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December 19, 2007 > Sweeten the holidays naturally

Sweeten the holidays naturally

Submitted By Courtesy of ARA Content

From rich chocolate fudge to creamy caramels and sweet lollipops -- candy is always a crowd-pleaser. This season, serve up a few of your favorite confections, sweetened the natural way, using pure honey.

Using honey in a candy recipe not only provides a mild, naturally sweet flavor, it also dissolves and blends well and delivers a smoother candy texture. Candy making can be tricky, so keep the following tips in mind:

* For a candy making surface that can take the heat, use a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cool the candy at room temperature and then gently remove from the foil.

* Use pure honey, which is already in a liquid form, to help avoid the hassle that comes with large sugar crystals forming during the candy-making process.

* Bringing the candy mixture to the correct temperature is essential A candy thermometer is the most accurate and efficient way of testing the temperature.

* Only use real butter in candy making.

The following candy recipes are easy to make and feature scrumptious, seasonal ingredients such as cinnamon, walnuts, vanilla, almonds, and of course chocolate. Friends and family will be delighted to savor these tasty treats at holiday parties, as hostess gifts, or even as stocking stuffers.

Visit for more delicious holiday candy recipes.

Chocolate Walnut Fudge
Makes 25 squares.

1/2 cup pure honey
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts

Line an 8-inch by 8-inch pan with foil; butter and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine honey, sweetened condensed milk and salt. Mix well. Bring mixture just to a boil, stirring frequently. Lower heat to a simmer. Add chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts completely and mixture is smooth. Stir in walnuts. Pour immediately into pan and smooth top. Let cool, then refrigerate until cold. Cut into 25 pieces.

Honey Pops
Makes 15 to 20 lollipops.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup pure honey
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon candy flavoring (or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
red paste food coloring, optional

In a heavy pan, combine sugar, honey, and water. Over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to boil until honey mixture reaches 300F on candy thermometer (hard-crack stage), about five to six minutes, stirring frequently. Add flavoring and color. Mix well. Pour into prepared lollipop molds (greased with lollipop sticks inserted), following manufacturer's directions. Cool completely. Remove from molds and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in a cool, dry place.

Cinnamon candy flavoring is an oil-based flavoring, which can be found where candy-making supplies are sold. You may substitute 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, if desired.

Tip: Candy may be molded in buttered, wax-coated paper drinking cups.

Holiday Honey Caramels
Makes 30 caramels.

2 cups pure honey
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely chopped almonds, optional
1 cup butter (no substitutions)

Line bottom and sides of 9-inch square pan with plastic wrap and set it aside. Melt butter in medium-sized heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add honey, cream and brown sugar. Mix well. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to boil, stirring frequently. Continue boiling, stirring frequently, until candy thermometer registers 250 F, about 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan.

Let cool completely in refrigerator before cutting into individual caramels with very sharp knife. Roll in chopped nuts or coconut, if desired, and wrap each individually in clear plastic wrap. Store tightly wrapped in refrigerator up to one month. Caramels will be soft at room temperature and firm if kept chilled.

Serving Suggestions:
Drop one into a cup of hot coffee or tea or enjoy this delicious treat on its own.

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