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Comfort yourself with homemade candy

Homemade Butterfinger Bites, and other made-from-scratch candies, are just what you need to get you through this week.
Homemade Butterfinger Bites, and other made-from-scratch candies, are just what you need to get you through this week.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean our need for candy has waned. With the election coming up in a couple of days, I think now is as good a time as ever to recommend eating as much sugar as you want to get you through to the end of the week in one piece. So if you haven’t already, take a peek at my primer on how to make candy at home easily. If baking helps manage stress the rest of the year, then candy-making is the extra cathartic cooking project you need to keep your mind occupied this week. And the only thing that will make you feel more accomplished than making your own candy is knowing you get to eat it all yourself, if you so choose.

To balance all that sugar, I suggest some hearty vegetable-focused soups to match the delightfully chilly p.m. temps we’re having right now. This wonderful vegan pozole swaps the chicken or pork for chickpeas and, with all the flavor built up in the broth, you won’t miss the meat. This red lentil soup with berbere scratches the itch for all the spices I want to eat when “fall” weather creeps up on us. And I recently scored a bottle of olio nuovo — or “new olive oil” — which is more peppery and fruity than older olive oil, and this white bean and escarole soup is the perfect canvas to drizzle it over. These soups are great to make in big batches and freeze, so that the next time I’ve overdone it on the sugar — a weekly occurrence at this point — I can heat and eat them to bring a little balance back to life.

Homemade Butterfinger Bites

Time 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 5 hours resting
Yields Makes 4 to 5 dozen pieces
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Honeycomb and peanut butter combine to make the signature flaky texture of this candy that you crave.

Homemade PayDay Bars

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Makes about 6 dozen pieces

This riff on the classic bar combines roasted peanuts and a caramelized milk fudge.

Vegan Chickpea Pozole

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Chickpeas take the spotlight in this flavorful vegan spin on classic pozole verde.

Red lentil soup with berbere

Time 50 minutes
Yields Serves 8 to 12

Berbere, an Ethiopian spice mix you can make easily at home, flavors this warming lentil soup.

White bean and escarole soup with olio nuovo

Time 2 hours
Yields Serves 8

This classic Italian combination is a great soup to show off seasonal olio nuovo.

Ask the cooks

I have so much basil in my herb garden, but I don’t want to make pesto with it. What else can I make?

— Disha Mahendro

I’m not a huge fan of pesto, so I like to use basil in other ways too. One fun thing to do is dry it and then grind it up to make your own dried basil for shaking on pizza or in marinara sauce. And speaking of tomatoes, whenever I make red sauce, I always stir in a few whole fresh leaves to give the sauce a hint of their flavor. My favorite use, however, is to treat basil leaves like spinach — I learned this trick working at a restaurant many years ago: You simply blanch the basil leaves in boiling water as you would spinach then after a couple seconds, plunge the leaves into ice cold water. From there, you drain them and then treat them like prepared spinach. You can make lasagna, stuff them into ravioli or do like I learned and stir them into a bechamel to make creamed spinach. You’ll need A LOT of fresh basil to yield enough blanched leaves to use in recipes, but since you have a garden full of it, that shouldn’t be a problem.

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