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By: Rick Quatraro
That time of year is here when we celebrate our fathers and show our appreciation by gift-giving. Simple gifts can express as much appreciation as big gifts, especially if they are customized to his needs and tastes and "taste" is everything with this list of ideas. Who doesn't like sweets? That's what makes candy gifts such a great option, you're more likely to pick a winner. Everyone's tastes might be different. You may like chocolate, citrus flavors and cookies, but perhaps not coffee flavor or caramel, but in the end everyone likes some type of candy or dessert. Everyone is different, but you have a pretty good idea what your father likes. Handmade gifts are the best they show our appreciation like no other gift, personalized and handled with care we take our precious time and effort to create a masterpiece of edible art, but although handmade gifts are extra special, any candy gift is special and on this list many of the delicious items here can be purchased online and delivered to your father. In making this list I have taken into consideration my observation of what I believe are choices men would prefer. It was difficult to focus as I salivated and envisioned handmade chocolates floating out of my computer screen and landing in my mouth. Did I mention I love candy too? Here's my list and some helpful insights about the items afterwards.

1. Homemade Biscotti, Coffee Mug and Bag of Gourmet Coffee/Hot Chocolate

2. Chocolate Covered Pecans

3. Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

4. Australian Licorice (Green Apple, Pineapple, Black)

5. Homemade Coffee Ice Cream

6. Chocolate Caramel Covered Apples Covered with Toffee Bits

7. Assortment of Chocolate Covered Rice Crispy Treats

8. Chocolate Bark

9. Key Lime Cheesecake

10. Chocolate Caramel Covered Popcorn

Chocolate

Handmade chocolate treats are not as difficult to make as you may think. Chocolate covered sweets are very simple to make. Just be careful when melting chocolate because overheating it will make it seize (thicken into a clumpy mess). I've discovered it's better to heat it slowly. You can melt chocolate with a type of pot called a double boiler (one smaller pot inside a bigger pot) in which you heat up warm in the bottom pot and the steam heats up the top pot where you place the chocolate. Stir often. You can also use the microwave on 50% power. Heat a small amount in a bowl for about a minute. Stir. Then again for 30 seconds. Stir again. Repeat steps until the chocolate is melted. To cover items in chocolate consider the size and shape of the item. Then choose an ppropriate container in which to put the melted chocolate. If you dip something small just about anything will do a large coffee mug or small bowl. If you dip rice crispy treats then use an extra large coffee mug or deep, small mixing bowl. If you are working with apples use a deep, bowl. How you dip them also depends on the item. With apples you will skewer them with lollipop sticks so just grab them by the stick and twirl them as you scrape off excess chocolate with a spatula. Popcorn you could place in a sealable bag with chocolate in it and shake or just use a medium mixing bowl and stir with a spatula. For nuts you could use a slotted spoon, they come in different lengths and sizes or by a special dipping tool from your local bakery supply store or craft store. To make chocolate bark you just need a pan lined with wax paper. Once chocolate sets you lift the it by the wax paper and drop it on the counter top to break it into pieces.

Biscotti

Biscotti is one of my favorite treats to make. Your whole house will fill with a fabulous nut, chocolate (depending on the recipe) aroma. Tossing them in a decorative coffee mug and complementing it with the coffee adds a special touch to it. I personally prefer this gift as the best choice on the list. Biscotti just means twice baked. You form the thick dough into 2 loaves, flatten it, bake it until it browns on the inside but remains uncooked on the inside, cut the loaves into long, finger-shaped pieces and bake them again. After cooling they come out crunchy and rich with flavor. Perfect for dipping in hot chocolate or coffee.

Licorice and Key Lime Cheesecake

Australian licorice is the best. It's thick and chewy comes in all flavors, anything from green apple, pineapple, peach to black. You can find it online or in many candy stores and even in large supermarkets like Super Wal-Mart here in the US. Key lime cheesecake is to die for, it's a big hit here in Florida, especially in Southern Florida. Key limes are much tarter than regular limes, the citrus flavor is much more concentrated. The fruits are smaller, about the size of golf ball. Garnish it with a fresh mint leaf. You can make no bake cheesecake, which is easier and tasty, but baked cheesecake in my opinion is better. Baked cheesecake is creamy and thick, no bake is just simply cream cheese. For thicker cheesecakes you can use a springform pan which has a bottom thin tray where the crust and filling go which fits inside a collar or belt-like metal loop that unbuckles after you undo the clasp once the cake is baked and has cooled. This loop loosens and widens as you remove it from the cake. This unbuckling prevents damage to the side of the dessert.

Coffee Ice Cream

I love making ice cream. My Cuisinart ICE-30 BC ice cream maker is awesome. It's very easy too. You make a custard base out of heavy cream and egg yolk, let it chill for a while then pour it in a "freezer bowl" which sits in your freezer over night. This bowl sits on the ice cream maker's base and turns. The custard thickens in to ice cream as it is mixed by a paddle and hits the frozen walls of the bowl. You can make a million different flavors, you can even make them up. I recommend coffee ice cream for Father's Day. The better the quality of coffee beans, the richer the flavor.

Packaging

What will you put your gifts in? There is an assortment of tins, gift boxes and gift bags in which you could package your candy. You can either buy them online, Amazon.com has everything and no minimum purchase amounts or visit your local baking supply store or craft store. I have discovered a great store here in the US which offers all of these packaging items, as well as high quality kitchen appliances and bakeware for low prices called Tuesday Morning. Michael's and even Super Wal-Marts offer many of these products too. If you ever visit Orlando D&G Occasions is filled walls-to-walls with candy packaging and candy-making products. Cellophane bags work great for smaller items and are food safe.

Hope these ideas helped. Happy Father's Day!


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Fathers Day gifts don't have to be difficult. Any father loves good candy and sweets. And what better way to give a gift than to make a gift. Learn how to make homemade candy gifts at

http://www.deluxe-sweets-and-candy-gifts.com
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