Make Your Own Candy Bars
Corner-store sweets go high-end
Here’s the thing with nostalgia: Memories betray you. Those candy bars that you remember loving are stuffed full of waxy chocolate, weird fillers, and preservatives. Try our souped-up take on four beloved candy bars. Give the store-bought stuff to the kids, and save these for yourself. And, for crafty extra credit, download the wrappers for each candy.
Our take on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup™, this is the easiest and most universally loved of the bunch.
The CHOW version of an Almond Joy™ requires a bit more concentration than the Peanut Butta Cups but is still simple enough for first-time candy makers.
For our adaptation of a Twix™, you’ll make the shortbread cookie and caramel filling and dip it all in chocolate.
To delve further into the art and science of candy and chocolate making, turn to these books.
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
By Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage
(Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2005)
San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti is as thoughtful as he is creative in this cookbook-meets-encyclopedia. There are plenty of resources and tips to get you going.
CookWise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed
By Shirley O. Corriher
(William Morrow Cookbooks, 1997)
This book discusses the whys and hows of everything from eggs to chocolate, with recipes that illustrate Corriher’s points.
The Great Book of Chocolate
By David Lebovitz
(Ten Speed Press, 2004)
Though it’s tall, skinny, and seems like a light read, this book is a great resource. Lebovitz takes you on a tour of the chocolate world while conveying the wisdom of his experience as a pastry chef.
Here are the most common terms you’ll come across as your candy-making odyssey begins. You’ll also want to take a look at our behind-the-scenes video.
Bloom: The gray mottling that sometimes appears on the surface of chocolate is a result of extremes in heat or humidity. Chocolate stored in a fridge is subject to too much humidity, which causes the sugars to crystallize. If your chocolate is too warm, it will melt slightly and the fats will separate out. While not aesthetically pleasing, the chocolate is still usable and edible. The only risk is that chocolate with sugar bloom may seize since it has been exposed to moisture.
Couverture: Chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa butter (at least 32 percent). It is used to enrobe candy because it forms a very thin coating when properly tempered.
Enrobe: Dipping or coating candies in chocolate.
Seed: One of the most common methods of tempering chocolate is the seed method. Because it requires the fewest tools and is the easiest to master, it is the method we recommend for the home cook. To do so, melt two-thirds to three-quarters of the total weight of chocolate you’re working with, and once it has reached 118 degrees Fahrenheit (for milk chocolate), add in the remaining chocolate (also referred to as the seed).
Seize: When melted chocolate comes in contact with even a small amount of liquid or steam, it hardens and becomes lumpy, a condition known as seizing. When working with chocolate, be diligent about keeping everything dry to avoid this. If seizing occurs, whisk 1 tablespoon of a neutral oil (such as canola, corn, or vegetable), clarified butter, or cocoa butter into every 6 ounces of chocolate. The repaired chocolate is still usable in most recipes unless you’re planning on tempering.
Temper: The method of melting and cooling chocolate in order to stabilize its crystal structure. Tempering makes chocolate shiny, with a good snap when you break it. Most baking recipes do not require tempering, but it is essential when enrobing chocolate confections.