text and photographs by Sharon Kitchens of Delicious Musings
Can you believe we are already one week into December?! Time for Americans to consume a ridiculous amount of desserts. These are not your everyday convenience store bought treats, but rarer homemade ones like fruitcake made by your great-aunt and fudge by a friend from farming country way up in northern Maine.
Felicia Buck is married to Brent, a 2nd generation potato farmer who has run Buck Farms with his two brothers since 1998. They live in Mapleton in the heart of Maine’s potato country. Growing up Felicia’s father hated Christmas. “He loved the music and cooking,” she said. “He hated giving gifts, decorating, shopping, and did not want to do Christmas cards. He grew up very poor, so they did not have a lot and Christmas didn’t mean the same when you could not give gifts.” Her mother loved Christmas, and because Felicia’s father liked the food part, Felicia said her mother always made sure there were all kinds of treats. “If there was a school thing we’d make the sugar cookies, the hard candy, go around caroling and deliver food to the neighbors,” she said. “Now a days people don’t do that as much.”
With the help of her friends Darcey, Kelly, Bethany, and Heather she has created a new holiday tradition making irresistible treats. For the past five years, Felicia has opened up her home for a day of candy making. Last year I joined the group’s sugariest and had a ball.
The following recipes from Felicia (Hubbard) Buck are meant for you to enjoy in private (that’s right!) or share with your co-workers or family. Fa la la la la, la la la la… sugar rush here we come!!!
Hard Candy – LorAnn Oils Regular Batch
**You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe.
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
¾ cup water
1 tsp LorAnn Gourmet Flavoring (flavor selection here online and you might be able to find in a drug store or Walmart)
½ tsp liquid food coloring
Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in 2-quart saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil without stirring. When syrup temperature reaches 260, add color. Do not stir; boiling action will incorporate color into syrup. Remove from heat at 300 or when drops of syrup form hard, brittle threads in cold water. After boiling action ceases, stir in flavoring. Avoid rising steam when stirring. Pour syrup into lightly oiled candy molds or only greased cookie sheet and score with knife to form bite-size pieces. When cool, break into pieces and dust with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Will keep a few months if stored in an airtight container with confectioners sugar.
• If you want to create purple try mixing blue and red, but for a real purple you will need to buy purple food coloring.
• The flavors are intense, and when added to the pot it turns into a strong enough vapor that you will probably want to open a window or two.
• Use old cookie sheets you don’t care about as they will get scratched up. Mark the bottom of each “candy” pan with an “x” or store with holiday decorations so they are easy to find.
• Really butter the sheets or the candy will stick to them.
• If you can, take the sheet or molds into the garage or onto the porch where cool air will help facilitate the cutting process by making the candy cool and thus harden faster.
• Use a pizza cutter, not a knife, when first scoring during the cooling process.
• Dip the pizza cutter in butter so it will not stick.
• Simplify the powdered sugar process by having a bowl of confectioners sugar ready to toss the broken pieces into.
• If gifting and/or just for your own purposes, separate the different flavored candy into Ziploc bags – otherwise one flavor might take on another flavor. If this is not an issue for you, disregard.
12 ounces (or smaller bag) of unwrapped soft caramels, cut in half
6 oz (about 1.5 cups) toasted pecan halves
5 ounce bag Hershey Kisses
Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place pecan halves flat side down in rows. Place one (half) piece caramel on each. Cook six minutes at 350. Remove from oven and immediately place a Hershey Kiss on top of each. Let cool.
No Fail Chocolate Fudge from Felicia’s friend Heidi Currier who got it from a member of her church – Felicia’s daughters’ favorite holiday treat
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 Tbsp butter
1 2/3 cup sugar – Felicia prefers Domino vs. store brands
½ tsp salt
2 cups marshmallows
1 ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate bits
½ cup nuts
Mix evaporated milk, butter, sugar, and salt in sauce pan and let boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Take away from the heat and add marshmallows. Stir until melted and then add chocolate bits and add nuts. Pour into 8 inch greased pan.
Put in fridge to harden so you can cut up. Will keep 2-3 weeks covered in fridge.
And, while you’re at it…homemade peanut butter cups – because the only thing that might be as good as nuts/chocolate and whiskey is chocolate and nuts (ground or not). **Recipe on card in last picture.