Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall Means Candy!

What is your favorite indulgence? The pleasure of making and eating truffles, candies, and confections ranks high on a lot of lists and with Fall almost here, surely Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas can't be too far around the corner. Chocolate seems to rank first with its' seemingly unlimited variations of bitter, dark, milk and white chocolates, fillings, and flavorings. Through the ages, giving candy to a loved one has become the ultimate gift (other than precious jewels, that is). A trendy new dessert at receptions is the chocolate fountain with multitudes of goodies to dip in the flowing chocolate. As anyone who watches the Food Network knows, candy competitions are highly competitive with big prizes. And thank goodness, the nutritionists have decided that the flavenoids and antioxidants in chocolate are good for us!

Store bought candy pales in comparison to homemade candy. Filler ingredients in commercial chocolate candy "waters down" the intense cacoa flavor you can taste in true chocolate. Depending on where the cacao is grown also affects the true, deep flavor of chocolate. Fruity, smoky, citrusy, smoky, grassy, woody, sour, floral, and berry are words used to describe various chocolates as in wine tasting. In a way, making candy is quicker than other sweets such as pies, cakes and cookies.

With the heat here in the South, it is hard to order fine chocolate supplies until the cooler shipping weather. I have ordered some mighty fine chocolates from Chocosphere in Portland, Oregon, and I am sure there are other fine suppliers on the Internet as well. One of the most popular nuts to use in candymaking will soon be falling from local trees (pecans) so why not start thinking about your holiday candymaking with a few candy cookbooks?

Truffles, candies & confections by Carole Bloom (641.853/B) This revised and updated version of Bloom's classic candymaking book has so much information about chocolate, candymaking techniques and wonderful recipes, that you want to skip around in the book. However, take time to read everything--it is an education in itself.

Making Artisan Chocolates by Andrew Garrison Shotts (641.853/S) Have you ever tried Peppered Pineapple Chocolate? Or Honey Thyme Truffles? Andrew Shotts brings to candymaking exciting new flavor combinations. His company, Garrison Confections, creates 60 new flavors a year. This book has beautiful photographs which not only showcase the recipes but techniques as well. He even throws in a few fun recipes for cookies and drinks in the last chapter.

The Ultimate Candy Book by Bruce Weinstein (641.853/W) The ultimate sweet tooth cookbook, Weinstein includes over 700 quick and easy, soft and chewy, hard and crunchy sweets and treats. A very useful section is the list of suggested treats for specific occasions and holidays. This book is not as much about techniques and ingredients as the first two cookbooks but more about the recipes themselves with a wider variety of sweets than just serious chocolate candy.

Who Wants Candy? by Jane Sharrock (641.853/S) Here are all the old-time favorite candy recipes as well as new flavor treats. From fudge to rum balls to taffy to marshmallows, just reading this cookbook will bring back memories of childhood.

Two other candy cookbooks which bear a look:
Nancy's Candy Cookbook by Nancy Shipman (641.853/S)
How to Make Candy by Marilyn Myerly (641.853/M)


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