Wednesday, December 16

A Sugar Plums Recipe and A Field Guide to Candy Cookbook Give-Away!

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Have you ever wondered why it's called "salt water taffy" when there's no salt water in it? How about how to make gummy bears or homemade marshmallow chicks (yup, I'm talking about Peeps)?

If so, then treat yourself to a copy of Anita Chu's Field Guide to Candy from Quirk Books. While you're at it, you might want to treat a foodie friend to a copy as well because it's a great Christmas gift. (In full disclosure, I am writing two books for Quirk Books. They have donated this book for the give-away, but I am not being remunerated for this post.)




This little book is packed full with over 100 candy recipes that are divided into playful categories, such as "cream, sticky, chewy," "nutty," and "fun and simple classics." Anita includes just about every type of candy imaginable from American classics, such as Peppermint Patties, Caramel Corn, and Gumdrops to international confections, such as Chinese Date-Walnut Candy, Sesame Halva, and French Pralines. Each recipe is preceded by a brief history that offers both informative facts and quirky food history tidbits.

Just reading through the book will likely give you a much greater appreciation for candy-making, which can be quite challenging. To help you out, each recipe comes with handy icons reminding you to, say, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or to use a food processor. Anita's instructions are clear and detailed, though some recipes require candy-making skills and/or lots of patience (which I sorely lack). Fortunately, there are plenty of beginner-level candy recipes for those of us who aren't yet ready to tackle marzipan fruit. There are also attractive color photos of all of the candies as well as a thorough introduction to candy making, including essential kitchen tools and notes on working with chocolate and sugar.


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You can roll sugar plums in either shredded coconut or confectioners' sugar.

Since it's Christmas time, I chose to make Anita's Sugar Plums recipe. Anita writes, "When visions of sugarplums dance in children's heads, it would be interesting to know exactly what sugarplums they dream of." She explains that historically "sugarplums," referred to a wide variety of candies, but more recently have come to refer to "soft, sticky balls of dried fruits and nuts, often rolled in shredded coconut or confectioners' sugar. They do not necessarily contain plums."

According to Anita, "Sugarplums were immortalized in Clement Clarke Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicolas" and "Tchaikovsky's Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker." Hence our association of sugarplums with Christmas. That's why I'm adding my sugarplums to the stash of Christmas cookies we've got here.

Want to share in our big, festive Eat Christmas Cookies event? Find out how here. The deadline is Sunday, December 20th at midnight PST.



Now for the give-away! To enter for a chance to win a copy of Field Guide to Candy, just tell me why you'd like to win the book. The deadline is Saturday, December 19th. The winner must provide his or her full name and mailing address. As an extra bonus, if you have submitted a cookie to the Eat Christmas Cookies event, or do so by the 19th, you will double your chances of winning the book. Good luck!

And don't forget to enter for a chance to win a nifty foodie art reusable tote bag by California artist, Nicole Docimo. Deadline is Thursday, December 17th

Update: December 21st: Congratulations to Rocquie of Sage Trifle who won Nicole's tote bag and Annalise of Palate Pioneer who won the Field Guide to Candy!

Sugarplums 
(Recipe from Field Guide to Candy by Anita Chu; Quirk Books, 2009.)
Makes about 30
Print recipe only here.

2 cups almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup pitted dates
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
Unsweetened flaked coconut for rolling

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

2. Combine almonds, apricots, dates, cinnamon, and zest in a food processor and process into a finely ground mixture.

3. Add orange juice and honey, and combine until the mixture becomes a sticky ball.

4. Pinch off pieces of the mixture and form into 1-inch balls. Roll in coconut. Place on the baking sheet for about 1 hour until firm.

Notes: You can substitute the fruits and nuts in this recipe. Dried cherries, figs, or raisins work well, as would hazelnuts, pistachios, or pecans. Try adding chopped candied ginger or candied citrus peel.

You might also like these easy-peasy Christmas candies and cookies from Food Blogga:
Mom's Peanut Butter Fudge
Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Hello Dolly Cookie Bars

Anita Chu writes the delicious blog, Dessert First, and is also the author of the successful Field Guide to Cookies.

50 comments:

Aj Schwanz said...

I'd love to win this book because I bake cookies. This afternoon I tried to make caramel corn: DISaster. I believe I need melting sugar advice.

suburban prep said...

I would love to win because I am getting a bit more daring in what I make in the kitchen. I have started off small when it comes to candy but this book sounds like it would be a help.

Mom24 said...

I want to learn to make candy, and I know this is one of the best. Thanks for the chance.

lisaiscooking said...

I love making homemade candy, and this sounds like a great book to add to my collection. The sugar plums look fantastic too.

Gale Reeves said...

I'm working more with sugar/syrup and that means candy. I would enjoy adding this book to my library. Thanks for the give away.

BONNIE K said...

i would like to win because I am a big kid at heart and I LOVE CANDY and would love to make some!

Kathy - Panini Happy said...

Wait - there's no salt water in salt water taffy?? Clearly, I need this book! :-)

Vicki said...

Who wouldn't want to win this book! Candy candy candy candy...

Jess said...

I could definetly save some money by making my own candy. I go through enough of it :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Delicious looking sugerplums!

Cheers,

Rosa

rookie cookie said...

I have dreams of being that neighbor that gives out fudge, taffy and caramels at Christmas. Too bad I have yet to successfully make any of those.

JenB said...

I'd like to win because I love Alton Brown style info/recipes and this sounds just like that!

Sean said...

Yeah...tried candy work this past year and it didn't go so well. A lot of sticky mess and cleaning up. I'm kinda surprised I didn't get any candy burns in the process!

Ivy said...

Those sugarplums sound delicious. Love anything with fruit and nuts in it. I'd love to learn how to make candies.

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I'd love to win this book! Candy's are the one thing that I haven't really forayed into, this would give me the necessary push!

Bellini Valli said...

The book sounds full of excellent sweets Susan.

Cancemini4 said...

Because I finally bought a candy thermometer and still need to break it in!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Wow, those sugar plums sound and look wonderful. I love the idea of making candy - although my experience is limited. Would love to learn more!

Deeba PAB said...

Those sugar plums looks gorgeous Susan. I'd love to win coz I have no candy books...nom nom nom!

Cindy said...

I love your recipes. The sugarplums are a healthy candy option.

Joanna said...

I'd love to learn how to make various candy!

jojo17 at gmail dot com

Grace said...

so THAT'S what sugar plums are. good to know. i'd like the book for one simple and straightforward reason--so i make and eat more cookies.

Alexa said...

Susan,
Another great recipe to add to my must-try list. My daughter has been wanting to learn how to make homemade candies--this book would be a great way to get her started.

sholamith said...

Reading about this book reminds me that my grandfather and great grandfather had a tobacco and confectionary shop. My father remembers helping to make candy. When my sisters and I were children, he would make taffy for us to have taffy pulls. I would love to have this book. Making candy reminds me of my family's history.

squirrelbread said...

My boyfriend and I are serious [non-professional] cooks, bakers and ice cream makers. The one thing we don't know much about is candy-making. For Christmas we made a couple batches of Fleur de Sel caramels, which turned out great, but we'd love an opportunity to learn and try our hands more with different recipes!

Cheers and Happy Holidays,

*Heather8

elly said...

You know, I have NEVER had a sugar plum! They sound and look so good, I need to give them a try.

I'd love to win the book because my candy-making experience is practically nonexistent. I would definitely like to have some great recipes in my repertoire and of course experiment with some delicious candies!

Carrie W. said...

I love the idea of candy-making, but the few times I've tried it, it's been apparent that I lack the skill! A candy cookbook could be just what I need to successfully make the homemade candies I remember from my childhood.

Annelise Kelly said...

I have a little experience making candy: VERY successful chocolate caramels (from the Saveur website). I'd love to expand my repertoire, and those Sugar Plums--well, they look like perfectly virtuous fare... little hippie energy balls. Yum!

foodie ffanatic said...

I would love to give the Field Guide to Candy cookbook to my (adult) daughter. She's as much of a foodie as I am. I gave her the Field Guide to Cookies cookbook last year for Christmas. (Oh, and I do have Jen's Heavenly Confectioner's Sugar Cookies in your Eat Christmas Cookies Season 3 Round Up.) {foodie ffanatic - Dani H - dd.h930@gmail.com}

Kristin said...

I would love to win this book. I love making candy. This year my brother is home from California for the first time in eight years. We made my moms caramels.

Leah said...

I'd like to win this book because I'm always looking for new candy recipes to try out for the holidays every year.

Debbie said...

The sugar plums look delicious Susan...I'd love the book since I don't have any books on how to make candy in my cookbook collection!!!

ThatGirlRuns said...

My husband calls me "Candy Squirrel" at times. I like to stash. Enough said!

The Teacher Cooks said...

Making some types of candy is an art or science. In other words, it can be difficult. This cookbook could teach me a thing or two.

ocm said...

I've been making more and more candy each year and this book looks AMAZING! I was so scared to try...and now, I jump on new items to try!! this book would add a lot to my limited candy recipe selection! :)

Katie @ goodLife {eats} said...

I'd love to win the book because I love candy, but haven't made it too much.

Brie: Le Grand Fromage said...

I would love to win this book so I can attempt to make organic candy with the recipes, like substituting honey for corn syrup, and see how they turn out.

Maria said...

Super cute candy! I adore Anita, she is such a sweetie! You can't go wrong with candy recipes!

Kitchenphobe said...

I would love to win the book to learn to make candy!!!

Kelsey B. said...

Thanks for introducing us to this great book and recipe!

Goody said...

I love candy making-I find it almost meditative, standing and watching the composition change as the temperature rises. I made two outrageously large batches of caramel today, but I've never been adventurous enough to make marshmallows.

http://www.eattheblog.blogspot.com

Lori said...

I have a lot of cookbooks but I have nothing on candy. I ventured into candy a little. It tastes so much better than store bought and you know exactly what you are putting in there.

vglong29 said...

I could become the most popular person at work by taking candy made from this book.

Vanillastrawberryspringfields said...

I love sugar plums and am in love with the sugar plum faries(love that stori) so am i in?
Oh the joy of candy making @ home!!!
Susan,i love how u leave in a sweet little note @ every cookie at d round up...thats v sweet indeed of ya!!!
bejinhos e boa fim de semana...
(wanna bake ur gorgeous biscotti tomo,hope can put up the post by 20th)

Kara said...

I'd love to win this book to drool over Anita's pictures and learn a little bit about making candy, especially anything caramel-related, as we never seem to get along. Thanks!

Unplanned Cooking said...

I'd love to win so I wouldn't have to run to the grocery store every time a candy craving hit.

myfrenchkitchen said...

These remind a bit of a cookie/sweetness I adore, with dates and cocnut etc..but this sound slike a lovely alternative and a good change...so why not try it out this season! A great recipe!
Ronell

saveur said...

A book about candy is always a wonderful addition to my bookshelf. :D

Katie said...

Mmmmm candy! I am the queen of baked goods, but I have yet to master candy yet! I am up for the challenge...

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

I loved Anita's first book about cookies (I cooked from it today!) so I'd love to check out her candy one, too!

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