Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Build your best Gingerbread House ever … and don’t be shy with the candy decorations! Candy.com and MyCandyCrafts.com are sponsoring a 2011 Gingerbread House Competition …

The competition is open to bakers of all ages and skill levels, and the winning baker/builder will receive a $75 Gift Certificate to Candy.com or MyCandyCrafts.com. Winner’s choice!

To enter, just go to https://www.candy.com/Gingerbread-House-2011-Contest_ep_94-1.html and follow instructions to submit your original photographs of your gingerbread house, along with a brief (300 words or less) description of your project. There is no limit to the number of entries per person, but each entry must be a different gingerbread house. (Gingerbread “houses” can also be other structures such as a windmill, boat, candy shop, etc.)

The deadline to receive photos and project descriptions is December 15, 2011, so fire up your rolling pin and get cracking!

Winners will be announced on Dec. 20, 2011, and will be unveiled in a blog post, right here, so keep your eyes peeled. Thank you in advance to all who participate! We’re looking forward to seeing and sharing your great work!

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in Candy, Christmas, Contests, Holidays

Starbucks cups are dressed in red, Target’s Christmas aisles are up and twinkling, and peppermint candy canes are selling like hotcakes at Candy.com. This can only mean one thing. It’s game on for holiday party season.

That said, I did a little holiday party planning homework for you by contacting two prominent party planning/candy buffet experts to find out which candies they’ll be using on their clients’ holiday dessert tables and what trends they’re noticing as the holidays draw near. Here’s the skinny …

“Out with traditional red and green, and in with unique pairs like red and aqua, red and pink, and silver and white!” That’s the holiday hue forecast from Courtney Dial, founder and editor of Pizzazzerie, co-founder of The Bakery Spot, and author of the new book Push-up Pops, which is now available for pre-order.

Courtney’s forecast closely matches Pantone’s Color of the Year 2011 – Turquoise 15-5519, and Color of the Year 2010 – Honeysuckle Pink 18-2120.

To get Courtney’s modern and chic color palettes to really pop on a dessert table, try using SweetWorks’ new Celebration Collection of single-color candies, which includes Sixlets, Gumballs, and Candy Pearls in matte and shimmer options as well as foiled chocolate hearts and balls. (Click on any of the SweetWorks candies below to learn more.)

According to Courtney,  “Retro Holiday” is also hot. To set the stage for a nostalgic vibe, she suggests candies like Mallo Cups, old-fashioned candy sticks, and thin ribbon candy, and using wax lips as a sweet prop in a photo booth station. “Of course everything on a stick is as popular as ever,” she adds, “so use a bit of royal icing ‘glue’ to attach the wax lips to a lollipop stick.”

Courtney’s also a big fan of gingerbread decorating parties. “Whether it’s a princess pink gingerbread house theme or a traditional one, kids and adults alike absolutely go crazy over decorating sweet houses for the holidays,” she says.

Last year, Courtney hosted a Holiday Pink Tea Party where the guests created pink and white gingerbread houses. “It was a huge hit,” she says. Looking at her blog post and photos, yes it was.

Photos courtesy of Pizzazzerie

When asked what specific candy Courtney and her team favor during the holidays, Courtney offers up the peppermint stick. “They’re the cutest treat to serve alongside a hot chocolate bar or dip in chocolate for an extra-sweet favor,” she explains.

Courtney suggests building a peppermint candy station at holiday parties and letting kids dip their peppermints in milk and white chocolate and add a variety of colored sprinkles. Cute!

Marie Dannettelle, the founder of California-based Sweets Indeed, a company that specializes in high-end custom candy and dessert stations, says she consistently gets rave reviews when she includes caramels, peppermint bark, and homemade toffee on a holiday dessert table. Another of Marie’s perennial favorites? Gumdrops.

“To me, it’s not the holidays unless there’s a bowl of spice drops (gumdrops) around,” she explains. “In past years, we’ve even used them to make wreaths, trees, topiaries, necklaces, and more! One of these days I’ll create a dessert station centered around them.”

Candy.com now has mini and jumbo gumdrops to create the coolest Gingerbread House on the cul-de-sac. (For more product info, click on the gumdrops image above.)

For the 2011 holiday season, Marie also says she’s going to mix it up and stay away from traditional red and green. “I think pastels will make a big show in Christmas decor this year, especially in the desserts and candy section,” she says.

To achieve the softer holiday schematic for her clients, Marie is looking to Hammond’s Candy for its hand-pulled candy canes, candy ribbons, pillows, and straw candies offered in non-traditional, yet highly festive colors like bubble gum pink, berry blue, and sour apple green.

Marie and her team are also relying on their own handmade holiday Candy Kabobs to punch up holiday parties. (Candy Kabobs are available for purchase at SweetsIndeed.com.) The candy combinations and themes are crazy creative, vibrant, and fun. Here are a few teasers …

Photos courtesy of Sweets Indeed and The Pixel Studio

Many thanks to Courtney and Marie for their holiday party tips, trends, and go-to candies!

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There has been quite a bit of talk on Twitter and the food blogs this week over the classic combination of peppermint and chocolate.

Slashfood came out with a slide show of The Best Peppermint Treats. (Spoiler alert: Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares, Dove Peppermint Bark Promises, and Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses made the cut.)

Cybele May of CandyBlog.net just gave Russell Stover’s Peppermint Bark Snowman a favorable review.

Today on MarthaStewart.com, editor Amy Conway, posts a super-simple Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwich made with crushed candy canes and chocolate wafers.

This all makes me wonder …

What’s your favorite Peppermint-Chocolate Treat?

Is it …

- Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares

- Dove Peppermint Promises

- Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses

- York Peppermint Patties

- Andes Mints (did you know Andes Mints are now available as baking chips? I just spied them at Target!)

- Junior Mints (must see heart-shaped Junior Mints!)

- Williams-Sonoma’s Peppermint Bark

- Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

… or something else?

Name your peppermint-chocolate poison after this post or on Facebook. Mine? Dove’s Peppermint Bark Promises. One bite, tons of choco-pepperminty bark.

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Are you staring at your computer screen like a deer in the headlights because you have no idea what to get Aunt Tilly, Grandpa Harry, or Cousin Eddie? Never fear.

I’ve got six goof-proof gift ideas for you. All will arrive by Christmas if you order by Wed., Dec. 22.  (Click on each photo for product details.)

A gift pretty enough to double as a centerpiece.

Hand out these milk chocolate bars to difficult relatives during the holidays and watch sparks fly.

For die-hard Bonomo Turkish Taffy fans, this gift is better than a shiny new car or sparkly diamonds.

Here's a gift Santa would covet. Ghirardelli packed its reusable sleigh with cookies, hot cocoa, and a handful of chocolate squares.

Godiva's gift basket not only looks impressive, but it also covers a major food group.

This spirited chocolate trio has New Year's Eve written all over it.

And here’s a gift for you. It’s my goof-proof recipe for English Toffee that tastes like Heath Bars. I have never ruined a batch, and that’s huge for me. So, I’m dead serious when I say these are “goof-proof.”

To-Die-For English Toffee

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

In heavy saucepan melt butter. Add sugars and water. Mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When candy thermometer measures 300 F, remove mixture from heat.

Quickly and carefully pour mixture onto ungreased cookie sheet. Spread with a knife to form an even layer. While toffee is still hot, sprinkle on chocolate chips and spread. Sprinkle nuts over chocolate. Refrigerate until candy is set. Break into pieces of desired size.

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