do this with top pan off the heat).
5. Place top pan into bottom pan of double boiler, which contains about 1 inch of hot water, still over heat. Use an electric hand mixer to combine ingredients, starting on low speed until combined, then increasing speed to high. Continue to beat ingredients over medium heat for seven minutes.
6. Remove double boiler from heat. Be sure that pan is on a stable, heat-proof surface, like a cool burner. Slowly add gelatin mixture to egg white mixture, beating with hand mixer starting on low speed, then increasing to high speed. Continue to beat for five minute. Do not worry if mixture gets watery and starts to deflate slightly.
7. Pour marshmallow mixture into 9-by-13-inch pan, dust with reserved powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture until marshmallow mixture is completely covered.
8. Let cool overnight.
9. The next day, cut into shapes using cookie cutters that are approximately 2 inches in diameter.
10. Brush off any excess powdered sugar-corn starch mixture.
11. Place marshmallow shapes on lollipop sticks and set aside.
12. Heat chocolate and canola oil in a double boiler over low heat and stir to combine until chocolate is completely melted.
13. Dip marshmallow pops in chocolate until the top and all sides are covered. Add sprinkles or other topping and let harden on parchment paper-lined sheet pan in refrigerator for approximately 10 minutes. (You can dip the whole pop at once, but it may leave a bit of extra chocolate pooling at the back side of the marshmallow unless you’re really careful to scrape off any excess before placing on tray to dry.)
14. When the chocolate has hardened on the front and sides of the marshmallow pop, coat the back side of the marshmallow with melted chocolate. (It is easiest to spoon about a teaspoon of melted chocolate onto back side of marshmallow pop and spread with the back of the spoon.) Place on parchment paper-lined sheet pan with back side up and return to refrigerator until marshmallow pops are completely cool.
15. Pack marshmallow pops in airtight container for up to one week. They also freeze well.
Top photo: Chocolate-covered peppermint marshmallow pops cool on parchment paper. Credit: Susan Lutz
Even the most jaded of adults will stand outside the plate glass window of a chocolate shop and stare at the candies inside with the wide-eyed wonder of a child. On a recent trip researching a series of articles about Switzerland, I spent time with chocolatier Dan Durig who has two shops in Lausanne on Lake Geneva.
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To celebrate the holidays and the New Year, Durig generously shared an easy-to-make chocolate ganache. He also patiently allowed me to videotape him preparing his signature vanilla-scented ganache-filled chocolates.
Born into a family of Swiss chocolate makers, Durig learned the craft from his dad, Jean Durig. Growing up near Manchester, England, and vacationing with his father’s family in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Durig lived comfortably in England and Switzerland. So when he was ready for a life change, relocating to Switzerland was easy to do.
Having always worked for his dad or other chocolatiers, he wanted to start his own business in Lausanne. In a quiet neighborhood within sight of Lake Geneva, Durig converted a branch office of BCV bank into Durig Chocolatier.
Locals told Durig the transformation of a bank into a chocolate shop changed the neighborhood for the better. The change was good for Durig as well. Within three years, his business was well established, he won several prestigious awards, he married and had a son. Putting together a team to work in the kitchen and in the front of the shop is, according to Durig, easier in Switzerland than other places because of the country’s well-established apprenticeship program. The clerks who work in the shop go through a retail management program. The chocolatiers learn their craft in a multiyear pastry apprenticeship based on the French model, combining four days of work with one day of school.
Made mostly by hand with the help of a few machines, Durig happily demonstrated how he crafts his chocolates. As he worked, two tempering machines that work 24 hours a day can be heard in the background, keeping separate batches of milk and dark chocolate at precisely the correct temperature. When melted without controlling the temperature, chocolate will cool and harden without its characteristic bright sheen and crispness.
Durig knows his chocolates are only as good as the ingredients he uses. To make his ganache, he sources high quality Swiss organic cream from local dairies and vanilla beans from Madagascar. He buys his cocoa and cocoa butter from quality, fair trade producers in Peru, Sierra Leone and Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.
For best results at home, follow Durig’s lead and buy the highest quality chocolate and cream available. Chocolate should be made only with cocoa butter. Cream should not have any chemical additives.
To make the ganache-filled chocolates demonstrated by chef Durig in the video, purchase a candy-making mold in a restaurant or cooking supply store or online. Learning to temper chocolate is not for the faint of heart. Understanding that, Durig’s ganache recipe does not require tempering.
Durig Chocolatier’s Chocolate Holiday Ganache Squares
Using quality ingredients is essential in cooking, especially when making chocolates. After making the ganache, the chocolates should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
If served cold, the chocolates have a pleasing crispness. Allowed to warm to room temperature, they will have a melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. I put the chocolates in individual paper cups for easy serving.
As a matter of taste, I added caramelized nuts to the ganache. A half cup of almond slivers tossed with 1 tablespoon of white sugar and toasted over a low flame added a pleasing crunch to the citrus and herbal notes.
Serves 24 to 36 (about 130 pieces, depending on the size of the squares)
For the mixed spice:
Durig buys his mixed spice ready made. Making your own is easy enough. Once prepared, keep in an airtight container. If ground clove and fennel are not available, grind your own.
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground fennel
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground clove
For the chocolates:
500 grams (1 pint) cream
800 grams (28 ounces) organic dark chocolate (68% cocoa content), chopped into small pieces
10 grams (2 flat teaspoons) ground cinnamon
10 grams (2 flat teaspoons) mixed spice (see directions below)
100 grams (3 ounces) chopped organic candied orange peel
Organic cocoa powder for dusting
For the mixed spice:
1. Place all the ingredients into a small, electric grinder and pulverize into a fine powder.
For the chocolates:
1. Bring the cream to boil and remove from the heat.
2. Add the other ingredients to the cream and stir with a wire whisk until the chocolate is melted.
3. Pour into a 10-inch dish lined with baking paper.
4. Cool in the fridge for 4 hours.
5. Cut into ½- to ¾-inch squares and roll each square in the cocoa powder.
6. Set aside on a wire rack or sheets of waxed paper.
7. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Top photo: Ganache-filled chocolates at Durig Chocolatier in Lausanne, Switzerland. Credit: David Latt
When November rolls around and the scent of cinnamon is in the air, you may look forward to traditional holiday treats like pumpkin pie or your mom’s gingerbread. But for people in Rome, N.Y., in the foothills of the Adirondacks, the holidays wouldn’t taste the same without Turkey Joints.
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They’re not made from turkey; they’re not even shaped like turkeys. Turkey Joints look like bones. Imagine a knobby 5-inch-long candy, similar in girth to a pretzel rod, covered in a crunchy, pearly-white sugar coating. Inside each “bone” is a creamy chocolate and Brazil nut “marrow.” Bizarre, yes, but also delicious.
Rome residents don’t make Turkey Joints at home; they buy them at Nora’s Candy Shop. Nora’s is owned by the Haritatos family, which began making the chocolate treats in 1919, and they’re still made by the same (secret) handmade process. No one knows for sure where the idea for the bone-shaped candies came from, but they’ve been a local Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition for decades.
“I don’t know how many jars we sell during the holidays,” said Sharon, a Nora’s employee who handles in-store and online sales. “But I will say it’s a lot. All I know is, at the end of the holiday season I am extremely tired!”
As New York Romans have moved away to other parts of the world, the Turkey Joints tradition has spread. Each year, Nora’s ships the candies to homesick people all over the United States, and beyond.
I was introduced to Turkey Joints several years ago by my friend Doug Gallaher, who grew up in Rome and moved to San Francisco in the early ’90s. At 45 years old, Gallaher has never known a Christmas without Turkey Joints.
“I don’t know anyone who is from Rome, or who had a relative from Rome, who does not think of them as a holiday food,” he told me. “What I like about them is that they are tied so closely to Christmas memories, but they are a tangible, unchanged thing. My mom still sends me a jar every year in my Christmas care package.”
Like many former Rome residents, Gallaher also gives Turkey Joints to friends each year during the holidays.
“I typically buy between six and eight jars and bring them to holiday parties instead of wine,” he said. “I try not to have any myself until after Thanksgiving and really try to hold out until Christmas Eve. I typically fail at this.”
Turkey Joints sell for $19.99 a jar, and are available only between October and May. (They don’t fare well in warm weather.) Due to the weight of the glass jars and the delicacy of the candies, shipping costs $15 for a single jar — nearly as much as the Turkey Joints themselves. But when you think about it, that’s a small price to pay for a sweet, unchanged taste of childhood, even if it’s someone else’s childhood.
To order Turkey Joints online, visit www.turkeyjoints.com or www.tasteofcny.com. Along with Original Turkey Joints, Nora’s also offers newfangled flavors such as Chocolate Covered Turkey Joints, Coco-Monds (a coconut/almond version) and Peanut Butter Sticks.
Top photo: Turkey Joints from Nora’s Candy Shop in Rome, N.Y. Credit: Tina Caputo
Filipino Catholics celebrate the world’s longest Christmas, beginning on Dec. 16 (the date of the first of nine consecutive missas de gallo, or dawn Masses) and ending the first Sunday in January with the Feast of the Three Kings. It’s a time of church, prayers and family but also, as I learned when my husband and I spent Christmas in a rural Philippine town a few years ago, an excuse for Filipinos to indulge their joyously insatiable appetites.
“For Filipinos, Christmas is about two things: Mass and eating,” a denizen of Arayat, in Pampanga province, explained to me on my first evening in town.
An ongoing feast
That Christmas it seemed that for nine days my husband and our friend Marc, whose father’s family had a century-old Arayat home that became ours for the holiday, did little else but eat or anticipate eating. Before meals, after meals and in-between meals we sat at the weathered wooden table in the nipa thatch-roofed kitchen watching Lucia, the family’s beloved septuagenarian cook, move nimbly over a wood-fired stove, conjuring feasts from humble local ingredients.
Only hours after rib-sticking breakfasts of campurado, delicious rice porridge flavored with Filipino cacao, and coffee with butterfat-rich buffalo milk, there were multi-course lunches of dishes such as pork and chicken adobo; pinakbet (an umami-rich vegetable stew flavored with bagoong, Filipino shrimp paste); estofado, a Spanish-influenced stew; and huge freshwater prawns stewed in coconut. Dinners described by Marc as “light” before we arrived were nothing of the sort; though they were often composed of leftovers and perhaps some sinigang, the Philippines’ beloved sour soup. We were never left hungry.
If, during the day, we left our roosts at the kitchen table (I was in Arayat to write an article on Lucia’s culinary prowess, so it was only natural to stick close), it was for outings to the homes of bakers and to pastry shops elsewhere in Pampanga, a province renowned for its sweets. We always returned with souvenirs.
A treasure with only four ingredients
One morning, midway between breakfast and lunch, Lucia’s school friend, Damiana, a spry silver-haired woman wearing a shy grin and a turquoise flowered housecoat, stepped through the kitchen door carrying a bowl of strangely soft-shelled fresh eggs and three dalayap (a local lime similar to key limes). It was time to make yemas, candy-coated milk balls scented with lime. Prepared with just four ingredients — including sweetened condensed milk, which was probably introduced to the Philippines during the post-World War II occupation years – yemas are a favorite Filipino holiday treat.
As Lucia carried cans of the milk to the table, Damiana smiled and beckoned me to join her. Stuffed after a few days in Arayat, I was certain that I couldn’t bear to look at another sweet. But journalistic duty compelled me. I’m glad it did. In the intervening years, Damiana’s yemas have made more than a few holiday appearances in my own home.
Lime-Scented Candy-Coated Milk Balls (Yemas)
Filipinos make yemas any old time, but especially around local fiestas and holidays like Easter and Christmas. They require few ingredients and no special skills, but a bit of time. Wrapped with cellophane in colors of the season, they make a festive addition to the holiday table. Use key limes if you can get them, but regular limes will do.
- In a medium saucepan place the lime zest, eggs and sweetened condensed milk. Stir until the ingredients are just combined.
- Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir the mixture continuously, scraping it away from the bottom and sides of the pan. Curds may form – don’t worry, just keep stirring. The mixture will gradually thicken and become paste-like. After 12 to 15 minutes, when a piece of the mixture holds to the spatula when it’s turned on it’s side, remove the pan from the heat and turn the mixture onto a lightly oiled plate. Use the spatula to spread it out into a thin layer. Set aside.
- Lightly oil a cookie sheet. When the yemas paste is still warm but just cool enough to handle, rub your hands lightly with oil and roll pinches of the paste between your palms into smooth balls approximately ¾ inches in diameter. Place them on a lightly oiled tray or cookie sheet. Depending on the size of the yemas you will have about 90 to 100 pieces.
- In a small saucepan, melt the sugar, stirring over medium heat, then turn the heat off. Working quickly, drop a yema into the sugar syrup, give it a quick turn with a fork to coat, remove it and place back on the oiled cookie sheet. If the sugar begins to thicken return it to the heat until it thins. Repeat as necessary until all the yemas are coated. Set aside to cool completely.
- While the yemas are cooling, cut parchment paper into 2-by-2½-inch rectangles. Cut the cellophane into 4-inch squares, then cut each square in half on a diagonal. Each square will give you two triangles whose longest edge is 6 inches. There should be 1 piece of parchment and 1 piece of cellophane for each candy.
- To wrap the candies, hold a cellophane triangle in your palm, the longest edge parallel to your wrist, the point facing your body. (See slide show.) Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the cellophane, one of its short edges flush with the cellophane point. Place a yema low on the parchment and roll both the parchment and cellophane up and over the candy (the yemas should be enclosed in parchment). Twist the ends of the cellophane to seal.
- The yemas will keep at room temperature for about a week. If you live in an especially humid climate you will want to store the candies in an absolutely air-tight container, or in the refrigerator.
Zester Daily contributor David Hagerman shoots for the New York Times, Travel+Leisure and Saveur, among other publications. To view more of his slide shows, go to davidhagerman.photoshelter.com. Robyn Eckhardt is a food and travel journalist based in Penang, Malaysia. She also is a contributor to Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia and has been published in Saveur, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Asia. Her last article for Zester was a double book review, Veggies and Grains Deluxe.
Top photo: Festively wrapped yemas.
Photo and slide show credits: David Hagerman
Fudge is a tawdry confection of cooked sugar, butter and cream. She makes no apologies for her excesses. She is shamelessly sweet, shockingly fattening and decadently laden with chocolate. She has long been quietly adored — lasciviously eyed at ports of call like boardwalks, amusement parks and shopping malls — she has never learned quite how to dress. She comes to us in chunky blocks which we stuff in paper bags as if this indulgence were something illicit to hide. But we fudge lovers have never required the object of our affections to look fetching. We never require her to be dressed up with doilies, decorated with powdered sugar or stacked on pedestals like her trendy cousins, the artisan cupcakes.
It is time for fudge to go glam! She needs a muse and a catalyst and that, oh great fudge-lover and home confectioner, is you. Dress this lady up in fine clothing and give her some jewels. This holiday season, when you make your favorite fudge, don’t stuff her into that horrible corset of a small square pan as most recipes will instruct you to do. Instead, pour the still-warm fudge on a buttered swath of tin foil that has been laid into a sheet pan. Smooth her over the foil to a slender ½ inch thick – just a fraction of the usual clumsy height. Then, once the fudge has set, trim her with cookie cutters, dust her with exotic sugars, dip her in the finest chocolate or sprinkle her with carefully roasted nutmeats. Fudge, with her regaldelivery of flavor, decadance and satisfaction deserves the trappings of the richest confections.
Chocolate Courtesan Fudge
- Grease a half sheet pan or 9 x 12 inch pan.
- Combine sugar, and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, or until you hit 235°F on a digital or candy thermometer.
- Take the pan off the heat and fold in the chocolate, vanilla, salt, and walnuts. Stir vigorously for several minutes, until the mixture is very smooth, then pour into the prepared pan.
- Allow the mixture to set, about 30 minutes. Slice with a small fan-shaped or heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Note: This fudge is very rich, so if you can’t find a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, use a paring knife to make small uniform shapes. Keep a bowl of hot water and a damp cloth nearby to clean the cutter or knife after each use. If the fudge is too soft to cut easily, chill for another 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Susie Norris is a chocolatier, TV producer and author of the book “Chocolate Bliss.“