Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day: Homemade Candy

Candy Assortment

I have a confession to make:  I haven't really felt much like baking at home lately.

I'm not exactly sure what it is.....  This semester is much more stressful than I anticipated and has been much more waring on my spirit.   Plus, my kitchen scale battery dieds and I haven't had a chance to replace the battery yet.  

But, with Valentine's day coming, I knew I needed to get some sort of inspiration and create something I could mail to some of my friends and family.

I'm taking a Candies & Confectionaries course this semester, and although it isn't my favorite class, I decided to stretch myself and do more candy work and make homemade candy boxes to mail.  In addition to the candies I made,  I purchased ones made in my class and in an advanced class.

Really, though, all this home project did was make me even more frustrated..... I am COMPLETELY CONVINCED that I am never meant to be a chocolatier.  Oye.

Anyway, my contribution to these candy boxes was homemade Mounds and Almond Joys.  I found my recipes here.

Candies, ready to be cut to individual size. 

Why Mounds and Almond Joys?  Well, A really really likes coconut, so I knew I wanted to make them for him :)  But I've also got a couple friends with nut allergies, so I made sure there would be nut-free candies to include in their boxes....

Yes, I made extra especially sure not to contaminate the Mounds with the nuts from the Almond Joys..... I cut and dipped the Mounds first before finishing the almond joys.

Candies waiting to be dipped in tempered chocolate.

The whole process was rather an ordeal..... Everything, baking-wise, lately seems to be an ordeal.  The first time I made the coconut filling, I overcooked the sugar mixture because my thermometer malfunctioned once the coconut was added.  And so instead of nice, chewy coconut centers, I had hard, sticky coconut centers that probably would have taken fillings out of teeth!  So, I started over.  The second time, I just cooked the syrup and coconut mixture slightly instead of relying on the thermometer.  (NOTE: I rarely advocate not using a thermometer, but this is one instance where I would).

Then came the tempering of the chocolate for dipping the centers in.  This portion of the project is also known as hell.   I have a great dislike for tempering chocolate in class.  But it's even worse at home where you do not have an endless supply of chocolate and/or cocoa butter on hand (especially high quality chocolate pieces) nor do you have a marble slab.  Armed with bars of Ghiradelli chocolate (which I first had to chop), my thermometer, a microwave, a spatula, and other necessary equipment, I set about the temper and dip the chocolate......

Sorry there are no pictures of this process.  I was too busy feeling like I should smash my head against the wall.... repeatedly.

Eventually I dipped everything, but it took several hours (complete with the point where I had to start COMPLETELY OVER on the chocolate part because I mis-set the microwave timer and broke the temper), I lost most of my sanity, and the candies looked ugly.  But they were done.  And they tasted pretty good.

When it came time to packaging the candies, I decided to make a key!  After all, I hate when boxes of chocolates don't say what each candy is.  There's nothing worse than biting into a candy and discovering you weren't expecting that specific filling and perhaps do not even like it.

Oh, I also made lovely heart shaped marshmallows that were suppose to be included in the candy boxes. But alas, I didn't realize I had forgotten to include them until after I was finished mailing the packages.....  Oh well, I'll use them in another recipe.

A finished box with the cards I photographed and designed. 

Here's hoping everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day filled with sweet treats!  


  1. YUMMMMMM. Is there one en route to France???? Just kidding. :D Happy Valentine's Day sweetie! Hope it's really happy! xoxoxo

  2. So the Mounds were definitely my favorite... but I LOVED them all! THANK YOU!