LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Twix, Mounds, Baby Ruth, Snickers, Peppermint Patties, candy corn and more. After the jack-o’-lantern and costumes, it would seem the thing that best defines Halloween is the candy — all that trick-or-treating loot. When I was a kid, Halloween wasn’t over until my siblings and I emptied our bags at the end of an evening of trick-or-treating, trading candies late into the night. My favorites were always the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

But as much as I continue to enjoy pulling back the orange wrapping to reveal the classic peanut butter and chocolate treat, I’ve long wondered how hard they might be to make from scratch. Not changing much, mind you, but adjusting the flavors and texture just a bit and playing around with the type of chocolate coating for a richer, dark chocolate flavor.

Look up “homemade candy bar recipes” online and you’ll find no shortage of options. Some are amazingly simple; others range in complexity. And the results can vary widely, from realistic hacks to creative interpretations. Even the simplest of recipes will be a bit of a project, but they’re also a lot of fun, particularly for kids.

One of the easiest candies to make is the peppermint patty. Combine powdered sugar, peppermint oil, a touch of lemon juice and salt with some sort of fat. Many recipes call for butter, condensed milk and even cream cheese. Other fats often lend some sort of flavor, but coconut oil is neutral, allowing the peppermint flavoring to shine. A bonus is that coconut oil is plant-based, if you’re looking for a vegan candy option. Beat the ingredients together to form a dough, chill, then coat your candies.

Coconut bars are just as easy, nothing more than a combination of shredded or grated sweetened coconut mixed with powdered sugar and condensed milk — the richness of the milk helps to balance the sweetness of the candy. Add a touch of vanilla or vanilla seeds for added flavor.

Homemade peanut butter cups are actually simple to make, nothing more than a combination of peanut butter, powdered sugar and butter, with crumbled cookies, such as vanilla wafers or graham crackers, for added texture and crunch. I prefer ground crisped rice cereal, as it adds a light crunch without extra flavor. Form the pieces, freeze, then coat in chocolate — a fondue fork is perfect for this — and pop into little candy cups before refrigerating.

Chocolate chips make a perfect candy coating, and varieties range from rich milk chocolate to semi-sweet and dark — the higher cocoa percentages lending a more assertive flavor to the chips.

Another trick is keeping the candies cold before they’re coated. Most candy fillings are creamy when you bite into them, but they need to be solid to withstand a dip in warm chocolate. If the fillings are too soft, they’ll melt. So freeze the candies before you coat, then dip them in chocolate a few at a time.

The Twix bar is similar to the classic “millionaire’s shortbread” dessert, a layer of shortbread topped with caramel and rich chocolate. Top buttery shortbread bars with a thick layer of caramel — simmer the caramel until it is a dark amber with a nutty smell for richer flavor and chill until it has the consistency of thick toothpaste — then pipe a strip of caramel on top of each bar before freezing and coating with chocolate.

Your homemade candy bars will easily last two to three weeks refrigerated and longer if frozen. And unlike the store-bought version, you can shape and decorate them too. Use cookie cutters for creative holiday-themed shapes and add a drizzle of icing or chocolate, or even a sprinkling of coarse sea salt, for dramatic effect.

These aren’t candies you’ll be passing out to costumed children, but rather treats you can share at parties or use as homemade holiday gifts. Of course, you can also keep a batch — your own loot — for yourself.

Coconut Bars With Almonds And Dark Chocolate

Recipe from Noelle Carter.

Makes about 4 dozen (21/2-by 2-inch) bars.

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 pounds powdered sugar

2 (14-ounce) bags sweetened shredded or flaked coconut

About 4 dozen toasted unsalted almonds

2 (12-ounce) bags dark chocolate chips

Coconut oil, if needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the condensed milk, vanilla, sugar and coconut until combined. This makes about 8 cups filling. Cover and refrigerate until very firm, preferably overnight.

Dust the filling well with powdered sugar and place it between two large sheets of parchment or wax paper. Roll the filling to a thickness of about 1/2-inch. Dust a cookie or biscuit cutter with powdered sugar and cut the filling into shapes, making sure to cut through all of the coconut so the sides are smooth. Top each shape with a toasted almond. Re-roll the filling and cut again as needed. Place the shapes on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet or pan (place a sheet of parchment between each layer of cutouts), wrap the sheet in plastic wrap and freeze until the cutouts are frozen solid, preferably overnight.

Melt the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until evenly melted. If the melted chips feel a little too thick, stir in a little coconut oil to thin the melted chocolate.

Remove just a few cutouts at a time (keep the rest of the filling frozen), and dip them, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. Tap the candy a few times to remove excess chocolate and place on a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat, removing a few frozen fillings and coating with chocolate, until all of the patties are made. Refrigerate the trays, uncovered, until the chocolate is hardened before serving.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

This recipe requires candy or truffle paper cups. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen miniature peanut butter cups. From Noelle Carter.

1 (12-ounce) jar peanut butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar, more for dusting

6 cups crisped rice cereal

2 (12-ounce) bags semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, or as needed

Coconut oil, if needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the peanut butter and the butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Place the crisped rice cereal in the bowl of a food processor and crush to a very fine meal. Add the cereal to the peanut butter mixture and beat to combine. This makes about 3 cups filling. Cover and refrigerate until very firm, 3 to 4 hours.

Divide the filling into generous 1-tablespoon scoops. Very quickly, roll the scoops into balls, then flatten slightly to form patties about 1-inch-wide-by-1/2-inch thick. If the dough begins to warm and get sticky, freeze the scoops until firm enough to mold. Freeze the formed patties, uncovered, on a parchment-lined baking sheet until solid, preferably overnight.

Melt the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until evenly melted. If the melted chips feel a little too thick, stir in a little coconut oil to thin the melted chocolate.

Remove just a few patties at a time (keep the rest of the patties frozen), and dip them, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. Tap the candy a few times to remove excess chocolate and carefully drop each piece into a candy or truffle paper cup, adjusting the sides as needed so the patty sits level in the cup. Repeat until all of the peanut butter cups are assembled.

Place the cups in the refrigerator until the chocolate is hardened before serving.

Peppermint Patties

Makes about 4 dozen (2-inch) candies. From Noelle Carter.

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus extra for thinning the chocolate, if necessary

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting

1 1/2 pounds chocolate chips, more or less as needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, lemon juice, peppermint extract and salt until combined. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar to form a thick, crumbly filling. If the filling feels too dry and will not clump together, add water, a tablespoon at a time, to moisten.

Form the filling into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, 1 to 2 hours.

Dust the filling well with powdered sugar and place it between two large sheets of parchment or wax paper. Roll the filling to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Dust a cookie or biscuit cutter with powdered sugar and cut the dough into shapes. Reroll the filling and cut again as needed. Place the shapes on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet or pan (place a sheet of parchment between each layer of cutouts), wrap the sheet in plastic wrap and freeze until the cutouts are frozen solid, preferably overnight.

Melt the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until evenly melted. If the melted chips feel too thick, stir in a little coconut oil to thin the chocolate.

Remove a few cutouts at a time (keep the rest of the filling frozen), and dip them, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. Tap the candy a few times to remove excess chocolate and place on a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat, removing a few frozen fillings and coating with chocolate, until all of the patties are made. Refrigerate the trays, uncovered, until the chocolate is hardened before serving.

Shortbread Bars With Dark Caramel And Chocolate

For the shortbread

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 1/2 cups (10.6 ounces) flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the flour and beat into the butter mixture just until fully incorporated.

Divide the dough into thirds and shape each third into a 10-inch-by-3-inch rectangle on a lightly floured board. Score the rectangle crosswise to make 20 (1/2-inch) bars. Repeat with the remaining rectangles and place onto parchment-lined baking sheets (you may be able to fit 2 rectangles on one sheet, but do not space too closely together as the shortbread will spread a little as it bakes). Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove a tray and bake until the shortbread feels firm to the touch and the edges are just beginning to color, about 20 minutes. Remove the sheet to a rack and cut each bar along the scored lines. Set aside to cool. Repeat until all of the shortbread is baked and cooled. Separate the bars and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate until ready to coat with the caramel.

For the caramel

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon corn syrup

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup, stirring until the sugar has the consistency of wet sand. Place the saucepan over high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and begins to boil. Do not stir the sugar, as this may cause it to seize.

While the sugar is cooking, combine the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the sugar while you’re heating the cream to keep it from scorching. Cook until the butter melts, stirring it into the cream. When the mixture has come to a simmer, remove from heat.

Continue to cook the sugar until it darkens to a rich caramel color, 7 to 10 minutes — the sugar will darken quickly and noticeably and will smell faintly nutty. Swirl the pan as the sugar darkens to judge the true color of the caramel (the sugar may darken in patches if there are hot spots on the stove). Watch carefully, as the sugar can easily overcook at this point and burn.

As soon as the color is darkened to a rich caramel, remove the pan from the heat and quickly add the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream. The sugar will bubble and steam as the cream is added; be careful as both the mixture and steam are very hot. Carefully stir in the vanilla, then continue to stir until the mixture stops bubbling.

Remove from heat and set aside until cooled to room temperature. This makes about 1 1/2 cups caramel. Place the caramel in a large, sturdy cloth piping bag (a plastic bag will tear) fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Twist the end of the bag to seal and place the bag, tip-side up, in a container so the caramel does not leak out.

Refrigerate until the caramel is thickened and has the consistency of thick toothpaste, 1 to 2 hours and up to overnight.

For the completed Twix bars

Prepared shortbread bars

Prepared caramel

2 bags milk or semisweet chocolate chips

Coconut oil, if needed

Remove the bars and caramel from the refrigerator. Pipe a thick strip of caramel on top of each bar, pressing the tip of the bag gently against the edge of the cookie to stop the caramel flow.

Place the prepared bars, uncovered on a rimmed baking sheet, in the freezer until the caramel is completely hardened, preferably overnight.

Melt the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until evenly melted. If the melted chips feel a little too thick, stir in a little coconut oil to thin the melted chocolate.

Remove just a few bars at a time (keep the rest of the bars frozen), and dip them, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. Tap the candy a few times to remove excess chocolate and place on a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat, removing a few frozen bars and coating with chocolate, until all of the bars are coated. Refrigerate the trays, uncovered, until the chocolate is hardened before serving.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: https://detne.ws/2izMlCX