General Candy Tips

  • You can melt chocolate in a microwave on low or defrost, but it melts much better in a double boiler, or a glass or metal bowl over simmering/boiling water. You have to wash the bowl anyway, might as well do it right. And you can leave it sit over the hot water to keep the chocolate melted while you do something else (like test the candy).
  • Don't use margarine, use butter. The difference in flavor and texture is very noticeable. Besides, this stuff is so fattening, it might as well be all natural -- then it has at least one redeeming quality.
  • Easiest candy recipe ever -- melt milk, dark or white chocolate, add chopped/halved pecans, walnuts, almonds. Walnuts go best with dark, pecans with milk, and almonds with white chocolate. For peppermint bark, use white or dark chocolate, and press crushed candy canes into it. To make a marble effect, pour dark/milk and white chocolate on a foil lined cookie sheet, swirl together. Put in fridge or freezer to harden. When hard, break into pieces. If you don't use nuts, you can get the same marble effect (but more elegantly) using candy molds.
  • A candy thermometer is a really good investment.
  • Spray foil with non-stick spray stuff -- easier than buttering it. This has nothing to do with calories, it's just easier. But almost as easy is getting a large pastry brush (not the silicone type), melting some butter, and brushing the foil or pan. Just a note - the spray stuff will eventually leave a nasty film on your pans. Fine for foil you throw away though.
  • You can freeze any of this, but it keeps almost as long in the fridge.
  • For Christmas presents, double the recipes and the size of the pans. It doesn't take any longer (except for the truffles) and will make gifts for a lot of people.
  • Get good chocolate for dipping the truffles. You can use any baking quality chocolate (chocolate chips work), but if you want different colors/flavors use candy coatings, which are usually available where they sell cake/candy supplies. Or you can check out what's available at Wilton, who makes and sells all kinds of candy/cake supplies. (That's the brand most of the stores carry.).