Spring Candy Sale Is On!

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Why, it feels like just yesterday that I was buying 350 pounds of chocolate and diving head first into candy-making season!

But with the promise of spring and warmer weather, the time for making chocolate candy is winding down—it’s very difficult to temper chocolate when it’s above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Before I close the door on the candy shop for the summer, I am offering American readers/friends a 20% discount on candy orders.

If you are hankering for chocolate, use the coupon code SPRING2015 upon check-out in my Etsy shop and get the discount!

White Chocolate–Worth the Calories?

white chocAccording to the folks at Foodimentary, it’s National White Chocolate Day!

Do you have an opinion on white chocolate? Yay or nay? Would you ever choose it over dark or milk chocolate?

This is also my sister’s birthday–she’s a dark chocolate kind of girl all the way!

The Sound of a Door Closing

closed for the season

photo by Alison Hurt

Listen—did you hear that? That was the sound of the door closing on my candy shop, for the 2013-2014 season.

One of the best things about working with chocolate is that you can’t do it when it’s warm. Chocolate simply cannot be tempered if the temperature is above about 70 degrees. So, as a home-based chocolatier, with no interest in a bigger operation, the coming of summer means the end of chocolate making. Right when I want to do other things, I can!

I just finished dipping the last of the candy that I will take to a spring boutique later this week. Last week, I deactivated the candy listings on Etsy. I’m out of the chocolate business until October!

I’m both happy and a bit verklempt about the end of the season. It was a good year, and very busy. I plowed through the 230 pounds of Callebaut chocolate I wrote about in August and had to order 55 pounds more of milk chocolate. That adds up to something like 700,000 calories worth of chocolate, spread around the US!

I did my first-ever face-to-face sale in December and it went so well I’m doing another on Wednesday, with a lot let angst this time.

I developed some new candies, most notably lemon meltaways and Irish cream meltaways, both with silky smooth flavored-chocolate innards, dipped in more chocolate. I also added delicate, crispy English toffee to my offerings.

I’ll miss my little morning routine of drinking my coffee, getting caught up with the news, and putting on my apron. I mostly make candy in the very early morning and those hours will be open to me now.

I’ll miss the smells—the chocolate, of course, the caramel bubbling on the stove, the mint oil, the peanut butter. And I’ll miss the heavy responsibility of taste testing!

But, as they say, when one door closes, another opens.

It is finally beginning to be spring in upstate New York so the door opens to lawn and gardens, and they need a lot of work.

The door opens to the linen closet, too—I have been very lax about listing vintage linens on Etsy and those piles of pretty linens are not getting any smaller!

The door will open soon to another glorious summer on beautiful Lake Champlain and summer activities—bike rides to go for soft ice cream, garage sales, campfires, and s’mores, and family time.

Who wants to be in the kitchen, making candy, when there’s so much else to do?!

So, I’ll go downstate and sell candy for one more day. I’ll stash any leftovers for sampling and sharing over the summer. I’ll put away the candy equipment and ingredients and soak my apron in Oxi-Clean to get the chocolate out.

And I’ll go outside, to play in the sun. I’ll weave things and finish a quilt. I’ll talk to you and do a lot of ironing of pretty things. I’ll get back to that list of things I’ve been meaning to do (IBMTD)!

And, along about September, I’ll start yearning for the smell of melted chocolate and the comfort of the candy-making routine. And then the door will open again. . .

 

Nobody Knows the Truffles I’ve Seen

irish cream melts-1Today is the highest of the high holidays of chocolate. Nestled between Halloween and Christmas on one side and Easter and Mothers’ Day on the other, confection affection reaches a frenzy for Valentine’s Day.

And that means, once again, chocolate has oozed its sweet, smooth, silky self into all my waking hours. I’ve been sending chocolates all over the United States, to help people show their love to far-flung friends, lovers, and relatives.

It’s great fun to be part of this celebration, as folks try to decide just what combination of candies will best please their loved ones. All dark chocolate for some, no dark chocolate for others. No lemon or pumpkin seeds, please, but extra ginger or coconut would be great! Tastes are so individual and givers want everything to be perfect, especially on this day.

I also love writing up the note cards to accompany the candy I mail. I make up little stories to fit the odd or mysterious sentiments and imagine how pleased the daddy will be to get the candy from his children.

People aren’t just treating their love ones. I’m here to tell you that LOTS of people are treating themselves. As we’ve always been told, you need to love yourself first!

To be honest, all of this intense focus on chocolate means that it sort of loses its Valentine’s Day cachet for me. When you have chocolates on every free surface and are honor bound to do regular taste testing, you don’t need a special holiday devoted to chocolate! Every day is chocolate day!

As for my Valentine and me, we’ll celebrate by shoveling the most recent foot of snow. Then we’re planning a dinner that will evoke warmth and summer and picnics—Michigans, coleslaw, potato salad. If I’m lucky, my Valentine will play some “honey songs” on the guitar for me. And we’ll probably have some chocolate but we do that everyday!

And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that I almost never make truffles—I just couldn’t resist that blog title.

Truffles are so incredibly easy to make (2-3 ingredients and no need to temper chocolate?!), it seems wrong to take money for making them! And, the fact that they depend heavily on cream means that they aren’t as shelf stable as a lot of candy so mailing them and taking the risk that they might spoil unnerves me.

So instead of truffles, I make chocolate melt aways, combining tempered chocolate with a little coconut oil and flavoring oil. And, even though I just said I don’t get too excited about chocolate on Valentine’s Day, an Irish cream melt away might just get me to re-consider!

I hope your Valentine’s Day brings a happy balance of affection and confections!

An Introvert Goes Public . . .

366_Alma_s_Boutique-1Later this week, I’ll do my first, ever, face-to-face selling of the candy I make. I’ll be at the St. Vincent’s Hospital’s Alma’s Boutique in White Plains, NY.

Preparing for this event is part of what has been keeping me too busy to blog, or to do much else for that matter. Because I’ve never done a show like this before, I have no idea how much I’m likely to sell so I’ve made a LOT of candy.

Preparing for an event like this has also reminded me what a perfect outlet Etsy is for introverts!

I had a dream last night about being on a motorbike that I couldn’t control. I wonder where that came from . . .

If you have any positive vibes to spare, send them my way!

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A Daydream Made of Caramel

IMG_3990 I spent the early morning hours with family. “Big deal, Kerry,” you say. “It’s Thanksgiving in the United States and most Americans are spending it with family.”

But I spent my morning with a grandmother who has been dead since I was 12, two cousins who live hundreds of miles away, and a sister sound asleep in the guest room.

No, I didn’t have a séance and I wasn’t Skyping. I spent the last three hours wrapping a gazillion (really—I counted) little squares of caramel in a gazillion little squares of waxed paper.

As I stood at the counter and wrapped, I daydreamed and I am, if I say it myself, a world-class daydreamer.

I daydreamed about my history with wrapping caramels.

Caramels have been a part of the winter holidays for me for, literally, my whole life. I grew up on a farm and my grandmother made caramels (and divinity) only at this time of year, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it was a big event.

I’m still using her recipe—it takes a full two hours or more to make a batch and involves instructions like, “add the milk, drop by drop. Add the butter, bit by bit.” We kids—my sister and two cousins and I—weren’t encouraged to be around while the caramel was cooking because the hot syrup can cause the most awful burns but, once the caramel was poured and had time to set, our work began.

We were the caramel wrappers!  We didn’t see this as work at all. Or, if it was work, it came with great benefits! I’m sure we didn’t eat as many as we wrapped but I’m also sure we needed some time outside after we were done, to work off the sugar high.

My grandmother would carpet the kitchen table with little squares of waxed paper, cut the caramel into strips, and cut little pieces—plop, plop, plop—onto the paper. Little hands would pick up each square, wrap the waxed paper around and twist the ends to seal the caramels in.

Nowadays, a lot of my caramel gets dipped in chocolate or added to some other candy, like turtle bark or candy bars. The chocolate-covered fleur de sel caramels are by far my best-selling item.

But sometimes, I do get orders for the pure, unadulterated caramels and, as was the case this morning, I find myself wrapping little bites of caramel in squares of waxed paper.

And my mind wanders to a different warm kitchen, four little girl cousins, a plump farm grandmother, sweets made with loving hands at home—a scene out of Norman Rockwell and perfect for daydreams and happy memories. Wrapping caramels still comes with benefits.

I hope you have the chance to daydream and enjoy family memories on your day of thanksgiving!

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Chocolate Vs. Blogging

lucy and chocolateDo you know this episode of the old American TV show “I Love Lucy”? Lucy and her pal, Ethel, get jobs in a candy shop and are soon overwhelmed by the workload. It’s a classic!

As you may recall, I make candy. I can totally identify with Lucy and Ethel right now! I am pretty fully occupied by the demands of the holiday candy season.

I love what I’m doing–I’m up to my knees in chocolate! A dream come true! But it may mean that my blog is updated less frequently and my posts are short.

Please understand that I am thinking of you and will be back with more thoughtful posts as soon as I can be!

Winner of National Chocolate Day Giveaway!

tipsy turtle bark-1And, we have a winner! Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway for a one-pound box of KerryCan chocolates! Readers had the nicest things to say about the candy photos, even those who were not able to enter the giveaway. I do feel bad about not being able to offer this to international readers and it was kind of many of you to let me know you understood!

The winner of the candy is Kimmie, a fellow WordPress blogger from Making Mondays. She’ll be receiving a sampler of items from the shop but because she told me she loves chocolate turtles, I’ll be sure to include some candy that includes chocolate, caramel and pecans! Kimmie, please contact me at kerrycan2@gmail.com with your address.

Again, thanks to all of you!

Happy National Chocolate Day . . . A Giveaway!

National Chocolate Day?! Now that’s a holiday I can get on board with! In fact, I want to write a book because I have a title that I think will sell a million copies. I’m going to call it 50 Shades of Chocolate!

To celebrate National Chocolate Day, I’m going to give one of my North American readers a one-pound sampler of the chocolates from KerryCan. It’s not that I don’t love my blog friends from around the world—I just don’t like to think of what international mail would do to a delicate box of candy.

So, if you’re from the US or Canada and would like to enter the giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post. Tell me, in the comment, what your favorite chocolate candy is—do you like chocolate straight? Or do you go for the chocolate-covered caramels? Or chocolate with peanut butter? Or mint? Or something else? Let me know and I’ll assign you a number, based on order of comments. Then I’ll use a random number generator to come up with the winner.

Be sure to leave your comment within 72 hours of the time this post was made (5 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings time in the U.S., on 10/28/13)! Good luck! (And if you don’t win, all of the candy is available in my shop!)

I Tempted Fate . . .

mint meltaways-4Are you the superstitious type? Do you believe you can jinx yourself? Like, when you were in high school, and you’d say, “I think I really aced that test,” and then you’d find out you got a 72? Or you’d tell everyone how great the job interview went, and then you’d never hear from the interviewer?

You’d think we’d learn never to tempt Fate by making such declarations.

I tempted Fate yesterday. And Fate won.

I’ve been a candy-making whirlwind. I’ve made about 12 different kinds of chocolate candy in three days. Four kinds of bark. Three kinds of candy bars. Caramels about 4 different ways. Peanut butter meltaways and mint meltaways . . . oh, yes, the mint meltaways.

I’m on a tight schedule to get all this done and I’ve been a bit stressed. I said to my husband, “At least it’s all gone perfectly—I haven’t over-cooked any caramel or burned the toasted pecans.”

Uh-oh—why did I say that? I wasn’t done making candy yet and Fate heard me.

Back to the mint meltaways. I’m always happy when I get an order for mint meltaways because they’re one of my favorites to sample—silky smooth, refreshing, dark chocolate, mint—yum.

When I make these, I dust the top of half of them with finely crushed peppermint candy. Crushing the candy is the hard part. It involves putting the candy in multiple layers of plastic bags (because when peppermint candy breaks it gets sharp edges that cut through the bags!) and pounding away with a dead blow hammer. I have to pound a long time to get the candy really crushed and the only consolation is that it makes a lot, so it should last me for months of mint meltaways.

Except Fate was going to have her way with me. I finally had my bowl of precious peppermint dust in one hand. I was ready to start dipping the meltaway innards in tempered chocolate. I started across the kitchen. A stray breeze caught a piece of waxed paper and blew it off the counter. I lunged to grab it.

And my bowl of peppermint dust tipped. And jerked. And spewed dust across the kitchen like an intense mint-scented blizzard.

And, although it doesn’t fit my “loving hands at home” image, I swore like a pirate. Like my husband, the former Marine, does when he screws up his counted cross stitch and has to rip out 4 hours worth of work. I swore and watched the peppermint dust settle  . . .

The swearing helped. And I had no choice but to clean up the mess of sticky dust, which got in every crack of the hardwood floors and wanted to stay.  And no choice but to start over and break up more peppermint candy with my dead blow hammer.

And that helped, too. Something about banging that hammer onto that candy, imagining Fate’s smug little face there, really, really helped!

But don’t tell her I said that! And don’t tell her that I have more candy to make today and that I need it to go well! And be careful, yourself, about tempting Fate—she’s listening.