How to Make Classic Childhood Candies

By   

View as:

Pile of miniature-sized popular candies
Photo credit: nkbimages/istockphoto

Want to take a trip down memory lane to savor your favorite candies from childhood without going to the candy store? From Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to Starburst Fruit Chews and even Bit-O-Honey, these recipes will recreate the sweet flavors you're craving. Some of them are so easy to prepare, you'll wonder why you didn't try your hand at making them sooner.

Candy thermometer in boiling sugar
Photo credit: ToscaWhi/istockphoto

Yes, you want to dive into creating tempting treats, but the first thing you'll need for these classic recipes is a candy thermometer. Bypass a fancy digital one, since a cheap version like the $2.69 model from LionsDeal does the job just as well.

Stack of plastic bowls
Photo credit: nyvltart/istockphoto

When making candy, heat-resistant bowls are a must. Bed, Bath & Beyond makes a silicon bowl that comes in a four-piece set ($20). Pyrex cooking ware can work, but know that if a hot Pyrex bowl is put onto a ceramic counter it may shatter. Always use either a potholder or a trivet underneath to prevent cracking.

Tempering chocolate
Photo credit: Esperanza33/istockphoto

This is not as hard as some chefs make it out to be, but it does require some finesse. The old school method — still used by master bakers — is to temper heated chocolate on a cold marble slab. Most of us don't have the space or facilities to do this, so the next best alternative is to heat it via stovetop or microwave and then cool it using chilled chocolate from the fridge. Learn how from the YouTube channel SortedFood. The trick here is to bring the chocolate temperature up, then down, then up again. Remember that different chocolates have different temper points. The reason for tempering: to get a snap and silky finish to chocolate treats.

Close-up of crack stages on a candy thermometer
Photo credit: Ronald E Grafe/istockphoto

Certain types of candies require bringing the sugar to specific boiling points. There are names for these stages, but you'll only need to worry about a few. Between 250-265 degrees is the hard-ball stage. At this temperature, when cooled, sugar will hold its shape in your hand. The hard-crack stage (300-310 degrees) is needed to make Bit-O-Honey and taffy-type treats.

Peanut butter cups
Photo credit: sara_winter/istockphoto

Over the years, there have been many iterations and sizes, but there's nothing like the original. This recipe is great, but to make it even better, add 1 tablespoon of room-temperature butter and double the salt to the filling mix. You don't need to have muffin tins, but they help. If you have pastry bags, use them — it makes things a lot easier.

Recipe: The Recipe Critic

Homemade Snickers
Photo credit: Simply Delicious Recipes/facebook.com

Snickers tastes of caramel nougat, chocolate and chewy peanuts, and that combination makes it one of the most satisfying treats ever produced. A bit of trivia: The candy was originally sold as the Marathon bar and was eventually renamed after the one of the Mars family's horses, Snickers. Tip: If you want this to taste just like the real thing, use the nougat from the Milky Way recipe.

Recipe: The Recipe Critic

Homemade Mounds bars
Photo credit: AmalliaEka/istockphoto

When you bite into a Mounds bar, the first thing you taste is its sweet, delectable coconut filling. Notes of dark chocolate follow this sugary goodness. The original slogan for this Hershey candy, "Indescribably Delicious" aptly suits this scrumptious treat. Tip: Use a cookie cutter to achieve a uniform look and a toothpick inserted into the coconut bars for dipping into the chocolate to get an even coating.

Recipe: Handle the Heat

Rock candy
Photo credit: bhofack2/istockphoto

Rock candy is the quintessential childhood treat; it's at every party and makes a great parting gift for children's goodie bags. But the candy, which hails from Iran, was originally used for sweetening tea. And in Mexico, it's used to decorate sugar skulls for the Day of the Dead celebrations. Rock candy will last indefinitely stored in a cool spot, but it takes two weeks to make. Just FYI and you will need a place where the sugar can sit undisturbed while the crystals form.

Recipe: YouTube channel Cookies, Cupcakes and Cardio

Almond Joy
Photo credit: Just Eat Real Food/facebook.com

The sibling to Mounds, Almond Joy has that same delicious coconut filling, but it's topped with almonds and draped in mouth-watering milk chocolate. To make this, use the Mounds recipe, substituting milk chocolate for dark and press two almonds onto each bar before dipping because "sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't." Tip: Temper the milk chocolate for a flawless appearance.

Recipe: Handle the Heat

Gumdrops in a bowl
Photo credit: Takoyaki/istockphoto

While this recipe will taste a lot like the spice gumdrops you remember from days of yore, if you don't have the correct mold, they won't look the same. Amazon has a great selection of molds that are relatively inexpensive. Once you get the recipe down, you'll be making these delicious treats all the time.

Recipe: Tablespoon

Milky Way
Photo credit: TZfoto/istockphoto

For its many fans, Milky Way with its sweet nougat, its thin layer of caramel, and milk chocolate coating is beyond delicious. Online arguments have ensued when recipes purporting to be "Milky Way" copycats eliminated the caramel layer. The reason: The European version has no caramel in it. Try making the original version below.

Recipe: Top Secret Recipes

Bit-O-Honey
Photo credit: teelesswonder/istockphoto

This delicious confection is an almond-peanut version of taffy. This recipe is easy however you must bring the honey-sugar mixture to the high end of the soft crack stage prior to adding the almond paste. Also substitute half the almond paste with crunchy peanut butter to get the taste just like the real thing.

Recipe: LeafTV

Chocolate-covered nougat
Photo credit: Rimma_Bondarenko/istockphoto

Fluffy whipped nougat covered in milk chocolate — basically a Milky Way without the caramel. The trick here is to put a piece of parchment on the pan and spray the parchment with a little cooking spray. This makes it much easier to manipulate the bars. Whatever you do, do not use an olive oil spray, as it will leave a residual taste that will not be appetizing with the chocolate. Use the recipe for Milky Way bars and omit the caramel.

Recipe: Top Secret Recipes

Chocolate puffed rice bars
Photo credit: milosducati/istockphoto

Would you believe this bar was originally made for babies? Well, sort of. Back in 1867, Henri Nestlé was looking for something to combat infant mortality rates in Switzerland, and he came up with a sweet concoction of cereal, milk, and sugar. Years later, in 1938 his former company, which kept the Nestlé name, came out with the Crunch Bar. The company is also credited with producing the first commercial milk chocolate recipe. Tip: You don't need a fancy mold. You can use a tray, but be prepared to cut the bars.

Recipe: The Decorated Cookie

Colored hard candies
Photo credit: stockcam/istockphoto

The tart flavor that hits your taste buds when you pop one of these into your mouth is a sensation that will immediately take you back to childhood. The secret to getting the identical flavor is to use citric acid. The recipe suggests a ¼ teaspoon but use at least a ½ teaspoon. Tip: Remember to heat to the hard-crack stage.

Recipe: YouTube channel Cookies Cupcakes and Cardio

Homemade Kit Kat bar
Photo credit: 00one/istockphoto

These delicious chocolate-covered wafers have been around since the 1930s and were considered a "valuable wartime foodstuff" since they contained a "rich full cream milk." Today, the crispy, chocolate-covered biscuit is a global favorite. Tip: Use either Waverly or Keebler Club crackers to get the right texture of a traditional Kit Kat bar.

Recipes: Genius Kitchen

Baby Ruth
Photo credit: Flavorite/facebook.com

The Baby Ruth bar, with its crunchy peanuts, caramel, and peanut-flavored nougat, is wrapped in milk chocolate, and while it has similar ingredients to Snickers, it tastes nothing like it. To make these, be prepared to add additional salt and/or salted peanuts, which is what gives Baby Ruth its distinct taste.

Recipe: Food Network

Chocolate toffee bars
Photo credit: cnicbc/istockphoto

Skor is Swedish for "brickle," which means "easily broken," and this tasty confection is basically a butter toffee brickle lathered in milk chocolate. The recipe is relatively simple. Toffee is made by caramelizing sugar — until its temperature reaches the hard-crack stage. The most unusual and unexpected thing about this recipe is that it uses saltine crackers. Tip: Be sure to add bits of crushed almonds to the top prior to cooking and covering with chocolate.

Recipe: North Story

Peppermint patties
Photo credit: spxChrome/istockphoto

York Peppermint Patties are the candy you bite into on a hot summer day for a burst of refreshing cool mint flavor. These are great for children's parties, and you can add a pinch of food coloring if you'd like to customize the colors. And best of all, the recipe below is super-easy and doesn't require any cooking (apart from melting the chocolate in the microwave). Yields 40 mint candies.

Recipe: Butter with a Side of Bread

Pink fruit chew
Photo credit: jskiba/istockphoto

This "unexplainably juicy" candy gets its tangy flavor from the citric acid in the mix. The original flavors of orange, lemon, strawberry and lime (later changed to cherry) were so popular that a 'tropical mix' soon followed. This recipe from ChefSteps shows the professional way to make the candy (if you want to get technical). However it is extremely difficult. This recipe from YouTube's yoyomax12 is much easier, geared for a layman's kitchen and its secret ingredient … unsweetened Kool-Aid. But remember, you have to pull the taffy to get the "Starburst" colors.

Cheapism.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.