Treat family and friends to homemade candy this holiday season with these recipes adapted from King Arthur Christmas Candy recipes.
Cranberry Nut Chocolate Bark
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup toasted diced pecans
- 2 2/3 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 2 2/3 cups chopped white chocolate
Mix the cranberries and pecans together. Set them aside.
Melt the dark chocolate and spread it into an 8″ x 12″ oval on parchment paper placed on a baking sheet.
Allow the chocolate to set, but not harden completely.
Melt the white chocolate and mix it with 3/4 cup of the cranberries and pecans.
Spread this over the dark chocolate.
Sprinkle the rest of the nuts and fruit on top, pressing them in gently.
Allow the candy to cool until hardened; then break it into chunks.
Dark Chocolate Buttercrunch
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter*
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 2 cups (8 ounces) diced pecans or slivered almonds, toasted
- 1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or chocolate chips, (you’ll need about 2 2/3 cups)
*If you use unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the mixture.
In a large, deep saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, water and corn syrup and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil gently, over medium heat, until the mixture reaches the hard-crack stage (300°F on an instant-read or candy thermometer).
The syrup will bubble without seeming to change much for a while, but be patient; all of a sudden it will darken and at that point you need to take the temperature and see if it’s ready. (If you don’t have a thermometer, test a dollop in ice water; it should immediately harden to a brittleness sufficient that you’ll be able to snap it in two, without any bending or softness). This whole process should take about 10 to 12 minutes.
Do not leave the mixture unattended – too long on the heat and the syrup will burn.
While the sugar mixture is gently bubbling, spread half of the nuts in a closely packed, even single layer, on a lightly greased baking sheet (a half sheet pan works well here). Top with half the chocolate.
When the syrup is ready, pour it quickly and evenly over the nuts and chocolate. Immediately top with the remaining chocolate, then the remaining nuts. Wait several minutes, then using the back of a spatula, gently press down on the chocolate-nut layer to spread the chocolate around evenly.
While the candy is still slightly warm, use a spatula to loosen it from the baking sheet and move to a piece of parchment paper on the counter top. When cool, break it into uneven chunks. Yield: about 24 big bite-sized pieces.
- 8 teaspoons (2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- 2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter
- 4 cups (1 quart) half & half
- 2 cups light corn syrup
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Coarse flake sea salt for topping, optional
Butter two 8″ x 8″ or 10 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ pans.
Measure the vanilla into a small container and set it aside for later.
Cut the butter into 1″ chunks, to help it melt faster.
Combine the cut-up butter, half & half, corn syrup, sugars and salt in a heavy-bottomed, 5- to 6-quart saucepan.
Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until everything has melted, stirring constantly. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 248°F, or until a small amount dropped in cold water forms a firm ball.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the vanilla; the mixture will bubble and boil.
Quickly pour the caramel into the prepared pans. Don’t scrape any of the residue from the bottom of the pot onto the pans.
Wait 30 minutes, then sprinkle with coarse-flake sea salt, if desired. Cover the candy securely, and refrigerate.
Allow the candy to warm up a bit or it’ll shatter when you bang the pan. Remove the candy from the pan by loosening its edges with a knife or offset spatula and banging the pan on a cutting board until the slab releases from the pan.
Cut the caramel into squares and wrap in waxed paper. Store in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life. Wrapped caramels can also be frozen. Yield: about 10 dozen 1″ caramels.
- 1 1/4 cups skinned hazelnuts
- 1 1/4 cups whole blanched almonds
- 3 cups candied mixed peel (or a mixture of candied orange peel and candied lemon peel)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Confectioners’ sugar, for topping
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8″ round cake pan with parchment (or foil) and grease the parchment. Set the pan aside.
Toast the hazelnuts and almonds for 20 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown on separate baking pans. It’s best to do this in separate pans as the nuts toast at slightly different rates and you may want to take one pan out of the oven before the other. Remove the nuts from the oven and set them aside to cool. When you can handle them, chop them coarsely.
Put the nuts, candied peel, spices, salt and flour in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
Combine the sugar, honey and butter in a saucepan and place an instant-read or candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, until it reaches a temperature of about 245°F. This happens very quickly, so don’t walk away; it should take about 2 minutes (or less) from the time the syrup starts to boil.
Immediately pour the boiling syrup over the fruit and nuts in the bowl. Stir to combine and pour into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. You need to work fast, as the mixture will start to stiffen up. Place the cake pan on a baking sheet.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; it won’t seem firm, but will set as it cools. Remove the pan from the oven and after 45 minutes loosen the edges with a table knife or heat-proof spatula. Turn the warm panforte out of the pan onto a piece of parchment or foil. The bottom is now the top.
Sprinkle the top of the panforte heavily with confectioners’ sugar, gently rubbing it in, if desired. Let it cool completely before wrapping airtight.
Store the panforte, at room temperature, for up to 2 months. To serve this rich cake, cut it in thin wedges.
Yield: about 20 servings.
To make chocolate panforte:
Add 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa to the nuts/peel/flour mixture. Melt 1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips; stir them into the nuts/peel/flour mixture along with the honey syrup. Bake as directed in the recipe above.
- 1 cup heavy cream, divided
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups chopped white chocolate
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- Wooden sticks or stir sticks
Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray lightly with non-stick baking spray.
Place 1/2 cup cream in a medium saucepan. Add the espresso powder, corn syrup, salt and sugar. Stir over medium heat until the espresso powder and sugar are dissolved and the mixture begins to boil.
Cover the pan and let boil for 3 minutes. Uncover the pan and check the temperature; it should be 235°F to 240°F (soft ball stage). If it is, remove from the heat; otherwise let it boil for a minute or two more.
Once the mixture reaches 235°F to 240°F, add the vanilla. Be careful; it will splash and splutter when it hits the hot liquid. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes to cool.
Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 cup cream into another saucepan. Heat until it’s just beginning to steam.
Remove from the heat and add the white chocolate. Let sit for about 5 minutes to melt. Then whisk vigorously until the mixture is shiny and smooth.
Add the sugar mixture to the chocolate mixture; stir to combine.
Combine the cocoa and ½ teaspoon espresso; sprinkle the chocolate with half the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, to set.
Turn the chocolate out of the pan and flip it over; sprinkle with the remaining cocoa/espresso powder blend.
Cut into 1 inch cubes. Stack two or three on a wooden stick and wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap to store.
Yield about 64 blocks, 21 servings.