Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

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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If you have ever eaten a chocolate that’s shaped and wrapped in foil to resemble a ladybug, football, sneaker, coin, pansy, turkey, Christmas present, miniature Santa, poker chip, or globe, it’s a good chance it came from the Madelaine Chocolate Company.

Since 1949 when brothers-in-law Henry Kaye and Jack Gold founded the chocolate company in a compact loft in New York City, it has specialized in foil-wrapped chocolates—particularly seasonal items like Easter eggs and miniature Santas.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to chat with Henry Kaye’s granddaughter, Estee Farber, who entered the family business seven years ago and is now the company’s marketing director.

For the record, it took no arm twisting for Estee to come to work in the family chocolate factory, which is now located in Rockaway Beach, NY. “I think I always knew I would like to work in the business,” she says. (Um, hello, Willy Wonka dream come true.)

Now here’s an interesting fact that I really should put in a sidebar, but I’m plunking it right here instead: The Madelaine Chocolate Company is named after Madeleine Carroll, a beautiful British actress who starred in a few Alfred Hitchcock movies. According to Estee, her grandfather had a crush on Miss Carroll back in the day. He and his brother-in-law also thought her first name had a nice ring to it, so they made it the company name with a slightly different spelling, Madelaine vs. Madeleine. (I wonder if the starlet ever knew she had a chocolate company named after her?)

At any rate, The Madelaine Chocolate Company got its start with tiny foiled chocolate eggs made with Peter’s Chocolate. Madelaine’s still uses Peter’s Chocolate, a brand now owned by Cargill, Incorporated.

The beautiful foils used to wrap the chocolates were originally found in Italy and still come from Italy. (Look directly below at photo of Madelaine’s assembly line workers back in the 1950s looking awfully lovingly at bunnies about to get “foiled.”)


According to Estee, the company’s most popular “everyday” items coming off the line today are celebratory chocolate cigars in gold, pink, and blue foils. (My husband, proud as a little peacock, gave these out when our two kids were born.) In the Christmas category, Estee says the foiled miniatures (Santas, presents, balls, and snowmen) are perennial favorites. The minis also happen to be the company’s best-selling items overall.

This Easter, the company is rolling out new Dueggs, which are egg-shaped, double-filled milk chocolate truffles. (One of the Dueggs truffle varieties is half filled with marshmallow, the other half caramel. Double yum!)

Double-filled Duegs Truffle

The Dueggs are a spin-off of Madelaine’s Duets double-filled truffles, which launched in March 2010 and won the NCSA’s best new product award.

Double-filled Duets Truffle

Estee says her family’s chocolate company is also working on expanding its seasonal line of Duets for Holiday 2012 with new flavor combinations and holiday-themed packaging. (Just in case Estee is reading this, I vote for a peppermint-milk truffle flavor combination.)

Below is a snapshot of some really cool items from the Madelaine Chocolate Company’s Holiday 2010 Collection: (Click on each image for more product information. Click here for all Madelaine products available at Candy.com.)

Christmas Tree Tower Keepsake

Penguin Giftable (really cute!)

Santa With Presents Gift Box

Miniature Santas Gift Bag (great hostess gift)

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Taste

Aroma

Appearance

Price


Gulp. Right after Thanksgiving dinner at my house, I’m going to let all of the junior guests create gingerbread cottages.

I say “cottages” because I’m going to hot glue graham crackers together ahead of time, and if you’ve ever done it, it’s easiest to keep the structure modest: four short walls and one roof. Besides, McMansions are so 2002.

I’ve got green, white, and chocolate frosting at the ready along with Dots, Twizzlers, mini candy canes, holiday M&M’s, Skittles, Hershey Candy Kane Kisses, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, Peeps snowman, and Peeps Christmas trees.

Am I missing any items you’ve found successful in the construction/decoration of gingerbread houses?

I think I may need Tootsie Roll Midgees and cherry fruit rolls for campfires outside each cottage.

I plan on a follow-up blog post to show you the finished products, let you know which candies worked best for the build outs, and any interesting home decor/exterior items the kids dreamed up during construction.

In the meantime, please do send me any tips for creating killer gingerbread houses. I’m all ears!

(Speaking of tips, I recently came across the book No Bake Gingerbread Houses for Kids, which has some great examples of gingerbread houses constructed out of graham crackers, cookies, ice cream cones, and waffle bowls. Another good resource is Martha Stewart’s photo gallery of no-bake gingerbread houses and cookie cottages.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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Candy lovers are a passionate bunch. We’re big on learning about candy and the stories behind the brands. We love to talk about the sweet stuff, consume it, and share it. (Heck, if that weren’t true, Candy.com wouldn’t have 55,000+ Facebook Fans.)

So, periodically in this blog, I’m going to put a spotlight on a select candy manufacturer to give you the who behind some of your favorite brands as well as brands you might not know about … yet.

The first who in my “Meet the Candy Makers” series is the Kimmie Candy Company.

This candy maker fascinates me for a handful of reasons:

- It’s only 10 years old, which is young for the majorly mature candy industry.

- Kimmie Candy’s founder, Joe Dutra, is an international agronomist who grew up in a farming family in California. At one point in his own farming career, Joe farmed for a prince in Saudi Arabia.

- Kimmie Candy is one of a few US companies to manufacture overseas and then move all operations to US soil. Kimmie Candy products were manufactured in Korea until 2008 when Joe opened headquarters in Reno, Nevada.

- The company is named after a family friend who offhandedly said the company should be named after her. And so it was.

You may be wondering how this US candy company got its start in Korea. It was actually a bit of a fluke. One of Joe Dutra’s employees at the time told him about a container full of chocolate-covered sunflower kernels from Korea that was left at a San Francisco dock. Looking to diversify, Joe purchased the container.

That container led to more. Joe was sending U.S. sunflower seeds to Korea for candy coating, which were then shipped back to California for packaging.

Then, Sept. 11 hit, which was a major turning point for the candy company. “I became patriotic,” says Joe. “I was living in a community, but I wasn’t bringing anything back to it.”

After several business hiccups, including a lawsuit from Mars, Joe convinced his Korean panner (a confectioner who applies a candy shell to candy and nuts) to move to America and purchase equipment for US production in Reno, Nevada.

With all operations now in Reno, Joe says he’s expecting 30% to 40% growth by year end.

“We really are living the American Dream,” says Joe, who has welcomed his own two grown children into the Kimmie Candy Company. “It’s a pleasure to come to work everyday.”

The Goods
Kimmie Candy’s line of panned candy products includes three brands: Choco Rocks, Sunbursts, and Kettle Corn Nuggets, as well as  Jordan almonds. (Click on each image below for detailed product information.)

According to Mark Bedingfield, Kimmie Candy’s sales director, the Choco Rocks are currently the company’s best seller. Mark says the gold, silver, and bronze Choco Rocks Boulders and Choco Rocks Nuggets are getting quite a bit of attention from candy retailers and party planners.

It’s easy to see why. The large chunks of composite milk and dark chocolate coated in edible metallic glitters are pure eye candy in glass containers.

Gold Choco Boulders

Kimmie’s candy-coated sunflower kernels, Sunbursts, have also caught the eye of party planners, retailers, and bakers because they’re available in 18 solo colors plus an all-natural mix and several holiday mixes. The glossy Sunbursts’ little seed shape lends itself to cake and cupcake decorating and mixing with other panned candies like Kimmie’s Kettle Corn Nuggets and Jordan Almonds.

Sunbursts Natural Mix

The Kettle Corn Nuggets (roasted corn nuggets coated in milk chocolate with a colorful candy shell) is the newest product in Kimmie’s lineup, and, like all Kimmie products, is available in holiday colors and mixes.

Kettle Corn Nuggets Christmas Mix

Sunbursts Hanukkah Mix

Choco Rocks Black Coal

Red Jordan Almonds

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