(the title is shamelessly stolen from an email written by a good friend about her envy-inducing Southeast Asian Adventure.)
These are facts about Kirstin:
– She loves to cook and bake and eat
– She doesn’t particularly enjoy shopping
– She has a growing scrooge-ness toward owning too many things that she projects onto other people
Therefore, for the Chon-Kemin white elephant gift exchange, I decided to forego shopping for a gift and contribute something that would have a short lifespan. With a 1000 som limit (~$20), it had to be special.
Therefore, I made candy for Christmas. When done right, homemade candy is 100% successful in impressing everybody.
There were, of course, many challenges with making candy in Kyrgyzstan, such as being unable to find certain ingredients or tools. Here’s how I overcame such challenges:
– Need large quantities of chocolate? Suck it up and buy a dozen or so chocolate bars; I have yet to find bulk chocolate, chocolate chips or baking chocolate sold anywhere. (Although, I found that I used about 1/2 as much chocolate for dipping things in when it came down to it, and the results did not suffer in any way.)
– Corn syrup? Korean markets carry some (and brown sugar too!). I found a well-stocked one on Kievska-Erkindik.
– Silicon baking tools? I found a spatula and a rectangular mold at Tsum. One store carried silpats, but I didn’t find them until after I bought the mold. All of it cost a bit more than I would’ve paid in the states.
– Candy thermometer?! The one thing that every single recipe said I absolutely had to have for candy-making? After playing charades with many shopkeepers in Tsum and finally learning the word in Russian (“градусник”), they all told me they didn’t carry any. I studied many internet articles regarding the various stages of candy-making and had a giant bowl of ice water next to me at all times for constant checking. I waited a bit too long with the caramels (they were a bit too hard), but the toffee turned out lovely.
The homemade Almond Joys were my favorite.
I boxed up the majority of the candy and toted it out to Chon-Kemin, photographing everybody’s reactions after the big reveal.
Looks like it was well received.
Have I inspired you to try making homemade candy yet? And if I have, will you send me some? I bet it holds up really well through international postal systems.