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.
Pecan Espresso Bark
3 ounces raw pecans (about 1/2 cup)
2 T. espresso beans
8 ounces 70% dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roast pecans on a baking sheet until fragrant and browned, about 7-10 minutes. Toss halfway through. Once cooled, coarsely chop the nuts. Set aside. Lightly crush the espresso beans with a rolling pin and set aside.
Prep a baking sheet lined with parchment. In a double boiler, melt 6 ounces of the dark chocolate on low heat (to prevent steam or moisture from touching the chocolate) until chocolate is smooth. Once completely melted, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate. Pour the chocolate onto the baking sheet, spreading the chocolate to a 1/4 inch thickness. It will look like an irregular shaped oval or rectangle. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the chocolate. Repeat with the espresso beans and sea salt. Refrigerate, uncovered, until completely hardened.
Break into rough pieces and serve. Store the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Note: the pecans can be substituted with a variety of nuts such as unsalted almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts.
Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP)
The bark can be made ahead of time for a special holiday treat. It’s so much tastier than most store bought candy or bark. It also taste great with a bit of dry red wine.