When holiday times start rolling around, do you think about all the sweet things you can make to serve at festive meals?
Some folks I know start putting together masses of candies to give away for Christmas. If you have one of these people for a friend, you’re lucky.
The good old Merriam-Webster people, who love to make lists, created just such a collection of candies and such for the holiday cooks.
I learned a thing or two, especially about the difference between bonbons and truffles.
An old friend of mine used to describe my lifestyle as “relaxing on the couch, watching TV and eating bonbons.”
I didn’t even know what a bonbon was. Now I do.
The word is French for “good, good.” A bonbon is a candy with a hard chocolate cover and a soft center. I reckon all those boxes of chocolates in heart shaped containers hold bonbons.
Truffles are also involved with chocolate, usually, and are candy made of chocolate, butter, sugar and sometimes liqueur shaped into balls and coated with cocoa. They’re supposed to look like the truffles that pigs dig up in France. And they do.
Nougat, which you don’t see much, is made of nuts and fruit pieces in a sugar paste. It involves egg whites and sometimes honey.
We just passed the season of mellow crème, though you probably didn’t know that. The Halloween candy that ends up looking like corn, and also the little pumpkins, are made of mellowcreme.
Down here in the South, we all know pralines, which can be pronounced either PRAH-leen or PRAY-leen.
The first pralines in France were an entirely different candy of sugar-coated almonds, unlike the Louisiana interpretation, which involves sugar cane and pecans. Both are plentiful in Cajun country.
Fudge is relatively new in the candy collection, though its name is old, meaning to fake, or falsify.
Fudge is a soft creamy candy of sugar, milk, butter and flavoring.
There was an actual British naval officer named Captain Fudge, who was known by the sailors as a liar.
Dragees and Jordan almonds both are almonds covered with a hard sugar coat. I haven’t seen any of these in a long time. They come in lots of pretty pastel colors.
Caramels we all know and love. The candy is made from butter, sugar and milk. The term caramel is also used to refer to sugar that’s cooked until it’s burnt, used as a flavor or color.
So, those of you who like to make candy gifts can start getting busy with your holiday preparations, now knowing what you may not have known about all these candies. Most of their names have come from the French, adopted by the English.
Like our country, and like the preparation of the candy, a melting pot.