So, as you’ve figured out if you read any of this blog, I’m considered a “local” small business owner. My other half and I (with our daughter) are running the candy business. He and I also own another local small business (CC Fine Furniture). So every year at this time, I start to encourage folks to shop local for their holiday gifts.
I’m proud to say that last year I did buy a few holiday gifts from local handmade vendors at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Christmas Crafts Village and other events. This year I’d like to take that further. I am going to try to buy all of my holiday gifts from local businesses/ makers. I have to admit, this is harder for me than it should be. I love to shop online. I tend to search for the best deal and frequent those big chain stores more than I should .
So I’m going to post about my experience shopping local. I’ll be posting about some great places/ events to do your local shopping at as well. And I’m going to be featuring any vendor/ local shop that I buy from in future blog posts.
I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to join me on this adventure and I’ll try to feature your experiences too.
In the excitement of the summer, and the launch of our new Candy company we entered our fudge into the Orange County Fair.
Among entries from all over the state our creamy and smooth chocolate fudge took the 2nd place ribbon!
Our chocolate fudge took highest marks in FLAVOR, TEXTURE and CONSISTENCY, with just a few points on appearance (the winner was in foil cups) between us and the blue ribbon.
I can’t wait for everyone to try some for themselves!
I’ve learned to love me some brittle! Over the years we decided to try something amazing. ALMOND BRITTLE!
I’ve never been much of a fan of Peanut Brittle…so I have to admit I didn’t think this would be all that. But it’s melt in your mouth good!
I should explain at this point, that I’m allergic to nuts. This is where people usually freak out. How can I have Peanut Brittle or Almond Brittle? The truth is that neither is a nut. Peanuts are legumes (like a bean) and almonds are a fruit. Why the FDA hasn’t corrected this is beyond me, but it’s true. Almonds are not actually nuts. So, it’s become our favorite substitute for nuts…or legumes as some people have that allergy as well. I’ve heard of just a very few people who are allergic to Almonds, so it’s really the safest choice.
OK back to the point. Almond brittle was Amazing. It had a wonderful snap and then melted in my mouth. Perfection. So it finally occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t the almonds, but our recipe for the brittle candy itself that was so wonderful.
Enter a friend with extra Blood Oranges. They just asked to be squeezed and zested.
And ultimately put into the brittle!
The house smelled wonderful and Blood Orange Brittle tasted as good as we thought.
So I wondered what else would work. . .and as I made another batch of Browned Butter Almond Brittle, I decided to throw in a few dried cranberries and viola! A little bit of tart to sprinkle into that wonderful rich sweet flavor.
A little progression. . and that urge to put chocolate with everything and we get to our Cranberry & White Chocolate Brittle. (soon to be entered in the OC Fair!)
I don’t typically prefer white chocolate, but the combinations of flavors here is just heavenly.
This is my new favorite brittle!!
As I mentioned I made the mistake of telling him that there was a Gingerbread contest a few Christmases back (2011). He dove into it with the usual excitement he has for the holiday. It was exhausting to me. We were at least allowed to do some of the work before we got there. Hence the poured sugar windows and putting the main structure together the night before. And as usual he went for bigger and badder. A three storied house with windows and slanted roofs.
But the finishing touches. . the actual application of the candy had to be done onsite. He had just one hour to cram all the candy on to decorate this huge house.
I loved all of the kids watching him work. Sitting at the front of the store all of the kids stopped to watch (big kids too). And all of the customers that day got to vote on which Gingerbread house they liked the best.
And lo and behold . . . he won!!
I’m not sure if the plan was genius or insanity. Heck maybe a bit of both.
A few Christmases ago, I made the mention of a Gingerbread House contest at our local JoAnn’s and Randy was off. A chance to play with candy! A chance to show off! It was too good to pass up.
I’ll be talking more about this amazing house on it’s own. . but this is about a technique he just had to play with. Could he pour melted, colored sugar candies and create windows?
You’ll notice the oven mitt – it takes a lot of heat in that little pan to melt sugar candies. Oh that little pan – it was a gag gift of a child’s toy camping set. Who knew the pans would actually work. (I expect you’ll see more of those later.)
Not only did it work for the windows, but it worked to pour into cookie molds to make some sugar Christmas trees as well!
We’ll have to see what else we can create with this technique.