Cathie Campbell

Holiday candy, anyone?

No doubt about it, I just LOVE homemade candy (not that I am apt to turn down store-bought candy). This time of year I feel like digging into my recipe collection to make a few tried-and-true candy recipes and also I like to test out some new ones. You never know -- a new recipe just might replace one of your old ones as far as popularity goes. It's fun, no matter if you stick with the traditional recipes or if you venture out into new territory. Here's hoping you find something to your liking here and that you are keeping warm and cozy and most of all, safe and healthy.

Cookie dough truffles

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 can (14-oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 1/2 pounds chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well mixed. Add vanilla, then add flour a little at a time, alternately with the condensed milk. Beat well after each addition. Add chocolate chips and walnuts and mix well.

2. Shape dough into balls about 1-inch diameter. Place on baking sheets lined with waxed paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 1 to 2 hours or until firm.

3. In a microwave oven, melt the candy coating; stir until it is smooth and free of lumps. Dip each ball into the coating, allowing excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper lined baking sheets. Refrigerate about 15 to 20 minutes or until the coating firms up. Store candies in refrigerator. Makes about 5 1/2 dozen candies.

Eat 'em all candies

2 teaspoons butter

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup butterscotch chips

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Filling:

1/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts

Caramel layer:

1 package (14-oz.) caramels

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Icing:

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup butterscotch chips

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1. Line a 13-by-9-inch pan with foil, then grease with about 2 teaspoons butter.

2. In a small saucepan with heat set to low, combine milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter; stir until mixture is melted and very smooth. Pour into the bottom of the prepared pan and refrigerate until set.

3. For filling, in a small heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and milk; bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 5 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat; stir in marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Add peanuts to mixture and spread over first layer. Refrigerate until set.

4. For icing, in another saucepan, combine chips and peanut butter and stir over low heat until melted. When smooth, pour over the caramel layer. Refrigerate four hours or overnight.

5. About 25 minutes before you plan to cut the candy into 1-inch squares, remove the pan from the refrigerator. Store the candies in an air-tight container. Makes 8 dozen.

Homemade peanut butter cups

1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided

4 1/2 teaspoons butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each), coarsely chopped

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the peanut butter, softened butter, confectioners' sugar and salt until well mixed and smooth; set aside.

2. In a microwave, melt the chocolate chips, milk chocolate pieces and remaining peanut butter. Stir the mixture until smooth and well blended.

3. Drop teaspoonfuls of chocolate mixture (the first mixture in step 1) into paper-lined miniature muffin or candy cups. Top each with a scant teaspoonful of the peanut butter mixture and top with another teaspoonful of chocolate mixture.

4. Refrigerate candies until set. Store in an airtight container. Makes 3 dozen.

English toffee

From the folks at Ghirardelli. I think in some countries, the word toffee refers to a chewy candy, but for here, we will use it to describe more of a butter crunch type.

8 ounces Ghirardelli 60 percent Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar

3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350. Toast the chopped pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant.

2. With heavy-duty aluminum foil, form a 10-inch-square shell with 1-inch-high sides. Place the foil shell on a baking sheet and set aside.

3. In a heavy saucepan, cook the butter, sugar, water and salt over medium heat until the mixture reaches 305 degrees F (hard-crack stage), stirring occasionally (watch closely after it reaches 290 because the temperature will increase rapidly). When the mixture turns a dark golden brown, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and pour the mixture into the foil shell. It will spread but may not reach the edges of the square. Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes or until the candy has hardened.

4. Melt the chocolate according to the instructions on the side of the package. Spread melted chocolate over the cooled toffee, then sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Press the pecans lightly into the chocolate.

5. Let set at room temperature at least 1 hour or until the chocolate is set. Break toffee into pieces. Store covered at room temperature for up to 1 month. Makes 1.25 pounds.

Gloria's English toffee

This is my favorite, given to me by my mom, who got it many years ago from her friend Gloria Mullings.

1 pound butter

2 cups sugar

Walnuts (I use almonds), some chopped fine and some medium size

1 large milk chocolate bar (the big thick ones you see in the baking aisle, not the smaller kind at the check-out stands)

1. Butter a jelly-roll pan and sprinkle with medium chopped nuts. In a heavy pan, cook butter and sugar to hard-crack stage. Mixture will be golden brown.

2. Pour immediately over nuts in pan; spread evenly. When cool, spread with half the chocolate bar (melted), then sprinkle with the finely chopped nuts. With back of wooden spoon, tamp the chopped nuts into the chocolate so they adhere better.

3. When one side is cool, turn the candy over and repeat the chocolate and finely-chopped nuts procedure. When cool, break into serving pieces. Store in airtight container.

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