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Dylan Lauren's Candy Picks for a Sweet Summer

Dylan Lauren's Candy Picks for a Sweet Summer

Like fruits and vegetables (and special holiday dishes), candies come and go with each season of the year. While we may crave candy corn in fall, collect candy canes in winter, and devour a variety of peppy Peeps in spring, summer sweets, too, are around for a limited time and in a category of their own.

Whether lounging by the pool and longing for a sugary snack, looking to craft or concoct something sweet, or simply lusting after a new kind of chocolate infusion, there are options for all kinds of sunny (and rainy) summer days.

During the season of ice pops, ice cream and sports drinks, there's no lack of syrups, starches, and sucrose — but with so many choices one can become overwhelmed, or better yet, achieve a sugar-induced coma trying to taste them all.

Dylan Lauren, creator of Dylan's Candy Bar, knows sugar. And, as Ralph's daughter, she knows a thing or two about fashion, as well. The candy queen shared her picks and the brand's top-selling sweets (some edible and others that look good enough to eat!) with The Daily Meal.

Side note: Ralph's favorite candy indulgence? Buttercrunch and dark chocolate-covered almond bark.

From cupcake pillows and iPhone covers to beach towels and yoga pants, the combination of accessories, clothing, and home décor is a surefire way to make this summer the sweetest of all seasons, especially for those trying to limit sugar within their diets.

For the rest of us, an Ice Cream Cone Cupcake kit, a Popping Candy Chocolate Bar, and Dylan's Candy Bar Good-to-Gos (in pretzel, peanut butter, sandwich cookie, sea salt caramels, and s'mores varieties — yum!) are a few of the essential snacks to nosh on this summer.

Brace yourself. A sugar rush (and perhaps a reason to utilize that gym membership) is underway….

Homemade Candy Recipes: 20 Old-Fashioned Recipes for Chocolate Candy, Fudge, & More

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If you are cooking for someone on a low sodium diet, use this recipe instead of taco seasoning. This recipe is the equivelant to one package of taco seasoning (or 3 tablespoons.) Adjust the strength of any ingredient to your taste. Submitted by: APRILDAWN678

This meal comes together SUPER fast! A very hearty dish that goes great with a salad. It's also versatile--add additional vegetables or even a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans for more protein. Submitted by: FOODIEWIFE

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Shop for Sweets

A little smart shopping will save you time and effort while creating a cost-effective board.

Photo by: Heather Baird

Heather Baird

Start With the Supermarket's Bakery

The in-store bakery at your neighborhood grocery store can be a great source of fresh baked goods that taste homemade. Brownie bites and meringues will give your display contrasting textures of chewy and crunchy. Colorful macarons, often sold from the pastry case, will add a fancier touch. Other well-loved items from this section include madeleines, lady fingers, and mini muffins, which are all good choices to fill space on a board.

Photo by: Heather Baird

Heather Baird

Head to the Snack Aisle

Salty, sweet, crispy, crunchy, and chewy — they can all be found in the snack aisle! Items such as yogurt dipped pretzels and rolled wafer cookies provide a way to add shapes and patterns to the display, all while tasting terrific! Bagged mini powdered donuts are always a crowd favorite and small enough to pile on a board without taking up too much space. Pretzels and marshmallows are good dippers for any sweet condiments.

Photo by: Heather Baird

Heather Baird

And the Candy Aisle, Of Course

Candies of every color and stripe can be found in the candy aisle and the seasonal aisle at the grocery store. Smaller candy pieces are best presented in little bowls or ramekins on the dessert board and will add an extra pop of color. Add unwrapped dark chocolate drops for easy snacking and intense chocolaty flavor.

Photo by: Heather Baird

Heather Baird

The History of Astronaut Ice Cream

There may be no novelty sweet more polarizing than astronaut ice cream. Those who adore it praise its light, crunchy texture, and a flavor that is still unmistakably creamy and sweet. Its detractors will say biting into it is akin to chomping down on a piece of chalk: powdery and unnatural. And for those who have never tried it, the entire concept of eating ice cream stripped of all liquid may seem downright bizarre. But even though so-called astronaut (or to be more precise, freeze-dried) ice cream isn't the most popular of novelty treats, its longevity proves that it has found a small, but fiercely loyal fan base.

Even its creator has been a little surprised at the product’s staying power.

Astronaut ice cream’s story begins in the late 1970s with Ron Smith, the founder of American Outdoor Products, a company that specialized in food for backpackers. One day, Smith got a message from the company he contracted to make some of their freeze-dried foods (a category popular with hikers for its shelf stability). “They said, ‘Goddard Air and Space Museum contacted us and said that freeze-dried ice cream was used by the space program. They want to know if we can make it, so they can sell it in their gift shop.’ And we said, ‘Sure, we’ll try it,’” recalls Smith. The initial product was a far cry from the neatly packaged bars you’ll see today: “It was half a gallon of Neapolitan ice cream that you would buy in the store,” he says. “It was frozen solid, and then cut with a bandsaw, if you can believe it.” Then, the ice cream was freeze-dried using a specialized machine, which turned the ice directly into gas. That process—which, if you recall from high school physics, is called sublimation—is what’s responsible for the tiny air pockets in freeze-dried cream it’s where the ice crystals were in the original, frozen product. Finally, about three-quarters of an ounce was loaded into a pouch. “Quite frankly, when we first started doing this, we thought, ‘Well, this is a fad. It'll last a couple of years.’ And that was what, 44 years ago?” Smith says.

The product also probably got a boost from the unique economic conditions of the time: “A long recession made small luxuries much more attractive. Ice cream is a good example of a small luxury—you absolutely don’t need it physically, but emotionally it can make you quite happy for very little extra expense,” says food historian Megan Elias, the director of the Boston University gastronomy program. And, with its long shelf life, it could be stashed in the pantry until the craving hit.

Today, the division of American Outdoor Products that markets freeze-dried ice creams and fruits (and Astrodog dog treats!) to consumers is known as Astronaut Foods. The original Neapolitan flavor is still going strong in ice cream sandwich form, along with vanilla and banana split. If you’ve never tasted it, the texture’s closest analogue is probably honeycomb candy: light with a lot of air bubbles. The flavor, however, is pure ice cream, since the ingredients are the same as what’s in a regular scoop. Astronaut Foods remains a popular product in many museums around the country, as well as theme parks like Walt Disney World. “I tell people, ‘Look, every year there's about three million new kids in the United States. So, there's three million new customers. My guess is [the company] will go on long after I'm gone,” Smith says.

Astronaut Foods may have been the first to market freeze-dried ice cream and other snacks directly to consumers, but they no longer have the category cornered. To wit: on Etsy, there are nearly 800 listings for freeze-dried foods, including Skittles, camel milk powder, and, of course, ice cream. And perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone in Brooklyn created a design-forward and healthier alternative to traditional freeze-dried ice cream. Cosmik is the invention of Robert Collingnon, who quit his job in advertising in 2016 to make an artisanal version of one of his favorite snacks. After his Kickstarter campaign blew past its target of $9,500 to hit over $70,000, he realized he wasn’t the only non-hiker secretly dipping into EMS to grab freeze-dried treats. “It showed me that there were a lot of like-minded folks who would appreciate a higher-end, cleaner-ingredient, freeze-dried ice cream,” he says. His products, which feature zero artificial ingredients, are available in classic flavors like cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, and strawberry. There is one flavor, however, that he leaves to his predecessors. “I’m never going to make the Neapolitan,” he says. “It’s good! I’ll let them handle that. It’s what I grew up on.”

While both companies's products are normally sold at places like museums and space centers, which are obviously closed to the public currently, they have seen an uptick in sales from their websites. After all, if you’re stocking up on shelf-stable food for a pandemic, you can’t do much better than a product that was hardy enough to fly into space (although, to be clear, it isn't eaten in space).

Novelty treats like astronaut ice cream may be associated with childhood, but it’s adults who have given them their enduring popularity. And something especially magical happens when an ice-cream obsessed kid grows up and creates one of the most famous candy shops in the country. “I remember getting astronaut ice cream at a trip to a theme park during camp,” says Dylan Lauren, of famed Dylan’s Candy Bar. “I thought it was so neat that I could eat a sweet that's also enjoyed in outer space. So much so that I savored each bite and kept half in my bunk to show my parents after camp instead of eating the whole thing at once.” Today, Lauren’s stores have a nostalgia section, which always stocks freeze-dried ice cream. “I see from the reaction on customers' faces that it is a highlight for adults to reminisce about and for kids to see because it's so cool,” she says.

Candies that won't blow your diet

Of course I’d never classify candy as health food (ahem!), but I also know the power of a sweet tooth. To help chocolate and sugar lovers everywhere, I teamed up with candy expert Dylan Lauren, CEO of Dylan’s Candy Bar, to put together a list of diet-friendly sweets. These treats satisfy a hankering for somethin’ sugary without delivering the same blow to your waistline as a king-sized candy bar.

Chocolate, our favorite guilty pleasure, is no longer as guilty! Research shows that even small amounts of dark chocolate rich in cocoa flavonoids can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and even lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. The trick is to choose varieties made with at least 70 percent cocoa or cacao and moderate your portions to about 150 calories or one ounce per day. Unfortunately, milk chocolate doesn’t offer the same health benefits, so I highly encourage you to make the switch to dark if you haven’t already.

Lindt Excellence 70 percent Cocoa Bar: Though Lindt also offers their “70 percent Cocoa” bar in a 3.5-ounce size, I prefer the small 1.2-ounce package. That way, you can guiltlessly enjoy the whole 170-calorie bar in one sitting. and don’t need to rely on your willpower to break off only a few squares of the larger bar.

Scharffen Berger 70 percent Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Bars: Like Lindt, Scharffen Berger offers a personal-sized (1 ounce) bar so you can get your chocolate fix without overindulging. If you’re looking for an even smaller bite, try their 70 percent dark chocolate “Tasting Squares”, which are slightly larger than a postage stamp and have less than 25 calories per piece.

Newman’s Own Organics Super Dark 70 percent Cocoa Chocolate Bar: Another delicious pure dark chocolate bar! Look for the 2.25-ounce size and enjoy half the bar (3 squares) for a modest 165 calories.

Trader Joe’s “70 percent Belgian Cacao” Dark Chocolate Wedges: This 3.5-ounce wheel of chocolate is cut into 16 small wedges, perfectly portioned at just 35 calories per piece. The chocolates are packaged in a cute round metal tin, so you can pop out a wedge and conveniently store the rest for later.

If you’re not in the mood for plain dark chocolate, here are some fun twists on the standard bar.

Q.bel: Q.bel’s Double Dark Wafer Bars (made with 70 percent dark Belgian chocolate) are a delicious cross between a cookie and a candy bar and a package of two bars has 180 calories. Their wafer rolls are another fun treat for chocoholics of all ages. For just 120 calories, you get two crispy wafer cookies completely enrobed in 52 percent dark chocolate. These wafer rolls don’t quite meet my “70 percent cocoa” standard, but they’re a delightful splurge every once and awhile.

Sweetriot: Sweetriot chocolate-covered cacao nibs have quickly become a favorite of celebs… along with the rest of us! Their nibs — or “peaces”, as Sweetriot calls them — deliver dark, rich cocoa flavor and a double dose of antioxidants: one from the cacao nib (a tiny piece of roasted cacao bean at the center of each “peace”) and another from the dark chocolate that coats the outside. Sweetriot’s nibs come in three flavors: 50 percent, 65 percent, and 70 percent chocolate — and set you back only 140 calories for an entire tin. If you’re not ready for the intense flavor of straight nibs, try their 70 percent dark chocolate yumBar for 180 calories. This vegan chocolate bar is speckled with plump raisins and crunchy cacao nibs and loaded with antioxidants.

Endangered Species Chocolates: Endangered Species makes a wide variety of 100% ethically traded, exotic-flavored chocolate bars, but I particularly love their bite-sized selections because they do the portion controlling for you. Their “Dark Chocolate with Cranberries & Almonds” individually-wrapped chocolate squares have 50 calories and are made with delicious 72 percent dark chocolate. Kids will love their 70 percent dark chocolate “Bug Bites” (also 50 calories), which come packaged with fun insect trading cards.

Nestle Dark Chocolate Raisinets and Cherry Raisinets: Though the package doesn’t state the percent cocoa and I’m guessing they don’t meet my 70 percent cutoff, these two new Raisinet varieties are a darker, healthier spin on the milk chocolate originals. Plus, their fruity raisin and cherry centers give you a little dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which certainly can’t hurt. You can enjoy 1/4 cup of Raisinets for 200 calories or less.

Dark Chocolate Covered Nuts: Though the standard dark chocolate nuts you’ll find at stores probably aren’t coated with 70 percent dark chocolate, they still have their own nutritional perks to offer. Whether you choose almonds, cashews, peanuts, or pecans, you’re getting a blast of protein, fiber, and healthy fats from the nuts, along with that delicious hit of chocolately goodness. Because a single portion (10 to 15 pieces) is typically over 200 calories, you’ll definitely want to limit yourself to a small handful and savor them slowly.

York Peppermint Patties: Who doesn’t love the classic combo of chocolate and mint? Even though the coating probably isn’t 70 percent dark chocolate, York Peppermint Patties are still a safe way to satisfy a sweet tooth without going whole hog. For 150 calories or less, you can enjoy one regular-size pattie or three of the miniatures.

Dylan’s Candy Bar Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds: These rainbow-colored candies are coated with milk chocolate, not dark, but they still have an edge on most candies because you get a shot of nutrition from the sunflower kernels buried underneath. Sunflower seeds add some protein, fiber, and minerals like magnesium to this treat — not bad, considering it’s candy! A 2-tablespoon portion clocks in at 130 calories.

Hard candies are a smart choice because they automatically pace you. They take a while to finish (as long as you suck or lick, not chomp!), so you get to savor the sweetness for a bit and stretch your sugar calories. As long as you limit yourself to a few pieces, you can’t do that much damage. Here are a few of my favorites in the hard candy category:

See’s Gourmet Lollypops: From the legendary California-based candy company See’s Candies, these pops are 80 to 90 calories apiece and come in four sophisticated, desserty flavors: vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, and café latte. I love them all — but I’m biased to vanilla!

Atomic FireBalls: Unlike some addictive sugary candies that you can swallow by the handful, Atomic Fireballs are a great “one and done” candy option. They’re hard as a rock, so you can’t bite through them (don’t try, you’ll break a tooth!) … and after you finish one flaming sucker, you’ll be ready to give your mouth a rest. One large, individual wrapped fireball has only 35 calories.

Lifesavers and Jolly Ranchers: If you gravitate towards fruity flavors, suck on a Lifesaver (15 calories) or a hard Jolly Rancher (23 calories). My advice is to stash just a few in your purse or desk drawer rather than a full bag, so you don’t get carried away. Both candies are readily available in a wide variety of fun flavors.

Most chewy candies are pure sugar, so there isn’t really a nutritional advantage to choosing one variety over the next. But if you’re looking for a diet-friendly treat that won’t throw you off track, I suggest choosing portion-controlled candy packs or candies that come in bite-sized pieces, so you can have a fair number of nibbles without flooding your system with sugar and calories.

Jelly Belly Jellybeans: Jelly Belly jellybeans come in dozens of fun flavors and they’re tiny, so each little bean has just 4 calories (25 beans for 100 calories). I love their new “Cocktail Classics” collection, which features three brand new flavors — mojito, pomegranate cosmo, and peach bellini — along with three old favorites — margarita, pina colada, and strawberry daiquiri. How else can you enjoy a pomegranate cosmo for less than 5 calories?!

Smarties: These retro candies have just 25 calories for an entire roll — now that’s a calorie bargain!

Panda Licorice Bars: Panda licorice has a simple, clean ingredients list, a soft, chewy texture, and, unlike a lot of licorice-flavoredproducts, actually contains real licorice extract. Panda makes pre-portioned 100-calorie bars in three flavors: original black licorice, raspberry, and cherry. Some studies show that natural licorice can help relieve pain from stomach ulcers and relieve indigestion, but it can also raise blood pressure, so you’ll want to avoid eating large amounts of this candy if you have hypertension.


Crystallized Ginger: Crystallized or candied ginger is made by cooking slices of fresh ginger root in sugar syrup and then drying the slices to create a chewy texture. These candies have a pungent bite, which may encourage you to nibble slowly and keep you from going overboard. Added bonus: ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory and a natural remedy for nausea.

Florida’s Natural Au’some Treats: Though I still consider them a sweet treat, Florida’s Natural Au’some Nuggets and Sour Strings are made with over 60 percent real fruit and fruit juices. Plus, they come in pre-portioned, 50-calorie pouches to help you keep a lid on snacking. These fruit chews are a terrific step up from sugary gummy bears and traditional fruit snacks.

13 Crazy Cool Candy Cocktails

The sweet and sparkly way to channel everyone's favorite candy man.

Perfect to cuddle up with.

Eat your candy and drink it, too!

Cadbury Eggs just got a very adult upgrade.

Candy-infused booze is the base for this colorful drink. Simple as can be, it's a drink that's still sure to impress your ghoulishly dressed guests.

Two amazing classic sweets combined into one gorgeous cocktail? We'll take two of these vibrantly colored, boozy beauties, please.

Nothing but candy corn and vodka, this syrupy, sugar-infused shooter is probably one you'll want to take straight up.

This perfectly festive fall sipper is just screaming to be included in your Halloween party menu.

This pretty pink drink is meant to taste just like everyone's favorite Starburst candy (the pink ones are clearly the best ones, we're just saying it). Even better? The booze in these babies is whipped cream flavored. You're welcome.

This beyond-cool blogger actually threw an entire Twix-themed party, so you know she knows what she's doing &mdash but this insanely indulgent drink was, of course, one of the best parts of the whole soirée.

Rock Candy

"Making rock candy is a fun science experiment to do with the kids, and the finished rock candy sticks make great party favors or gifts! Make this rock candy recipe in a mason jar so you can watch the crystal growth each day. Homemade rock candy is not only a sweet treat, it's a great learning experiment kids and adults can do together. Keep your spoils, or save them for goody bags at birthday parties, include with a Valentine card, or attach to the top of a Christmas present. "

Cooking Vessel Size Glass Jars, Wooden Skewers, Bakers Twine, Straws


  • 3 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Water
  • Food Coloring
  • 1 teaspoon Flavoring Oil or Extract

Add sugar and water to a pan and heat over high heat, stirring constantly until it reaches a rolling boil. Be careful not to boil it too long or the candy will start to harden. Keep stirring!

Remove from heat and keep stirring until all of the sugar granules have dissolved. The mixture will suddenly get clearer when this happens.

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15 Sweet Cocktails to Sip for the Summer

Here are 15 cocktails to make 5 o'clock dessert time. Talk about a happy hour.

.5 oz Jack Daniel&rsquos Tennessee Honey

.25 oz Monin Caramel Syrup

Add all ingredients to a shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a mug. Garnish with a Werther&rsquos Original candy.

By JJ Goodman of the London Cocktail Club.

1 oz Clement Mahina Coconut Liqueur

1 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil

Combine coconut and banana liqueurs, lime, simple syrup, and mint and lightly muddle. Add vodka and fill serving vessel with crushed ice gently pushing ice down with bar spoon to completely fill. Add sparkling wine.

By Jackson Cannon of Greydon House in Nantucket, MA.

2 oz Novo Fogo Barrel Aged Cachaça

2.5 oz spiced coconut milk*

Shake ingredients with crushed ice and pour into cracked coconut. Garnish with grated nutmeg

*Spiced coconut milk:

Add spices to coconut milk and let stand in refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Shake before using.

2 oz Knappogue 12 year whiskey

.75 oz blanc vermouth (Dolin or Contratto preferred)

.25 oz Creme de Peche (Giffard preferred)

Combine all ingredients except club soda over ice and shake. Pour into a highball glass and top with club soda.

2.5 oz strong-brewed black tea

Campari-infused Tapioca Boba*

Rim glass with red sugar and fill with Campari-infused boba. Shake all other ingredients over ice and strain over the boba.

*Campari-infused Tapioca Boba

Purchase plain boba (available online or at specialty grocery stores) and boil in a small saucepan for about 30 minutes. Drain boba and let steep in a mixture of 1 cup Campari and 1/3 cup sugar.

13 Candy Recipes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Craving candy? Why not make your own at home? Making candy at home is easy — especially if you have a kid helper by your side — and it makes for a sweet summer project. From an easy rock candy recipe to a taffy recipe you’ll want to bookmark, once you taste these candy recipes, you won’t ever want to go back to the store-bought stuff. All you need are a few common kitchen items and simple ingredients, so keep reading to find out more.

Watch the video: Dollar Tree Christmas DIY Picks $2 (October 2021).