Homemade Holiday Candy

Generally I try really hard to stay away from sugar but special occasions are the exception and homemade sweets are so much more special than store-bought ones (even if they aren’t any better for you).

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I requested (and got) a sewing machine for Christmas last year because I had loads of projects in mind that needed one. Of course, I haven’t managed to find the time to work on any of them so the sewing machine has languished in a corner for most of the year. With the holidays approaching I decided it was time to make time for at least one of those projects I’d been wanting to work on so I started on an advent calendar. Me being me I decided to just go for it and not bother looking up a pattern but it turned out pretty well and is almost complete. With December 1st rapidly approaching now I realized I needed to turn my attention to what would go in the calendar.

That’s where this candy comes in, although it would also make for a great gift in a pretty box or jar. I decided to make 2 different types, a salted ginger toffee and my version of peppermint bark.

For the toffee you need:

  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 3 oz brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1-2 tbsp coarse salt

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Melt the butter with the sugar and regular salt and grease and line a small baking tray or flat-bottomed dish. I used a 9″ x 5″ loaf tin. Once the butter has melted turn the heat up slightly and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Use a sugar thermometer to watch the temperature and take it off the heat when it reaches the hard crack point (just over 300F). If you don’t have a thermometer it is possible to check when the mixture is hot enough by dropping a little straight into a glass of cold water. If the resulting blob is brittle, it’s ready, if it’s still soft and chewy then it’s not ready yet. As soon as you remove it from the heat, stir in the ginger and pour into your tray, smoothing if necessary. Allow the surface to cool enough so a skin forms on the top and then sprinkle your coarse salt grains evenly over the toffee. Freeze for about 30 minutes and then use a hammer, rolling pin or cocktail muddler to carefully smash the toffee into pieces.

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For the peppermint bark you’ll want:

  • 1 bar of white chocolate
  • Couple of candy canes

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This is barely cooking but the result is super tasty and looks very pretty. Melt the chocolate over boiling water and grease and line a tray about the same size as your original chocolate bar. I used coconut oil to grease the tray but unsalted butter or even tasteless oil would work. Crush your candy canes in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or hammer. When the chocolate is melted, pour it into your tray and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Refrigerate until set and then break or cut into pieces, this’ll probably be soft enough to just break with your fingers.

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