Growing up in a Newfoundland and Labrador outport means your childhood had quite a few elements that stand out compared to most other Canadian provinces.
While kids in Ontario or Quebec often had variety in the kinds of candy they could get their little paws on, us outporters had the same basic candy lineup that cost between a penny and a nickel each at your local general store.
If you were bold enough, you'd sacrifice a full quarter to the gumball machine in hopes of getting a free movie rental. Aside from that it was a small, brown paper bag that contained a loonie's worth of sour watermelons, cherry blasters, Swedish fish or, if you were lucky, chocolate yummies.
I was known as “The Candy Freak” by a few schoolmates as a child because I'd buy and hoard all sorts of candies to sell at school for a profit, as they weren't exactly allowed on school grounds.
Sometimes I would get my hands on some rare candy such as Push-Pops or Jawbreakers and those sold like hot-cakes – but my best seller was always the generic, sprinkle-coated chocolate drops everyone affectionately and aptly called yummies.
I was caught doing this almost right away by a teacher, but a few cherry blasters sent her way kept her quiet.
I'm certain the tooth decay epidemic that sparked the fluoride rinse program at school was entirely my fault, but I digress.
During Christmas season two years ago, I went to a place in downtown St. John's that always brings out the kid in me. Freak Lunchbox is an amazing little shop that is basically a candy lover's paradise. It so happens to be one of the only establishments around where one might get their hands on a bushelful of chocolate yummies.
As I browsed wide-eyed through what is essentially Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory on steroids, I came across – with loud and alarming glee that the staff assured me they were used to and wasn't weird at all – enough chocolate yummies to outlast WW3.
Having not eaten them in close to 10 years due to unavailability, I overcompensated by buying almost $50-worth along with candy Legos, an assortment of sours and (I bleep you not) a giant gummy bear.
I was tempted to spend the entirety of my Christmas savings on nearly every item at the store – from their exotic chocolate bars the size of board game boxes, to the insane variety of assorted sour-dust covered everything.
The only problem thereafter (aside from a wee stomach ache) was figuring out what to do with my immense surplus of candy.
As you can imagine, I baked a lot of wildly delicious treats with them to get rid of my stock before they made me too fat or gave me pancreatic disorder. The one that struck the sweetest note with family and friends was...
Candy Freak Cheesecake
2 ready-bake chocolate cookie crumb pie shells
1.5 blocks of cream cheese
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 lb chocolate yummies or desired chocolate candy
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate syrup, chilled
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, making sure the rack is ready in the middle.
- In a large bowl or mixer, whisk together eggs, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until it forms a smooth, lump-free mixture.
- Add about a third of the candy to the cheesecake mix. Crumbled works best but whole also works.
- Add mixture to pie shells and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the Oreo-sized centres are almost firm - they will firm more as they cool.
- Once baked and cooled, top with chilled chocolate syrup and decorate surface with as much candy as you dare.
Though simple, this recipe is one of the most decadent and delicious creations I have ever made, and it has become an unofficial Christmas tradition of mine to happily gorge on it after stuffing my face with Nan's turkey Jigg's and Uncle Irv's pineapple ham.
There's an overabundance of candy listed for this recipe only because – if you're like me – you'll be eating them as you go, and now you've got a good excuse for that. You could easily get away with a little over half a pound of yummies but that's just no fun at all.
I wholeheartedly advise making a trip into Freak Lunchbox to make your supply run for this recipe, as it's basically something out of glorious fiction and the staff are great conversationalists.
But if you're lucky enough to still have chocolate yummies available at your outport general store, then grab a handful of couch change and beat'er on down – or ask your kid to hook you up with a good deal from their class Candy Freak.
Happy Candy Adventures!