I have been looking for some new candy recipes to make with my family this Christmas, and I found a book so great that I just had to tell you guys about it. It’s called The Sweet Book of Candy Making: From the Simple to the Spectacular (Quarry Books) and the author is Elizabeth LaBau. The name really says it all, too. This book is jam-packed with simple and spectacular recipes and I want to try almost every one of them!
What I really love about this book is that LaBau does more than just give you great recipes. She teaches you how to make candy. There are introductory chapters about equipment, ingredients, and techniques. She has troubleshooting tips that help you know why something goes wrong, and tips on perfecting the classic recipes you know and love.
Just look at some of these pictures showing the collection of candies you can make with the recipes. Doesn’t it make you want to go make candy all day?
Jo and I recently picked out our two favorite recipes to make for a party we attended. You might be able to guess from some of our favorite flavors that hers was from the marshmallow section and mine was from the chapter on caramels.
The recipe I chose to make was Sea Salt Caramels. The recipe took some patience because the caramel has to cook to a rich, golden color, but it was worth it. I am so addicted to salted caramel! In the recipe summary, LaBau says she usually coats the caramels in chocolate to make them extra decadent. That’s exactly what I did, and oh boy was it worth it.
Jo’s recipe of choice was the Peppermint Swirl Marshmallows. She loves homemade marshmallows as much as I love caramel, and the red swirls of color on these made them an easy choice. If you’ve never had a homemade marshmallow, I recommend you try one as soon as you get a chance. They are worlds beyond what you buy in the store! For an extra holiday touch, Jo served the marshmallows on a tree-shaped plate that she made out of slightly-melted Starlight Mints (she’ll share more on that soon).
Probably my favorite page from this book, though, is the one about calibrating your candy thermometer. You know how important exact temperatures are to candy making (I sure learned that lesson when making my hard candy jewels), but how do you know for sure if your thermometer is accurate? The solution is so simple that it’s brilliant. Just boil some water — which is guaranteed to be at 212 degrees F (at sea level, anyway) — and put your thermometer in. If it shows 212, then it’s accurate. If it’s off by a few degrees, take that into consideration whenever monitoring the temperature of your candy. Would you believe my thermometer was off by 10 degrees when I checked it? Yipes!
I’m so excited to have The Sweet Book of Candy Making: From the Simple to the Spectacular as part of my recipe book collection. The tips and techniques inside are invaluable and I can’t wait to try more of the amazing recipes!