Sweet Sensations of the Season

Produced by Brett Levine
Food Styling by Lily Plauché
Photography by Becky Stayner

It is simple to savor the traditional flavors of the season. Peppermints, candy canes, and an assortment of other sweets make an appearance on tables and in gift boxes all during the month. But if you would prefer to create some handmade treats, these recipes bring some creative twists to some of our favorite bites.

They may look similar on the surface—caramels, nougat, and jellies—but these delicious delights are anything but ordinary. The caramels get a modern treatment with the rich sensations of dark chocolate and the crisp bite of sea salt. The nougats, thick and filled with almonds and pistachios, are worth every chewy, nutty mouthful, and you will love the delicate taste of honey that adds just that little bit of lightness.

For a true holiday twist, make a batch of Raspberry Jellies, sweet with the flavors of a berry puree. If you prefer the subtleties of citrus, you can substitute fresh lime or lemon juice, and have a something just that little bit more tart.

These recipes all celebrate life’s sweetness while bringing the fresh and the new to the holiday season. In the cool of December, warm up with a little sugary delight, and make any or all of these in your kitchen today.


Raspberry Jellies


Makes about 48 jellies

12 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed*

2½ cups granulated sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter

1 box (6 ounces) Certo liquid pectin (2 pouches)

Sanding sugar, for coating

  1. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Puree raspberries and their juices in a food processor or blender until smooth. (You should have 1⅓ cups puree.)
  2. Combine raspberry puree, sugar, lemon juice, and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in liquid pectin. Pour mixture into prepared dish, and let stand at least 2 hours or until set.
  3. Remove gelled mixture from pan. Cut into squares. Jellies can be stored covered in a refrigerator for one week. Just before serving, roll in sugar, if desired.

*To make Citrus Jellies: Substitute 1⅓ cups fresh lime or lemon juice for the raspberry puree.

Caramels with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt


Makes about 48 caramels

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup butter

¼ teaspoon salt

1½ cups granulated sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Sea salt flakes, to taste

Wax paper

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper; spray parchment with cooking spray.
  2. Combine cream, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until butter melts. Set aside.
  3. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and ¼ cup water in a large saucepan, stirring just until sugar is moistened. Cook, without stirring, on medium heat until mixture reaches 300F. Remove pan from heat and slowly whisk in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up). Return mixture to medium heat and cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 245F. (Don’t be tempted to increase the heat, the long cook time is needed to develop color and flavor.) Remove from heat. Quickly stir in vanilla, and pour mixture into prepared pan. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Microwave chocolate on high 30 seconds; stir and microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring between, until melted. Remove caramels from pan. Drizzle with chocolate and sprinkle with salt. Let stand until chocolate sets. Cut into pieces. Wrap caramels individually in wax paper squares and store at room temperature up to 2 weeks.




Makes about 3 pounds

2 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup light corn syrup

1 cup honey

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

½ cup butter, melted

2 cups whole almonds, toasted

1 cup pistachios, toasted

  1. In a large Dutch oven, combine ⅔ cup water, 2¼ cups sugar, corn syrup, and honey. Cook on medium heat, stirring just until sugar is dissolved, until candy thermometer reaches 300F.
  2. Beat egg whites and 2 tablespoons sugar with a mixer on medium-high until white and foamy. Keeping mixer on medium-high, slowly pour hot honey mixture in a thin stream down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg whites. Increase speed to high and beat 3 minutes, until thick and glossy.
  3. Reduce speed to medium and beat in melted butter. Once incorporated, reduce speed to low and add almonds and pistachios, mixing only until nuts are incorporated to avoid deflating the candy. Pour nougat into a 9- inch square baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper and lightly greased. Cover nougat with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 12 hours. Remove nougat from pan and cut into ¼ inch thick slices. Wrap slices individually in plastic or cellophane and store at room temperature.





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