Homemade Candy Valentine's Day

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By Deanna Godman

Aprons and Ideas Homemaker Club held a homemade candy exchange for their February meeting. A candy exchange, much like a cookie exchange, lets participants sample and share multiple recipes. The candy can then be given as gifts or kept to serve to guests or eaten by the family.

Laura Morgan made chocolate rice crispy treat balls. She used Malt-o-meal chocolate crisp rice cereal instead of a national brand, and added an extra tablespoon of butter and an extra couple of marshmallows to the usual recipe to make it stickier. She rolled the mixture into balls, and then rolled each in powdered sugar.

“I love rice crispy treats,” said Morgan. “They’re my favorite.”
Mary Trice made peanut brittle and “indulgent” chocolate covered cherries. She has had the peanut brittle recipe for many years; it is a favorite of her husband. She usually makes it at Christmas, along with other candies. She has used pecans and almonds with the recipe before.

“I haven’t tried cashews but I want to,” said Trice. “I don’t think walnuts would be good.”

Trice found the chocolate covered cherry recipe in the February 2011 issue of Southern Living. She made them for the first time for the candy exchange. They are “indulgent” because they are pre-soaked in Southern Comfort liqueur.

Terri Cooper contributed homemade peanut butter cups. She found the recipe in a Hershey Kiss cookbook she bought through Longaberger baskets. She made them at Christmas with her children, and then again for the candy exchange.

“It’s really kid friendly,” said Cooper.

She found the process to be much more enjoyable with her children because they could talk and enjoy each other’s company. When she did 72 by herself, she just wanted to be finished.

Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle

2 cups sugar
½ cup water
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup butter
2 cups raw Spanish peanuts
1 teaspoon baking soda

Butter 2 cookie sheets (either very large or with shallow rims). Heat together sugar, water and corn syrup, and cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and bringing it to a boil.
When syrup boils, add butter and stirring frequently, cook until the temperature reaches 280 degrees (this will take quite a while on medium heat), stir constantly until it reaches the hard-crack stage at 305. Remove from heat, and quickly stir in baking soda, mixing well.
Pour onto cookie sheets, and cool completely. Loose from pans when candy hardens and break into pieces. Makes 2 ½ pounds.

Indulgent Cherries

1 (10 oz) jar maraschino cherries (with stems)
½ cup Southern Comfort (can use brandy)
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon shortening
Wax Paper

Drain maraschino cherries, and return to jar. Pour Southern Comfort into jar, cover with lid, and freeze 8 hours. Drain cherries, and pat very dry, reserving Southern Comfort for another use.
Microwave chocolate morsels and shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 to 1 ½ minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.
Dip cherries quickly into melted chocolate, coating well. Place cherries on wax paper, stem sides up, and let stand until chocolate is firm (about 30 minutes). Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

To make the candy, she melted Hershey kisses, and then painted the inside of mini muffin cups with the melted chocolate. Cooper suggests using a mini muffin tin to hold the cups so the shape is not distorted. Once all of the cups are painted, refrigerate the cups until the chocolate is solid. Remove the muffin liners, fill with the peanut butter mixture and then top with a Hershey Kiss.
Peanut Butter filling
1 cup Reese’s creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon butter

Blend ingredients well in a mixer. Fill chocolate cups.