Every year just before Christmas my family and I visit Hershey Pennsylvania aka "The Sweetest Place on Earth". We ADORE that town during the holidays. We stay at The Hershey Lodge, go to Hershey Park (which this time of year is called Christmas Candylane) at night where it is decorated with a crazy amount of holiday lights aaaaand reindeer people...reindeer...squeal!! "Everyone" is there with the exception of Rudolph!
We guzzle down cups of their ridiculous hot chocolate, usually getting "The Works" which has so much delicious goodness in it you drink the whole darn thing! However one thing that I am always excited to enjoy at the park are the Burnt Sugar Almonds they sell - oh good Heavens they are delicious!! While we stroll around bundled up, hopping on a few rides here and there, listening to Christmas music and watching the dancing lights over the water I nibble on these and my husband and kids enjoy for hot seasoned potato chips! The four of us walk around munching and crunching (and occasionally dancing) enjoying ourselves immensely!
We hit the The Hershey Story Museum, Houlihans for a lunch one of the 2 days and we always end with a visit to the XX where we pick up candy - some of it not available in stores like HUGE Reeses Cups, a huge variety of Hershey Kiss flavors and much more. This year the kids each picked up sweatshirts...I'm kinda jealous, lol! Not to be missed there is the trolly ride - it's so fun and you ride past Milton's home and shhh...Santa makes an appearance. Of course the "ride" through the mock Hershey factory is a highlight (which is free) and my kids ride it at least 4 times every year. At the end of the ride, someone is waiting at a stand towards the exit and they give you chocolate!!! Yup! This year it was mini Rolos, which my kids had never had before and yup...you guessed it...we left with a case full of Mini Rolo Packets! (Tip...at the end of the ride they take a photo which you can choose to purchase...make it a silly one!)
Here are a few photos photo of this years Candy House, look at the GIANT Kisses on top, the Twizzler roof and the White Chocolate Kit Kat "siding"!! Every year we can't wait to see it! This year the inside of the house even had a desk, fireplace and stockings...all made of Hershey's Candy. SO cool!!
Look at the walkway...LOVE!! One of these years I would love a behind the scenes access to the building of the annual candy house!
Besides all the fun we have had there all these years (our kids are now 9 and 12) I am utterly smitten with Milton and Kitty Hershey. Both with Milton's failures and ultimate astounding success, Milton & Kitty's love story, the town's story (and how it rallied around Milton after Kitty's death) and most of all what Milton & Kitty did...all the good they did (and still do) when they started The Milton Hershey School. It's actually mind-blowing when you think about how many lives they (and the school) touched and in so many cases changed the path of their lives for the better.
Do you know who has controlling interest in Hershey Corporation...and Hershey Park? The school.
THINK about that for a minute....The school. I can't even type that without filling up with tears.
When Kitty died way too early - Milton signed everything over to the school, to honor the idea she gave him about helping children, since they themselves couldn't have any. The man behind the hershey's chocolate bar is my idol...but the woman behind that man is my idol as well. If you want to learn more about their story here is a place to start.
You know how Bon Appetit Magazine has asked so many people over its lifetime of issues (on the last page interview) "which 3 people would they invite to dinner?" My answer for 2 of my 3 guests have been Milton & Kitty for as long as I can remember :)
For this month's Leftover Club, I was paired with Heather from the website Sugar Dish Me and since we just came back from Hershey, I figured Heather would love some of the Gebrannte Mandeln aka German Burnt Sugar Almonds that I so enjoyed, so I replicated them.
Plus - YOU will be talked about for days...maybe months if you make these as food gifts this holiday season or scatter them about at your holiday party...do it, do it, do it!!
I saw a sneak peek of what is coming my way! Don't these look fun and delicious!! You can check her site for the recipe and while you are there check out her recipe for these fun York Peppermint Brownies and her Chopped BBQ Chicken Salad both of which are going on my "Must Make List".
Gebrannte Mandeln aka German Burnt Sugar Almonds
-recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen
1/3 cup water, plus 2 TBS
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Chicago Sugar (from The Spice House) *See Notes
2 cups whole almonds
Use a heavy saucepan (NOT the nonstick) and a big wooden or metal spoon.