I have a confession to make: I have a sweet tooth.
While I love to cook healthy most of the time, I will always have a sweet side. I have been getting better at baking as a result of my sweet side, but there is one sweet treat production that I have never tried tried to master, making candy.
My mind started to think about candy making when fellow Post salesperson Diane Chaffee was talking about an open house she attended for one of our advertisers, The Alpaca Boutique at Majestic Meadows. They had chocolate-covered Fritos, the big ones used for dipping, with some caramelized nuts in the scooping area. That sounded so good to me that I wanted to try and make them!
As a young boy, Fritos was a weakness of mine. Still is. Combining salty and sweet? Yes!
I have also always wanted to make the festive holiday bark. I go to holiday parties and see the excellent bark people make, especially the chocolate peppermint bark. These are highly addictive treats, so delicious and perfect for the season. Time for me to give it a try, as they will make great holiday gift bags.
I did not want to do the painful “learn it on the web” process of reading articles, watching videos and ordering online. There was way too much to learn and I needed to find a real person that could quickly and accurately answer all of my questions and get me everything that I needed.
Lucky for me, Mel’s Sweet Shop in Brunswick is nearby. I set up an appointment to talk with Melanie Wurm about candy making. As I entered the shop, I was instantly drawn to the giant aisle of chocolate bags, lots and lots of discs for melting. White chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, mint-flavored chocolate. Then, a wall of chocolate molds in about every shape and size you could want, plus Christmas molds. I knew I had found the right place.
I have always been a proponent for shopping local whenever possible. I do this not just for the fact that it keeps more of my money in my community, and helps people in my community to be gainfully employed, but it also is just so much better in most things in life to talk to real, live people when you interact, especially when you are trying to learn a new skill.
I quickly learned that I did not really need an appointment, as Melanie and her daughter who run the shop are always there and they are constantly answering questions about product and method and equipment, you name it.
While it is a small shop packed with everything imaginable in the realm of candy making and baking supplies, like the endless aisle of sprinkles, it is big in so many ways.
“Chocolate is king. We sell over 8 ½ tons of chocolate in November and December!” Melanie said.
“Whoa” was my response! That is a lot of chocolate.
“White chocolate is the most popular for the Christmas barks,” she said.
What is all that chocolate used for?
“People make lots of chocolate-covered cherries. They have been soaking them for weeks and months in rum for their holiday cherries. We also sell the invertase needed to make cream filled chocolate covered cherries.”
OK, I will admit it I had to look up “invertase.” This is exactly where having a local expert can be very helpful in making something like chocolate covered cherries. Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Cookies covered in chocolate with tiny pretzels and with eyes and nose of red candies turn into great Christmas reindeer candies, they sell everything to make those, too.
Chocolate-covered Oreos are also a popular use for the melting chocolates. The nice thing is that with just a few questions, Melanie was able to tell me what I needed to do what I wanted to do. I can now make my bark and cover my Fritos with chocolate with confidence and ease.
Melanie did point out that they have classes in December for those who want to learn more, first-hand.
“People find it very easy once they learn the and have the correct supplies. This is where we shine,” Melanie said.
For those of you that like fudge, they have you covered. They have over 20 flavors that they make in-house in the case throughout the holidays.