Alabama Recipes: Homemade Candy
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Beginning this month, our new Food Editor, Jennifer Kornegay, and page designer Brooke Echols will be working together to bring you the best recipes from our readers, from breakfast to dessert and snacks in between. Surveys have shown that our recipe pages are the most popular in the magazine, and we want to continue to be worthy of our readers’ time and culinary talents.
Jennifer should be a familiar face to you, as she’s been roaming the state for us for the past four years in search of the best restaurants that are “Worth the Drive.” A writer and former magazine editor, she brings a fresh voice and a love for all things food to our recipe pages. Brooke has been advertising coordinator for us for the past four years, and has recently added page design to her list of skills, which also includes trying new recipes and cooking gadgets. We think they’ll make a great team.
Investing the time required to whip up some homemade candy pays off with more than a big batch of treats. Invite your kids or grandchildren to help, and you’re also creating memories.
Making candy with my grandmother is one of my most treasured recollections. I was around 8 when I first joined her in her kitchen to help her cook. We made haystacks, caramel and coconut confections that, when done, look just like mini versions of their namesakes. I carefully measured Karo syrup, mesmerized by the clear ribbons folding into a neat stack before melting together in her worn Pyrex cup. She handled all the stove work, sparing my little hands and forearms from the popping-hot sugar. It was just one of many times I stood alongside her, chopping, stirring and testing her ability to carry out the precise tasks some of her recipes required while giving whatever I was non-stop talking about equal attention. In her kitchen, my grandmother and I bonded over a shared love of food and feeding others.
Of course, thinking back on the tasty results – each haystack a sticky but soft mouthful of caramel-coated coconut threads — makes the memory even sweeter (and kicks my salivary glands into high gear).
And autumn always makes me think of candy. Maybe because the kid in me is getting excited about Halloween. Maybe because the hot-natured adult I am knows that candy making can push kitchen temps to swelter stage, and the coming cooler days make it a bit easier to keep the house comfortable. Maybe because I love to share the fruits of my labors and know that most folks are more interested in indulging this time of year since heavier wardrobes better conceal a few extra pounds.
Whatever the reason, fall is a fabulous time to make candy, and our readers have shared some delicious ones to try.
– Jennifer Kornegay
Upcoming recipe themes and deadlines:
- December Peppermint: – October 15
- January Chili: – November 15
- February: Quick & Easy – December 15
We welcome your recipes!
Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.
Share a story about your recipe! Whether it’s your grandmother’s best cake or your uncle’s camp stew, every recipe has a story behind it. We’ll pay $50 for the best recipe-related story each month.
Cook of the month:
We’d never heard of combining the texture of fudge with the flavor of pumpkin, but this month’s Cook of the Month thinks it makes a great combination. Savannah Letson, who is 15, loves to bake cakes and cookies. When she was looking for a good recipe to submit for the October issue, she settled on “Pumpkin Fudge.” Her instincts were correct, as we decided it was a deliciously different twist on an old favorite, and especially appropriate for the fall. Savannah is in the 9th grade at Lawrence County High School in Moulton, and is looking forward to learning even more about cooking in her home economics classes. We’ll bet we receive some more yummy recipes from Savannah in the future!
Savannah Letson, Joe Wheeler EMC
- 1 tablespoon plus ¾ cup butter, divided
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 2/3 cup evaporated milk
- ½ cup canned pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 package (10 ounces) cinnamon baking chips
- 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow crème
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Line a 13-inch by 9-inch pan with foil and grease the foil with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside. Cube the remaining butter and place in a large saucepan; add the sugars, milk, pumpkin, cinnamon pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 238 degrees. Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon chips until melted. Stir in the marshmallow crème, pecans and vanilla. Transfer to prepared pan. Chill until firm. Discard the foil; cut fudge into 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 3 pounds.
Almond Butter Toffee
- 1 cup roasted almonds, slivered (divided)
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, grated
Sprinkle 3/4 cup of almonds in a buttered 9-inch x 13-inch pan. Melt butter on the stovetop in a medium saucepan; add sugars and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue cooking on medium high heat and occasionally stirring to 295 degrees or when a little dropped in cold water becomes brittle immediately. (It will smell almost burnt, and the color will be a dark tan.) Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda. Pour carefully over almonds in pan. Let cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate on top. When chocolate has melted, spread it out evenly with spatula. Sprinkle rest of almonds on top of chocolate. Cool. Break into pieces.
Sheila Copenhaver, Southern Pine EC
Date Pecan Candy
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla
- ½ package chopped dates
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 heaping tablespoons butter
Mix sugar with milk in a medium size pan. Bring to a boil. Add chopped dates. Stir constantly and boil until a soft ball is formed when dropped into cold water. (This part is very important.) Remove from heat. Add the butter and vanilla. Cool. Beat with mixer until it begins to thicken. Add nuts. When stiff, turn onto a wet cloth and roll. Refrigerate. Slice when hard.
Debbie Deavours, Baldwin EMC
White Chocolate Candy
- 2 pounds white chocolate bark
- 1 cup chunky peanut butter
- 3 cups miniature marshmallows
- 2 cups Rice Krispies
- 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
Melt over low heat, stirring constantly, or in a large bowl microwave the white chocolate bark until melted. Add chunky peanut butter, marshmallows, Rice Krispies and peanuts. Mix well. Drop by teaspoonful onto waxed paper. Let cool. Store in plastic container or can be frozen. Makes approximately 10 dozen.
Sara Jean Brooklere, Cullman EC
Skillet Candy Cookies
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 10 large marshmallows
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Combine butter, milk and sugar in a skillet. Bring to a boil and cook for 6 minutes. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Add pecans and cracker crumbs. Stir well. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper and allow to cool.
Loretta Robinson, Sand Mountain EC
- ¼ cup butter
- Zest from half an orange
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
- Orange food coloring
- ¼ cup powdered sugar for rolling
Pour white chips into a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter along with zest over medium heat. Stir in heavy cream and bring to just below a boil. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer over the white chips, pressing through strainer with the back of a spoon to get all the flavor from the zest. Allow mixture to sit for minute or so. Add orange extract and food coloring. Refrigerate 2-3 hours to set. Scoop our heaping teaspoons of mixture and roll into balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Freeze for 10-15 minutes to set. Keep in a refrigerator in an airtight container till ready to serve.
Jennifer Robinson Tysma, Sand Mountain EC
Homemade Candy Corn
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Orange and yellow food coloring
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/3 cup powdered milk
Combine the powdered sugar, powdered milk and salt in large bowl and stir. On the stovetop, combine butter, corn syrup and sugar, and boil for about 3-4 minutes. Cook until it reaches 230 degrees or until it’s a soft ball. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour mixture into the powdered mixture. Stir until well combined. Put mixture onto a piece of wax paper and let cool about 10-15 minutes. Divide the mixture into thirds and color two pieces with yellow and orange. Roll each piece into ropes and place together slightly pinching until they stick. Flatten the ropes and cut into triangles.
April Pinkerton, Tombigbee EC
Tool Tips: Candy Thermometer
A candy thermometer is an essential tool of the homemade-candy-making kitchen. For many recipes to turn out right, you’ll have to bring some of the ingredients (usually some type of sugar) to a very precise temperature. There are old-fashioned ways to do this, but today’s candy thermometers make the process much easier. Here’s what to look for when choosing one to buy and how to use it properly.
What you want. An adjustable clip to attach it to the side of your pot or pan, an easy to read display with large numbers, and a temperature range from 100 degrees to 400 degrees.
Check for accuracy. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of a large pot of water, and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, your thermometer should read 212 degrees. If it does, it works. If it doesn’t, you can either make a note of how far off it is and keep this in mind when using it later, or get a new one. When reading your thermometer, make sure you are at eye-level with the mercury.
Care and storage. Don’t put the thermometer in the water after it is boiling; the shock could cause it to break, as could resting the thermometer’s bulb on the bottom of your pot. Always allow your themometer to cool off after use and before hand-washing. Never put a glass themometer in the dishwasher.