January 05, 2012

Making the Tradition Mine

I sort of fell off the Internet there for the second part of December. Wanna know why?

Christmas candy
After last year's first attempt was deemed a success by my candy-making grandfather, and with his candy-making tools in hand (omg! marble slab ftw!), I picked up the family Christmas candy tradition. I've always thought that someone should carry on Grandpa's candy making; if it's me, I get to claim the extras.

I guess there's an ulterior motive for everything.

Grandpa made caramels for years. I remember there were a few years when I was a teenager (I think) when he made all sorts of candies: brandied apricots and crystallized ginger and truffles and chocolate covered cherries. The caramels were a staple.

first salted caramels
I made three batches according to his recipe and then off-roaded a bit to come up with a salted variation, which have generally been well received. Those who really like salted caramel think I didn't add enough salt, but those who don't really like the stuff think there's just enough salt to make the caramel flavor pop without being too salty. I might try a version next December that's slightly less salted and a version that's slightly more salted. See how that works.

english toffee
I made English toffee, of course, because I can't imagine Christmas without it. Maybe the rest of my family doesn't have this problem. I don't think they are complaining that I do.

first nougats
And this year's new addition: nougats! Sugar in several forms, mixed with whipped egg white, folded around chopped cashews, then dipped in chocolate. The stuff is amazingly hard to cut into bite-sized pieces. A two-handled knife would help. Beyond that, I'm not sure. Warm nougats stick to the knife. Cold nougats shatter when cut. Ideas?

Oh, and please take a moment to admire the packaging. I'm ridiculously pleased with myself for the presentation of my candies. Simple but elegant. Much better than Ziplocs.

fabric candy bags
And speaking of presentation, remember this project? Grandpa's Christmas candy always came in red paper gift bags. I decided to put my own spin on the tradition and made fabric bags. I used Jeni's tutorial over at In Color Order (although I forgot to put the gussets in on all of them!).

fabric candy bags
I'm super-pleased with how they came out and have serious ambitions about making these bags part of the candy tradition. After making the dozen I did this year, I felt a bit cheap relying on the tutorial, so I now have my own purchased copy of Jeni's pattern (Thanks, Lianna!). This may be the future of gift-wrap around here. And I may finally have a reason to go to those Christmas in July sales and stock up on holiday fabric.

Although I made all of this first group of bags out of stash fabric, so maybe not right away.

So, there you have it: I fell off the Internet and into the kitchen and the sewing corner. And now it's January and while I'm done with the candy-making (although maybe Caitlyn and I will make a batch of something unusual sometime), I'm planning on keeping up with the sewing. More on that later.

Excuse me. I need to go eat a leftover nougat now.


  1. Lianna5:01 PM

    Candies and bags were all fabulous; much appreciation for all your creative efforts!

  2. You're sweet! I'm glad you enjoyed making them, they turned out great! :)

  3. My bag turned up yesterday and I was just going to email you and thank you but thought I'd just proclaim my love in public! LOVE! I especially like the English toffee and Mat is enjoying the salted caramels. But really it's all good and Mat has asked me to ask if you'd share the recipe(s)? And such a cute bag - it was very exciting to open it up and see what was inside. There was much exclaiming from the adults.

    I wonder if a wet knife would cut through the nougat - or oiled?