3 Quick And Easy Homemade (Edible) Gifts
Last night I spent the better part of 5 and a half hours making my holiday confections for my co-workers. Granted, much of it was due to the fact that I’ve never made true “candy” before, and there’s quite an art to doing it, without burning the house down or scalding the skin off your hands. However, I escaped unscathed, and decided to share some delights with you!
“Chad’s Favorite Toffee”
(You can call it whatever you like, but I named it this way because an old coworker went as nuts as a dog with bacon dangled in front of it’s face. He did it with bacon, too, come to think of it….)
So simple: Pre-heat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and line that with saltine crackers. Melt 2 sticks of butter (THE REAL DEAL, not margarine or “spread”!) and add one cup of brown sugar. Bring to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes. Pour this (HOT!) mixture over the crackers evenly, and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips over it. Let it sit for 3-4 minutes, then gently spread the chips out with a rubber spatula. Cool completely, then break into pieces! Voila!
“Hoppy Candy” (aka Beer Candy)
Even simpler than the toffee. I used a lager (Yuengling), but I think next time I’ll try a stout (like Guinness) because I think some of the hoppy flavor boiled out. Again, trial and error!
Have a buttered cookie sheet ready, because this stuff hardens QUICKLY! Just set it aside, but near where you’re cooking.
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan (use one TWO SIZES higher than you think you’ll need….you’ll know why when you make it!), combine 1/2 cup beer, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup light corn syrup. Bring it to a boil, add a candy thermometer, and start stirring (use a wooden spoon, not plastic. Trust me). Keep stirring. No, seriously, keep stirring (about 15 min total?) until the candy thermometer reads 300. Keep stirring until you think your arm will fall off. It’s GOING to boil up and get foamy (hence, the bigger pot necessity), so be careful!!! Once you reach 300, take it off the heat and stir another 60 seconds. Grab a spoon and dollup quarter-size drops on the cookie sheet (this is where you need to be QUICK). It’ll harden within 5 minutes. EnJOY!
Brandy Soaked Maraschino Cherries
Couldn’t be simpler. Thaw 2 bags of frozen whole cherries, pitted and de-stemmed (if you can find sour cherries, even better…but sweet will do just fine). Dump a 750mL bottle of cherry-flavored brandy in a pot, and add 1/3 cup (or to taste) of maraschino cherry syrup. Heat over medium-high heat until it begins to simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the cherries, and remove from heat. Cool completely, and package in cute mason jars!
Cheap, easy, and delicious! Happy and a merry!