Homemade candy has been a holiday tradition for hundreds of years. Readers submitted almost 300 candy entries of their family holiday favorites, making it a difficult decision narrowing down entries.
Ultimately, winners emerged as judges sampled from 14 different selections including a variety of caramels, fudge, toffee, hard candies and chewy favorites.
First place went to the winning combination of toasted nuts, toffee and chocolate in Linda Pittman’s Triple Nut Toffee. The Honey Caramels, submitted by Jerry Daugherty, were a close second place for their smooth luscious texture and Carol Walk’s Snickers Fudge placed third for its chocolate, peanut, caramel combo that tastes just like its namesake.
The five honorable mentions are: Chocolate Amaretto Snowballs, submitted by Nancy H. Peterson; Rock Candy, submitted by Diane Sherman; Pecan Espresso Bark, submitted by Barbara Wiesen; Nougat, submitted by Mary H. Hammann; and Maple Bacon Fudge, submitted by Dorothy Billington.
View all submissions below. There will be something to entice the sweet tooth in every family.
White Chocolate Caramel Cashew Clusters
2 ½ c. cashew halves*
1 (11 oz.) pkg. Kraft caramel bits**
1 T. milk
8 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped***
Sea salt for sprinkling
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Arrange 35 clusters of cashews with 1-2” between them. Use about 11-12 cashew halves per cluster. Set a couple extra cashews aside to chop and later sprinkle on top of clusters.
Place the caramels in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Pour milk on top and microwave for 3 minutes total, stirring every 20 seconds to prevent scorching. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of caramel onto the center of each cluster, trying to touch all the cashews to hold the cluster together.
Place the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds until completely melted and smooth. Spoon melted chocolate on top of each cluster, followed by a few crushed cashews and a sprinkle of sea salt. Allow the clusters to completely set in the refrigerator for 30 minute before enjoying. Store leftover clusters in the refrigerator.
*Can use whole cashews, using fewer cashews per cluster.
**Can use home made caramel or caramel squares if desired.
***Use pure white chocolate found in the baking aisle (not white baking chips or almond bark.)
Make ahead tip: Clusters can be made ahead and frozen for up to three months. Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Corn Belt Energy Corporation
These are a nice change from milk chocolate, very sweet holiday treats. My granddaughter and I enjoy making them together every year. They are mouth-watering and don’t last long!