In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - Candy is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | May 1, 2017 9:00 AM


Candy is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes, by Jami Curl.  Copyright © 2017 by Jami Curl. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.  Photographs copyright © 2017 by Maggie Kirkland. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Michelle Ott

Our Summary:

This is not an ordinary cookbook.  Candy is Magic is a confections cookbook with more than 200 recipes that use real, natural ingredients to make lollipops, marshmallows, caramels, drinks (of both the soft- and hard- varieties), chews and more.  Yes:  candy, natural ingredients, made in your home kitchen.  Beyond the candy-making magic, though, this book is a handbook of ideas about flavoring and building flavor and including or adding flavor to your favorite confections - be it candy, or cakes and brownies, ice creams and sauces.  Were you to never make any of the candy recipes between the covers, you'd still be glad you had the ideas and recipes to improve what you already consider your sweet treats.

Read (and hear!) more about this cookbook and some of the recipes within on WITF's podcast Now That's a Mouthful.

What you need to know:

Get it:  Candy is Magic, by Jami Curl.  Photographs by Maggie Kirkland. Illustrations by Michelle Ott.  Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC April 18, 2017.  Hardcover $35.00.  (Amazon: $20.32; Kindle $18.99)

See it:  312 pages filled with illustrations and color photographs of the candy, ingredients and recipes in process.  The Contents list identifies the basic candy groups and informational chapters.  Immediately following is the infinitely more useful Recipes index that includes Beyond Candy and Candy Kits and Celebrations, which is a collection of recipes that skip around the book and are comprised of component recipes and extra ideas using the recipes and instructions in the book.

Make it:  200 + recipes for making candy, bases for candy and flavor infusions for candy.  The candy is primarily ice creams, lollipops, caramels, fruit chews, marshmallows and gumdrops.

Our Review:

Most of us probably don't wake up and say, "Today I'm going to make candy," unless maybe it's Christmas.  And even then most of us aren't contemplating the kind of candy you'd go to a gourmet candy store (or even your grocery store) to buy.  Meet Candy is Magic, the cookbook intending to change that.  Open it up and the promise of artisanal, wildly flavored confections await.  You'll be ready to run to the kitchen when you see Peach- or Blackberry & Tangerine- Lollipops, Sea Salt Caramels, Maple & Cracked Black Pepper Caramels, Apple Caramels, or Vanilla Bean-, Chocolate-, or Strawberry- Marshmallows.  And run you must!  But, first to your arts and crafts store to procure the special candy making ingredients and supplies, and your restaurant supply store to get the right forms, pans and tools.  And then, finally, to your grocer or market.  Then, you best hope for a sunny temperate day; humidity is your homemade candy's worst nightmare.

Still, as daunting as the actual candy making recipes might first appear, Candy is Magic gently leads you in with simple, practical recipes that take little time or special equipment.  You're a success right out of the gate with syrups, creams, purees, sauces.  Even "dusts," which are what Curl refers to as "nothing short of magic" as they are used to flavor drinks, cakes, ice creams, and even your every-day basics like toast, are easy enough to make, though you might search a tiny bit to find the right ingredients.  She sets you up for success with these flavor-builders and gives you more than just a few ideas of how to use them - even in making her candy recipes.

If you want to learn and perfect dessert confections, such as cakes, pastry and ice creams, Candy is Magic may be your place to start, regardless that this is a candy cookbook.  Curl, in clear thorough (and sometimes scientific) detail, takes you through making dessert sauces like Hot Fudge or Chevre Caramel Sauce, Skillet S'mores and Marshmallow Brownies that can be topped with flavored whipped creams, and served with simple syrups and roasted fruits that ultimately become Roasted Fruit Whipped Cream or Strawberry Cream Soda

There is real magic to Curl's book.  Hard thoughtful work that yields artisanal results.  Still, you may need a little magic to succeed with Candy is Magic.  And while this cookbook is not for the faint-of-heart, or -will, there is no doubt that if you love to bake, and love to try your hand at creating confections you will never regret the creativity and almost endless ideas the book contains.  You'll find it as useful a reference as it is an opportunity to create a little candy magic in your home kitchen.

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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