A sweet delicate treat you can pretty much only find around during the holiday season. There aren’t too many candy shops that make ribbon candy, and there are even fewer that make it by hand. I’m happy to tell you the tradition is alive and well in New Hampshire! I visited with the folks at the Kellerhaus in Weirs Beach this week, where they’ve been hand crafting ribbon candy for about a century. The current owners, Mary Ellen and Dave Dutton are proud to be carrying on this time-honored tradition. They’ve been doing it for about 14 years now. Mary Ellen says they consider the process “a work of art. Every time we make it I say to myself, how many people in the world on this day are actually making ribbon candy with an 1886 crimper that is still working.” I’d venture a guess to say…not very many.
The Science of Making Ribbon Candy
The list of ingredients is quite simple – there’s only 3: sugar, water, and seasoning oil (4 if the candy has color in it). Once you get beyond the list of ingredients though the process becomes a bit more complex, in fact you might even say it’s a bit scientific! For starters, you have to watch the weather, as this delicate treat can only be made on cool, dry days. The sugar and water are boiled in the big copper kettle (a.k.a. the candy vacuum) until just the right temperature, then all of the water is sucked out. After that, it’s time for the “pour.” That’s when the candy, in hot gooey form, is turned out onto a hot table where the flavor and color is added.
They work in the flavor and color all while removing the air. Keep in mind the candy is a tad bit hot, 300 degrees or so. After all that the real magic starts to happen. The candy is stretched and pulled into a long thin ribbon and then fed into the crimping machine. Take a look!
They make this last step of the process look pretty easy. But, with so many variables, such as making sure it stays a very specific width and height, it’s really not easy at all. But the end result is oh so beautiful and delicious I might add!
Tons of Ribbon Candy
Well, tons might be a slight exaggeration. But the Dutton’s do make a lot. On average, each holiday season they’ll make about 1,000 boxes. How much is that exactly? Glad you asked, that equals 6,200 strips, 3,658 feet or 43,900 inches of ribbon candy. And just like the ‘hot’ toy of the season, so is their ribbon candy, they sell out every year. But this sweet shop has a whole host of other homemade deliciousness to stock their shelves. Just step inside and you’ll be greeted with a magnificent aroma wafting through the air and you can see all the wonderful sweets. Sugar mints, turtles, peanut brittle, buttercrunch, fudge, chocolate trees and the list goes on and on. One word: yum!
Kellerhaus is located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and even though it’s the off-season, it’s a beautiful time to visit to take in all the scenic beauty and there’s no crowds!
New Hampshire Made Chocolates and Candies
New Hampshire is home to a number of amazing chocolate and candy makers so you can pretty much guarantee that whereever you’re traveling in the Granite State you can find a place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Here’s a few suggestions: the Bavarian Chocolate Haus in North Conway; My brigadeiro in Hanover; Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates in Peterborough; KRM Chocolates in Salem; Van Otis Chocolates in Manchester; Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord and Sanborn’s Fine Candies in Hampton. If you have a favorite please feel free to let me know!
Until next time – savor the delicious flavors of this holiday season!