"Visions of Sugarplums..." - Favorite Christmas Goodies Recipes
Before you run out and load up on gourmet chocolates and chocolate gift baskets, consider the alternative. Homemade fudge and Christmas treats let them know that you not only cared enough to give the very best, but also that you gave of your time, energy and creativity to gift them with your best.
As well, the cost savings are so incredible that you can afford to use gourmet ingredients if you choose. You never want to skimp on the quality of the ingredients - always buy the best you can afford - but there's no need to go overboard either. These recipes from my family treasury use simple, every-day ingredients, and will yield some of the yummiest, most delectable Christmas goodies you will ever taste.
My favorites are all the delicious varieties of chocolate treats. Dark chocolate fudge is a big winner. So smooth and creamy it literally melts on the tongue, it is only surpassed by heavenly chocolate covered cherries and strawberries, or white chocolate-coated pecans and pretzels. Whatever your taste, your family and friends are sure to appreciate the scrumptious Christmas treats that fill their gift baskets and grace their tables this Christmas.
Testing For Doneness:
These candies are made using the cold water method to test doneness. Fill a small bowl with cold water. Allow the candy to fall in into the water from a spoon in small drops.
When the drops can be formed into a ball that will hold its shape, the candy has reached the "soft ball" stage - the perfect stage for most fudges.
As the boiling continues, the candy will form a firm ball (caramels), a hard ball (toffee), a crack or thread when it is dropped into the water (butterscotch), or a hard crack or thread (brittles).
- 2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, or 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Boil together sugar, milk and cream of tartar or corn syrup to "soft ball" stage - 234 F on a candy thermometer
- Add butter and boil one minute longer
- Let stand 'til almost lukewarm
- Add flavoring and beat until smooth and creamy
- Pour into a buttered pan to a depth of 1/2 inch or slightly more
- Mark in squares and let stand 'til firm and dry
- Cut into squares
Chocolate Fudge: Add two ounces of grated sweet, semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate with the sugar.
Coconut Fudge: Add one cup shredded coconut after the fudge has been beaten and just before pouring it into the pan.
Date/Nut Fudge: Add one cup finely chopped dates and 1/2 cup broken pecans or walnuts after the mixture has been beaten. If you prefer, omit the dates completely and increase the nuts to 1 cup.
Plain Toffee (Pull Taffy)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp cream of tartar or 3 tbsp vinegar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Combine sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt
- Boil to "hard ball" stage, about 265 F on a candy thermometer
- Add vanilla and pour onto a buttered platter
- When just cool enough to handle but still quite warm, butter your hands and pull the taffy until it is white and firm
- Using scissors, cut into desired sizes
Pull toffee or taffy is best made with two people. Stretch the taffy between the tow of you, fold it in half, and pull again.
As the taffy stretches, fold the hank of taffy in half, in half again, and give it a twist each time you and your partner pull it out.
Kids love helping with this, but it can take a fair bit of muscle near the end when the taffy starts to stiffen. As I recall, mom and dad used to take over at that point.
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This is the first candy I learned how to make. It is so simple to jazz it up by using pecans in place of the peanuts for a delightful taste treat. Almost any broken or lightly chopped nut meats can be added for different tastes and textures.
- 1 1/2 cup shelled peanuts or broken pecan pieces
- 1 cup sugar
- Spread the peanuts or broken pieces of pecans evenly in a buttered pan
- Heat sugar in a cast iron frying pan over low heat stirring constantly
- When the sugar is completely melted (it may turn slightly golden), immediately pour it even over the nuts
- Let stand 'til cool and break into irregular pieces
This amazing candy literally melts on the tongue. Part fudge and part meringue, it is the best parts of both. Not nearly as difficult as it seems at first glance, it does require a little patience to achieve perfect results.
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp flavoring (vanilla, maple, mint - your choice)
- Beat egg whites until stiff
- Boil sugar, syrup and water together to "soft ball" stage (234 F)
- Beat the hot syrup a little at a time into the egg whites
- After the syrup is all added, continue beating until the mixture is smooth and heavy, with a dull appearance
- Stir in flavoring and drop by teaspoonful onto a buttered or oiled parchment
- Leave until set
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