Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 8, 2013

WARD: Homemade Halloween treats take holiday to a new level

ASHLAND — Mountains of bags of Halloween candy have been in stores for more than a month now, just waiting to get snatched up by those who don’t want to be bothered making candy.

Truly, making candy is quite a challenge. However, there’s a new book called “Classic Candy” by Abigail R. Gehring that covers the gamut of candy making; most of the recipes are surprisingly simple and many don’t require the use of the dreaded candy thermometer. She also has an early chapter on ingredients and tools, clearing up any misunderstandings.

I love chocolate with nearly anything, but I will try to include some candies that don’t make use of chocolate, as I know there are people who don’t like it or can’t eat it.

The first recipe, however, might be my favorite and I have to share it.

CHOCOLATE COCONUT CANDY BARS

14 ounces coconut flakes

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 pound dark chocolate, chopped, or 16 ounces chocolate chips

1 tablespoon corn or coconut oil

In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, confectioner’s sugar, salt, vanilla and condensed milk.

Line a 7-by-10-inch baking pan with foil. Press the coconut mixture into the pan evenly and refrigerate for about an hour.

Remove from refrigerator and slice into 1-inch by 2-inch rectangles.

Place the chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, add the oil and stir until melted and smooth. Spear each coconut bar with a fork and dip in chocolate to coat, then set back on the foil-lined baking pan. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before serving.

TIP: Before dipping in chocolate, you can press a whole almond onto the top of each bar.

t

Called Dream Bars, these look wicked-good to me. To make them dairy-free and vegan, replace the butter with coconut oil and the eggs with 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds mixed with 6 tablespoons water until it becomes gelatinous.

DREAM BARS

1⁄2 cup butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

11⁄2 cups light brown sugar

2 eggs

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1⁄2 cups coconut flakes

2 tablespoons flour

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Grease a 10-inch-by-10-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together softened butter, 1⁄2 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Press into the bottom of the greased baking pan. Bake about 10 minutes, or until just barely brown.

In a mixing bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons four, remaining 1 cup brown sugar, 1⁄8 teaspoon salt and baking powder. Beat together eggs and vanilla and then add to dry ingredients and mix.

Pour wet mixture over baked crust. Sprinkle coconut flakes and chocolate over top evenly.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes and cut into squares while still warm.

CHERRY CORDIALS

30 marichino cherries, stems removed

1 1⁄2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 1⁄2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons vodka or cherry schnapps

8 ounces chocolate, chopped

In a medium bowl, mix together butter, corn syrup and vodka or schnapps. Add sugar and mix until smooth.

Drain cherries. Form a ball of confectioner’s sugar dough around each cherry, rolling between your palms to make it smooth. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Use a spoon to roll each ball in the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet to set. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator.

t

As promised, here’s something that doesn’t involved chocolate — peanut butter fudge. It’s an exceptionally easy fudge recipe, too.

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

2 cups sugar

1⁄2 cup milk

1 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and milk to a boil. Allow to boil for about 21⁄2 minutes, stirring regularly, and then remove from heat. Add peanut butter and vanilla and stir until mixed.

Pour into pan and allow to cool until set. Slice into 1-inch squares.

SALTED CARAMELS

11⁄3 cups heavy whipping cream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons sea salt

11⁄2 cups granulated sugar

1⁄2 cup dark brown sugar

1⁄4 cup corn syrup

1⁄4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Line an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper. Lightly brush with oil or coat with cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, heavy cream and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir over medium heat until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, corn syrup and water. Mix over medium heat until mixture begins to boil. Insert candy thermometer and stop stirring when mixture reaches 250 degrees.

Turn off heat and slowly pour the cream mixture into the sugar mixture, whisking until foamy and fully mixed. Turn on heat again and allow mixture to heat to 260 degrees.

Remove from heat and whisk in to the vanilla. Pour into the prepared pan and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon salt over the top.

When caramel is completely cool, lift the parchment paper out of the pan and peel away from the caramel. Use a sharp knife to cut the caramel into small squares. Wrap individually in wax paper.

t

This book is full of hard candy recipes, too, but most of them are pretty demanding and more complicate than I care to deal with.

However, this is an easy, old-fashioned recipe that surprises everyone.

VINEGAR CANDY

2 cups sugar

1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoons butter

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

Grease a baking sheet with a lip.

Combine sugar, vanilla and butter in a saucepan and heat while stirring until melted and combined. Insert a candy thermometer and heat to 270 degrees.

Remove from heat, add vanilla and stir. Pour mixture onto the baking sheet. When cool, break into pieces. Store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.

t

While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to lward@dailyindependent.com.

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