Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Popcorn Cake

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 12
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Popcorn Cake
(Rita Meyer)

1 (10.5 oz.) bag marshmallows (mini or large)
4 tbsp. butter
6 to 8 cups popped popcorn
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup M&M’s
1 cup gummy bears

Butter a bundt pan.

In large bowl, melt marshmallows and butter together in microwave (about one and a half to two minutes). Stir well. Mix in the next four ingredients. Spoon into buttered bundt pan.  Press down slightly.  

Let the mixture set before removing from the pan.

“Jujubes, red licorice bites or any chewy candy you like can be substituted for the gummy bears,” said Rita, who writes The Visitor’s ‘From the Home Front’ column. “It’s my sister Kathy’s favorite Christmas treat. I’ve made it since my high school days.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anise Candy

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 11
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Anise Candy
(Ruth Catherine Peters)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
5-8 drops of anise oil
Red or green food coloring

Butter two cookie sheets.

Combine first three ingredients and cook until the mixture reaches 300°F (hard crack stage). Add the anise oil and food coloring. To make the hot mixture easier to remove from the candy kettle, tilt the kettle inside a stainless steel bowl. Drop the candy by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Work quickly. Remove drops when cooled. (Candy recipe can be doubled.)

 “This recipe for anise candy was given to my mother, Anna (Lodermeier) Schellinger by one of her nieces, Dorothy (Zurowski) Plantenberg, when I was a small child,” Ruth recalls. “My mother poured the anise syrup into a greased pan, then cooled, scored and broke it into pieces.”

Monday, December 20, 2010


Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 10
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Easy Divinity
(Jean Zwilling)

Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg
1 pkg. Betty Crocker Home Style® fluffy white frosting mix
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup boiling water
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Combine the dry frosting mix, corn syrup, vanilla and boiling water in a large mixing bowl. Beat (at the highest speed) until stiff peaks form — approximately five minutes. Gradually blend in the powdered sugar (using a low speed). Stir in nuts, if desired. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. When the outside of the candy feels firm, turn each one over and let them set for at least 12 hours. Store in an airtight container. 

Yield: approximately 60 to 72 pieces

“The recipe for this old-fashioned candy utilizes a frosting mix making it fast and easy to assemble,” explains Jean. “Occasionally I put a whole walnut on top of each piece instead of mixing into the candy.”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chocolate Mints

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 9
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Chocolate Mints
(Cyndi Schulzetenberge)

1 lb. white almond bark
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6 oz. chocolate chips
1 ¼ tsp. peppermint extract

Melt the first three ingredients over low heat. Add the peppermint extract. Spoon the candy into foil candy cups or into candy molds. Cool mints in the refrigerator.

“My only sister, Tina Eichers, gave me this recipe several years ago at Christmastime,” Cyndi recalls. “Tina, my three sisters-in-law, my stepmother, Doris Stalboerger, and I often made these chocolate mints together at our family Christmas baking day.” 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

English Toffee

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 8
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

English Toffee
(Ruth Catherine Peters)

1 lb. butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 cups raw almonds

Chocolate chips or dipping chocolate
Walnuts or pecans, crushed

To make this candy all ingredients should be at room temperature. You will need a flat bottom wooden spatula and a triple clad kettle — Ruth uses an old pressure cooker. Have buttered cookie sheets ready — Ruth uses three sheets to produce a thinner brittle.

Start the kettle on medium heat. Melt the butter and add the sugar, salt and almonds. Stir constantly. Do not touch the sides of the kettle but keep the bottom stirred. When the nuts rise to the surface and the syrup darkens, stir faster. Adjust the heat to keep the syrup bubbling — the faster the better. Pour out onto the buttered cookie sheets when the syrup has reached the hard crack stage (310 to 330°F).

When cooled, frost with melted chocolate chips or dipping chocolate. Sprinkle crushed walnuts or pecans over the chocolate. When the chocolate sets, flip the toffee over and repeat the process.

Store the candy in between layers of waxed paper.

“This recipe for English toffee requires candy-making skills, patience, endurance and strength of character,” said Ruth Catherine (Schellinger) Peters. “The recipe was given to my mother (Anna [Lodermeier] Schellinger) in 1950 by Nora (Bernauer) Donohue who lived across the street from our family on 14th Ave. S in St. Cloud. Nora was an employee at Jones Candy Shop on St. Germain in St. Cloud. The Schellinger family were members of St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.

A note from Carol: Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., Walter C. Jones learned the art of making candy in his hometown. As a young man, he worked for wholesale food companies and observed candy makers in Fargo, N.D.; St. Louis, Mo.; Peoria, Ill. and St. Paul before settling in St. Cloud in 1897. That year he opened Jones Candy Shop — a small confectionary — at 522 St. Germain where, in addition to making and selling candy, soft drinks and ice cream sundaes were also served. Ten years later in 1907, he constructed a brick building at 510 St. Germain, which is still in use today. There he opened a larger store by the same name, which was in existence until his retirement in 1941. Jones died at the age of 78 in 1948.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Popcorn Balls

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 7
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Popcorn Balls
(Jean Zwilling)

7½ qt. popped popcorn

Syrup for popcorn balls:
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. vinegar
1/3 tsp. cream of tartar
Pinch of baking soda
1 tbsp. butter, melted
Food coloring, if desired

Cook the corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, water and vinegar until the mixture reaches 250°F.  Then add the cream of tartar, baking soda, butter and food coloring. Carefully pour syrup over popped corn; mix quickly. Grease hands with butter or margarine and form into popcorn balls.

Yield: approximately 24 to 30 medium-size balls

A note from Carol: Jean uses air popped popcorn for this recipe. If you use microwave popcorn, do not use the buttered variety as the syrup may not stick to it as well.

“When I grew up in Freeport, the Christmas sweets made in our house were fudge, divinity, popcorn balls and rolled molasses and white cut-out cookies,” Jean recalls. “Making popcorn balls is one of my favorite memories because it was a family event where my dad, Lawrence, would get involved because he could pack them so well. This recipe from my mother, Josepha (Sapha) Steinemann Kerfeld, is the one that our family used when I was a child and I still use to this day.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peanut Brittle

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 6
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Matt’s Peanut Brittle
(Ruth Catherine Peters)

2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
¼ cup butter
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups raw peanuts

Butter two cookie sheets.

Cook sugar, corn syrup and water until the mixture reaches 230°F. Add the peanuts slowly, and then the butter and salt. Stir often and cook until the candy reaches 297°F. Remove from the heat. Add the baking soda quickly. Stir well and pour onto cookie sheets. Work quickly to thinly stretch the candy with two forks or wooden spatulas.

“This recipe was adapted by my son, Matt,” Ruth explains. “It’s important to have all the utensils and candy ingredients ready before you begin. To make candy you will need a triple clad kettle, similar to a pressure cooker. You might find one at a thrift store — or if you are lucky — in your grandma’s attic.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 5
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

(Jean Zwilling)

Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Generously butter a 9 x 13 x 2 inches pan.

Mix all ingredients together in a heavy three-quart kettle. Bring the mixture to a boil — continuing to stir until well blended. When it comes to a rolling boil, lower the heat but keep the mixture boiling. It is not necessary to stir it continually — but it should be stirred frequently, at this point. (The temperature on the candy thermometer should remain at 245°F for about one-half hour.)

Remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan. (Even if some of the caramel has become hard, spread that into the pan as well.) Cool overnight. Then, cut the caramels with a knife and wrap the individual pieces with wax paper.

“This caramel recipe is from Bonnie Schulzetenberg, a very dear friend of mine who attends St. Louis Parish in Paynesville. It’s really yummy as it is but you could also add nuts if you desire,” Jean relates. “I always pray that who ever looks at or eats the food that I have prepared will become closer to Jesus. This is true, of course, of all the cookies and other treats I make every Christmas.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Butterscotch Drops

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 4
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Butterscotch Drops
(Ruth Catherine Peters)

¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup butter
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. boiling water
½ tsp. vanilla

Butter two cookie sheets.

Combine first four ingredients and cook until mixture reaches the hard crack stage (300°F). Add vanilla. To make the hot mixture easier to remove from the candy kettle, tilt the kettle inside a stainless steel bowl. Drop the candy by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Work quickly. Remove drops when cooled.

“My mother taught me my candy-making skills,” Ruth says. “Now, all four of my sons have candy kettles. You have to work fast when making candy. Keep your fingers nimble and quick to avoid hot strands. Hot syrup is to be respected.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

Walnut Caramel Treats

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 3
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Walnut Caramel Treats
(Cyndi Schulzetenberge)

2 tsp. plus 1/3 cup butter, divided
2 (11.5 oz.) pkgs. milk chocolate chips, divided
4 tbsp. shortening, divided
2 (14 oz.) pkgs. caramels
¼ cup water
3 cups walnuts, chopped

Line an ungreased 9-inch square pan with foil and grease the foil with 2 tsp. butter; set aside. In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt one package of chocolate chips with two tbsp. shortening and stir until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the caramels, water and remaining butter. Cook and stir until caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the walnuts. Pour over the chocolate layer. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Melt the remaining chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave or in a heavy saucepan and spread over the caramel layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm. Using the foil, lift the candy out of the pan. Discard the foil and cut the candy into squares. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: approximately 4 lbs.

“This is my husband Mike’s favorite candy,” says Cyndi. “I got the recipe from one of the Country Woman Christmas books. It’s important to use butter and shortening where called for in this recipe — no substitutions. And, the treats have to stay cold — otherwise the caramel becomes too soft and it loses its shape.”

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 2
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

(Jean Zwilling)

Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg
5 cups sugar
12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 lb. miniature marshmallows
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 oz. Baker’s® German chocolate bars, chopped         
¼ cup butter
1 lb walnuts, chopped (optional)

Generously butter a 9 x 13 x 2 inches pan.

Bring the sugar and evaporated milk to a boil and continue boiling for five minutes. Fold the marshmallows, both chocolates and butter into the first mixture and stir until all ingredients are dissolved. Add most of the nuts, if using, reserving larger pieces to decorate the tops of the fudge. Pour into the prepared pan to cool and harden. Cut into squares when fully cooled.

“I obtained this recipe shortly after my husband, Virgil, and I were married,” Jean recalls. “I was working as a nurse at the St. Cloud Hospital and caring for my sister’s mother-in-law, Charlotte Hockert, from Albany. Her sisters-in-law, Benedictine Sisters Nicholas and Harvette Hockert, originally from Freeport, came to visit and brought her some fudge. Charlotte offered me a piece. It was so good that I asked for the recipe and I have been making it every Christmas since. The original recipe called for ‘butter the size of an egg’ so I know it has been around for a long time.”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

‘Sweet’ dreams can come true

Twelve Days of Candy-Making — Day 1
Create memories your families and friends will savor for years to come

Young Clara in E.T.A. Hoffman’s Christmas tale “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” has a deliciously lovely dream where her beloved nutcracker — a gift from her godfather Herr Drosselmeyer — turns into a prince who takes her on a journey to the Land of Snow, an enchanted forest wonderland where they are welcomed by dancing snowflakes. As her dream progresses, the prince escorts her farther to the Kingdom of Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy reigns as queen.

Mmmmmm. What a scrumptiously delightful impression the story conjures — creating visions of ambrosial treats that we can see in our mind’s eye and savor with the taste buds of our imagination. There’s only one thing better than stepping into such a delectable fantasy — that is making your own yummy holiday sweets and, in the process, creating equally sweet memories for your families and friends.

Three candy-makers from the St. Cloud Diocese — which has recently welcomed “dancing snowflakes,” literally, and become a “Land of Snow” — share “enchanting” recipes and “sugarcoated” wisdom to help you assemble your own “Kingdom of Sweets.”

Ruth Catherine Peters, a member of St. Boniface Parish in Cold Spring; Cyndi Schulzetenberge, a parishioner at St. Michael’s in Spring Hill; and Jean Zwilling, a member of the Five Parish Faith Community of parishes in Opole, St. Anna, St. Wendel and Holdingford, have provided a candy-making recipe feast fit for a king or queen (and all of us in the St. Cloud Diocese.)

Here are a few suggestions for candy makers:

• Use a heavy saucepan — one that is larger than you think you will need.

• Use a candy thermometer, if possible. Always make sure the thermometer bulb is in the boiling mixture, but does not touch the bottom of the pan.

• If you don’t have a candy thermometer, consult a chart for cold-water tests to determine the approximate temperature of the sugar syrup.

• Flat wooden spatulas are good for stirring. Do not touch the sides of the kettle with them, only the bottom.

• Watch candy carefully, especially during the last few minutes of cooking — temperatures rise quickly at the end. Medium heat is a good choice — it can be lowered or raised slightly to adjust.

• For best results, don’t double a recipe or make ingredient substitutions.

• Allow yourself plenty of time when making candy — it often takes a long time to cook and requires a great deal of stirring.

A note from Carol: This entry and many of the upcoming recipes were originally published in the Dec. 13, 2007, edition of The Visitor as part of my Breaking Bread column titled “Sweet Treats and Holiday Traditions.” Visitor staff writer/photographer Sue Schulzetenberg took the picture of Jean Zwilling’s delightful tray of Christmas goodies. (By the way, even though their names are spelled differently, Cyndi Schulzetenberge is Sue’s aunt.)