Getting Fancy with Chocolate

gettingfancywithchocolateMy poor honey has had quite a week so far; I therefore wanted to treat him a bit with something sweet. As you may remember, I mixed up some coconut oil chocolates awhile back. Not to repeat myself, I wanted to fancify those chocolates, making them extra special. I wound up with three varieties to delight the taste buds of both my husband and myself.

First, you might notice that the candies are in different shapes. I indulged in silicon molds for our chocolates so that they would come out a bit nicer. Another benefit is that by using various molds, you can provide your family with an easy clue as to the type of candy they are eating. I used two molds for this batch today—one pumpkin and one flower.

As my husband loves candied ginger and coconut, I decided to sprinkle those two ingredients in the bottom of each mold and then pour the chocolate over the top. Although the finished candy wasn’t without some bubbles and lumps from the ginger and coconut, they taste great. Both ingredients seem to complement this type of chocolate, adding a new dimension to the flavor of the candies.

coffeechocolatesMaking the above chocolates, I began to wonder about coffee. Could I add coffee to the candy? I couldn’t not try it, and so I prepared to make a new batch. As an experiment, I added instant coffee to the coconut oil and honey as they were melting. I’ll admit that the mixture looked awful at first but began to smooth out through careful whisking. And the result? Oh, my! They are wonderful! The candy tastes like a dark chocolate that is infused with coffee, and they melt in your mouth. Too, they pack quite a punch with the caffeine in them.

All in all, this attempt to fancify the candy worked wonderfully. This recipe—on top of being simple enough for even me to make—is obviously very adaptable and so can be altered to fit your family’s tastes. For those of us who can’t afford to visit an expensive chocolatier, this is a frugal way to make candies for your own family.

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Honey Candy and Loving Our Families

honeycandyandlovingourfamiliesOccasionally, my husband has some trouble with a recurring dry cough, possibly due to a previous bout with pneumonia. After suffering through a relatively sleepless night, he mentioned that he would like to have some hard candy.  He has in the past used cough drops to relieve some of this problem, but their taste can be unpleasant after a time. Of course, we had a discussion about whether or not to purchase hard candy, but ultimately we decided to make our own. Having made honey candy this past Christmas, I decided that that recipe would be not only tasty but also soothing to this throat.

You might be wondering if this recipe is truly frugal. I would have to answer, “It depends on your pantry.” If you currently purchase small quantities of honey, then it won’t be cheap to make this recipe. However, if you buy raw honey in large quantities, then it most certainly will be frugal and much healthier for your family members to indulge their sweet tooth. You can either buy raw honey locally or online, but it is certainly one of the easiest food items to store. Too, as food prices rise, having it in your pantry is also a good investment. Just make sure the container in which you store your honey is opaque and impervious to pests; one final consideration is that it is best to store the container in a place where the temperatures will not fluctuate greatly. Honey is an easy way to break into storing larger amounts of food items as it will stay good for a long period of time.

But is this recipe easy? Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s easy, but it is certainly doable by most anyone, even with little experience and with very minimal equipment. In the past, I have avoided making candy of any sort as I just felt I wasn’t up to the task. With all of the different terms such as “hard crack” and my accident-prone nature, I thought it best. Providing for our families, though, often overrides these concerns and makes us a little more brave. My husband was suffering, and I could help him. So I got out the saucepan and thermometer and went to work.

cookingthecandyI can share a few tips from my experience, not necessarily about the cooking itself, but rather about making it more pleasant. First, it takes a loonnngg time to get the mixture to hard crack stage, and so make sure you have some entertainment. Personally, staring at boiling sugar is not fun for me, and so I asked my husband to turn on my favorite Star Trek episode. Too, it is hot work. Keep that in mind before you begin. Finally, you may want to have someone with strong, quick hands to pull the candy at the end. My husband took over the candy at this point as he has experience with pulling taffy and seems to enjoy the task. I must say that I was more than happy to hand it over to him.

As far as storing the candy, you can layer the candy between pieces of wax paper, or you can be a bit lazy like me and pour some powdered sugar in a bag and then throw the candy in there. The sugar will keep the candy from sticking to itself. And, I must say, my husband likes the extra sugar.

Although food can simply be sustenance, it can also be a way to show love, especially if it is something needed by our family members. For my husband, this candy soothed his cough and allowed him to sleep through the night. Too, making homemade candy should be healthier than the commercial type. For these reasons, my fears of making hard candy were set aside for a time. I gained some experience with a somewhat difficult task and showed my husband a little love.

Homemade Candy for My Hubby

homemadecandyformyhubbyIt’s been kind of rough lately around our house. With me partially unemployed and my husband unemployed, we have to struggle sometimes to keep our spirits up. We do try to focus on the essentials of life, but occasionally life just wears you down. So I decided to make something special for my husband–homemade candy.

Now, I don’t claim to be a chocolatier or professional candy maker–or even a mom who’s just darn good with sugar. My only claim to fame was being a fan of the song, “The Candy Man Can,” as a child. No, I just know what my husband likes. So, banning any sense of inadequacy or warning, I forged ahead and made candy.

I selected as the main attraction Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Balls. I had made something similar in the past, so I assumed that this would be easy peasy. Don’t you just hate it when you enter a project with your spirit soaring and your hopes high, just to be brought back to reality a moment later? I was on a chocolate high, thinking myself the latest Giada. Well, obviously, I’m not. Everything went well until I melted the chocolate for the first batch. It seized up. Undeterred but frustrated, I managed to get things going again and finished the dipping stage. And then, as I was repackaging the chocolate, one of the melting discs fell out of my hands, on to the floor, and disappeared into nothingness. With animals around and fears of chocolate poisoning in my head, I panicked. I tore the kitchen apart and cleaned everything, eventually finding the errant chocolate disc underneath the stove. So much for Giada.

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Having rested from the original candymaking session and cleaning, I decided to try another recipe that I had seen recently. It was Irresistible Coconut Oil Chocolates. I saw the beautiful little candies on the page and thought, “I can do this!” Well, sort of. It turns out that the silicon molds are much more important than I thought. As I didn’t have one, I thought that I would just pour the mix into a greased 8×8 pan. It did work, but the bottoms of the chocolates were wet, which made them difficult to remove from the pan. Still, they taste wonderful and melt in your mouth. They are quite unique and were much easier to make than the bonbons. coconutoilchocolates

Well, obviously I’m not Giada or even a second-rate chocolatier. But when you’re frugal, you often have to take that leap and do things that you wouldn’t normally do. And that is often rewarding in itself, that despite obstacles and a possible lack of skill or knowledge, I made something yummy for my husband.

Although the candies aren’t very pretty, they do taste very good. Perhaps too this might be a way for us frugal folks to pretend that we’re a rich housewife with fancy chocolates. Sit on your couch, close your eyes, and eat those bonbons crafted by your own hands. What could be more satisfying than that?