The Sweetness of God; Candy Making
For most of mankind's history, sweets were a luxury and a rare treat. Sugar and honey were hard to find, and the sweetness of fruit was only available when the fruit was in season, or as precious and expensive dried fruit, saved for special occasions.
Sweet things became a symbol for all good things that were rare, and precious. Men courted their 'sweethearts', and sweet rushes and grasses were used in houses. Most significantly, the desire for and realisation of God was explained as sweet and sweetness.
'Psa. 119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!'
'2 Cor. 2:15 For we are a sweet savor of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish;'
Even today, when sweet things are readily available, the 'taste' of God can be explained to a child as 'sweet.' If your family practices any kind of 'dessert fast,' for example; on Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's, or every day of Lent, or some other arrangement that works for your family, the symbolism of communion with God as sweetness is doubly emphasized.
Making sweet candy and then eating it is a fun way to bring this understanding of God to your family.
CAUTION: Use extreme care with some of these recipes, sugar syrup is hotter than boiling water and will stick to skin.
'Cool' Recipes for families with little ones
Easy FudgeThis fudge is so easy and so foolproof, that there really doesn't seem to be much point making the other kind.
- 8 squares sweet or semi-sweet chocolate
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Line a 8 inch by 4 inch or 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan with waxed paper.
- Melt the chocolate with the sweetened condensed milk in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, or in the microwave, stirring occasionally.
- Blend in the vanilla, mix well.
- Pour into prepared pan, and set in the refrigerator until firm. Cut into pieces.
- If you double this recipe, you can use an 8 inch by 8 inch square cake pan.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls.
- 1/2 cup chopped dates or raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or peanuts
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 6 squares semi-sweet chocolate
- Combine dried fruit, nuts and icing sugar, mix well
- Add peanut butter and melted butter, mix well.
- Shape into 1 inch balls.
- Partially melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, or in the microwave.
- Remove from heat and stir until completely melted (it will not be so hot this way)
- Dip the balls in chocolate. Place on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper.
- Chill until chocolate is firm. Store in the refrigerator
'Hot' Recipes for families with older children
Pulled Molasses Taffy(Faustina, our 19 year old daughter, remembers fondly making this taffy as part of her grade school observance of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys' feast day. When I told Peter about it, he smiled and said 'Hey, we did that too!')
- 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 cups molasses
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- Butter a jelly roll pan (a large cookie sheet with sides) thoroughly.
- In a large saucepan, bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring until the sugar is melted.
- Continue boiling, without stirring until a drop in cold water separates into threads (260*F on a candy thermometer.) It will take a long time.
- Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
- Turn the taffy into the buttered pan. with a metal spatula, and begin folding it over from the edges in towards the middle, until it is cool enough to handle.
- With buttered hands, pull the taffy quickly, first pulling it, then folding it back onto itself. This is best, and the most fun! with two people to pull.
- When the color begins to lighten twist as you pull, continuing to pull as long as possible. Twist into lengths and cut into pieces.
- Wrap individual pieces in wax paper.
Pecan Penuche(My Great-Aunt Ena, who lived with us when I was a child, often made this fudge like candy. Oh, how good it smelled when we came into the house on a crisp winter day!)
- 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, in small pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- Oil a jelly-roll pan, or an 8 inch by 8 inch cake pan.
- Combine the sugar, milk, salt in a large heavy pot, stirring to mix well.
- Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly unitl the sugar dissolves.
- Cover and let boil for two to three minutes.
- Uncover and 'wash' down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water (a clean cloth dipped in water works just as well if you don't have a brush, the point is to get all the sugar back into the syrup)
- Continue to boil over medium heat until a drop in cold water forms a firm ball, (that doesn't flatten when taken out of the water.) 244*F on a candy thermometer. Stir only if it begins to scorch.
- Remove from the heat and immediately place the pot in a larger pan filled with cold water; this will stop the cooking process and bring the temperature down.
- Drop in the butter and let it cool slightly, without stirring.
- Then beat it until it starts to thicken, add the vanilla and pecans and continue to beat until the candy loses its glossy shiny look.
- (If it doesn't seem to be willing to thicken or change its texture, put it back over the heat for a few minutes. When you remove it again, it will thicken very quickly, so fast that you'll have to be quick to get it in the pan, and it may be a bit lumpy and uneven - but it still tastes good.)
- Spread even in the prepared pan and mark into squares.
- When firm, cut into pieces and store airtight.
The atmospheric humidity will affect candy-making, cool dry weather is generally better for making candy. In more humid conditions, the sugar will need to be cooked longer to reach the right temperature (which is an indication of the concentration of sugar)
There are many other candy styles and candy recipes.
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