Monster Cookies,
Halloween Candy-Style

One of my goals in life is to be known by the children in my neighborhood (if/when I actually settle down into a neighborhood) as the woman that gives out THE BEST Halloween candy. (Also on the Life Goals list: Befriending an owl and buying an entire wheel of cheese. But I digress.) I and my house will probably seem a little creepy — mostly by nature, and perhaps emphasized by a little effort. There will likely be cats milling around my feet when I answer the door. But those who are brave enough to see past all this will be handsomely rewarded. To avoid silently judging the parenting skills of those whose children grab more than their share of candy or elbow fellow trick-or-treaters out of the way to get first pick, I will package up my candy selections up into little treat bags and distribute them accordingly. When it’s time to do candy inventory later in the evening, kids will get to my treat bag and think, “hmmm……I wonder what kind of candy the creepy cat lady put in here.” And they will be amazed at what they find. Twix. Milky Ways. Nerds. Butterfingers. Three Musketeers. No Necco Wafers. None of those BS orange- and black-wrapped peanut-taffy goo candies. 100% top shelf candy.

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Homemade Graham Crackers &
Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

If you’re a semi-competent human being, this is probably the way that you make marshmallows. If you’re me, it goes something like this:

  1. Wait to do this until you’re at your parents’ house, because the 600 Series KitchenAid that you found for a super-awesome price won’t be yours until Christmas. (And because it’s more fun to make a giant mess in their kitchen.)
  2. Since this is your first time working with gelatin, stick your face in the bowl of gelatin and water to see if it smells anything like jell-o. Recoil in horror at the disgusting scent that assaults your olfactory system.
  3. After a few minutes of the mixer running on high speed, start milling around nervously because the motor sounds like it’s begging you to put it out of its misery. Consider that you might just be paranoid because your mother’s KitchenAid is near the top of the list of Things You Don’t Want to Break (second only to her Vitamix). Also consider that you could tell her to keep your new mixer, but that just makes the thought of breaking hers even more upsetting. Hover over the mixer with your hand inches from the off switch for the next ten minutes.
  4. After you’ve poured everything into the pan, smack yourself in the head because you were so worried about destroying the mixer, you forgot to add the vanilla extract.

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Holiday Giveaway: Peppermint Patties & Cow Tales!

This is one of those years when I wonder why I even bother to make cookies around the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I love cookies. And I love to give people treats. The problem is my inability to plan ahead. I devoted my entire weekend to making holiday goodies. And as I stood in my kitchen Sunday evening sipping a glass of wine and gazing at an endless line of cookies and piles of peppermint patties and cowtales, my sense of accomplishment was suddenly eclipsed by one question: What the heck am I going to put all these things in?! Stuffing some cookies in a ziploc bag might cut it at any other time of year, but this is December, and nothing less than fancy will do!

That’s why next year, I’m sticking to candy. It has a longer shelf-life, it’s cute, and it’s pretty impressive! And maybe it’s just my sweet tooth talking, but after trying the peppermint patties and cowtales then moving on to the cookies, my initial reaction was, “hmmm, these are good, but I think I’d like them more if they were CANDY.”

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Chocolate-Covered Caramels

Dear Delicious Chocolate-Covered Caramels,
I blame you for the decay-ridden second maxillary premolar currently rotting in the right side of my face. To be fair, I also blame these. And definitely these. But you most of all. Because you’re made of scrumptious sugar glue.

I’m no stranger to dental issues (thanks for the genes, Dad). More cavities than I could count when I was younger. One cavity-turned-infected-tooth that hurt so much it required an emergency root canal. Four impacted wisdom teeth that could only be removed by breaking away my jaw in several places. My face was so swollen I had to write on a chalkboard instead of speaking. I later upchucked into a giant bowl of green jello I’d been trying to eat when my tummy decided it did not like codeine. After two weeks I felt nothing but contempt for oatmeal and applesauce, and was consumed by thoughts of popcorn and well-toasted bagels.

Now that I’ve really whetted your appetite with my dental horrors, let’s talk caramel! I was seriously surprised by how easy it is to make this stuff. Put it all together, heat, watch, pour, wait, cut, done. Dipping them in chocolate makes this recipe a bit more time consuming, but the end results are über delicious. If you don’t want to bother with tempering chocolate, the caramels by themselves are still quite yummy.

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Mint & Raspberry Patties

I’ve been seeing recipes for homemade peppermint patties recently, which I find very exciting. But you know what I like better than peppermint? Regular ol’ mint. When I set out to make these candies, I envisioned something akin to an Andes mint, in patty form. And while I was at it, I figured I would make some raspberry ones as well.

I think candy is one of the best edible gifts to give. Cookies, breads, and cupcakes are all delicious, but candy is an entirely different level of impressive. And for good reason. It requires attention, patience, and a mild amount of anal-retentivity. Thank god I am extremely anal retentive, which cancels out my short attention span and lack of patience.

These candies turned out quite well. And despite the amount of cursing that occurred while I was trying to temper chocolate at 6:30 p.m. when I should have been focusing on dinner, I actually did have a lot of fun making these. When I begin to get a semi-tedious culinary technique down, that’s when the television narrator starts running in my head. “Notice how Carey places the candy on the very edge of the fork before dipping it into the chocolate . . . ” And in the end, the effort is worth it when you hear someone say, “Really? You made these?”

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