With the holidays fast approaching and gift ideas running amok, I thought a few locally handmade sweet suggestions may be a welcome treat. These confections have the added bonus of already being thoughtfully packaged to further ease those gift-giving woes.
Sandy Motley is a well-known caterer in the Charlottesville area, but what many people do not know is that she also makes and sells handmade candied and spiced pecans, aptly named “Sandy’s Pecans.” She started making them to give as gifts to her friends and family and was urged to expand into a larger market based on their deliciousness and easy share-ability. These treats are wonderful party foods, gifts or savory delights to share when the snack urge hits. She makes two kinds: Sandy’s Pecans which are spiced and salty, and Sandie’s Praline Pecans which are candied and sweet. Both can be found at Foods of all Nations in Charlottesville or online at SandeyMotleyCatering.com.
The C-ville Candy Company is headed by David Shalloway who has been in the handmade brittle and toffee business for 5 years and counting. He is known for his all natural honey-based brittles, including the popular orange cashew honey brittle which is flavored using orange blossom honey. Newer additions include offerings such as salted almond bark and pumpkin spice honey brittle which is sweet, savory, and spicy and can be found at the C-ville City Market and Feast. He claims the dark chocolate barks, or “incomparable nonpareils” are doing very well at the market, as is the almond toffee crunch. His love of making candy began as a hobby until the demand for his sweets became great enough to make it a full-on job. The packaging is simple yet thoughtful and looks as if it belongs in an old-fashioned candy shoppe.
Also based in Charlottesville is the Queen of Puddings creator, Lisa Procter. She and her British husband lived in London for two years where she enjoyed the desserts, known there as “puddings” and wanted to share the sweet scones of England here in the States. She makes adorably packaged scone mixes in an array of flavors such as blueberry, chocolate chip, cranberry chocolate chip, golden raisin, and ginger spice. Her website offers a how-to picture guide on properly making the scones at home as well as additional serving suggestions she calls “twists” which are icing recipes to top or stuff the scones. These icing recipes include cream cheese, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, and lemon. I have found these mixes in town at Feast and Foods of all Nations but they can also be ordered vie her Etsy.com site.
Maddy Picker is new to the confectionary scene with the launch of her baking company, Sweet Madeline (which she is every bit of). She can be found selling her deliciously sweet treats at the City Market on Saturdays, which include mason jar-wrapped delicacies such as white chocolate peppermint bark, and an assortment of macarons which are the current rage in the baking world. Macarons, not to be confused with macaroons, are sweet confections made with egg whites, sugar, almond powder, and food coloring. They are filled with either buttercream or jam and sandwiched between two fluffy cookies. They are delicate and light because they are meringue-based and can vary in color and flavor. Maddy is selling gift boxes of a dozen of mixed varieties this holiday season including pumpkin saffron, eggnog, and candy cane. Other delightful treats include jam-filled pastries, ginger molasses cookies, and pies and baked goods to order. While a website is in the works, she can be found on Facebook.
So, with all of these sweet and savory gift wrapped treats at arm’s length, hopefully this holiday season’s shopping will be “easy as pie.”