The Great Candymaking Marathon

By Barb Hagen

This year a lot of people are going to receive candy for Christmas - friends, the postman, the school bus driver, co-workers, neighbors, teachers, etc. Not just any kind of candy but "home made" candy. Candy that is fun to make, fun to decorate in beautiful boxes or wrappings and most of all - fun to give!

The purpose behind this decision is that a box of homemade candy can be given to most people on your list. Also, it will be very much appreciated. Every tooth that is sunk into a chewy melt-in-your mouth caramel, every tastebud that savors the peppermint flavor of hard candy suckers, and every finger that is licked after eating a piece of smooth fudge will remember who gave this scrumptious delight!

So the race has begun. I have a cupboard full of coco dark or coco lite confectionery coatings, raspberry and peppermint fillings, peppermint crunch, coconut dough, caramel, marshmallow crème, evaporated milk, sugar, almonds and pecans.

To go along with the ingredients, I have a tub full of Christmas Tree boxes, fudge trays, and ribbon with holly candy boxes. For individual candies, candy cups, wzxed twist papers for caramels and hard candies, dipping tools, a candy thermometer and chocolate molds. The recipes are laying out in full view on the counter. The first half of the race is completed!

Onto the second half of the race - finding the time. My plan is to create a different type of candy each evening, eventually storing up enough to fill pretty boxes with a variety of sweets. Molded candies or fudge I can make by myself, but caramels and hard candies may require the aid of other family members. The race has now become a relay and my scheduling calendar not only includes shopping days, concerts, and parties but also candy making time for the entire family. One way to benefit from extra help is to suggest to your family to give gifts of candy also.

Want to plan your own chocolate race? Here are a couple of easy ways to get started.

Peppermint Crunch
  • 1 lb. of White Confectionery Coating
  • 1 - 8 oz. Red and Green Peppermint Crunch

  • Melt white confectionery coating in microwave or in the top of a double boiler and stir in the peppermint crunch. Spread on parchment or waxed paper and let stand until firm. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container. You can increase or decrease crunch according to taste.

    Almond/Coconut Bars
  • 1 pkg. Coconut Dough
  • 1-2 lbs. Coco Dark Confectionery Coating
  • Whole Almonds

  • Form small 1" balls of coconut dough and press down to make oval shape. Press one whole almond on top. Dip each mound of coconut dough with almond into melted dark coco coating. (It's easiest if you make up all the coconut mounds with almonds first and then melt chocolate for dipping.)

    The trick to finishing the race is to pace yourself and not to use all that pent-up energy in the planning, only to get wobbly in the second stage and run out of steam. But optimism still reigns, because homemade candy is worth the effort and the smiles received from friends is worth more than any gold medal!

    It looks like a glorious finish for this year's race!