Halloween treats for adults

You may have seen them in the checkout aisle of your local market or in the gourmet food section of a specialty store. They're called Lah Dee Dahs, and to be honest with you, they've really grown on me over the past few weeks. The only requirement is you have to love nougat, caramel and chocolate. I recently spent the afternoon watching how these irresistible confections are made.

They may look like just another simple confection, yet Lah Dee Dahs are anything but easy to make. The addictive combo of salted caramel, nougat and dark chocolate is the result of Chris Kadow-Dougherty's experience at the French Pastry School.

"My last class was Classic Confectionary, and I was hooked immediately, so I decided to make my life-long love of candy into a career," said Chris Kadow-Dougherty, Whimsical Candy.

She launched the Whimsical Candy Company, and now makes her confections in a rented kitchen on the Near West Side. For her caramel, she first combines sea salt with heavy cream and vanilla paste. Then glucose is heated in a pot, which will help prevent the regular sugar from crystallizing.

"I want to caramelize the sugar, but I don't want it to crystallize, I want to melt it," said Kadow-Dougherty.

She alternately adds sugar and stirs until it starts to turn color; cubes of butter are tossed in as is the cream-vanilla-sea salt mixture. Everything is whisked and stirred until the caramel turns just the right color and it's immediately poured out onto silicone mats to cool.

For the nougat, she begins by heating sugar, water and a light, amber honey in a pot, until it boils; meanwhile, egg whites and glucose are dumped into a large mixer. Once the honey-sugar boils, it is slowly added to the egg whites, and beaten until the nougat turns stark white; it actually gets sticky.

"And that process it cooks the egg whites, and it makes like a foam, so that hot syrup stabilizes the foam, and ends up with a real sweet, chewy confection," said Kadow-Dougherty.

Some melted white chocolate and powdered sugar are added near the end, which tightens up the nougat. The soft, warm, sticky mass is then scraped and scooped onto silicone mats, where it is spread out with the aid of a rolling pin, and left to rest - chilled - for two days.

The caramel is placed on top of the nougat, and through a secret procedure she doesn't want to show, she somehow gets the two elements aligned together, then turns them into a circle. Finally, each piece is hand-dipped into melted El Rey dark chocolate, but only a small part of the confection is dipped.

"I like the idea of it being exposed so people can see what they're getting you know," said Kadow-Dougherty.

For now, there's only one Lah Dee Dah flavor but with daily research and development, that could change soon.

"I have a great deal of fun; I get to eat candy everyday and I do eat candy everyday, and I couldn't ask for anything else," said Kadow-Dougherty.

Lah Dee Dahs are made by
Whimsical Candy Co.

Available at:
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