I love to make candy at Christmas time. I love to make complicated, ridiculously elaborate recipes. I've been on a quest to find recipes for these two candies since I saw them advertized in Vermont Country Store catalog for fifteen to twenty-five bucks a box. The French Cremes (Merriments) recipe was pretty easy to find - but looked daunting. Twenty minutes of hand beating hardening sugar candy did not sound like fun to me. I pressed on and decided I would use my trusty kitchenaid mixer and flat beater to do the grunt work. Long story short: they came out great. They only contain sugar, water, coloring and flavoring - very cheap to make. I used small candy molds, but if you work quickly you can roll them and slice them into disks (you need to work fairly fast because the longer the "dough" cooled, the more fragile it was to work with) They are pretty yummy, too. They are -of course- really sweet: slightly grainy and they melt when you put them in your mouth.
I had no luck finding the Mothballs recipe. The only I found was for a cookie that was similar to the candy. The description says the nuts are panned in hot sugar until the sugar coats each nut. The descriptions I read of the coating makes it sound as if the fondant around the nut is strikingly similar to the French Cream candy. My theory is that plain French Cream fondant shaped around a hazelnut will be very similar to the Moth Ball candy.
Old Fashioned French Creams
- 4 c. granulated sugar
- 1 c. water
- few drops food coloring (optional)
- few drops mint extract or other candy flavoring extract (optional)
In a large saucepan (candy will bubble up to five times it's original size when cooking) cook sugar and water over medium heat. Stir occasionally until it starts to boil, then reduce heat slightly and allow to boil with minimal stirring for about ten minutes. After about 7 or 8 minutes, start dripping some of the sugar into a glass of very cold water. If it strings and holds together in the bottom of the glass in a soft little blob, it's ready (if it strings and cracks like a lollipop - you probably cooked it too long). I also did the spoon rubbing test from this recipe, and that worked too.
Remove from the heat and stir in coloring. Place in stand mixer with paddle attachment and start it off on low (unless you want a shower of white hot sugar syrup). Increase speed slightly after a minute or two, and it should go from clear to opaque. Increase a little more after the candy goes opaque and soon it will crystalize and get like dough. Add your flavoring. Mix until it is able to be picked up without burning yourself and press it into candy molds, or roll into logs and slice. You need to work fairly fast, but I messed with it for about 15minutes before it became too brittle to shape. I guess you can re-heat it to work it more, but I didn't try that.