Barnard woman makes Christmas candies for holiday season

By Michaela Bowyer

Sharon Espey, a Barnard woman who works for the Maryville city finance department, makes many different kinds of candy for the holidays.

She has been making these candies for over 20 years, giving most of it to her closest family members. She takes some of her candy to work and shares some with friends. She says her favorite of the candies she makes are chocolate-covered cherries, with turtles as her second favorite.

She makes the following candies: chocolate-covered cherries, peanut butter balls, turtles, toffee, dipped pretzels and pretzel rods dipped in caramel then chocolate.

Espey uses almond bark to dip everything in, and says it takes an afternoon to get all the candy ready to dip. She stores her prepared goodies in the refrigerator to cool until she is ready to dip it all. She says it then takes another full afternoon just to dip everything. She sets a bowl of hot water in her crockpot and then sets a bowl of melted almond bark inside. This keeps the chocolate warm and smooth, preventing burning and clumping.

She also makes peanut brittle from a recipe of her husband’s Grandmother, Helen Espey.

Espey says to make the chocolate-covered cherries at least a week before they will be eaten. She says they get better the longer they sit. She recommends storing everything in the fridge until ready to eat.

She admits she has to hide some candy from her family, otherwise it will not last until Christmas!

Here are two of her most popular recipes:


Chocolate covered cherries

8 T. melted butter

6 T. corn syrup

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 lbs. confectioners’ sugar

3 10-oz. jars maraschino cherries, drained

2 C. semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 T. shortening

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and sugar. Knead dough and form it into balls with a cherry wrapped in the middle. The balls should be approximately the size of walnuts. Place balls in the freezer to chill. In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips and shortening together. Dip cooled balls in the chocolate, let cool on parchment paper.

Peanut butter balls

2 C. creamy peanut butter,

1/2 C. butter

4 C. confectioners’ sugar

3 C. crisp rice cereal

2 C. semisweet chocolate chips

Melt peanut butter and butter in saucepan over low heat. In large bowl, combine crispy rice cereal and confectioners’ sugar, mix well. Pour melted peanut butter and butter over cereal and sugar and blend together thoroughly. Form into 1 inch or smaller balls. Put on cookie sheets, chill in refrigerator until firm. Melt chocolate in double boiler and keep melted while working with balls. A teaspoon is best to use in dipping the balls in chocolate. Dip good and place on cookie sheets. Once done dipping, put back into fridge until firm.