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  1. Canva - Two Cups with Small Marshmallows on a Dark Wooden Background

    Here is my favourite recipe for traditional Christmas candy cane sweets and since I made these during Christmas holidays, it gave me the chance to take some detailed photos to show you how relatively simple this recipe is. This recipe is a version with UK measurements. <blog_break>

    Candy Cane Recipe Ingredients

    Candy Cane Recipe - Ingredients

    To make about 12 candy canes you'll need:

    225g sugar

    50g liquid glucose

    75 ml water

    1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar

    1-2 teaspoon of peppermint extract

    Red gel food colouring paste

    Candy cane recipe equipment

    Candy Cane Recipe Making Equipment

    To make this candy cane recipe, you'll need:

    medium size pan

    non-stick mat or marble (with oil on top)

    palet knife (or dinner knife, that you don't normally use) - oiled

    stainless steel scraper (can come in handy, when things get sticky)

    heat-proof gloves (or at least latex gloves with another pair of winter gloves underneath or just your bare hands oiled) 

    wooden skewer to mix in the colour

    Candy Cane Recipe First Stages

    First of all mix all the ingredients (apart from the colour and peppermint extract) in to a medium size pan and put on a very low heat.

    Candy cane recipe spoon with sugar

    After few minutes the sugar starts to dissolve, but if you test it with a wooden spoon, you can still see sugar crystals that are not fully dissolved. Keep it on very low heat and wait a little longer until all dissolved.

    Candy cane recipe - brushing the sides of the pan

    Make sure that they are no sugar crystals on the side of the pan, by brushing them down with pastry brush dipped into hot water.

    Candy cane recipe sugar is disolved

    Test the sugar again - this time the spoon is much clearer and the sugar liquid is fairly transparent. Leave it for couple more minutes and then bring the mixture to the boil and carry on boiling on a medium heat. Don't be tempted to steer the mixture, it would crystallise it.

    Candy cane recipe - getting to the right temperature

    Bring the mixture to about 150 C (145-150 depending on the humidity in your kitchen), take off the heat and add your flavour. In this case, since we are making candy cane recipe, I've used traditional peppermint flavour. Depending on the type of your peppermint flavour you might need to add 1-2 teaspoons of the extract. I've added 2 teaspoons and the flavour was fairly minty, but not overpowering.

    Candy cane recipe - adding peppermint flavouring

    Now pour the mixture on to a marble slab (or other non-stick, heat resistant surface), which has been covered with oil, to prevent the mixture sticking.

    Candy cane recipe - pouring on the marble slab

    I've divided the mixture into two parts - one - large one for the white element of the candy cane and smaller one for the red stripes.

    Candy cane recipe - mixing the colours

    The smaller puddle of the sugar mixture needs to be coloured with red gel colouring. You only need tiny amount, which still gives you strong red colour. The large puddle of the sugar mixture is not being coloured, but if you have white gel colour, you can use that.

    You can see that the mixture is not quite white and whilst it gets lighter as you pull it, it doesn't get brightly white. This is mainly because, whilst trying to take all the photos and make the recipe at the same time, my sugar syrup has been slightly caught by the heat and started to caramelise. Make sure that when you make yours, the sugar doesn't get to the stage where it starts to turn yellow in colour. 

    Candy cane recipe - pulling the candy

    Start by pulling the lighter sugar mixture. You can see that at the beginning the mixture is see-through, but as you carry on pulling and twisting the rope, it gets more and more opaque.

    Candy cane recipe - pulled cane

    If at any point the mixture becomes too hard to handle, put it in a microwave for few seconds or to a preheated oven (about 200C) for about 30 sec at a time. Make sure that you oil the microwave plate a little with an sunflower or vegetable oil, otherwise it sticks!

    Repeat the same with the red mixture, only this time don't pull for so long, otherwise the red becomes too opague and gets little too light in colour.

    Candy cane recipe - rolling the cane

    Now comes the fidley bit - pull both sugar syrup mixtures to a rope of a same length and start gently rolling and twisting at the same time. Decide on a thickness of your candy cane (about 0.7 cm) and cut to length (about 10-15cm).

    If you want to keep them for a short while, wrap them in a cellophane first, twist the ends of cellophane to seal and then gently bend the ends to create the hook. If you don't wrap your candy cane sweets straightaway, the moisture from the air will start to make them sticky.

    Candy cane recipe - cutting up

    If you get bored with making candy canes (like I did...) you can also turn them into a little strippey pillow sweets. The trick here is to make a thicker rope (about 1.5 cm in diameter) and then cut them (about 1.5 cm) whilst turning the rope. This makes them into 3 dimensional pointy pillows and I think they look pretty impressive!

    Candy cane recipe - finished candy

    And here is the final peppermint candy cane and peppermint candy pillow sweets. By the time we got to this bit, the natural light was pretty non-existent, so it's not the best picture, but hopefully it gives you idea how cool these sweets can look like. 

    And if you fancy trying other hard boiled sweets recipes you can follow my tried and tested recipe for traditional sweets right here on my blog.

    As ever do let me know, how you get on with your own batch in the comments below...

    Until next time




    Christmas Chocolate Fudge with Cherries, Pistachios & Coconut >>

    Pistachio Biscotti Recipe >>

    Easy Christmas Chocolate Truffles >>

    Czech Christmas Cake - Vanocka Recipe >>

    Winter Berry Jelly with Egg Nog Recipe >>

    Rich Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe >>

    Christmas Cake Pops >>

    Christmas Mince Pies with Marzipan Topping >>


    mm author

  2. Organic raw cocoa nibs

    People often ask me when they come to my chocolate workshops, whether we will be making chocolate from scratch. This depends on the course, but we usually start with the chocolate making from chocolate coverture. There is still a lot of involved when you get to that stage – careful melting, chocolate tempering, flavouring and moulding.

    So in most cases, we don’t start with making chocolate from the real beginning, but if you fancied making chocolate at home, here is how to do it! This recipe is suitable for vegetarians and vegan diets and it's also gluten free and dairy free (if you don't use powdered milk to make milk chocolate, or use coconut milk powder instead). 

  3. Traditional Sweets in 1940s

    After the declaration of war in September 1939, three groups of food were initially rationed in January 1940; sugar, bacon and butter. This was followed by meat, fish, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit. Many factories were converted into making munitions for the war effort.<blog_break>

    Wartime sweets rationing

    Sweet rationing came into effect in 1942. There was an Allowance of seven ounces (200 gms) for everyone over five years old. This was the equivalent of just one sweet a day for most products in the Woolworth’s range. By the following year, sweets were becoming scarce and even having sufficient coupons was no guarantee that there would be enough sweets in the shops to buy.

    In summer 1940, Cadbury’s were assuring customers that their chocolate biscuits were available in all stores. Three years later, they ran adverts in Picture Post magazine, saying that supplies were severely limited and asking customers to remember that growing children needed the nutrition from milk chocolate the most.

    As raw materials were in short supply, chocolate manufactures were forced to substitute products and improvise ingredients. For instance, Cadbury Dairy Milk as withdrawn in 1941 when the government banned manufacturers from using fresh milk. In its place there was Ration Chocolate, made with dried skimmed milk powder.

    The ration chocolate bar

    In ‘A Child of War’, written in 1987, the author George Macbeth reminisced that sweets were the great loss and had his own firmly held views on the dubious taste of Ration Chocolate.

    ‘There was no longer an everlasting, teeth-spoiling fountain of sherbet and liquorice, or of Boy Blue cream whirls, or of Cadbury's Caramello. Sweets were hard to come by, and then limited to a fixed ration.

    One of the worst casualties was chocolate. The traditional division into milk and plain disappeared, and an awful intervening variety known as Ration Chocolate was born, issued in semi-transparent grease-proof wrappers, and about as appetizing as cardboard. In spite of a lifelong sweet tooth, I could never eat it.’

    What production of chocolate that did occur was strictly on a geographical basis due to transport restrictions and the need to ration petrol supplies. So, if you liked something made by Rowntrees of York and you lived in London then tough luck.

    Chocolate bars on the home front & in the war

    So much for chocolate and the lack of it on the home front. You were more likely to get your hands on a bar of chocolate, however variable its quality, if you were in the army. The US army, to be more precise.  Yes, those WW2 films of Yanks in battledress, chewing gum, and wooing the local land girls with supplies of chocolate and sweets not found in the British shops are largely true.

    However, like some of their other promises, it appears that the chocolate didn’t always live up to expectations…

    D ration chocolate bar

    The “D ration bar”, was a blend of chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk powder and oat flour, made by Hershey. It was an essential part of the emergency rations issued to US troops as part of the D day invasion of the beaches of Normandy. It weighed four ounces (112 grams) with 600 calories, was designed to be high in energy for mobile field operations and was manufactured to withstand high temperatures. Due to the fact that the recipe didn’t allow it to liquefy sufficiently, Hersheys had to design and make special chocolate moulds.

    All of which made it difficult it eat and with a taste that isn’t fondly remembered by most.

    Reports are that the mix of fat and oat flour made the chocolate bar a dense brick, and the sugar could not hide the extremely bitter taste to the dark chocolate. Designed to withstand high temperatures, the bar was difficult to bite into. Soldiers resorted to slicing off shaving of chocolate with their field knife.

    For those of you interested in the actual ratios of ingredients, the formula for a large batch of the D chocolate ration bars, was 160 parts chocolate, not less than 54 percent cocoa fat, 160 parts added cocoa fat, 30 parts oat flour, 20 parts dry powdered skim milk, 70 parts vanillin crystals, and just enough sugar to make it palatable. There also was one-sixth part vitamin B1, which may have been healthy but didn’t add to the overall flavour.

    Chocolate bars had a waxy or greasy taste which may have due, in part to the increase in the melting point from 92 to 120 degrees. Bars came with instructions that they were to be eaten in small quantities over a half hour period, (which was perhaps just as well) or could be dissolved in boiling water.

    In fairness to Hershey, one of the US army’s other stipulations was that the chocolate bar should taste ‘a little better than a boiled potato!’. It seems that the army wanted a bar that didn’t taste so good that it was eaten as a treat and therefore not conserved for emergencies. No wonder US troops used to refer to it as ‘Hitler’s Secret Weapon’.

    However, the combination of ingredients and taste requirements did have one unexpected benefit. The Tropical bar, specially designed to withstand the intense heat of the tropics and the desert, came into its own as practically the only foodstuff that soldiers in the Far East could eat when they were ill with dysentery. 

    The sheer scale of chocolate production for the military is staggering. By war’s end, Hershey had made while around 40.2 million 2-ounce and 4-ounce D Ration bars, and 380 million Tropical Chocolate Bars – that’s a lot of cure for dysentery.

    The war may have ended in 1945 but chocolate and sweet rationing didn’t. It was to be another long eight years until 5 February 1953 before the 12 ounces a month ration was finally abolished. Sugar itself was not de-rationed until September 1953.

    Suddenly, there were more queues but this time without the need for coupons.

    How a generation of post war children finally got sticky fingers and sweet teeth and their parents war time dreams finally came true is the subject of our next blog – Chocolate and Sweets in the 1950s.




    CHOCOLATES IN THE 1980s >>

    TRADITIONAL SWEETS IN THE 1920 & 1930s >>


    nm author

  4. Is cocoa a fruit?

    When we’re running our various chocolate making courses we often  get asked lots of questions from enthusiastic chocolate makers about every aspect of the chocolate making process. And, of course, it’s a pleasure to share our knowledge with so many keen and eager course attendees and chocolatiers to be. Sometimes the questions are technical and detailed– such as those about the tempering and the chocolate crystallisation process. Others are more general, but equally practical, like when do we get to eat it all?

  5. How much sugar is in chocolate?

     Are you sweet enough?

     “Sugar, Sugar”, sang The Archies, “You are my candy girl, whoa-oh, you got me wantin' you.”

     Well, as it turns out sugar isn’t wanted any more. At least not in the same quantities.

    This week, the media was full of reports that the Swiss food giant, Nestle, announcing that it has made a scientific breakthrough that can sharply cut the sugar in its chocolate. The company, which makes Kitkat and Aero, says its researchers have found a way to structure sugar differently, so that it uses 40% less.

    It claims this can be done without affecting the taste.

    Nestle says it is patenting the findings, and it would start using the new sugar across its range from 2018. Its scientists altered the structure of sugar so that it dissolves more quickly. This fools the taste buds, with the effect of raising the sweetness, claims Nestle.

    But is this no more than a bitter sweet pill to swallow? Are the big manufactures just sugar coating the message? Nestle’s announcement, welcome to most people though it is, just got me thinking about what actually goes into a high street bar of chocolate in the first place? For me, it raised more questions than answers.

  6. dreamstime_l_96019182

    When do you drink Hot Chocolate? As a warm, comforting cup on a cold winter’s evening or as an afternoon treat with marshmallows on top, with friends after shopping perhaps? Whenever you drink hot chocolate and for whatever reason, I sure you feel better just from enjoying the rich, hot taste and savouring the relaxing feeling it often brings.

    But do you ever think about who discovered hot chocolate? Or how the drink in your hands and taste in your mouth has changed a lot since it was first discovered?

    The first uses of hot chocolate drink

    It was always thought hot chocolate was first discovered and drank by the Mayan peoples of what is now Central America over 500BC. But recent research in the last year or so now puts the discovery of hot chocolate making back to at least 2,500BC and the Olmecs civilisation in Mexico.

    What we now regard as a hot, smooth and sweet beverage, would then have been much more of a cold, spicy and rougher tasting concoction.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Chocolate itself comes from the seeds or beans inside the pods of the cocoa plant. The beans themselves were often dried and so highly prized that they were stored and used as a form of currency.