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February 15, 1881
So, that “rat,” Jeffrey Sullivan, is still trying to worm his way into my sister Melinda’s affections. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and that ol’ Jeffrey thought he’d impress her by bringing her a box of fancy chocolates with the soft centers. Little does Jeffrey know! Chocolate is not Melinda’s favorite sweet. She thinks chocolate melts too fast (and it does) and makes her hands dark with chocolate smears and sticky. So guess what? Melinda thanked him politely for the box of chocolates then handed it all to me! I gave her a huge hug.
So, what is Melinda’s favorite treat? What is mine? Keep reading!
11. Our Favorite Sweets
Melinda’s Favorite Sweet
Melinda loves Romney’s KENDAL MINT CAKES. Do not ask me why. The two ingredients in this hard block of candy are sugar and peppermint. Now, if I want peppermint, I’ll have a peppermint drop or a peppermint stick. But Melinda? She loves these little cakes that she can break off and eat like a candy bar.
One time, I tried a cooking experiment. I begged a few bars of her mint cake. Then I heated up some of Mother’s milk chocolate bars until it ran dark and smooth. With a fork, I dunked the rectangle mint bar in the liquid chocolate, lifted it up high, and let it drip. I put the chocolate-covered mint cake on a piece of clean paper and waited for it to harden. Mmm, Kendal’ Mint Cakes suddenly tasted a lot better. But Melinda scolded me (it was a very messy task). “Why, you have covered the delicious mint flavor with all that chocolate!” Then she shuddered. “Nobody will ever be so foolish as to do that for real.”
Maybe. Maybe not. I actually think it’s a great idea, but nobody else did, mostly on account of the big chocolate mess I made in Luisa’s clean kitchen.
Note: somebody did start dipping that peppermint mixture in chocolate. It’s called a York Peppermint Pattie. To get the feel for what Melinda loves, peel off the outer chocolate covering on a York Peppermint Pattie and there you have it, pretty close to the Kendal Mint Cake,
Andi’s Favorite Sweet
It is so very hard to decide. I’m on a seesaw between salt-water taffy and chocolate. I absolutely adore a hot cup of chocolate. I take a bar of solid chocolate, shave off bits of chocolate with my pocketknife into steaming milk, and then stir in a little sugar. It’s much better than a cup of coffee, believe me! Mother always keeps bars of chocolate in the kitchen just for hot chocolate (some folks call it cocoa, but honestly, when I hear that word I think of my old pony Coco).
Mother buys Cadbury’s chocolate from the mercantile. She buys dark chocolate for baking (and for my hot chocolate), but sometimes she buys milk chocolate for a special treat. So yummy!
That ol’ Johnny Wilson is a bully, but he knows the most interesting things sometimes. He got up in front of the class and shared about cocoa beans (from where chocolate comes). He knows strange things . . .
- Cocoa powder was once more valuable than gold dust.
- It takes about 400 cocoa beans to make one bar of chocolate.
- During the United States War for Independence (Revolution back in the 1700s), some soldiers were paid in chocolate.
- Don’t let your cats or dogs eat chocolate. They can die from it. (I hope Johnny isn’t mean enough to try to poison any cats or dogs! But come to think of it, chocolate is expensive, so I don’t think he would waste good chocolate trying to poison them.
- Before chocolate factories (where they can mass produce the bars), a small tablet of chocolate sold at the pharmacy cost three days’ wages!
I also love, love, love taffy. It’s one of the reasons I named my filly Taffy. She reminds me of the taffy I love so much. Part of the fun is a taffy pull. Mother let me have a taffy pull for my eleventh birthday. My school chums came out. We all know how to pull taffy, that’s for sure! We get our hands all smeared with butter, grab the hot taffy that’s boiled to just the right consistency, and then we start pulling. Once it’s chewy-good, Mother snips the long ropes into small pieces and we help wrap each piece in paper. Each of my friends took home as much taffy as they could stuff in their pockets.
Make Andi’s Favorite Taffy
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp. butter (+ some for greasing the pan)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Note: you can use other flavors in place of the vanilla if prefer, like lemon, peppermint, or maple.
- Grease a square 8x8x2-inch glass pan with some butter.
- In a saucepan, mix together the sugar, water, corn syrup, and cornstarch.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees.
- Remove from heat at once. Stir in the 2 Tbsp butter, vanilla, and salt. Pour into the well-buttered square pan. Allow candy to cool somewhat.
- When candy is just cool enough so you can hold it in your hands without burning yourself, start pulling the Taffy apart. Keep pulling until the candy is light in color, stiff, and difficult to stretch.
- Pull and shape into short strips, cut with scissors into Taffy-sized pieces. Wrap each piece of Taffy in bits of waxed paper, twisting the ends together to seal the candy inside.