Some of the most tantalizing creations on Etsy are of the tangibly sweet sort: caramels, taffy, downy marshmallows, chocolate bark. The temptations are many (savor the Related Items at bottom) and with Halloween just weeks away, now is the right time to celebrate the art of candy.
To do so we caught up with the ladies at Liddabit, a candy-making team of two. Liz Gutman and Jen King met in the French Culinary Institute’s pastry program and started their company about a year and a half ago. Despite having no prior business experience they believed strongly enough in their passion for sweets and high standards, both in and out of the kitchen, to break out. They started selling at local events, then at various gourmet outlets. The media picked them up and now they’ve just added their first full-time employee, another talented female pastry chef. Their Kickstarter page is up-and-running and they’ve recently opened an Etsy shop (which is under construction).
Jen King and Liz Gutman
Liz and Jen wrap their goodies in biodegradable and recycled materials and work in a wind-powered kitchen. At the heart of what they do is a love and respect for high quality sweets. They hope to have a permanent kitchen one day where classes will be taught, high school interns will be mentored, and culinary scholarships will be awarded to young female chefs. They are building from the ground up and are making life, forgive the obvious pun, sweeter for all of us.
Maple-Walnut Popcorn Balls
Makes about 20 popcorn balls, which should be eaten whole and leave your face feeling sticky.
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B has a robust, more maple-y flavor)
3/4-teaspoon baking soda
10 cups popped corn (1 plain microwave bag or 1/4 cup kernels)
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
An oiled bowl and two oiled, heatproof spatulas or spoons
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add sugars, honey, and corn syrup and cook to 300°F over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will look thick and bubbly. Add the baking soda and stir well to incorporate; the mixture will increase in volume.
Spread the popped corn out on a large sheet tray and discard any unpopped kernels. Transfer the popcorn to the oiled bowl. Pour the caramel evenly over the popcorn, then sprinkle the nuts; use 2 heatproof spatulas and toss together until corn is evenly coated.
When the caramel has cooled and is cool enough to handle but not brittle, after 2-3 minutes, toss and shape into 2” balls with lightly oiled hands. Set on a rack to cool.
Popcorn balls are best within a few days of making and keep for up to a week.