Whole Lidda’ Love

I’ll start with a confession. I don’t have a sweet tooth. The son of a mother who dislikes chocolate (yes i know!) and a father who favours brie over brûlée, my sweet side didn’t stand a chance. Out of greed, I will usually have pudding at the end of a meal but deep down inside I fantasise about the return of the British savoury: a practice up until the 1950s where one final savoury treat was served instead of a sugary dessert.

But how could I possibly travel the world and not embrace one of the most consumed food products of all time – candy? In an attempt to engage with my sweet side I sought out one of America’s best artisanal candy makers. Step forward Liddabit Sweets. Comprised of a team of Candy evangelists, Liddabit lovingly make everything by hand from beginning to end using only the best local and seasonal products. If I don’t find myself gorging on saccharine delights by the end of the week I doubt I ever will.

Liddabit-Sweets-2

“Never judge a book by its cover” certainly came to mind when I arrived at Liddabits HQ. My inner wimp materialised as I navigated through what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. Six floors up, I arrived in a sorcerer’s lair filled with many kitchens and strange gadgets churning out sweet treats from around the world – I could have worked 52 jobs in this place alone.

Brooklyn Warehouse

A spooky place for a candy company

Since I had never worked in confectionery before, I was given an introduction to the world of sugar. I’m always astounded how you can take one ingredient and manipulate it to create different effects. For example boiling sugar at a low temperature (soft crack) gives the end product a soft chewy texture. Choose a higher boiling point and you’ll end up with a harder cracking candy.

Fork dipped candy

Jessie fork dipping the soft caramel candies.

Then there’s chocolate. For candy makers, the most important part of the chocolate chain is tempering. Chocolate contains crystals differing in size. By tempering you create a uniformed structure among the crystals, which means they fit together nicely (think of building a house with different sized bricks). Tempering results in a chocolate with a smooth glossy surface, a crisp bite, and more importantly for Candy makers, something that won’t melt in your hand or scuffer in packaging. Save turning into Christian Grey, learning how to temper chocolate is the closest I’m going to get to mastering advanced methods of seduction.

50 shades of chocolate. A temptation for all.

50 shades of chocolate. A temptation for all.

Coating honeycomb in the freshly tempered chocolate.

Coating honeycomb in the freshly tempered chocolate.

Hand cutting the chocolate bars ready for coating.

Hand cutting the chocolate bars ready for coating.

Hand coated chocolate bars

Freshly coated. Give me one now!

Working my way through chocolate caramels to peanut butter jelly bars, I witnessed the girls in action making some of the best looking candies I’ve seen. And all this to the tune of 90s pop music and conversations about One Direction contracting Chlamydia from koalas. We even turned to the world of reality TV, and I jokingly suggested I could be Yorkshire’s answer to Made in Chelsea’s Jaime Laing with my very own ‘Made in New Yorkshire Candy Kittens’.

Candy Kittens

Made in New Yorkshire

The real ‘Candy Kittens’ – lovingly “Made in New Yorkshire”.

Mid-production one of the girls handed me an odd looking caramel to taste.  It was unlike anything I’ve sampled before. Sweet, rich and salty, I had found my candy calling card: the caramel beer pretzel. A combination of Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale and East India Pale Ale, reduced and stirred into our caramel along with crunchy chunks of salty Martin’s pretzels. Liddabits describe their caramel beer pretzel as “#1 winner-over-of-sceptics.” They weren’t wrong. No matter where the next 10 months leads me round the world, here’s one sweet treat I won’t forget in a hurry. A desert island candy, so to speak.

Huge thanks to Jen, Liz, Jessie, Michelle and the rest of the team. More info on Liddabit Sweets can be found at www.liddabitsweets.com
Are you a sweet or savoury person? And what’s your desert island candy? Share your comments below…
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5 thoughts on “Whole Lidda’ Love

  1. Not strictly true Alex. Whilst on holiday in Spain we decided to get out of the sun and try our local restaurants Menu del dia. A delicious 3 course meal including wine water bread and coffee for a crazy 8 Euros. Having ploughed our way through the largest portions of finest Spanish cuisine we were proudly presented with desert FLANN. One by one we all pushed the Flan away patting our rotund tummies. All except Alex who was slowly but surely making his way through flan number 1 and 2. By the time he got to flan number 7 the whole restaurant staff had abandoned their posts to watch a small 13 year old boy demolish our deserts. A huge round of applause erupted as the final mouthful was taken and from that day on he was known locally as 7 flan Alex.
    Love your mum xxx

  2. I was lucky enough to sample your salted caramels some time ago, and have only just got around to posting a message here (sorry). I also don’t have a sweet tooth, and would rather have cheese than a pudding, BUT the salted caramels were divine – thank you so much. They were so satisfying that most normal people would have been quite happy to have just 1 after a meal and really savour it (although I was a pig and had more). Looking forward to discovering more about your adventure. Love Nem. x
    PS LOVE the above post from your mum! You shall henceforth be known as Alex “7 flans”, like John “2 jags” Prescott, and Jimmy “5 bellies” (can’t remember his surname but he was the drinking buddy of Paul Gascoigne, back in the day).

    • At that time I was a growing teenager so needed all the fodder I could get. Sadly that appetite usually gets allocated to beer nowadays so can only manage the odd flan at the end of meals.

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