In today’s locavore, organic-minded, food-crazed culture, we get so wrapped up in the idea of seasonal fruits and vegetables that it can be easy to forget another important, deep vein of seasonal foodstuff opportunities.
That is, candy.
There are candy canes for Christmas, gelt for Hanukkah and chocolate bunnies for Easter, not to mention sugary marshmallow Peeps. The candy universe is large and diverse, and there are more sophisticated forms of life out there – though probably not readily available at your local supermarket. So, with the aim of expanding my candy horizons, I had the idea to come up with some more adult confections.
I started with goat cheese. Beating some into almond butter, along with regular butter and confectioners’ sugar, made for a pan of almond candy bars grounded by a tart earthiness that toned down the sugar. And because these candy bars are savory-sweet, as opposed to cloying, I can eat more of them before my teeth start to ache.
It’s important to use a mild, soft goat cheese. You want a slight tang but not an overwhelming barnyard flavor. And if you really dislike the funkiness of goat cheese, you can use cream cheese instead. The candy will be sweeter and not as complex tasting, but the recipe will still work.
Using salted licorice as my inspiration, I decided to try combining sweet licorice and sea salt with chocolate brigadeiros, which are luscious Brazilian fudge balls coated thickly with chocolate sprinkles.
To make my version, I melted soft pellets of black licorice with sweetened condensed milk, then stirred in unsweetened chocolate. The chocolate gave the candy a bitter edge and helped firm it up. (Without the chocolate, the candy is sweeter and stickier.) I also dusted sea salt over the sprinkles. The candies, which looked just like chocolate truffles, were creamy, smooth and just salty enough, while still remaining firmly planted on the sweet side of things. I adored them.
Both the brigadeiros and the candy bars were extremely easy to put together, no special equipment needed.
The last recipe I tried, for soft caramels, is slightly more persnickety, requiring a candy thermometer. Soft caramels are not inherently elegant, so I flavored them gently with black pepper and a dash of bourbon. It was just enough to make things interesting.
For a printable copy of the recipes, click the links: