I am such a sucker for sweets. I think by now you’ll know my affinity for cakes and cookies, but let’s not leave out candy.
I don’t know why, but I’ve been thinking about candy a lot lately. Maybe it’s the anticipation of Halloween sweeties, or maybe it’s just that I’ve been in a nostalgic state of mind. I lay in bed the other day, just remembering the days when, as kids, my brother and I would get Wax Lips. Do you remember those? Can you even get them anymore? Ridiculous looking confections that you could “wear” until you decided to chew up the sweetened wax into a type of gum. They were not very nice, really, but somehow we convinced ourselves that they were wonderful and special. Ick. 🙂
Then I got to thinking about other candy I loved as a kid, and even what my parents’ favourites were. I think if you have a sweet tooth, as we all do, you’ll always be able to remember pieces of your life by what variety of flavoured sugar was dissolving in your mouth at that point in time.
My mom always talks about Milk Duds and Junior Mints – the candy she and her brother would take to the movies when they were growing up. Or the luxurious boxes of Sees Candy my uncle still sends from Seattle every Christmas. When my dad once brought us to a haunt of his youth, The Vermont Country Store, he made a beeline for the candy counter, looking for Root Beer Barrels and what are now called “chocolate babies” (a name much more PC than the original, thank goodness).
For me, my childhood was defined by seasonal favourites, like Candy Corn in autumn, Marshmallow Peeps nestled in our Easter baskets, or Fun Dip/Lik-a-Stiks after hot summer days at the community pool. I also grew to love the candy favoured by special people – the sour balls my Opa kept in a jar in his house, the Butterfinger bars I ate to copy my much-cooler older sister, Bonnie, or the square caramels with crackly cellophane that my friend Kathy gave me during church. A trip with my grandma to our fabulous old Candy Store on Main Street in Bozeman was second only to Heaven. She always let me pick out a big white bag-full of mixed hard sweets to take home and share, and she’d pick a small bag for herself. We always liked the coffee-flavoured ones best.
It’s fun to talk candy with Frank, as his favourites here in Ireland were totally different – Stingers, Emerald Caramels, Mint Crisps, Fry’s Chocolate Cremes, Macaroon Bars, Toffee Bon Bons. As he says himself, he went for all the chewiest, stickiest, worst-possible-stuff-for-your-teeth kinds of sweets. I guess even as kids we were meant for each other. 🙂
Twenty-plus years on, my tastes have matured, which may or may not have helped my waistline! Rather than going for the cheap fix, I’d rather savour something amazing, like Almond Roca, specialty fudge or fancy jelly beans. But I actually don’t go for candy that much anymore, not until it starts to pile up at Christmas! But I still think about it. Maybe that’s why I like creating Gingerbread Houses so much – not for the eating, but for the imagination I get to put in.
Surprisingly, perhaps, I’ve never been much of a candy-maker. I’m kind of afraid of it, truth be told. So much candy requires a steady hand and scorching temperatures, and I’m sort of a wimp. I would love to know how to make Divinity, or Peanut Brittle, or Honeycomb or even fudge, for crying out loud! But my few candy-making attempts have always come up short.
Nevertheless, I thought I’d try an experiment, for fun, and I made a very very very easy candy recipe, the basis of which I learned once at the Tinsley House. Creamy Chocolate-covered Mints.
Betcha can’t guess the secret ingredient?
They’re nothing incredible, but it was a fun activity for a rather boring news week here in Ireland. And the secret ingredient is… the humble spud! Yep. These are a type of old-fashioned potato candy, and if you can get past the idea that you’re eating cold, green, minty, sweet mashed potato,you’d never even suspect what they’re really made from. They even passed Frank’s discerning palate!