When candymakers buy chocolate in bulk, it’s a sure sign they are serious about their craft. Anne Criddle certainly is. Since Thanksgiving, she has been as busy as Ole St. Nick in his workshop, making batch after batch of her mouth-watering specialties at home in western Lowndes County. There is the maple-walnut fudge, turtles, toffee, coconut bonbons and peppermint patties. And don’t forget the chocolate-covered cherries, peanut butter cups and Rice Krispie crunch.
It’s been a tradition of Criddle’s for about 25 years. She used to make candy to sell, but these days, she gifts most of it to lucky recipients. Those have ranged from friends and neighbors to coworkers and service providers who have been helpful to the family during the year.
It was Criddle’s sister, Barbara Korlath, who got this candy express rolling.
“My sister took a candymaking class when she lived in West Virginia,” said Criddle, who is an accounts receivable administrator with Burkhalter Rigging Inc. “When she came home at Christmas one year, she taught my mother (now deceased), my other sister, Becky Stone, and me how to make candy. All of us girls have continued making candy every Christmas season.”
Korlath now lives in Raymond and makes a huge supply of holiday candy, primarily to give to her husband’s work associates. The two sisters team up in ordering chocolate and other necessary ingredients in bulk, well in advance of the holidays. When Criddle makes the trip to Raymond to pick up her portion of the goodies, the car is loaded with dark, milk and white chocolate, pecans, walnuts, decorative tins and anything else Korlath has ordered for the pair. Then, right around Thanksgiving, the candymaking begins.
In her Prairie kitchen earlier this month, Criddle melted chocolate for yet another large tray of toffee. Stepping over to a counter, she picked up a much-thumbed stack of papers attached together. A big smile spread across her face.
“This is my bible,” she said, pressing her hand on top of the treasured collection of recipes her sister shared after the candymaking class all those years ago.
“When she gave them to me she said, promise me if I teach you, you won’t give this away!” Criddle shares some of those recipes in today’s food pages.
One of her favorites to make is turtles. She’ll probably produce 250 to 300 of them this season.
“Making turtles relaxes me,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about checking a thermometer or watching the stove.” She shares two turtle recipes today: She makes the “creamy” version. The “original” seems to produce a chewier turtle.
During the candy flurry, Criddle gets an assist from her daughter, Katie. She is the official “taster” and has learned how to make turtles and help with the toffee, but Katie would not want to make candy for a living. Her mother would be happy to.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own shop with homemade candies, along with all sorts of kitchen gadgets,” said Criddle. In her candy shop daydream, she would also eventually add her homemade sourdough bread, rolls and cinnamon rolls, but at present, that is a “what if” for the future.
“For now, I’ll continue to be a seasonal candymaker and spread the cheer,” she said. “I’ll just keep dreaming of my little shop and keep making candy out of my kitchen.”
(Editor’s note: As of press time, Criddle had a limited supply of turtles, toffee and maple-walnut fudge available for purchase. If interested, contact her at 662-251-1159.)
Makes 45-50 turtles
1 can Eagle Brand milk
12-16 ounces coarsely chopped nuts of choice
1 1/2 pounds of candymaking chocolate, or milk chocolate or dark almond bark
14 ounces Kraft Caramels
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon margarine
12-16 ounces coarsely chopped nuts of choice
1 1/2 pounds of candymaking chocolate, or milk or dark almond bark
Makes about 2 1/2 pounds
2 cups butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons Light Karo Syrup
1 11-ounce package milk chocolate pieces
1 cup finely-chopped toasted pecans (or walnuts)
MAPLE FUDGE WITH WALNUTS
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 12-ounce package white morsels
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I use more)
1 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring (I use maple syrup)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.