Saturday, June 4, 2016

Brantastic candy, and other disappointments

Get ready for a sweet Saturday! Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations is having a drawing for candy-related cookbooks for people who post about candy, and since we all know I need more cookbooks in my life (and I'm not at all in danger of having my body pulled out from under a collapsed stack of books when the landlord sends in the police because the neighbors are upset about the smell emanating from my apartment), I am writing a candy post.

It's hard to get anything TOO terrible-- it is candy after all-- but I did find some unexpected representatives of the candy genre.

My love for recipes that are more craft project than food is met by these instructions from The Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery (1971):

I could spend a whole morning painting flowers with gum arabic, sewing their stems so they can hang to dry, and then dipping them in a sugar mixture. Okay, I would probably get about three flowers painted if I had enough ambition to track down gum arabic, then abandon the whole effort when I realized it involved using a needle and thread, but I like to at least imagine I could spend a whole morning candying flowers. Don't spoil my dreams. (Plus, knowing my luck, I'd accidentally candy poisonous flowers. Candied lilies, anyone?)

Of course, I had to look in '70s health food books for some earth-mother candies so sad that they will make the kids stop asking for candy of their own accord. The Rodale Cookbook (Nancy Albright, 1973) offers a recipe that starts out sounding pretty good.

I am so on board with most candy recipes that begin with peanut butter... but then when I see the bulk of these little guys is composed of skim milk powder and dry oatmeal... I kind of feel like maybe I should forget this recipe and go back to candying flowers.

The "healthy" candy recipe from New Age Vegetarian Cookbook (The Rosicrucian Fellowship, 1968) puts its disappointing nature right up front:

Carob Fudge: The flavor of disappointment. Nothing takes me from excited to bummed out faster than realizing that something I imagined to be chocolate is actually carob. At least cocoa is considered healthy now and there is way less chance of getting suckered into eating carob at a hippie bakery. (This cookbook does have an even worse candy recipe, but I already featured it.)

"Healthy" candies have a long and illustrious pedigree, though, starting well before the '60s-'70s health food fads, as The Household Searchlight Recipe Book (1936) attests:

Bran Candy! Because mixing a little bran into a lot of sugar is a good way to make mom feel like she's doing some real good in the world, and making everyone else think she is losing it.

Last of all, a candy that tries a little too hard from The Pecan Cookbook (Koinonia Farm, 1967):

Like peppermint candies? They're pretty good after a big meal or at Christmas. Like pecans with cherries? Okay, I'm not a big maraschino cherry person, but I can imagine the appeal for some of you. Like coconut? I absolutely do not, but again, I understand that plenty of people think pencil shavings are fine things to eat. Want all of that stuff dumped together in the same candy? I can't imagine I'm the only person who thinks this takes several potentially viable candy options and turns it all into a mess.

It's like the ice cream I made when I was a kid. Mom always got vanilla, which I found terminally boring, so I'd mix in some peanut butter and Quik, maybe marshmallows if we had them, and then it was great. But sometimes I'd get carried away-- those chalky pink wintergreen candies my sister liked, circus peanuts, a crushed-up pastel pillow of after dinner mint-- and then I would have to suffer through that bowl of should-have-been-delicious ice cream. Angel Divinity is exactly that sort of dessert that doesn't know how to quit when it's ahead.

Thus concludes our tour of ill-advised candies. Have a sweet Saturday, and stay away from the circus peanuts!

P.S.-- Stop by on Sunday for a special bonus post!


  1. Good morning, Poppy:)
    What a sweet Saturday surprise; I think, lol...the biggest "problem" with the recipes in this post is which to share on my Candy Month Pinterest board, lol...

    The concept of the Bran Candy wouldn't sound half bad if it weren't for the fact that there is 3 cups of sugar in it. Yes, I know, we are celebrating candy month but really, three cups?! I can almost understand the excitement over the divinity after all, the pecan cookbook needed to make sure it covered all aspects of pecan cookery, lol...

    This is such a fun post, Poppy! IMHO, more fun than most of the candy recipes standing alone but as a group, sweet!

    Thank you so much for sharing, good luck in the hat, lol...

    1. I thought 3 cups of sugar to one of bran was a bit excessive as well. It reminds me of the recipes people post about how they got their kids to eat a vegetable, and it's something like one broccoli spear, breaded, deep fried, and topped with a half cup of cheese sauce....

      I hope you get some more fun candy posts too, even if it will heat up the competition. :-)

  2. I've never tried those specific Peanut Butter Sesame Balls, but I bet they're actually good! Peanut butter, honey, and skim milk powder is the basis of one of my very favorite childhood craft projects: Peanut Butter Dough. The milk powder helps stabilize it and keep it from getting sticky, and it mostly just tastes like peanut butter and honey. Adding oatmeal probably makes it pleasantly oatmeal cookie-ish.