Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chicago: A Sweet Kinda Town

I am scheduled to give a lecture at the Chicago History Museum now planned for Thursday, February 4 from 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. (45 minute lecture, 15-30 minutes for Q & A). It may be a little early to announce but do mark your calendars as it will likely sell-out.

Lecture Description: What is Chicago's connection to confections? A longtime center of candy creations, Chicago has been called America's sweetest spot. This lecture will explore the ingredients, the transportation, the machinery and the labor that has allowed our city to claim such a unique title. We'll take a look at the city's earliest candymakers and then hear the fascinating stories behind some of our beloved local confectionery companies: Fannie May, Tootsie Roll, Ferrara Pan, Wrigley, Brach's and Blommer Chocolate. Come prepared to sample treats while learning about Chicago's sweetest times.

Also, just in time for Valentine's day, on Sat. February 6th, come check out the real candyland in Chicago's own backyard. Author and historian Beth Kimmerle leads a confectionery adventure throughout the city, making sweet stops at Fannie May, Blommer Chocolate, the Wrigley Building and Vosges Chocolate while imparting historical facts about Chicago's most beloved candy companies. Be prepared to nibble on a few candies while exploring Chicago's sweetest spots.

Beth mmmmolds at a chocolate course in Pennsylvania

Several months back I had the opportunity to give a lecture on the history of confectionery molds as part of a 4-day chocolate program that is given by the PMCA annually. Over 30 students took the course in York, PA and I was honored to be a guest speaker once again. During my lecture I served fresh baked madeleines (in honor of molded confections) along with a chocolate martini I concocted using a fine rum I brought back from my last visit to Puerto Rico. Called Ron del Barrilito, this brown rum gets it's fine flavors from molasses and an aging process. My end-of-day lecture got a standing ovation which I believe was due primarily to that drink. The following day we made a visit to Wolfgang Candy to get some hands-on experience with chocolate. Here, I show the class my hollow figure molding technique using a vintage 2 piece baby or cupid mold. To aspiring chocolate makers: consider taking the PMCA course. It covers everything from tempering to sugar. You'll come out a pro. To those who want their chocolate made for them: go straight to Wolfgang! It was founded in 1921 and remains one of the oldest family-owned candy operations in the US.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What a Sweet Time it Was!

Candymonium's own confectionary expert is fresh from the California State Fair in Sacramento and their exhibit "It's a Candy Nation." The exhibit is a huge hit, and continues until September 7th, so if you're in the area check it out!

Beth, who helped create the exhibit by lending her own confectionary treasures for the history section, was interviewed for the local morning news shows and conducted several demos during her weekend in Sacramento.

Here she is entertaining the crowd and making candy sushi.  

Try it at home, here’s the recipe:

Candy Sushi

Razzle dazzle your friends and family with this out of the ordinary sweet treat by using marshmallows, Hubba Bubba Sour Gummi Tape and stick gum to create incredible, edible “sushi” and “rolls.”  It’s easy: Big Red makes fine “tuna” and Juicy Fruit makes delicious “yellowtail;” simply add Life savers Gummies and a few orange sprinkles and your rolls are ready to rock.  Enjoy fish with a fantastic sweet flavor destined to delight all taste buds!

To make this tasty sushi delight you will need

  • Large Marshmallows
  • Hubba Bubba Gummi Tape
  • An assortment of colorful stick gum: Big Red (tuna), Juice Fruit (yellowtail) and 5 cobalt (wasabi).
  • Life Savers Gummies
  • Orange Sugar or Sprinkles
  • Craft knife


1)   Cut marshmallows in half and place sticky side up on a plate. Then, cut Gummi Tape in half lengthwise and wrap around marshmallow.

2)   Next mold the whole piece of stick gum into “fish” pieces. Fold each piece of gum in half, work it around in your hands like clay to create an oblong shape and turn the corners inward for soft edges. When you are done, place each molded piece of gum on top of the marshmallow half wrapped in Gummi Tape.

3)   For variety, trim the edges of red and orange Life Savers Gummies into small square pieces. Save the corners. Cut a small piece of a green Life Savers Gummi and place into the center hole of the red and orange pieces. Place these colorful masterpieces on top of marshmallows and use the leftover edges to decorate.

4)   Finally, sprinkle with orange sugar or sprinkles and get out your chopsticks. Kompai!