By Dustin Shipman
With no shortage of sweet tooths, Christmas is among one of the busiest times of the year for Terry Hicklin, who along with his wife, Pat, owns the Candy House Gourmet Chocolates.
“We will do as much today as we do the entire month of June,” Hicklin said on Monday. “Our No. 1 item all year is our English toffee and our caramel pecan treats.”
Along with the favorites that have been in demand since the Candy House was founded back in 1970, there is an ever-evolving selection that Hicklin has made available to his customers since he bought the business 10 years ago.
Some of the holiday favorites can be hard to keep in stock.
“As far as holiday items, we sell a lot of peanut brittle, divinity and we have like 17 different kinds of fudges,” he said. “We also sell a lot of sugar-free gift boxes. In fact, we ran out of the sugar-free gift boxes this week and we are pushing to get some more.”
One of the more popular and unique items that the Candy House makes is called “Mine Run,” which is a treat similar to a honeycomb in texture. It’s made with corn syrup and sugar, then baking soda and gelatin are added to make it porous, and the whole thing is covered in chocolate.
“It’s very labor intensive, and when people know we are out of it, it’s like a flag goes up,” Hicklin said. “Once we dip them in chocolate, we have to go back over by hand and touch them up because even if a little pin hole is in the chocolate then air will get inside and dissolve them from the inside.”
Hicklin said cherry cordials are another favorite which take quite a bit of work to make, but something that several of his customers seem to enjoy.
“They are a pretty detailed item,” he said. “We start with a maraschino cherry and we drain them and put them in a great big tumbler and put in a special sugar, and then we spray them with cherry juice and an enzyme. We have to do that three times. We cover them in chocolate and then it takes them about three weeks for that enzyme inside of them to eat the cherry. In all, it can take three to four weeks to make them.”
Hicklin said a lot of the success in candy making comes from adding the right ingredients at the right time and keeping them at right the temperature, because even little factors can change the final product considerably.
“When you are working with chocolate you are getting to the basics of sugar and corn syrup,” Hicklin said. “Of course, like with a divinity you have to have the right humidity and even with a fudge if you stir it even five minutes too long or your temperature is off by a degree then you can ruin a whole batch.”
Items and creations from the Candy House are available at the original location of the Candy House located at 454 Redings Mill Road, as well as at the Chocolate Factory, 510 Kentucky Ave., in Joplin. There are also two locations in Springfield and an online catalog available at www.candyhouse.net.
By Dustin Shipman
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