Weighing in at numbers 8 and 7, are dishes full of high grade hard candy, and my mother's mammoth cheesecake.
8) Homemade Hard Candy
No candy sits in a dish like hard candy. And there's no hard candy like homemade hard candy. Even if clove or horehound isn't your thing, you can't go wrong with these squares or pillows from James J. Chocolate. In my family, if it smacks of licorice or toffee, it won't make it through the day. Here's what I stock up on: Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Lemon Butter, and Anise. I recently noticed that James J. has Lemon Drops and a dark colored Butterscotch which I'll try soon. My favorites, the Brown Sugar Cinnamon and the Lemon Butter, are full-flavored, and at the same time delicate in a way you don't find in common store brands. Good homemade shop candies tend to give way to a mouthful of teeth in a way that would make your dentist plotz.
7) Mother Cheesecake
The last time I saw my mother's cheesecake was on a Papa Phil's dessert menu. There was no mistaking it. This brick of sugar, cream cheese, butter, graham cracker, lemon, and cherries was one of my mother's holiday calling cards. A very large, evil, calling card. It was made in the heaviest of CorningWare, and there had been jokes of baking the mass in something even larger. Like our '76 Cutlass. The slices were as subtle as a wheel of cheese, and must have stood 3.5, 4 inches high. It was no coincidence that the ristorante sharing this madness belongs to my godfather. I've never attempted to make it, not many have, but I gain ten pounds every time I look at the recipe. In deference to the days of yore and lore, we have some manner of cheesecake for almost every holiday. Coincidently, my sister was insisting we get a pumpkin cheesecake from Papa Phil's for Thanksgiving. And so it begins. Try and stop me from picking up a cornucopia made of and filled with chocolate tomorrow.