Candy & Sweets
There are an incredible number of dances with candy and sweet themes. A whole program could be created just for chocolate! A jig, reel, or strathspey for every sweet tooth.
(click for more food history and folkore and background information)
Butterscotch Pudding Day
Do you know difference between butterscotch, caramel, toffee, and dulce de leche? Caramel is made with white sugar, heavy cream, butter and vanilla; while butterscotch substitutes brown sugar for white. Toffee can be considered butterscotch cooked to the hard crack stage, and dulce de leche is a caramel-colored sauce made from slow cooking of white sugar and cow or goat's milk. Interestingly, the term "butterscotch" does not refer to the addition of whisky but to the original harder candy version which would be "scotched" or "scored" in a criss-cross pattern to make cutting into pieces easier. The butterscotch aromas and flavours named in whiskies derives from the compound diacetyl, a natural product of yeast fermentation. Of course, you can always improve your butterscotch recipe by adding a little whisky! 🥃 🧈 🍯
Butterscotch and Honey
Fudge and Tablet Day
Fudge is a type of sugar candy (often chocolately) made by mixing sugar, butter and milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage, then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. Tablet is fudge's Scottish cousin with a more brittle and grainy texture. American style fudge became popular in the United States as a shared recipe enjoyed by the ladies at Vassar College during the late 1880s. However, the slang term "fudge" (which as a noun means lies or nonsense) predates the candy and even appears in Sir Walter Scott's St. Ronan's Well (1823) as "'He lies,' answered Lord Etherington, 'so far as he pretends I know of such papers. I consider the whole story as froth - foam, fudge, or whatever is most unsubstantial.'"
Chocolate Mint Day
Truffles originated in France in 1895 or 1920, depending on various sources, as a ball of chocolate ganache dusted with cocoa, and was given the name truffle for their resemblance to the dark and rumpled prized mushrooms of the same name. According to legend, French patissier Louis Dufour coined the idea for chocolate truffles on Christmas Day, 1895 in Chambray, France. When he ran out of ideas for Christmas treats he could make to sell to his customers, he chose to try something new. He made up a batch of ganache, shaped it into a round ball, and then dipped it into melted chocolate. He then rolled the chocolate-covered ganache balls in cocoa powder! Besides the classic French truffle, there are now regional variations such as Swiss truffles, European truffles, American Truffles, California Truffles, and even psychoactive Cannabis truffles! But mint is a chocolatier's classic! 🍫 🌱
Goody Goody Gumdrops! It's Gumdrops Day! In 1915 a candy manufacturer named Percy Truesdell started producing a chewy candy gumdrop with an enhanced texture, using a formula he developed while conducting experiments at Ohio State University. With just the right amount of chewiness we now recognize as the modern soft gumdrop, Truesdell's version became wildly popular leading to his unofficial crowing as "the gumdrop king." If you ever played the classic board game, Candy Land, you may remember Gumdrop Mountain! And although today's gumdrops tend to be fruit-flavoured, originally, gumdrops were flavored with spices: orange (clove), yellow (allspice), red (cinnamon), green (spearmint), purple (anise), white (wintergreen or peppermint), and black (licorice)! 🍭
Willy Wonka Day
Fond of chocolate? Today marks the day that lucky golden ticket holders from the children's story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, gathered to tour Willy Wonka's factory. In the novel, the Wonka Bar is a chocolate bar and Willy Wonka’s signature product, said to be the "perfect candy bar". In the film version, the wrappers of the 1971 version are brown with an orange and pink border with a top hat over the "W" in Wonka, similar to the film's logo, and the chocolate bars resemble Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars! Although Wonka's chocolate factory is credited with marvelous and magical candies and chocolates, there have been new innovations in the chocolate world in real life! Besides dark, milk, and white chocolate, as of 2017, you can now sample "Ruby chocolate." This new variety of chocolate was introduced by Barry Callebaut, a Belgian–Swiss cocoa company, which had been working on this variety since 2004. It is notable for its natural pink colour and sweet flavour described as a combination of white chocolate and raspberries! The chocolate is made from "ruby cocoa beans", an existing botanical cocoa bean variety, though the exact production method is a trade secret! Interestingly, the public interest in this the chocolate variety has been linked to the overall popularity of the colour pink in marketing and on social media in the 2010s, a phenomenon that is referred to as "millennial pink". 🍫 🍭 🍬 🍫
The Chocolate Factory
Maple Syrup Day
Get out the syrup! It's time for some "sweet and saccharin substance" on your pancakes, French toast, and waffles! Or even some maple sugar candy! Maple syrup was first collected and used by the indigenous peoples of North America, who reduced the sugary water by freezing it and discarding the ice or boiling off the water to make maple sugar. Alternating freeze and thaw temperatures are necessary to create the pressure which causes the sap to
flow when the tree is tapped - which in North America is usually between February and April. Maple syrup contains a wide variety of polyphenols and volatile organic compounds which give it its distinctive flavour including: maple furanone, strawberry furanone, and maltol (with an odour of cotton candy), along with a newly discovered compound named "quebecol," created when the sap is boiled. Holiday baking is a good time to use the year's harvest, particularly for seasonal treats such as the Sugar Maple Pie, traditionally enjoyed in the largest syrup producing areas in Canada, Quebec, and the Northeastern United States, Vermont, the biggest producers of maple syrup in their respective countries. Recipe included! 🥞 🍁 🥧 🍁 🧇
Maple Sugar Jig
Chocolate Mousse Day
Alexandre Viard, chef to Louis XVI and Napoleon, first described this dessert, later referred to as "mousse au chocolat" in the 1820 edition of his culinary encyclopedia, Le Cuisinier Royal. But the popularity of this tasty chocolate dessert really began to surge when the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), who was also known for his culinary skills, came up with a recipe he first named “mayonnaise au chocolat.” Peter Hastings' actual recipe included!
Peter Hastings' Chocolate Mousse
World Chocolate Day
Switzerland is particularly renowned for its chocolate, especially its milk chocolate. In 1875, a Swiss confectioner, Daniel Peter, developed the first solid milk chocolate using condensed milk, which had been invented by Henri Nestlé, who was Peter's neighbour in Vevey. A few years after in 1879, Rodolphe Lindt perfected the conching machine (a special chocolate polisher, mixer and agitator which improves the quality, texture, and flavor) after a happy accident which left one of his mixing machine on overnight, yielding a flavorful smooth mixture which ultimately allowed chocolate to be utilized in confectionery, rather than just as a gritty hot beverage flavouring. Prior to that, the gritty solid chocolate was not popular!
The hexagonal comb of the honey bee has been admired and wondered about from ancient times. The geometry of a honeycomb minimizes the amount of used material and allows the storage of the maximum amount of honey. Honeycomb candy, also known as cinder coffee, is a popular, easy-to-make treat which mimics the airy texture of real honeycomb - sugar, honey, cornstarch, and baking soda!
Christmas Candy Day
Although one of the most distinctive and recognized of holiday candies, ribbon candy has the dubious honour of being one of the most disliked of Christmas candies (perhaps for its unwieldy shape for eating and for its incongruously disappointing flavor). In fact, some people are surprised to learn that it is even edible! Regardless, whichever confectionery vision dances in your head - be it marzipan, maple sugar candy, chocolate Santas, candy canes, or even hard ribbon candy, there is much to delight the eye and plenty of selections for decorating gingerbread or candy houses! Although first made by confectioners by modeling the wavy form around the candy maker’s thumb, by the 1800s weaving and twisting mechanical crimpers were invented to shape the ribbons of ribbon candy that we recognize today. 🎄 🍭 🍬
St. Nicholas' Day
Happy St. Nicholas' Day! If you've escaped the Krampus and left out your shoes last night, you may have received a treat from St. Nicholas! On the eve of St. Nicholas, many children set out shoes filled with carrots and hay on the for St. Nick’s horse (or donkey) hoping to receive small gifts such as fruits, nuts, chocolate, candies, cookies, coins, or poems and riddles! One such small gift of candy might be a candy cane! The candy cane allegedly owes its distinctive shape to a 17th century German choirmaster, who bent the a hard candy into the form of a shepherd’s staff and gave it to children to symbolize the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. As shepherd of his people and patron saint of children, images of St. Nicholas often include a hook-shaped staff called a crozier. Besides candy canes, other traditional treats for the feast of St. Nicholas include St. Nicholas cookies, a popular holiday spiced cookie with similar flavors to gingerbread and can include cloves, anise, pepper, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, but without the molasses! 🎅🏻 🍬
The Candy Cane Reel
Chocolate Cake Day
Even though powdered chocolate was made available to cooks by 1828, it was used mostly for drinks. But by 1886, cooks began adding chocolate to the cake batter, to make the first chocolate cakes. The Duff Company of Pittsburgh, a molasses manufacturer, introduced Devil's Food chocolate cake mixes in the mid-1930s, but mass production was put on hold during World War II. After the war, chocolate cake became hugely popular and figured in many recipe books. Additionally, the availability of "cake mixes" from manufacturers such Pillsbury and Duncan Hines made cake baking simple. Do you remember these chocolate cake trends? 1960s "Tunnel of Fudge" Bundt cakes; 1980s Chocolate Decadence cake; 1990s Chocolate Lava cake; 2000s artisan Chocolate Cupcakes; and 2010s Flourless Chocolate cakes and tortes. Whatever your favorite, go ahead! 🍫🍰
Walnut Cake with Chocolate Spread
Candy & Sweets Dance Index
(click for dance description or cribs)
A Jar of Honey
Butterscotch and Honey
Leeds 50th Anniversary
Highland Heather Honey
Maple Sugar Jig
Sugar Loaf Jig
The Candy Cane Reel