Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Autumn Leaf Candies

Well!  I had to take a little cupcake hiatus.  Gained too much weight the last go 'round despite the fact that I never even licked the bowls or spoons.  AND I only ate one of each cupcake just to make sure they were as good as I wanted them to be. 

That, and my online vintage clothing and jewelry shop was suffering a bit from lack of attention.  I'm not good at multi-tasking.  Now my housekeeping is suffering from lack of attention.  Seriously, I need a maid.  There are so many more interesting things to do than dusting!

So ... the next bride-to-be elected not to fight the reception hall and their policy of not allowing homemade cake.  Instead I'm doing the cupcakes for the rehearsal dinner.  The flavors are decided - chocolate Snickers, carrot, and white wedding cake. 

Our Bethie-Pie loves fall colors and her wedding colors are autumn leaves.  A happy coincidence - her mother-in-law to be (that would be ME) loves those colors, too.  You'd think this would make it easy for me to decorate these cupcakes, but the problem is that I'm only making 3 flavors, not 5 and only 50 cupcakes and not 125.  I have too many wannado-s. 

I want do trees with leaf sprinkles.  I wanna do viney leaves.  I wanna do beautiful magenta, orange,  and golden yellow roses.  I wanna do multicolored fondant leaves.   I wanna do … well, I guess an Angry Bird.  I know, I know … doesn't quite go with the theme but my son is a rabid St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan.  His younger brother got dinosaurs on one set of his wedding cupcakes.  I need to do something for him.

I'm going to make flavored candies in favor cups in leaf shapes.  And I'm dreaming of making flavored sugar leaves -- for what reason, I have no idea.  I seem to have this need to overdo it. 

Awww … I've turned into Martha Stewart. 

I'm starting with the candies because they have a much longer "shelf life"  and frankly, this time around I do have a clue about what I'm doing.  I've been making filled chocolate candy at Christmas since the boys were quite little, so this SHOULD be a no-brainer.  (Famous last words.)  I never took a class on the "proper" way to make candy so if you are a stickler for "proper", run away NOW.

I use an old electric food warming tray that I got as a wedding gift, um, awhile ago.  It seems to keep the candy at a nice, even temperature.  I tried melting the chocolate in the microwave and it works sometimes, other times I get busy and burn it .  Unpleasant.

These candies will be orange, yellow,  green, and brown and will be flavored cinnamon, maple, and English toffee.  Chocolate will take care of itself!  I'm using oils because I've always added mint oil to my Christmas chocolates and it works very well. 

It's fairly easy and other than the candy mold, you can probably use kitchen items you already have.  For instance - if you can't find a warmer (try ebay - they can be found for about $10) you can always melt in a double boiler.  If you don't have the paint brushes, just spoon it into the mold.  Some people use plastic bottles that look a lot like condiment bottles.

You need

Electric warming tray
Small heat proof dishes - one for each color and/or flavor
Candy confectionary coating disks - color(s) of your choice
Chocolate disks - I use "Cocoa Lite"*
Oils - flavors of your choice
Something to stir the melted candy with
Paint brushes, food grade, one for each color and/or flavor
Candy molds

*I have used milk chocolate disks in the past and this slow melting worked well enough, but milk chocolate is very fussy about temperature.

Put a small handful of each color candy disk into a separate little heat proof dishes.  Personally, I LOVE my vintage Pyrex custard cups, also a wedding gift.   Plug in your tray and set the dishes on it.  The disks will slowly melt -  I think this took about 20-30 minutes to get the first ones to start melting.

Keep an eye on them.  The bottom ones will start to look a bit shiny and may completely melt.  I try to not have them completely melt because when you stir them, they will actually be melted more than you think.  Stir them fairly well - there will probably still be lumps, which is fine.  Now add another small handful of the candy coating pieces on top.  Wait another 15 minutes or so and stir them around again.  They will still probably be lumpy.  Depending on the size of the dish you are using to melt in you may wish to add a few more pieces of candy and let that melt in.  Stir frequently now.   When using flavoring, I try to have as much candy melted as the dish will hold and still be easy/not messy to stir so that I get as many as possible candies that have the exact same flavoring.  Obviously, your next batch will be slightly different no matter how much you try.  Make sure to keep your stirrers separate so the colors don't mix AND especially once you've added the flavoring, you REALLY don't want to mix flavors!

Just so you don't panic and think something is going wrong, my chocolate didn't melt much after 45 minutes and I started melting the pieces all at the same time.  The chocolate will have a completely different texture as it melts, too.  Once it begins melting to the point that all the pieces are mooshy, give it a good stir.  It is usually pretty thick, but the more you stir, the more it will soften and smooth.  Add more chocolate disks and melt in, as above.

Flavoring can be a bit tricky, particularly if you're making more than one flavor.   You might want to have a taste helper around because after a couple of tastes YOUR taster won't work as well.  As with wine tasting, try to "cleanse your palate" between tastes - even of the same flavor. I start with one drop of oil, stir it in well, then taste.  Add one drop at a time - these oils are POTENT.  If you get some on your skin, it's a good idea to wash it off.  It's never harmed me, but then I'm also rarely sensitive to things.  (Note:  I got a little cinnamon oil on my lip and it did "burn", but washed off quickly with soap and water.)

 Just to give you an idea of how much to use, I used 5 drops each of these oils and felt that the flavor wasn't intense, but could definitely be recognized as maple (green), cinnamon (orange), and English toffee (yellow).

Left - small mold /// Right - large mold
Small mold, filled
As you can see,  I've chosen 2 different candy molds.  One is quite a bit larger and I'm going to start with this one since it is easier to show.  Using a paintbrush, pick up a blob of the melted candy and place it in the center of the mold.  Then, use the paintbrush to gently push it out toward the edges and up the sides.  Try not to get the candy outside of the mold.  It will take 3 or 4 "scoops" painted this way to fill an individual mold, depending on the size of the mold.  When the individual mold is full, "paint" the back smooth.  Mine usually ends up with a little loop - I tried making it flat and it didn't work for me.  So now I just go with it and enjoy my little curly cues.  After all the individual molds are filled, put your mold in the freezer for about 5 minutes or more if you're not in a big hurry.  Here is where it's handy to have a couple of molds - fill the next mold and trade them in the fridge.

Filling (painting) the large mold with candy coating.
Unmolded large candies

After taking the candy in the mold out of the freezer,  simply turn the mold over and the candy will fall out.  If not, just give it a shake.  If you have a few that look a little sloppy at the edge - while the candy is still cold/frozen you can use a knife to scrape away the overflow and clean up edges.
Small candies (wheat sheaves & turkeys).  The two wheat sheaves on the far left have been "trimmed" .


  1. I have never used candy molds and I don't know why, it looks so fun! Your candies look really pretty :D good luck with the cupcakes! :)

    Angie ||

    1. Do give it a try! :) They make really nice Christmas and holiday gifts. I TRY to start working on filled chocolates just after our Thanksgiving weekend.