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December, Day 4: Ho, ho, ho!

4.December 2009

Today is my day of birth, as some of you know, and I’m out celebrating. But I thought I’d leave you with a couple of the gifts I’m sending out to the Euorpean contingent – Wiebke, shut your eyes! (Not really. You already know about this one.)
While I was home over Thanksgiving, I was struck by a mood. My mom took me to the cake decorating store (!) and I ran into a display of LorAnn Gourmet flavors and next to it, a recipe for hard candy. The rest is history. I made eight batches (clove, cinnamon, wintergreen, cranberry, lemon, English toffee, grape, and a swirled double batch of cheesecake and amaretto) to send to our family abroad, take to the department for Nikolaustag (a day late), and to munch on while puttering around the house. It’s a REALLY easy process (except for the scoring and breaking parts) and kind of fascinating if you find sugar’s behavior as mystifying as I do.
Hard Candy

  • 2 c sugar
  • 2/3 c light corn syrup
  • 3/4 c water
  • 1 dram (like in Shakespeare!) flavor oil
  • food coloring as desired
  • powdered sugar
  1. Mix the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Insert candy thermometer. Bring sugar to a boil without stirring.
  3. Continue boiling mixture until temperature reaches 260 degrees or ‘hard ball’ stage.
  4. Add any coloring desired. Do not stir – the boiling distributes the color.
  5. Continue cooking until temperature reaches 300 degrees. Remove from the heat.
  6. After boiling stops, add flavoring and stir. BE CAREFUL because there will be a big cloud of steam that may or may not burn your lungs.
  7. Pour the candy onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Score the candy when it is partially cooled. Break candy along scored lines. This is where it gets sticky. Literally. I found a pizza cutter to be very useful. Basically, you want to score lines into the candy when it’s cooled enough to hold a scored line. You just have to play around with it. I also found that a good, sharp, sturdy pair of kitchen scissors (like Joyce Chen) was good for cutting stubborn pieces. Just accept that your first couple of batches won’t be very pretty.

Our human relatives aside, there is one very special dog we won’t be seeing over Christmas. I baked a batch of Blue Jean Gourmet’s peanut butter dog treats for my Lucy, my parents’ Poppy and Daisy, and one Bulldog named Oscar (pictured below). I can tell you already that Lucy, Poppy, and Daisy LOVE them.

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