My answer to the question: “what is your favorite Jewish holiday?” changes according to the season. In the excitement and anticipation leading up to each holiday, I always decide that the approaching holiday is my favorite. So, currently Purim is my favorite holiday. I love the fun festive atmosphere and seeing all the kids dressed up in their costumes. But most of all I love making mishloach manot, gifts of food, to give to friends and family. Traditionally, mishloach manot are supposed contain an assortment of foods that require at least two different blessings. This requirement makes candy the perfect accompaniment to hamentashen. And that is the perfect excuse to turn a normal home kitchen into a delicious candy factory. While the idea of making homemade candy may seem intimidating, it is not as hard as it sounds. Some sugar, maybe some chocolate, and a few other ingredients combine to make delicious treats that are sure to impress all who taste them.
Marshmallows are my favorite candy to make. Homemade Raspberry Lemonade Marshmallows are deliciously soft and sweet and can be flavored in almost unlimited ways. They are completely different than store bought marshmallows. Even people who profess to hating marshmallows will be smitten. Plus, the alchemy of turning a simple sugar syrup and a bit of gelatin into these fluffy treats is just plain fun to watch. Until fairly recently homemade marshmallows were all but impossible for the kosher cook to make, but now that real kosher gelatin (Kolatin brand) is available retail marshmallows are a real possibility. And that is a very good thing.
Another great candy to make for gift-giving is brittle. The combination of sweet caramel and crunchy nuts is sure to please. Easy to make in large quantities, brittle doesn’t even require a candy thermometer. While nuts like peanuts make the most traditional brittle, Cocoa Nib Brittle is my favorite. The slight bitterness of the nibs perfectly offsets the sweet caramel and the flavor is rounded out by a bit of flaky sea salt. Truly a sophisticated treat.
To round out the candy assortment I always like to include something intensely chocolatey. It is hard to go wrong with homemade truffles, but when making candy for large numbers of people chocolate bark is the way to go. Quick to make in bulk and infinitely customizable with assorted nuts, dried fruits and candies it is sure to please any chocolate lover. Try dried pineapple, banana chips and shredded coconut for a tropical treat. Peanuts and marshmallows will make rocky road. The possibilities are endless. A fun chocolate bark to make is Caramelized Crispy Bark. Caramelized rice cereal tops luscious dark chocolate to make a sophisticated version of a Crunch bar that is sure to please kids and adults alike.
Whether for misloach manot, a Purim party or just because, homemade candy is a wonderful way to add to the festivities. Chag Purim Sameach!