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Classic Confections

Martha Stewart Living, December 2008

Among the countless things that can evoke nostalgia, two tower above the rest: Christmas and candy. The mere mention of either instantly conjures memories of the innocent pleasures of childhood.

Combine the two and you have a recipe for old-fashioned bliss. Made by hand and decked out in handsome, easy-to-craft gift packaging that also calls to mind holidays of yesteryear, these retro confections may taste even better than you remembered.

Candied Citrus Peels
Forget the juicy insides. The peel is where citrus's true flavor resides, as these svelte candies prove. Blanching does away with any bitterness, leaving behind only a lingering lilt. The sugary coating and charming wrapping increase the confections appeal.
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Lemony Almond Nougat
This sticky Italian specialty, opposite, also known as torrone, has a light lemony bite, a honeyed sweetness, and a marshmallow-like smoothness that's the perfect backdrop to the crunch of toasted almonds. Vintage-style bonbon wrappers lend the sweets their candy-shop cachet.
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Winter Bark
Looking for a visually dazzling treat that's a snap to make? This familiar favorite is perfect: Just melt, stir, and swirl. The salted peanuts provide a simple counterbalance to the sweetness of eddied white and dark chocolates.
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Fleur de sel Toffee
This brittle classic, opposite, defines indulgence, calling for a pound of butter, ample French sea salt, and generously sized pillow boxes for giving. Try them. Once you experience the transcendent melding of sweet with savory -- inspired by salt-flecked caramels from Brittany, France -- you'll never go back to the unsalted toffee of your youth.
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Pecan Clusters
Chewy caramel, toasted pecans, bittersweet chocolate -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a store-bought version that's as superlative as this easy homemade rendition. Did we mention the rum?
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Neapolitan Coconut Strips
Prepare for an unparalleled (and unorthodox) blast of flavors in these stratified little candies, opposite. The exquisitely tender treats are emboldened with vanilla, chocolate, and coconut and then packaged in retro minitubs for giving.
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Penuche Fudge and Chocolate-Dipped Caramallows
This decadent duet forms the perfect boxed set. The penuche (puh-NOO-chee) boldly proffers its characteristic butterscotch and maple overtones and its comforting fudgy texture. Caramallows, true to their name, bring together gooey caramel and fluffy homemade marshmallow, and then enrobe both in chocolate.
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Peppermint Icicles
In a stunning twist on the conventional candy cane, these minty cool sticks, opposite, are recognizable no matter the exact incarnation. As was common when canes were first fashioned centuries ago, they're still hand-pulled, a task made easier by a second set of hands.
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