Posted in Candy, Cooking, Sweets

Christmas Baking and Candy

I love Christmas baking. Who doesn’t, really? Even if you’re under the impression that calories during Christmas count (which they don’t) and try to stay away, you still like Christmas baking. I typically do a ton of baking and dole the treats out to my friends and family for presents. Sugar cookies, gingerbread, banana bread, muffins, whipped shortbread – you name the Christmas baking, I’ve probably attempted it. Not fruit cake though. Eww, fruit cake.

This year I was ready to conquer a new realm – candy making. On the list of candy conquests was: candy cane fudge, chewy caramels, almond roca and sponge toffee. I also made banana bread and shortbread to add some variety to each gift tin. Conquer isn’t exactly how it all turned out though. Each recipe I tried had at least 2 practice rounds, amid frustration and a call to Grandma for help.

Making candy, especially with lactose-free ingredients, was challenging. Vegan margarine and lactose-free butter act differently than regular butter, as do their liquid dairy-like counterparts. I had a really hard time getting these candies up to the appropriate temperature, and haven’t really figured out why. I got closer to firm ball stage with the caramel when I used real lactose-free butter versus vegan margarine, but had better toffee in the almond roca when I used vegan margarine. The fudge is a mystery of its own. It was a little grainy, and I’m not sure that it’s a .good or bad thing. I’m used to creamy fudge, but Grandma said that it’s just like when she was a kid. So that has to mean good things, right? All in all, I managed to make some candy successfully, and definitely still ate the unsuccessful attempts.

Here is the recipe I (Bobatt) used for the candy cane fudge. Enjoy!

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Candy Cane Fudge

Yield: 1 9″x9″ baking pan
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Cooling Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of lactose-free milk
2 tbsp lactose-free butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 candy cane

Directions:
1. Put sugar, cocoa, salt and milk in a pot with a heavy bottom. Whisk until blended.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-low heat until it reaches 235 degrees F, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally, but not too often or your fudge will be grainy (I did this, sad face).
3. While the fudge is cooking, grease your pan and fill your sink with a few inches of cold water.
4. When the fudge is done, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
5. Bring the pot over to your sink, and put it in the cold water, being careful not to get any water in the fudge. Stir (while the pot is still in the sink) until the fudge cools but is still liquid.
6. Pour cooled fudge into prepared pan.
7. Crush the candy cane into smallish pieces (but not dust). Sprinkle evenly over the cooling fudge.
8. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.

(Recipe adapted from The Kitchn)

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