Marzipan candy, maple walnut fudge, and good old-fashioned hard Christmas candy add traditional flavor to holiday celebrations.
Christmas celebrations are rich in tradition: Christmas Eve story reading from classic tales like ’Twas the Night Before Christmas or Polar Express…setting out a plate of cookies and milk for Santa…maybe even one special gift exchange for kids who just can’t wait until Christmas morning. Traditions inspire childhood memories—joyful memories like special foods and desserts that are only served at Christmas and found in stockings hung for Santa. One of those edible traditions is good old-fashioned Christmas candy.
Create a special memory for the children in your family by sharing the magic of Christmas with a sweet indulgence. Here are some traditional candies that can help kindle those memorable moments:
One of the oldest traditional candies eaten for special occasions like Christmas is marzipan. This almond-based confection dates back centuries, with origins in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Each region has its own uses for the sweet. At Christmas, many cultures shaped and painted the candy to resemble cheerful miniature fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and strawberries. In Germany, it is common to give marzipan shaped like a loaf of bread, called Marzipanbrot and also shaped to look like small potatoes (Marzipankartoffeln).
Maple Sugar Candy
The earliest American candy (not brought over from Europe) came from Native Americans and the colonists, whose primary sweetener was maple syrup. Sugar maple trees, native to North America, yield a slightly sweet sap that is boiled down to make a rich syrup; it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap, depending on conditions, to make one gallon of syrup. When the syrup is boiled down further, it thickens into a slightly granular sugar that can be poured into decorative molds and cooled. A favorite pastime of early American children in the winter was to boil maple sugar outside and pour the hot liquid in the snow to make a hard candy. Today, maple sugar candy is still a time-honored tradition and a perfect winter treat.
Maple Walnut Fudge…and Other Flavors
Another unique candy originating in the United States is fudge. Fudge making began in the late 1880s in New England, where the creamy confection gained early popularity through women’s colleges selling it for fundraisers. It was also sold in the late 19th century in shops on the Mackinac Island, a resort destination in northern Michigan. Fudge can come in many flavors, including chocolate pecan, butter pecan, and maple walnut fudge. Setting out a plate of Christmas fudge will please young and old alike.
More Christmas Treats from the Candy Kitchen
Many remember their mothers and grandmothers making honeycomb candy for Christmas. Also known by several regional names across the U.S., such as fairy food, sponge candy and sea foam, this crunchy but super light toffee confection is found all over the world. Made with baking soda (which makes the candy syrup foamy and filled with tiny air pockets before it hardens), it can also be coated in chocolate. A similar confection, called divinity, also has a light, airy (and less crunchy) texture, but is made with sugar, egg whites, corn syrup, and chopped fruit or nuts.
Candy is a fun treat. But candy can be tricky to make at home. Professional-style cookware made of copper is expensive, but produces the best results for melting sugar at high heat. A marble or stainless steel surface is excellent for spreading out candy, like butter toffee, to cool on a large surface. If you like the idea of including several types of candy in your holiday celebrations, consider online resources that specialize in traditional candy making.
Hard Christmas Candy
Perhaps the best-known candies of all are the multi-colored hard candies we all grew up with as kids. Every trip past the candy dish yielded a handful of cut rock candy, rainbow gems, baby ribbons, chocolate-filled straws, filled raspberries and other treats to suck on while opening gifts.
For relatives who may not be able to spend Christmas in person with family, sending a candy gift through the mail is an excellent option. Kids especially will find joy in a box of sweets sent just for them. A gift of candy signifies generosity and sweet memories.
The Best Candy for Christmas
Make the holiday extra special with artisan candies and chocolates that you entertain and gift with. People enjoy sharing candy; that’s why it makes a great gift.
If you’re crafty, you can make a homemade Advent calendar or Christmas countdown featuring the best candy of the season. Making your own calendar allows you to be creative with the sweets you choose. Store-bought calendars typically have little chocolates hidden behind each day. Make yours more interesting by setting up a trio of candy jars and allowing children to choose which sweet they want each day leading up to Christmas.
Fans of Elf on the Shelf can use the elf doll to lead kids to his clever candy hiding spot.
Consider starting a candy gift tradition: a gift exchange that everyone will look forward to at the end of each year. Have each participant write their name along with their top three favorite types of candy and chocolate. Then randomly exchange names and candy wishes among the participants. Set up a time for the gift exchange, either in person or by mail. Everyone loves a food gift, and Christmas candy gifts really help brighten someone’s day!
With this approach, you can be sure that gifting the types of candy everyone likes becomes a special memory connected to Christmas.