Visions of sugarplums

One of the many pleasures of the Christmas season is biting into a delicious homemade confection. From creamy fudge to luscious truffles, candy-lovers will agree the experience is pure bliss. But making the candy is not always so blissful. For those who may have tried candy-making and failed (cooked fudge is my defeat) don’t stop reading.

Here are a few easy recipes that are virtually fool-proof. Think how proud you’ll be to show off a candy tray, or give as gifts, this selection of candies.

For something special, perfect for a Christmas Eve buffet, try Eggnog Truffles, a melt-in-your-mouth white chocolate and eggnog filling in little semi-sweet chocolate cups you can buy or make yourself.

Make fudge with only 4 ingredients and no candy thermometer. Impossible, you say. Well, all it takes is a few minutes of stirring on the stove and you have it, rich delicious peanut butter fudge.

Add a little chewiness to your candy tray with confectioners’ sugar-coated date and nut balls. For these you make a dough, bake it, cool slightly, then roll into small balls and coat with the sugar. Very pretty.

And here is a family favorite from my childhood, Chow Mein Noodle Candy, sweet and crunchy, rich with melted butterscotch chips, honey and nuts. If I could make this at 10 yrs. old you can too.

This holiday become a confectioner and make your visions of sugarplums a reality.

Easy Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions: In medium saucepan, bring sugar and milk to a boil. Allow to boil about 2 1/2 minutes, stirring regularly, then remove from heat. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and stir till smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 8×8-inch baking pan and allow to cool till set. Cut into small squares. Store at room temperature.

Eggnog Truffles

Truffle Filling:

2 cups white chocolate chips

2 T. butter

1/2 cup eggnog

Chocolate Cups:

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 T. shortening

Directions: Prepare chocolate cups by melting semi-sweet chips with shortening in heavy, small saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of the chocolate into each of about 36 small foil candy cups. With back of spoon or a pastry brush, bring some of the chocolate up side of each cup. Refrigerate until firm.

To make truffle filling melt white chips with butter and eggnog in heavy, medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Pour into pie pan. Refrigerate until the mixture is thick, but soft, about 2 hours. Spoon truffle mixture into pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe mixture into chocolate cups. Makes about 36 truffles.

Truffles can be refrigerated 2 to 3 days or frozen several weeks. To remove foil cups, cut slit in bottom of cup and peel foil up from the bottom to avoid breaking the fragile sides.

Date and

Nut Chews

2 eggs

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 cup dates, finely chopped

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

3/4 cup sifted flour

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar for coating

Directions: In large bowl combine eggs, salt and almond extract. Beat till light. Gradually beat in sugar and corn syrup. Add dates and nuts; mix well. Fold in flour.

Pour mixture into 2 greased 8-inch layer cake pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool only until dough can be handled. With hands, roll dough into small balls (1-inch or smaller.) Roll in confectioners’ sugar. Store tightly covered. Makes 3 dozen.

Butterscotch Chow Mein Noodle Candy

1 (3-ounce) can chow mein noodles

1 cup honey

2 T. butter

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup coarsely chopped nuts

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 (6-ounce) package butterscotch morsels

Directions: Combine noodles and nuts in mixing bowl. Set aside. Combine honey, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in heavy saucepan and bring to a full boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butterscotch chips stirring until smooth. Pour over noodles and nuts. Mix gently until coated. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto waxed paper and let set until firm. Store in a cool dry space.