Oh, Willy Wonka, you ruined me! As a kid, I always wanted a house lined with lick-able wallpaper and a chocolate river in my backyard. While I continue tearing open candy bars in hopes of finding the Golden Ticket, I can make my own goodies now thanks to the ladies behind Liddabit Sweets. Erin took their new cookbook for a candy-making test run, just in time for the holidays. -Maggie
If there’s one thing I’ve gleaned from paging through Liz Gutman and Jen King’s high calorie cookbook it’s that candy making is supposed to be fun. Bright colors, smiley faces and quirky images abound in The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook. My favorite image, a little turtle that declares, “nom!” appropriately graces the header of the edible turtles section. It would seem that he wholeheartedly approves of the pecan feet of his inanimate brethren and namesakes. What’s not to love?
While sass and science are both given equal playing time, the candy cookbook is not entirely fun and games, it’s a real candy education. What I really enjoyed about this book is that it’s actually set-up to resemble the visually appealing textbooks of our childhood. That means it includes an extremely thorough introduction that covers everything from tools to dipping and even troubleshooting the oh-so intimidating act of tempering temperamental chocolate. Also, I’m pretty sure I want to frame the sugar stages images that grace page 52. I’ve never seen soft ball, firm ball, and hard ball actually represented in such an approachable manner before.
Each individual recipe carefully crafted from the imagination of this Brooklyn-based duo alerts you immediately to any special equipment you will need to gather via a pretty pink callout box. More complicated actions such as assembling cherry cordials and making molded truffles are visually explained in step-by-step images. Any nerves you may harbor about trying a new recipe are quickly put to rest thanks to Liz and Jen’s upbeat attitude and instructions.
You’ll have the chance to thank the ladies in person for bringing candy making to the masses when they sign books at the Eat Boutique Holiday Market on Sunday, December 9 in Boston.
I ended up tackling the Tropical Toffee that boasts a sizable dose of rum, crunchy macadamia nuts, sweet chocolate and a pretty dusting of coconut flakes. This addictive candy is a unique twist on traditional nut brittles, and the coconut gives it a decidedly holiday appropriate appeal. Get it? It’s snowing on my candy! Since the holiday season is kicking off in a big way this week I think that If I were going to pair this treat with a festive tune it would have to be Bing Crosby’s version of Mele Kalikimaka. So I’d suggest queuing up your favorite playlist and offering a pretty wrapped box of this toffee to your favorite holiday hostess with the mostess.
** This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been chosen **
The recipe is below, of course. But first, why not enter our giveaway to win a free copy of The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook? There are FOUR ways to enter to win. Try all FOUR!
1) Enter once by leaving a comment on this post answering this question: Name your favorite childhood sweet and what you love now (and make sure to tell us if it is a small batch maker!)
2) Enter again by following @eatboutique on Twitter and tweeting: I entered to win @liddabitsweets cookbook. They’ll sign their book at @eatboutique Holiday Market on 12/9! More here: http://www.eatboutique.com/?p=9400
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All entries must be made by Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:59pm, and a winner will be chosen and notified by Friday, November 30, 2012. We can only ship to US residents. There’s not much time so leave your comment now!
Originally published in The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking sheet
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup light rum
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups roasted, salted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped or crushed
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
- Generously butter the baking sheet and set it aside on a heatproof surface.
- Combine the sugar, 1 pound butter, corn syrup, rum, vanilla, and sea salt in a medium-size (4-quart) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Insert the candy thermometer.
- Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly with the spatula, until the mixture reaches 300ºF/150º (hard crack stage), about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add the baking soda and macadamia nuts, stirring vigorously (but carefully) to incorporate.
- Pour the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread it evenly with the heatproof spatula. When the toffee is firm but still warm sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and spread them into a thin layer. Then dust the chocolate with toasted unsweetened coconut flakes. (Erin’s Note: I ran my coconut through the food processor for 30 seconds or so to create a finer flake). Allow the toffee to cool completely, about 2 hours, then break it into bite-size pieces.
- Store the toffee, layered with parchment or wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperate for up to 1 week. It will last for 2 to 3 weeks when stored in the refrigerator; just allow it to come to room temperature before serving (the flavor isn’t as nice when it’s cold).
All photos styled and taken by Erin Nichols.
Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in our new shop. Sign up to be the first to get tickets for the Eat Boutique Holiday Market.