A sweet tooth can be a dangerous thing — especially at the holidays. One look at a plate of fudge at a workplace party or on Christmas Eve, and things can go from virtuous to sinful in a matter of moments. So when containers of homemade candies from all corners of the state began arriving at the Bangor Daily News last week, all of which were entries in our Holiday Candy Contest, we had to take steps to ensure their safety.
A bag of pretty homemade marshmallows in both coconut and peppermint flavors, submitted by Novilla Rollins of Bangor, brought roving eyes from hungry reporters. A box of salty and sweet Butter Nut Crunch, created by Jeanne Dunphy of Hermon, had to be locked away. There were exactly six pieces of Snowy Branches, delectable clusters of crunchiness and creaminess submitted by Patricia MacArthur of Princeton. Any fewer in the box would have been noticed.
In the end, of course, our BDN staffers remained nice instead of naughty. We taste-tested each submission — 14 in total — on Tuesday afternoon. Our panel of judges consisted of Ann Marie Orr, creator of Ann Marie’s Secret Sauce and owner of Ann Marie’s Kitchen in Bangor; Arlene Boyle, a BDN employee and owner of Holden-based candy making business Kara’s Homemade Delights; and Dan Cashman, owner of Cashman Communications in Bangor, possessor of a serious sweet tooth and host of “The Nite Show” that airs at 11:30 p.m. Saturdays on WABI-TV.
Candies were judged on appearance, texture and overall appeal, on a scale of 1-10 for each category. The final ratings were added up, all the judges’ scores were combined, and we settled on the top three winners.
In first place was Ken Doiron of Bangor, who got 84 out of 90 possible points for his Tiger Butter, a creamy, decadent treat with the consistency of fudge and the look of a bark or brittle. Doiron found the recipe in a Bangor Daily News article a number of years ago.
“It caught my eye due to its simplicity,” said Doiron. “I have made it on special occasions ever since it was in the paper, and it is a requested favorite at family gatherings.”
Doiron mixes melted white chocolate and crunchy peanut butter together, spreads it out on a wax paper coated cookie sheet, and drizzles semisweet chocolate over it, in a visually appealing swirl. Judges praised everything from its look to its taste.
“Everything about it was really yummy,” said Orr. “Not too heavy, not too light. And the flavor combination is perfect.”
Second place, with 81 points, went to Marjorie White of the Washington County town of Brookton, with her Orange Chocolates. Judges appreciated the soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture of the orange caramel base, dipped in a chocolate butterscotch mixture.
“[The recipe was] given to me by my sister-in-law Agnes Foss, who was a home economics teacher at Lee Academy,” said White. “I have been making these and other kinds for 40 years.”
In third place, with 75 out of 90 points, was Meredythe Carlisle of Glenburn, with her recipe for Jingle Bells Fudge. Made from an old family recipe, Carlisle’s fudge is actually a pumpkin flavor, akin to the sweet-savory taste of pumpkin pie. She credits the recipe to her grandfather, who was a pastry chef at Warmuth’s Restaurant in Boston.
“People are a little afraid of pumpkin fudge. They like pumpkin pie, but fudge, they’re not so sure,” said Carlisle. “Once you try it though, people really love it. It’s different.”
Honorable mentions go to Teresa Maybury of Brewer, with her Porcupines, or Date Balls, and Jeanne Dunphy’s Butter Nut Crunch, which both received 67 points. Thank you to all those who submitted their recipes — we hope you had as much fun making your treats as we did sampling them.
Makes 1½ pounds
1 pound white chocolate
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Melt white chocolate in a 2-quart bowl, about 5-8 minutes, stirring once per minute. Stir in peanut butter. Quickly spread mixture on wax paper coated cookie sheet. Drizzle over peanut butter layer and swirl mixtures. Refrigerate until firm, then break or cut into pieces.
Recipe courtesy of Ken Doiron
Makes about 2 pounds of candy
1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
½ stick margarine, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 stick of Gulf Wax (cooking wax)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces butterscotch chips Orange oil
Yellow and red food coloring
Mix sugar, margarine and butter in a large bowl. Add a few drops of orange oil and a few drops of yellow and red food coloring, to give mixture an orange tinge. Add sweetened condensed milk, a small amount at a time, until mixture is soft and pliable and forms a ball; you will want to wear plastic gloves. Form the mixture into a ball, and then flatten out and put on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Put in refrigerator to harden. When candy is fully cooled and hardened, cut out round shapes with a small cookie cutter. Add water to a double boiler and bring to a boil. Add one third of a stick of Gulf Wax (cooking wax) and the chocolate and butterscotch chips, stirring until mixture is fully melted. Pierce each piece of orange candy with a long fork and dip into melted chocolate and butterscotch, tapping the candy on the side of the pan a few times to shake off extra chocolate. Return dipped candies to waxed paper lined cookie sheet and refrigerate again.
Recipe courtesy of Marjorie White
Jingle Bells Fudge
Makes 48 pieces of fudge
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cups canned pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
12 ounces white chocolate chips
7 ounces jar marshmallow cream
Coat a 9×12 inch-baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix butter, sugar, evaporated milk. pumpkin puree and spices in a 3-quart sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture turns into a soft and pliable ball, or at 235 degrees if using a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in white chocolate chips. Let them melt, then add in marshmallow cream mixing until smooth. Pour into prepared baking pan and refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares; can keep for two weeks if kept in airtight container and in a cool place.
Recipe courtesy of Meredythe Carlisle