The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Making homemade sweets


Photo: Sweets on the gate side stand

Photo: Sweets on the gate side stand

Apart from Christmases as a very small child I had never attempted to make sweets until this Christmas. I only started doing this to draw a slightly different crowd to our gate side stand. The ‘melt in the mouth’ fudge sold very well and didn’t need an expensive new jar and lid. Although I agree with Suky it wasn’t quite chewy enough for me – so I’ll cook it until it’s golden brown next time. I packed it in little cellophane envelopes that are sold for handmade cards. With the standard red raffia bows I tried to make them look as enticing as possible. I also offered individually wrapped free samples which has had a significant impact on sales.

My hearty thanks go out to redfox for her suggestion of crunchy toffee and link to this recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog. David used to be the pastry chef at Chez Panisse (Alice Waters) and is someone that I have always been a little in awe of. But his site is fun, readable and extremely helpful. And apart from the cakes, patisseries and reviews is choc-a-bloc with confectionary porn.

When I saw these chocolates on his site I just had to make them. I found 300 paper sweet cases in TKMaxx and got to work on the filling right away. Yesterday I made tempered chocolate  – I’d not heard of this before but it’s essential to stop the chocolate developing a bloom in a warm room. Filling the tiny cases was a fiddly time consuming job that I’m sure will become easier in time. The result was a chocolate to die for – even Danny loved them and he hates dark chocolate. Today I will be making a milk chocolate version. They are a Rolls Royce grown up version of the Hershey peanut cups.

The crunchy toffee was a doddle to make. I made mine as thin as possible and am selling a plain and a nutty version. I had to pack them all up yesterday evening as they are totally moreish.

To make these sweets you need two essential pieces of equipment. A candy/jam thermometer (a good investment as it helps when making your own homemade yoghurt) and a large heavy bottomed saucepan. I use the same Circulon Infinite hard anodised stockpot one for all my preserving. I bought it in a sale years ago and it has proved to be worth every penny.

People bought chocs yesterday and I’ll report back on how well the toffee goes down. My idea is to keep on making new lines for the stand so it doesn’t become invisible. Apart from fresh vegetables and eggs I want everything to be a pretty and tempting treat for under £2.00. Making sweets is great fun – why not give it a whirl?

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  1. I have just purchased some chocolate shot cups and i want to fill them with different flavour fillings, could you advise me on the best way of doing this

  2. I was wondering about flavouring sweets/chocolates. Thing is, if I want nice chocs I have to make my own as i can’t actually eat chocolate, so I have to use a mix of carob and white chocolate (I’m caffeine intolerant). I’d like to have a go at some filled chocs etc. but would prefer to use natural flavourings – could I use essential oils like peppermint or orange, I’m just a tad concerned in case they’re not safe to eat.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Suki

      I reckon that you must use the food grade oils that are available in food shops – unless, of course, the label states that it is food grade quality. On the other hand it would be worth asking your local health food store for advice too.

  3. I’m sure I found a recipe for sweets using apple and other fruits where you added sugar and then heated until you could see the bottom of the pan when you stirred but I can’t find it anywhere, does anyone know where it is??? I’m sure it was on this site! thanks.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Leslie

    I love the idea of herb sprigs – thank you! I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day already. I have an advert for my decorating business in the Parish Magazine and I’m going to ask the editor if I can change it to promoting the gate side stand whilst I’m out of action.

    This project is fun. Yesterday we made orange vinegar (delicious) to sell on the stand.
    Now you have got me thinking about herb vinegar…

    Hi Redfox

    The toffee is good. The village children think so too as they are wolfing down the free samples!

    Hi Suky

    Yes herb mixes would be good – in fact I bought an Italian herb mix to put in D’s stocking this Christmas which went down very well. I’m setting seed for pots of herbs to sell on the stand as soon as it gets a bit warmer.

    Hi Pamela

    Loved your comment!

    Hello Casalba

    They sound great – can’t wait to try them! Thank you.

    I couldn’t get your guests at all until you told me that they were back to front!

    Hello Penny

    Sending sweets in the post is something that we would be happy to do in the future.

    Hi Jude

    The mendiants are a great idea – and they look so pretty. Thanks for the nudge about the bark too.

    Hi Brightsprite

    Nipples of Venus – I wonder what the village children would think of them! Thanks so much for the recipe for lavender heart biscuits – brilliant idea.

  5. brightsprite

    Fiona, can I suggest lavender heart biscuits for Valentines Day – my birthday!
    115g / 4 oz / ½ cup unsalted butter
    50 g / 2 oz / ¼ cup caster sugar
    175 g / 6 oz / 1½ cups plain flour
    15 ml / 1 tbspn dried culinary lavender
    30 ml / 2 tbspns superfine sugar for sprinkling

    1. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in the flour and lavender and bring the mixture together in a soft ball. Cover and chill for 15 minutes.

    2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and stamp out about 18 biscuits, using a 5cm/2in heart-shaped cutter. Place on a heavy baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until golden.

    3. Leave the biscuits standing for 5 minutes to set (and crisp). Using a metal spatula, transfer carefully from the baking sheet on to a wire rack to cool completely. The biscuits can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.

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