Archive for the 'candy' Category

Peppermint Bark

This is so simple it’s ridiculous, but it’s an awesome, crowd-pleasing, 3-ingredient treat that is festive and GOOD!

I was up at 7 AM yesterday to begin my baking marathon. First step? 1 pound of butter into the mixer (not for this recipe…for some cookies)

I think I went through about 3 pounds of butter yesterday. Woah.

I methodically worked my way through 5 cookies plus this candy. I felt really productive, and also really appreciated that I do not bake for a living. I love it, but only when it’s a hobby and there’s no pressure.

So there are the three things you need: white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and candy canes. Bags of chocolate chips are still only $2 at Target so I stocked up on one of each. Those will definitely come in handy (both for baking purposes and for needing an immediate chocolate fix purposes).

Crushing the candy canes probably works better in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, but I chose the mortar and pestle. It was okay, but I had a few candy cane pieces go flying.

Then it’s SO easy… just melt white chocolate and semi-sweet, spread them on wax paper, and sprinkle with the candy canes, let it set, and break into pieces. Perfect for procrastinators (like me… still haven’t bought a single Christmas present. Oops. But at least my Christmas cards are done!)


Also awesome? I ran my 3rd fastest 5K EVER this morning! I had absolutely no expectations going into this race, because my knee has been bothering me and I’ve only run 2 miles in the last week. But I guess those HIIT bike workouts paid off, because my first mile was 6:40 and I didn’t feel like I was going to die! I guess that was a little fast because my overall pace ended up being 6:55/mile, but I was pretty proud of my 21:30 (2nd place female) and my knee didn’t bother me at all!

So yeah, between the run and day surrounded by butter, sugar and chocolate, this was a pretty great weekend! Now I just have a giant stack of labs to grade…good think I have some bark to get me through it.


12 ounces white chocolate chips
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3-4 candy canes, crushed

Melt the white chocolate and semisweet chocolate separately. If the white chocolate is thick or dry, stir in a few drops of vegetable oil.

Spread the white chocolate on a wax or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Let it set for a few minutes then top with melted semi-sweet chocolate and spread evenly. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes, then put in the fridge for about an hour to set up.

Break into pieces.

Spicy-Salty-Sweet Caramel Corn

I’m not very good at keeping my sweet tooth under control. Pretty much the only way I can avoid inhaling far too much junk is to just keep it out of the house, which is why I try to give away everything I bake as soon as possible. Running marathons helps counteract some of the junk I eat, but I know it would be far healthier to eat way less of it in the first place. I’ll just add that to my lengthening list of goals for the near future…

I’m not sure what possessed me to make caramel corn the other day. It’s definitely one of those foods that is really hard to walk away from once you start in on it, but I was so intrigued by a recipe for Spicy Caramel Popcorn on The Runner’s Kitchen I had to give it a try.

I made some changes to the recipe, most notably using half the caramel the recipe called for. 3 cups of sugar just seemed like a LOT, and I’m glad I cut it in half because the popcorn was nicely coated and probably would have been just too much if I’d made the full amount. I was a little disappointed in the lack of spiciness, so I think next time I’ll add a few pinches of cayenne along with the chili powder. It was still a really great treat and of course Mike and I devoured all of it within a few hours (I should probably stop admitting things like this!)

(adapted from The Craft Of Baking via The Runner’s Kitchen

2 Tbs canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp chili powder
a few pinches cayenne (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and cover the pot. Cook, shaking the pot every few seconds until all the kernels are popped (or you can skip the oil and pop the popcorn in an air popper).
Transfer to a large bowl.

Combine the sugar, salt, butter and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Do not stir, but swirl the pan occasionally until the mixture is golden brown. While it’s boiling, spray two spatulas or wooden spoons and a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

When the caramel is golden brown, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the chili powder, baking soda, and cayenne (if using), and toss it with the popped popcorn so the kernels are evenly coated, then spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove and let cool.

Candy Cane Fudge

It’s not uncommon for my sister and me to have pre-Christmas baking marathons where we churn out a dozen or more different kinds of Christmas cookies for family, friends and neighbors. This year, though, she’s in New Zealand, and I just moved back to California a week ago, so that favorite ritual is not going to happen.

I couldn’t pass up holiday baking entirely, though. I settled on four treats to make for gift boxes for family and friends in town, which I knew I could put together in one afternoon. Our kitchen is still a work in progress, so I tried not go too crazy with the baking!

The boxes included two of my favorite Christmas cookies, Lydia’s Austrian Raspberry Shortbread and Matteson Squares, some simple vanilla meringues to balance out the butter and chocolate, and this candy cane fudge, which I recently saw on Erin’s Food Files.

I simplified Erin’s recipe because I had so much other stuff going on tin the kitchen, but I still think the results were delicious. I’ve never had much luck with traditional fudge recipes and I’m not crazy about the stuff made with marshmallow fluff, so I was excited to see that this recipe was made with chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. I skipped the vanilla and instant espresso to maximize simplicity, and just sprinkled 3 crushed candy canes over the top. This really is an incredibly simple holiday treat!

adapted from Erin’s Food Files

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp mint extract
3 candy canes, crushed

Line a 9″ square pan with foil or wax paper and set aside.
Put the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in the top of a double boiler set over medium heat, and stir until smooth.
Off the heat, stir in the mint extract, then spread the chocolate mixture into the pan.
Sprinkle evenly with the crushed candy canes, then chill for at least 2 hours, until firm.
Lift the fudge out by the foil or wax paper, place on a cutting board, and cut into squares.

Recipe Exchange: French Chocolates

I have no idea what makes these French…but they are a ridiculously simple holiday treat!  This recipe has TWO ingredients (plus whatever you want to use to roll them in or decorate them with).  If you need to whip up some holiday treats at the last minute, look no further!

1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
powdered sugar/cocoa powder/sprinkles
Melt chocolate chips in the microwave (heat for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until smooth).  Stir in sweetened condensed milk and mix well.  Chill for at least 4 hours, or until firm.  Roll into bite-sized balls, then roll in powdered sugar or sprinkles.  Store in the refrigerator

Espresso Toffee with Chocolate and Cashews

I was planning to make some pistachio macaroons this morning, but ended up with cashews instead of pistachios (long story).  I remembered some espresso toffee bars that my grandfather made a few Christmases ago and decided I needed to try and re-create them.  I found a basic toffee recipe on and tweaked it a little bit to make these beauties. 

I like the slight bitterness that the espresso contributes, but if you are more of a toffee traditionalist, you can definitely omit it.  I added some cream in with the chocolate to soften up the texture a little bit (a nice contrast with the crunchy toffee) but it’s fine to omit that too.  I think almonds would also be delicious here.
Candy is a wonderful thing to make because it just boils away on the stove, making the kitchen smell fantastic, and you don’t need to do much more than keep your eye on the thermometer.  
(adapted from
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup (or corn syrup)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp instant espresso
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped roasted and salted cashews

Combine sugar, syrup, butter, vinegar, water, espresso, and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and let boil until a candy thermometer reads 290F.
This may take a little while
Alright, we’re boiling.
Getting closer!
Just about there!
After it reaches 290F, your kitchen may be smelling a little like burnt sugar but don’t worry, you haven’t ruined your toffee.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. This will cause some serious bubbling so stand back!
Pour into a greased 13 x 9″ metal pan and tilt it to distribute evenly.
Once it has set (20-ish minutes), melt the cream and chocolate together in the top of a double boiler and stir until smooth.
Spread evenly over the toffee, then sprinkle the cashews over the chocolate.  Chill about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has firmed up, then break into pieces to serve.


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