By Michelle Park
The last couple months of the year are packed with excuses to consume ridiculous amounts of sweets. Why not take full advantage of the season’s sugary spirit and make your own? Homemade candy is a great party trick, and it’s surprisingly straightforward. If you have reservations about thermometers and molten sugar, fear not — the well-versed duos behind this month’s picks will have you caramelizing with confidence.
1. The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook by Liz Gutman and Jen King
Gutman and King, co-founders of the Brooklyn-based candy company Liddabit Sweets, have a love affair with candy. It’s no small task to demystify the art of candy making for the average home cook, but their optimism is contagious. Their playful, extremely thorough cookbook starts with a three-page chart titled Speed Date the Candies, a swift tour of the 75 recipes ahead, so you can quickly find one to fit your needs, whether that’s vegan, fun to make with the kids, or “melt-in-your-mouth-y” (sic) — or all of the above (Chocolate Mint Meltaways). Candy 101 then explains everything you need to know about sugar, chocolate, cleaning, safety and essential equipment. (The equipment section is split into “musts” and “coulds,” and you might find that your kitchen is already equipped to bust out some Pecan Turtle Caramel Corn.) Because Gutman and King want you to remember that “MAKING CANDY IS FUN” from start to finish, these chapters read less like a chemistry textbook and more like a friend discussing softball sugar with you over coffee. As far as the recipes go, no secret is withheld, and they range in difficulty from easy (Buckeyes) to ambitious (Gutman and King’s signature peanut-butter-banana candy bar, aptly named The King) to ambitious and patient (Beer Pretzel Caramels). You can rest easy regardless of what you choose first; “Liz Says” and “Jen Says” bubbles pop up on every other page with additional encouragement, suggestions and troubleshooting tips, should you make any missteps.