Photo by Nikolett Emmert

My cookbook, Generations of Good Food, is a legacy of my late mother, and it also contains recipes for easy candy for the holidays.

There are 200 recipes from main dishes, breads, cakes, pies, cookies, and candy. When I wrote the book, my publisher requested that I tie it back to my caregiving book, One Caregiver’s Journey. To do so, I added stories of the foods that brought us to the table including easy candy for holidays. Most of the recipes come with a memory. I grew up in a big Italian family where holiday baking was a family affair. My mother and my aunts would gather at different homes during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas to bake and cook enough for every family to share with friends. Now that my mother and her siblings have passed, my cousins and I gather at my home to make one or two of the family favorites. In the past few years, my nieces have been helping to bake in the hopes of passing down the tradition.

A few years ago, I became fascinated with making candy. I am invited to an international food show in Vail, Colorado, each November, where vendors display and share foods of all varieties and sell them to restaurant owners. The candy makers are always delighted with new varieties of old candy. In my book, Generations of Good Food, I have many recipes for easy candy for holidays. The recipes are truly for the novice candy maker but also add a nice variety for the holiday dessert tray.

Hungry for chocolate? 

There are many chocolate recipes in my book for both cookies and candy. Melting chocolate should not be hard, but sometimes it doesn’t want to cooperate. Many people melt chocolate in the microwave. The trick is using 70% power and stirring every 30 seconds until it is almost melted and then stirring it into a smooth, velvety mixture. I generally melt chocolate in a double boiler, putting a pan in another smaller pan with a small amount of water. 

Patience is the trick to this method. 

Melting chocolate should not be rushed, or it will turn grainy, and lumpy and the only thing to do is toss it in the garbage and start over. Make sure your tools are clean. The most important secret is investing in good quality chocolate. Yes, I know we’re all in it for a bargain, but bargain chocolate will not give you the smooth-as-silk chocolate we all love to bake with. Look for one that has a high cocoa butter content. Buy a couple of different brands, experiment at home, and make a decision which one you like best.

By far, the easiest chocolate recipe is nut clusters. I say nut clusters because I have stopped using peanuts and generally buy a couple of jars of mixed nuts for my Christmas peanut clusters. This is a super easy candy for holidays. Melt a couple of bags of chocolate until silky smooth, stir the peanuts, and spoon onto parchment paper. Let them cool and store them in air-tight containers. I always separate my candy into layers of waxed paper so they stay fresh and don’t stick.  

In Generations of Good Food, there are several fudge recipes. Mrs. Sees Fudge is indeed the original candymaker’s recipe. The story is that an employee of See’s in California during the 1950’s was fired and took the recipe with her. Somehow, my mother’s sister, who lived in California at the time, got it and shared it with my mother. My mother made that fudge for years. The recipe contains butter, evaporated milk, chocolate, sugar, and marshmallow cream. After cooking, add vanilla. Nuts are optional.

Two other recipes for easy candy for holidays include Coconut Joys and Cherry Cream Cheese Candy. Both are found in my cookbook. Coconut joys are a very quick recipe, and the Cherry Cream Cheese Candy is a bit of a process, but the candy is always a hit after frozen balls are dipped in melted white chocolate.

Pick up a copy of Generations of Good Food at Amazon or The recipes range from the novice cook and baker to a trained cook. And don’t forget to enjoy the memories shared with the recipes!

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