Earlier this week we went to a candy making party hosted by one of the leaders of our homeschool co-op. She invited all the families from our co-op to come and make Christmas candy. I've made Christmas candy before, but it is fun to do projects like this with other people. Apparently lots of others thought the same thing.
There were at least twenty people there, and the kids far out numbered the adults. They also did most of the candy making. Our hostess had a wide variety of supplies, and candies for use to make. Some I had made before, and some were new to me. She also gave us a wonderful packet full of candy making ideas and recipes. As you might imagine the day was a bit chaotic, but we all had fun, learned a few things, and got to take home a box of assorted candy.
Chocolate dipped candy is easy, delicious, and makes a great gift. Here are some ideas for things that you can make. If you have not made dipped candy before, you can find the how to and tips after the list.
Thirteen Things that are Good Dipped in Chocolate
1. Pretzels These are my favorites. The twists are the best for eating, but the rods can be decorated. Add sprinkles, colored chocolate or other candy to make lovely chocolate covered pretzel rods.
2. Heath bar centers You can find these where you buy your candy making supplies.
3. Rice krispies Mix them into a small bowl of melted chocolate, and spoon out in a cluster.
4. Peanuts Same procedure as the rice krispies.
5. Coffee beans You'll want to keep these as individual pieces of candy, not a cluster. If you want the coffee flavor with out the crunch, mix 1 part instant coffee to 6 parts melted chocolate. Mold (use a candy mold or small paper cups) in bite sized pieces.
6. Animal crackers
7. Marshmallows I like to make these in a variety of colors and include them in gift baskets with homemade cocoa mix.
8. Ritz crackers Good alone, or spread peanut butter on one cracker, top with another cracker then dip.
9. Peanut butter balls. 1 -18 ounce jar of peanut butter mixed with 1 pound of powdered sugar. Roll into small balls.
11. Coconut balls Mix 1 lb macaroon coconut and 1 1/2 C hot light corn syrup. Let sit overnight. Shape into small balls.
13. Anything that sounds good to you dipped in chocolate. Use your imagination and come up with something new.
Making basic chocolate covered candy really is very easy, and does not require any special equipment. You do need the right chocolate though. You need coating chocolate. Simply melting chocolate chips will not work. You can buy the coating chocolate at many craft stores, bulk foods stores, or even party stores. It is not often that I recommend buying brand names, but for chocolate I have to say I prefer Merckens. It is less waxy tasting than other brands I've tried.
You can buy the chocolate in blocks, but the easiest way to work with it is in wafers. You can buy all kinds of chocolate, lite, dark, white and a variety of colors. Personally I use mostly the brown varieties of chocolate, and some white. The colors are fun, but I don't think they taste as good. I use them in small quantities for decorating or to add color (like with marshmallows.)
Two big things to remember when working with chocolate: 1. It burns easily. 2. Do not get water in with the chocolate.
Since chocolate burns easily, you must melt it slowly. Using a double boiler is the best way to melt the chocolate. Melt the chocolate slowly a little at a time in the top of the double boiler. The water in the bottom of the boiler should only be kept at a simmer. If you don't have a double boiler, a crockpot on low will work. Be sure to keep a close eye on it, and stir often. You can also melt in a microwave, but be careful not to burn the chocolate. The microwave is best for small batches. Heat for no more than 30 seconds at a time. Stir between heatings.
Now, that the chocolate is melted, comes the fun part; the dipping. The easiest candy simply involves dipping whatever you want to be covered in chocolate into the chocolate, tapping off the excess, placing the candy on a sheet of wax paper, and letting it cool. Forks work well for the dipping. At the party I learned that a plastic fork with the center prongs removed work wonderfully for items like pretzels. If you want to speed the cooling process you can place the candy in the refrigerator or freezer.
That is all there is to it. Melt. Dip. Cool. Enjoy!