Visions of Sugar Plums

22 Dec

I’ve started a new Christmas tradition in my house. While we were always a cookie family when I was a child, I’ve decided that there is a downside to cookies. They make mountains of dishes, they take forever, and even when they’re done baking, they still need to be decorated!

My new tradition is Christmas candy. Of course, by tradition, I mean I’ve been doing it for two years (this is the second). But I’ve already learned a few valuable things about sugar.

For one thing, nonstick pans are a must when you are boiling sugar. There may be no hope of scraping and chipping that hard candy off the candy thermometer, but if you have any sense at all, you’ll give yourself a head start when it comes to getting the candy off your pots and pans.

White chocolate is impossible to work with. It burns at the drop of a hat! The only way to avoid this is constant vigilance, and even then, you may be screwed. I had to throw out a whole batch of melted white chocolate because, halfway into my melting process, I managed to burn it and turn it brown.

Use a very shallow, long baking sheet when making any kind of hard candy, from caramels to peanut brittle. It will make life easier when you need to break apart the pieces. This year I had an epic battle with my caramels that ended with me wielding a meat tenderizer in order to break the inch-thick BLOCK of caramel into workable pieces. My sharpest knives had failed me, and breaking the pieces apart by hand proved impossible. Now I have tiny chips of caramel scattered all over my countertops and floors. I’ll clean it up…eventually.

The good thing is that I have carefully measured my batches so that all this candy will be leaving my house by the end of the holidays. The bad thing is that I feel like after all this work, I should get to keep some of it!

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?

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2 Responses to “Visions of Sugar Plums”

  1. Jen Barry December 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    I feel like Christmas snuck up on me this year! I keep thinking of traditions and realize that I’m almost out of time. What? Today is December 22, you say? I haven’t even bought the first gift yet.

    In other news, your post has inspired me to make candy, which could be a very bad thing. Kitchen explosions are, however, a very solid part of my Christmas traditions.

    • abigailcash December 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

      That is excellent! Candy is hard to explode, but also in greater danger of burning. I’ve found fudge to be reliably simple.

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