Archive for November 2016

Art Candy: From Candy Bowls to Christmas Candy

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When I think of candy and the idea of giving, I think of the candy bowls grandmothers of a certain generation left out for their children and grandchildren. These women grew up during the Depression and wars when sugar shortages were common and sweets hard to find. Once sugar was available they filled their bowls to the brim with brightly colored sweets, as ornamental as delicious. It’s no surprise some of these candies became standard Christmas fare, such as the art candy, ribbon candy, and candy straws. Of all these candies, the art candy is the most impressive, in my…

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Sugar Plum? What Plum?

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Of all the Christmas candy that everyone loves, the sugar plum resigns supreme in folk lure, song, and a general representation of the Christmas spirit. This is odd, since almost no one knows what the sugar plum really is. So, I’m here to tell you. In essence, sugar plums are sugar coated seeds or nuts first made in the 17th century. They were made by skilled craftsmen who apprenticed for years, absorbing the nuances of a trade that makes Julia Child look like a scullery maid in comparison. First, they coated seeds or nuts with gum Arabic, then put them…

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Cherry Cordials: A Chocolate Covered & Distilled Delight

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One of our favorite candy-makers sent us a truly delicious candy he agreed to make just for us: the cherry cordial. The cordial is jollier than the truffle with its relatively round chocolate exterior, its distinctive runny center, and deliciously sweet cherry nugget at the center. So, naturally, that got me thinking: who thought to put the cherry in the center of the chocolate? Why not just a good-old plain cherry? And why all the fuss involved in making it a maraschino cherry? So, after a little exploring I found that – like so much in the candy kingdom –…

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The Sweet Side of Thanksgiving for Native Americans

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With Thanksgiving drawing near, what with the pies and baked goods that litter the table, it’s only natural to wonder what kinds of sweets the first Americans were eating at the time of the settlers. I am speaking, of course, of the Native Americans, who had a complex and multifaceted relationship to sugar. One example, is the cranberry, which once grew in bogs and marshes all over North America. No mere tart little fruit, the cranberry was one of the nation’s original sugars. Its original name depended on who was using it: The Indians of the east called it “sassamanesh”…

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Blueberry Sugar: A Burst and Bubble of Sweet

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If you consider fruit a provider of the first sugars in North America, then you must admire the thirteen-thousand-year-old blueberry. The sweet little button-bearing plant grows around the world, spreading its roots from Alaska to the jungles of South America. It’s hefty, sturdy, and steadfast enough to endure long winters and productive enough to feed the masses. For Native Americans, the blueberry served numerous purposes. Depending on where they lived, they used the juice as a dye, the leaves as a tea meant to improve the blood, and the roots and leaves as a multi-purpose medicine. They added blueberries to…

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