I think to most young folks the sweetstuff made by themselves at home tastes indescribably better than that which comes from what Scotch children call a "sweetie" shop. It has, at any rate, the merit of being more wholesome. With this idea I have written out some successful recipes, which have been duly tried and approved of by an appreciative circle of girl friends, and I think, if you carefully follow them, you also will be pleased with the results.
My first shall be for that time-honoured favourite, Toffee. Take one pound of brown sugar, two ounces of butter, and half a teacup-ful of cream or milk. Put these materials into a nice clean pan, and boil, without stirring, for twenty minutes. At the end of that time find out if it is sufficiently boiled, by dropping a little into cold water, when, if it "sets", the mixture should be poured into a buttered dish or tin. The addition of five or six drops of essence of vanilla, just before it is poured out, is a great improvement.
Toffee-Balls are made by taking a little of the toffee off the buttered dish before it gets too cold, and rolling small pieces tightly into balls in your fingers. When you have thus shaped the balls, roll them about on a cold plate until they are perfectly hard and cold.
If you want to have Almond Toffee, blanch four ounces of almonds, split them into strips, and throw them into the toffee just before it is dished, omitting the vanilla flavouring. To blanch the almonds, throw them into a basin of slightly salted boiling water, and leave them to soak for two or three minutes. Then pour off the water, and you will find the skins slip off between your fingers. Drop each almond into clear cold water, then strain and lay them in a shallow dish to dry slowly in front of the fire before using.
Everton Toffee - For this, half a pound of golden syrup, half a pound of Demerara sugar, lemon juice to taste, and from five to six ounces of butter are required. Mix carefully the sugar and syrup, and then add the butter in little bits, stirring slowly till it is all thoroughly mixed. Then cease stirring, or the toffee will "sugar", let it boil gently till a tiny bit thrown into cold water sets. If everything is satisfactory, it will be beautifully crisp, and the whole should then be poured into a tin previously well rubbed with sweet oil or butter. When it is half cold, mark it into squares.
Butter Scotch - Put into a very clean pan one pound and a half of soft sugar, two ounces of butter, half a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, and half a teacupful of cold water. Let the whole boil for about ten minutes without stirring, then dip a spoon in cold water when the mixture hardens it will do. You may add, if you like, a little powdered ginger of vanilla essence just before pouring it out. Mark it into neat square when it cools a little.
Marzipan - Procure half a pound of almonds, two ounces of bitter almonds, and half a pound of sugar. Blanch the almonds and pound them in a mortar; clarify and cook the sugar slightly, then remove it from the fire and stir into it the almonds. Warm all together, stirring well, and taking the greatest care that it doesn't burn. When it is cooked enough (that is, when it won't adhere to the fingers), pour it out on a board sprinkled with sugar. As soon as it is cool, cut it into tiny fancy shapes, stars, rings and fingers; and, if you are anxious to make it a very "swell" goody, decorate it with preserved cherries or other dried fruits.
Chocolate Creams - Take one pound of loaf sugar, put it into a saucepan, and pour some good milk or thin cream over it, as much as the sugar will absorb. Let the latter dissolve, then boil it gently for a time, until when you drop a little into cold water it candies. Do not boil it too long, or, in place of smoothly creaming, the sugar will go into minute sand-like grains. Be most careful, too, that it doesn't stick to the pan, but do not stir it till it is taken off, when it must be continually stirred until it creams. Then beat until cool, when it has to be rolled into little balls, which form the inner cream of the sweetmeat. Now put half a pound of vanilla chocolate into a jar, and place over a saucepan of boiling water to dissolve; when melted, dip the creams into it and place them on a buttered paper to get cool.
Cocoa-nut Tablet - Get a small fresh cocoa-nut, open one of the holes at the top, and pour out the milk into a cup; crack the shell, take out the kernel, and pare all the skin from it, then grate about half of the kernel. Dissolve half a pound of loaf sugar in a large cupful f cold water, and when it is dissolved put it on a clear moderate fire, without flame or smoke, to boil; a little of the cocoa-nut milk may be added. Allow it to boil for five or six minutes, carefully removing every particle of scum that rises, when the sugar should look like a thick white cream; then add the grated cocoa-nut, and let it boil for a few minutes longer, stirring it continuously from the bottom with a wooden spoon to prevent it catching. Try if it is ready by pouring a teaspoonful into a cup of cold water, when if you can gather a little soft lump at the bottom of the cup it is sufficiently boiled. Remove it from the fire, pour it out upon a buttered plate, or sheet of clean, common note paper previously laid in front of the fire to warm. When it is thoroughly set, but not quite cold, cut it into neatly shaped blocks. If you would like the tablet to be pink, add some drops of cochineal to the syrup while boiling, stirring to see the required tint.
Barley Sugar - For this you require one pound and a half of fine loaf sugar broken into very small lumps and boiled over the fire in a pint of water. Keep on skimming it carefully till it looks like glue, and becomes so brittle when dropped into cold water that it snaps. Now add the juice of a lemon, and a few drops of essence of lemon, and boil the sugar up once. Stand the pan in a basin of cold water till the contents have somewhat cooled, when they may be poured out upon a shallow buttered tin; to prevent the sweetmeat spreading too much, draw it together with a knife. When it has cooled sufficiently to be handled, cut it into small pieces, and roll them into round sticks, which you can twist a little so as to make the look more like the barley sugar one buys in shops. All that remains to be done is to sift the sugar lightly over the sticks when they have become perfectly cold and hard.
Fig Rock - For this take one cupful of sugar, three-quarters of a cupful of water, and a quarter of a teaspoonful of cream of tartar. Boil till the mixture becomes an amber colour, but do not stir during the process; add the cream of tartar just before taking from the fire. Wash the figs, split them in half, and lay them flatly on a dish, pour the mixture over them, and let it stand til cold.