Christmas Candy

Even though Christmas is still a few months off on the calendar, I wanted to share these recipes.

My Grandmother and Mom made chocolate candy every Christmas when I was growing up. It was a wonderful tradition, but the recipes were not written down that I know of. My Mom knew how to make the chocolates in to candy (a bit of an art), but not the recipes. I was very excited when I found an article on-line from the Desert Newspaper on the Stapley families candy making tradition complete with recipes. My Grandmother for many years worked for Elder Stapley taking care of his wife and scheduling the other woman who came in for shifts to care for her.

I remember my Grandma’s marble slab. If was good sized and very heavy. I know my Grandma only used Ghirardelli chocolate.

Here are some recipes the Stapley family uses in their 50-year candy making tradition:


3 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring

Mix sugar and whipping cream together. Wash down sides of pan with warm water and a pastry brush or your hand before putting mixture on medium heat to cook. Cook slowly to boiling point. Add white corn syrup. Continue cooking to soft ball stage, or 229 degrees. (For chocolate, cook to 226 degrees.)
Pour on marble slab that has been greased with mineral oil (not Squibbs). Do not scrape candy from the sides or bottom of pan. Let cool. Beat with spatula until candy loses gloss. Knead with hands. Form into rolls. Cut in slices when serving. Stores in airtight container or tightly closed plastic bag. When ready to dip, cut into small slices and roll in ball the size of hazel nuts. Add nuts, coconut, cherries, dates or other flavoring before rolling into balls. Dip in melted chocolate. — Stapley family


2 cups sugar
2 cups white corn syrup
2 cups cream
1/2 of a 15-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, optional
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup nuts

Combine sugar and corn syrup, bring to boil. Wash down sides of pan with warm water and pastry brush before putting on range. Cook until mixture changes color, 10-15 minutes or to soft-ball stage, 224 degrees. Meanwhile, combine cream and condensed milk and scald in top of double boiler. Add cream mixture slowly so the candy doesn’t stop boiling. (Takes a long time.) Continue cooking until mixture reaches firm ball stage, 235 degrees. Pour in pan to cool, after adding vanilla, salt and nuts. Or use for pecan roll or turtles. — Stapley family


2 sticks (1 cup) butter (may use Imperial margarine, but not other type)
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
2 tablespoon water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 7-ounce bar of chocolate

Mix all ingredients except almonds and chocolate in electric frying pan. Cook on high heat. Stir all the time you cook, 8-10 minutes. Candy will get very thick and will turn golden brown in color. It will also follow spoon around the pan. Add almonds, stirring constantly. Pour on buttered cookie sheet. While hot, break chocolate bar on top of candy. When it’s melted, spread over the surface of the toffee and sprinkle chopped nuts on top. If you want to coat the candy with chocolate on both sides, wait until the chocolate sets on one side. Then turn pan upside down on a clean surface, and frost bottom of the candy with chocolate and nuts as before. Break into serving pieces. — Stapley family

Here are some notes I collected on Chocolate. I sorry I do not know the source.

Lesson –   Tempering Chocolate and Why

Cocoa butter is the   fat in the cacao bean that gives chocolate its unique mouth-feel and stable   properties. To be considered “real” chocolate, a chocolate bar or chunk can  contain only cocoa butter, not any other fat. Cocoa butter is the reason why   you have to “temper” real chocolate.

Cocoa butter is fat   that is composed of three to four glycerides of fatty acids. What complicates   matters in chocolate making is that each of these different fatty acids solidifies at a different temperature. Once you melt a chocolate bar, the  fatty acid crystals separate. The objective in tempering melted chocolate is   to entice the disparate fatty acid crystals of cocoa butter back into one   stable form.

Tempering is like   organizing individual dancers at a party into a Conga line. For chocolate,   temperature and motion are the party organizers that bring all the individual  dancing crystals of fatty acids together in long lines and, in the process, create a stable crystallization throughout the chocolate mass.

Also, strange as it   may sound, the temperature at which well-tempered chocolate melts is much   higher than untempered chocolate because the fatty acid crystals in tempered   chocolate are locked together tightly — it takes a higher temperature to pull   them apart. Being tightly bound, well-tempered chocolate is resistant to developing chocolate bloom — that whitish film, streaks or spots of cocoa  butter that form on the surface of chocolate.

In the tempering   process, melted chocolate is first cooled, causing the fatty acid crystals to   form nuclei around which the other fatty acids will crystallize. Once the   crystals connect, the temperature is then raised to keep them from  solidifying.

To help the chocolate   to crystallize during the tempering process, chocolate makers use one   technique called seeding. The “seed” is tempered chocolate in   hunks, wafers or grated bits. It is added at the beginning of the tempering   process. These crystals of tempered chocolate act like magnets, attracting   the other loose crystals of fatty acids to begin the crystallization process that results in well-tempered chocolate.

Learning to Temper Real Chocolate

Temper by Seeding is   the easiest and quickest way to temper chocolate. You will need: Microwave   (or double boiler), microwave-safe bowl, spatula for stirring and a good   thermometer that has a range as low as 70° F (21° C).

I suggest you have at   least twenty-four ounces (680 g) of chocolate when you start to temper. I   know it sounds like a lot and a big monetary commitment but this amount gives   you enough to work with when you are dipping or molding.

Also, it is much   easier to control temperatures and not overheat when you have a mass of   chocolate. You can re-temper or reuse any of the chocolate you have left over   so the extra won’t be wasted. At my shop, au Chocolat, we sold our bulk   chocolate in one-pound (454 g) round bars so I could easily show that a   one-pound (16 ounce) puddle of melted chocolate only came up about an inch in   the bowl. That is not a lot of chocolate mass in which to dip something.

Step 1. You need to   heat the chocolate to melt all fatty acid crystals.

Chop the chocolate   into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the quicker your chocolate will   melt and temper. Set aside about 25 – 30 percent of the chocolate. There is   no need to be exact on this measurement, as you just want enough unmelted,   tempered chocolate to start the seeding process.

Place the remaining   70 – 75 percent of chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave   on half-power, being very careful to stir the mixture every minute until it   is almost completely melted, which should take   about four to five minutes.

Remove the bowl of   chocolate from the microwave and stir to cool it slightly. Removing the bowl   before all the chocolate is completely melted will help prevent over heating.   You don’t want your chocolate to burn. Those last bits of solid chocolate will melt as you stir. Using a thermometer, check the temperature of the   melted chocolate — it should be between:

  • Dark        Chocolate: 114-118° F (46-48° C)
  • Milk        Chocolate: 105-113° F (40-45° C)
  • White        Chocolate: 100-110° F (37-43° C) Note: be very careful as the high milk        and sugar content in white chocolate will cause it to burn easily.

I’ve indicated a range of temperatures above as not all thermometers are perfectly accurate.

Step 2 – Add seed   chocolate you have set aside.

Start adding handfuls   of the grated chocolate you set aside to the melted chocolate. Stir in the   seeding chocolate bits continuously until the desired temperature (see below)   is reached and the bits have dissolved completely. This could take anywhere   from ten to fifteen minutes depending on the temperature of your environment.   Your chocolate should now be tempered.

  • Dark        chocolate should be between 88 – 89° F (31° C)
  • Milk        and white chocolates should be between 84 – 86° F (29-30° C)

Make sure to stir the   tempered chocolate and check the temperature during the time you are using it   for dipping or molding. You can put the tempered chocolate mass in the   microwave for 10 – 15 seconds at half-power if the temperature starts to   drop. Just make sure that you don’t raise the temperature above 90° F (32° C)   or you will lose your temper and have to start over again at Step 1.

A heating pad put   around the bottom and sides of the bowl will help if you are doing a lot of   work at one time. Again, make sure the heating pad doesn’t raise the   temperature of the chocolate too high. Keep stirring and checking the  chocolate mass with a thermometer.

About Chocolate Seize

This is when your melted chocolate mass becomes a paste that is grainy, dull, and thick. There   are two conditions that bring about chocolate seize:


Chocolate is made up   of dry ingredients (cocoa solids, sugar, and possibly milk powder) suspended   in cocoa butter. A small drop of liquid will moisten the dry ingredients and   allow the cocoa solids to clump together and separate from the cocoa butter.   Remember the old saying that oil and water don’t mix. This is why you never   cover a pot of chocolate with a lid (because the steam will condense and drop   into the chocolate) and why you need to be very careful when using a double   boiler. If this happens, the chocolate will not temper, but it doesn’t have  to go to waste; it can be used in baking or truffle centers.

Interestingly, if you   add in more liquid to the chocolate (a minimum of one tablespoon of liquid   per ounce of chocolate), the melted chocolate will remain in a liquid state because the dry particles get saturated by the moisture and detach from each other. They then are suspended in the liquid again so the chocolate mass is back to a liquid form. You’ll find this technique used to make chocolate   sauces and syrups or for flavoring cakes and pastries.


Overheating separates   the cocoa solids and other dry ingredients from the cocoa butter. Chocolate   solids and dry ingredients will burn if heated to 130 degrees. The result is   a dry, discolored paste. There’s no retrieving burnt chocolate, so be very   careful when heating in a double boiler or microwave.

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