Christmas Candies

As I made clear earlier this week, I am a baker but some great holiday goodies such as Christmas Candies don’t require the time, ingredients, or effort of baked goods. So this post is for all of you procrastinators who still want/need to put together dessert plates, goody bags, or fill up stockings with easy to make  and clean up homemade treats.

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1. Peanut Brittle: As I mentioned in my November post The Great Pumpkin I had found a great wanna-be See’s candy peanut brittle recipe I wanted to try out this winter. I made some for my cookies and cocoa night (see post-parade cookies and cocoa) gave some for Luke to take to work, and have kept the rest in a christmas tin for people to snack on through the season.

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Each place I took this crunchy brittle to the container came back empty-I’ll take that as a good sign. The recipe calls for the perfect balance of butter, salt, and caramelized sugar. Even though the recipe provides specifics about temperatures of candy thermometers I had no problems following along without one. For the original recipes click on eatsybitsydaisy.com.

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2. Chocolate Covered Candy Cane Joe Joe’s: I got in the habit of making chocolate dipping Oreos and to give away as cheap Christmas gifts back in Junior High and have been making them ever since.  This year I went to Rochester and bought Trader Joe Candy Cane Joe Joe’s to chocolate dip.

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I have no specific recipe but I can walk you through what I do: After lining baking sheets with wax paper and clearing room in either the fridge or freezer for the sheets I slowly melt a bag of chocolate morsels with 1 tablespoon of shortening in a medium pot, stirring with a spatula. Once the mixture melts I quickly take it off the stove, drop the cookies in the chocolate one at a time, then scoop them up with a fork.  I let the excess chocolate drip off back into the pot then let them slide onto the wax paper. With white chocolate I have to use double the shortening,  longer/slower melting time, as well as I double dip them because the mixture is thinner. In the end they are stackable and easy treats to store in a bin in the freezer.

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3. Haystacks: I grew up making these with my grandmother who always had a Christmas tin available of these crispy butterscotch treats at our holiday get-togethers. Last Christmas I found out that haystacks are Luke’s favorite Christmas treat. He also grew up with a grandmother who would make them for him at Christmas as well. Last year I made the haystacks and hid the tin until Christmas morning. This year Luke  expected them. For these goodies I use a whole bag of butterscotch chips melted with a 1/2 C peanut butter and stir in peanuts and crispy chow mein doodles. I then stick spoonfuls on baking sheets covered in wax paper to let them cool. If you want a more formal recipe you can find it on the back of most nestle butterscotch chip bags.

Do you have a favorite Christmas goody or candy?

Halloween Update

Halloween update:

Around 5:30pm the kids started showing up and quickly I realized  . . . I may run out of candy!! I tried to balance making dinner and answering the door while Luke worked late.

But even after being creative in stretching the candy out we ran out of all sugar by 7pm. When Luke came home he ran to the store but by then we’d been without candy (with the lights out) for an hour!! So now we have candy and no trick-or-treators.  This may be contributed to the rain as well.

Luke told me he found out at work that our neighborhood is THE neighborhood to go trick-or-treating in the area. Oh well, lessons learned.

For now I think I’ll enjoy “The Great Pumpkin” (Charlie Brown) and eat some chocolate!

Happy Halloween!!!

Today I am at home making some pumpkin brittle and sneaking (barley and tree-nut free) halloween candy before the trick-or-treators come by tonight. On that note if you haven’t yet seen my post on 2013’s allergy free candy check in out here: Good to know: Gluten and tree-nut free candy.

This will be the first year to give out candy from our front door. Considering the out-door haunted house our neighbor constructed across the street, I think it’s fair to assume will get some visitors.

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All of our carved pumpkins are set out on the front porch. Tonight we will light them up with blue, red, and yellow glow sticks. And although I don’t have a true costume this year, I will be wearing my Old Navy star wars shirt. Depending on what mood Luke is in he may pull out his old Jedi costume (and toy light-saber) too we will see.

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This week I also roasted the pumpkin seeds from pumpkin carving and made cupcake size brownies with decorative candy corn on them for Luke to take to work today. Confession: of course I snuck a few pieces of candy corn as I baked.

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And it has been a year since I started using my ex-wedding decoration: the manzanita tree for  holidays decorations. This month each mini-mason jar is filled with Indian corn with a votive pumpkin spice candle at the center. The base if filled with pine cones and mini-pumpkin shapes and atop sits a perfect mini plastic pumpkin. This is all wrapped up in a black and white striped bow.

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Whether you are dressing up for a party, taking little ones trick-or-treating, or enjoying a night-in watching movies and snacking on sugar hope you have a safe and happy halloween!

Good to know: 2013’s Gluten and Tree-nut free Candy Lists

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Some of you have probably already bought (and eaten) bags of Halloween candy to give away or use for your harvest season festivities. But with Halloween approaching it is good to be aware of what candies are allergy-free and which could be harmful or deadly.

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Growing up, this time of the year I knew what candies generally had tree-nuts in them and which did not (for more on this see Why I am tree-nut free). Plus when we came home we would sort out the candy and those I couldn’t eat were thrown  away.

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Now as I think about bite-sized chocolatey snacks to both give-out to kids and to sneak a few for myself, I look at a new list of ingredients including: barley, malt extract/flavoring, or contains wheat (for more on this see Why I am barley-free Part One). It amazes me what candy items have flour or similar in them to give the candy the right texture. For example: a regular shaped reese’s peanut butter cup is safe but any fun-shaped butter cups are not. They are flour in them!

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So whether you have children with gluten/nut allergies, you want to be a conscientious giver of treats, or have allergies yourself and are wanting to enjoy some sugary snacks. I hope you find this information helpful:

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1. Here’s a blog-site called :The Nut-Free Mom Blog where she lists nut-free candy

2. Here’s another blog-site for gluten free halloween candy list from stockpilingmoms.com

3. Click on this link from Celiac Disease Foundation to see their 2013 Halloween Gluten-free candy list

4. Last of all a page from a PDF guide from safe-snack updated earlier this month with candy information that is free of tree-nuts, eggs, and peanuts.

a page from the snacksafely.com PDF on halloween candy

I hope this all helps you have a happy and safe candy-filled day.