The Power of Positive Vibes . . . And a Great Sister!

Thanks to the good vibes you directed my way and to my amazing sister, the holiday boutique I participated in was truly fun!

It was a long day—we set up at 7:30 a.m., the doors opened at 10, and closed at 7:00 p.m.—but it went by pretty fast. Those of you who assured me that, of course, people would want to buy chocolate were right—we had lots of interest and lots of folks went away with chocolate for gifts, and for themselves.

For the display table, I used some of my stash of vintage linens—I grabbed everything red and white—so it looked festive and different than the other displays. I polished up some Revere bowls and dragged out the vintage aluminum platters and was set to go.

The most popular items didn’t come as a surprise to me—chocolate-covered caramels with fleur de sel have always been my best seller and peppermint bark just tastes like Christmas.

I was so glad to have my sister’s help—most of the vendors were there by themselves and had no on else to rely on. Just having the friendly support of someone who totally understands me made a huge difference!

My introverted tendencies didn’t get in the way. I’m not especially shy—I’m what a friend calls “an introvert with good social skills.” So the day went fine while I was there but I was glad to have a long-ish drive home the next day, alone, with no one who wanted me to talk to them! My people batteries are drained!

So, thank you to all of you who were so supportive and made such kind comments beforehand and thanks, again, to the sister who is my biggest supporter and best marketer! I feel so lucky to have you all on my side!

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.

Back in the Chocolate Again

  spicy bark-1 All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.
Charles M. Schulz

My kitchen has been cold and dark. Well, actually the kitchen has been pretty lively but, as a cook, I have been cold and dark since May.

My husband does nearly 100% of the cooking at our house (yes! It’s heaven!) and he has been very busy. I bake the occasional batch of cookies or loaf of bread but my main activity in our kitchen is making candy and chocolates. And I have not been able to indulge, in making or eating chocolate, since it got warm out.

The reason I had to take those months off is that it is impossible to temper real chocolate if the temps are above about 70 degrees. “Tempering” is the process by which chocolate is brought to the state where it has a high gloss, stays solid at room temperature, and has that “snap” when you break it or bite into it.

If a person wants to work with chocolate in warm weather, they either a) have a climate-controlled workspace or b) use a substitute for real chocolate, like the so-called “candy melts” or chocolate chips.

Candy melts and chocolate chips have their place in the world but they simply are not real, quality chocolate. And since, for me, chocolate is a treat (and a high-calorie one), if I’m going to eat it, or give it to my family, or sell it to valued customers, I’m going to use the real thing.

So, anyway, it’s cool now in upstate New York, so I’ve gotten back to this particular creative outlet. I’ve been re-listing candy in my shop. I guess I sell about 25 varieties and have been slowly getting them all back out there.

In the last few days I’ve made a couple different concoctions. First, I made a dipped candy that is similar to Mounds bars, but a little more robust and chewier. It has a center of coconut mixed with a cooked candy syrup that is then dipped into tempered chocolate.

coconut joys-4I also made a couple of batches of a spicy bark—dark chocolate, with toasted pumpkin seeds and dried sour cherries in it. It is souped up with cinnamon and some hotter spices, for a warm glow when you eat it. I made two batches because it is my mother’s very favorite and, since I was making it for a customer, I thought I better give my mom her fix, too!

The traditional way to make bark is to get the chocolate in temper, add the inclusions and then spread the mix, free form, on parchment paper. Then when the chocolate has set, you cut it or break it apart.

spicy bark-5When I made this bark yesterday, I did most of it that way but then made some into candy bars, using molds. I like the way they look (see that nice shine? The chocolate was in perfect temper!) but you can’t just break a little bite off, for a nibble, like you can with the traditional bark. What do you think? Is one form more appealing than the other?

choco barsI’m sure I’ll be back here, talking about chocolate as the months go by. I may even write up a lesson on how to temper chocolate, so you can make some of my goodies for yourself!