Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Christmas Monday

Turtle Bark

Last Monday we chatted about snacks - those tasty nibbles that keep our tummies happy at parties, while watching football, wrapping gifts or stealing a few precious moments to lose ourselves in a good book. Today, we're shining the holiday spotlight on the sweeter side of life. I don't eat a lot of desserts the rest of the year. In fact, I usually prefer salty to sweet but that preference seems to go flying out the window when December rolls around and my sweet tooth blossoms in all its chocolate loving glory. Unless, of course, the sweet chocolate is combined with salt. No way I'm walking away from that one!

I do a lot of baking and candy making throughout the month of
December. I begin early - the weekend following Thanksgiving - and usually continue until a few days before Christmas. There are packages to ship to family and friends far away as well as goody plates to deliver to neighbors and others who go out of their way to bring a smile to my days. I love getting creative in the kitchen and watching the smiles the treats elicit upon delivery makes my heart happy. It's a win-win! 

Here are a few of the treats coming out of my kitchen this Christmas...


BOURBON BALLS

Powdered sugar
2.5 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
.5 cup bourbo
3 tablespoons corn syrup

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix one cup powdered sugar with remaining ingredients.

Sprinkle some powdered sugar onto a piece of waxed paper.

With hands, shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll each in powdered sugar.

Wrap balls in plastic wrap or foil or store in tightly closed container.

YIELD: 3.5 dozen


TIGER'S BUTTER


2 cups white chocolate (candy melts) - melted
2 cups milk chocolate - melted
1 cup peanut butter

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler.

Melt milk chocolate in a separate double boiler.

Stir peanut butter into melted white chocolate until smooth. Add melted milk chocolate and gently swirl.

Use mixture to fill candy molds. Chill until firm then pop out onto waxed paper or

Spread onto a waxed paper lined cookie sheet to make bark. Chill until firm then break into pieces or

Pour into a waxed paper lined baking dish. Chill until firm. Pull out of dish using waxed paper. Cut into squares. Wrap in colored foil squares.


EASY COCONUT MACAROONS

5 1/3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325°

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto parchment.

Bake 10 - 12 minutes until golden. Remove to cooling rack.

YIELD: 24 cookies

* Can make ahead and freeze.


ELEGANT DIPPED CHERRIES

1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries with stems, well drained
2 tablespoons butter - melted
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 teaspoons Half 'n Half
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup white chocolate - melted
.5 cup semi-sweet chocolate - melted

Pat cherries dry with paper towels and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the butter, corn syrup, unsweetened chocolate and cream. Stir in the powdered sugar.

Knead dough until smooth. Roll into 18 balls; flatten each into a 2-inch circle. Wrap each circle around a cherry and lightly roll in hands.

Place cherries, stem side up, in a shallow wax paper lined container. Cover and freeze for at least two hours.

Remove cherries from the freezer. Melt white chocolate. Holding onto the stem, dip cherries in the white chocolate; set on waxed paper to dry.

Melt semi-sweet chocolate. Drizzle over candies.

Store in an air-tight container.

* Undipped dough can be made ahead and kept in freezer until the day before serving.

YIELD: 1.5 dozen


And for our 4-legged friends:

GOOD DOGGY DOG BONES

2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dry milk
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon beef bouillon, dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and stir well.

Knead dough two minutes on a floured surface. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness.

Cut into shapes and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 300° for 30 minutes.

Remove from baking sheet and cool on a rack.

YIELD: 4 dozen



Those are a few of the treats that come from my kitchen at Christmas. 

What treats are made in yours?

Are you a baker or a buyer? 

Do you like your treats sweet or salty...or a combination of the two?

What's the traditional favorite that your family insists on every Christmas?

Any recipes to share?

I have two more packages of books ready to fly away to new homes! (U.S. addresses only)







68 comments:

  1. I BUY BUT LOVE SUGAR COOKIES AND PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peanut butter fudge is a particular weakness of mine. ;-)

      Delete
  2. Ism a buyer love praline, chocolate chips
    Thanks
    Kimh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pralines! Love them but I've been spoiled since buying them fresh and hot in Charleston. I'm wiping away the drool just thinking about them. LOL

      Delete
  3. Did you get my address ? I'd hate to miss my candy delivery. lol Seriously, that's a nice selection of candy you make.Especially those cherries. I used to bake so many cookies starting in mid November. We had a huge family. But that was then. I do bake a little with the grandkids . The Italian cookies we crave during the holidays take so long to make and a second to disappear. Lol
    Happy Holidays all.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL @ Carol! A lot of people have asked me that question lately. ;-

      Delete
  4. P.J. I am privileged to have been gifted some of your delicious chocolates and can certainly recommend them!
    I love the look of that Tiger Butter!
    I really like to bake for Christmas - in particular Macadamia Shortbread. My daughter and her friends also demand Triple Chocolate Brownies so they get baked too! (From Love is a Four-Legged Word!)
    Trouble with making candy and chocolate for a Downunder Christmas is that it is usually very hot and humid, not ideal candy-making conditions. My best wishes for a wonderful festive season! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That Tiger's Butter tastes even better than it looks, Kandy.

      Love the sound of those brownies. Anything with "triple chocolate" in the title has to be good!

      Delete
  5. I love sweets! A dash of salt. I don't bake anything- I eat or buy sweets. I go to the candy isle and stock up on yummy cotton candy, fudge, bark, cookies, candies, ect... I make sure i try every kind of pie offered. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love pies but that's not my specialty. When I lived in Florida there was a local Mennonite restaurant with the best pies I've ever tasted. Coconut Cream, anyone? :)

      Delete
  6. Sweets. But I do like dk choc covered pretzels. I usually make different cakes; this year I made a few eggnog cakes and they were good. Always make some cranberry loaves and some kind of chocolate cake for our Christmas dessert.
    Patoct

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never had an eggnog cake. That sounds intriguing. (I love eggnog)

      Delete
  7. I've been following you very closely on Facebook this past week and drooling over each of the delicious treats you have been making. I've always loved baking but I admit that I have slowed down on that somewhat. Our children/grandchildren don't live nearby so I have cut back on making these goodies. Heaven knows my husband and I don't need to eat everything I would love to bake. However, I've always made cutout sugar cookies using my mother-in-law's cookie cutters, some of which were made by my father-in-law. Fudge has also been a bit hit for Christmas too. I always made a double batch and shared it with my sister and her children. I've also made fruitcakes which I adore but seem to be the only one in the family who does.

    I am so happy to see people like you continue to make all of these wonderful homemade goodies. I wish more women had time to do that too. It creates such fun memories for the entire family.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Connie, I think my family would disown me if I stopped making them! I've been baking up a storm the past week so I can get packages into the mail to the scattered family members. Things will slow down after Wednesday though I'll still have some things to make for my local goody packages.

      Delete
    2. You are just an amazing and, obviously, very loved lady. Your family and friends are so lucky to have you. Will you adopt me? ;-)

      Have a wonderful Christmas!!

      Delete
  8. All of your treats sounds delicious! I may have to try some of them. So far I've made iced sugar cookies, sponge candy, peanut brittle, and walnut toffee. Salty and sweet is the best, but I'll take any of it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary D, I'm not familiar with sponge candy. Will you tell us more about it?

      Delete
  9. I like to make fruit cobblers. Don't do much baking as I am an older lady, but can whip up small cobblers. I do love to cook though. Thanks for the giveaway. My daughter and I share books; so this would be a nice gift to share after I am done reading the books. Merry Christmas to one and all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love fruit cobblers! A former neighbor made the best blueberry cobblers with fresh, handpicked berries from a local farm. So very good!

      How lovely that you and your daughter share a love of books. I share a lot of mine with my sister-in-law and I used to share them with my niece until she moved to the other side of the world. She reads e-books now so we limit our sharing to recommendations. :)

      Delete
  10. Like Connie, I've already been drooling over your FB pics--and now the ones here. I'm not a candy maker, but I'm blessed with loving, generous friends who are. I give thanks with every bite. :)

    About the only times I bake these days are Christmas and Easter. This year I'll bake sugar cookies and what the oldest grand christened "Cosmetic Christmas Brownies" (just frosted brownies decorated) for the grands. We are having our big family Christmas celebration Saturday, and I'll make pecan pies and lemon pound cake for that. That's less than usual, but one of my nieces loves Christmas baking, and I'm ready to pass the torch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the "Cosmetic Christmas Brownies." What a fun title! I'm willing to bet your pecan pies and lemon pound cakes are in great demand!

      Delete
  11. I am not a baker or candy maker. My mom and dad used to make peanut brittle and 3 kinds of fudge every year at Christmas. Now that she is gone he doesn't enjoy doing it by himself, so we just buy what we have a craving for at the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandmother was the family fudge maker. After she died, my uncle took up the mantle. He has since passed the recipe to one of my younger brothers. I'll be looking forward to a package from him sometime next week. :)

      Delete
  12. How delectable and delightful. I enjoy our traditional apple cake. I am not a real baker but this time of year try to create a festive and creative array of goodies.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your talent is wonderful. Great creations. I would love to be able to make fudge and brownies for all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! My brother is the fudge maker but I do enjoy making brownies. A local morning TV show had a 3-ingredient recipe for brownies made in mini-muffin pans. I think I'm going to try it.

      Delete
  14. I use to bake but once the children were out of the house I did it less and less (the two of us don't need all those sweets lol). So usually I buy something from the bakery (especially for sunday dinners) and then I send them home with the kids lol. This year my one daughter made chocolate covered nut clusters in the crockpot!!!! They were wonderful but I'm afraid I don't have the exact recipe but she said they were really easy - mostly just a combination of nuts (salted and nonsalted), different chocolate, peanut butter chips and viola! I also love chocolate covered pretzels - sweet and salty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love chocolate nut clusters! I make one kind with mini marshmallows and another with chow mein noodles. I try to give them away as quickly as possible. lol

      Delete
  15. The Tiger's Butter sounds great! I used to bake and candy-make like that long ago. I do like to make shortbread, Danish Puff, and Maple Nutty Bars. I like my goodies to be a mixture of salty and sweet, for the most part. Neighbors are surprised when I take them a plate of something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair warning, Deb: it's physically impossible to eat just one piece of Tiger's Butter! *grin*

      I love shortbread but I've never found a really good recipe so that's one item I usually end up buying. Would you be willing to share the recipe for the Maple Nutty Bars? I love anything with maple!

      Delete
  16. PJ! I watched all those pics of your goodies last week and drooled all over my keyboard! But I have to get this extra weight off, so I made Molly Approved dog treats for my friends' doggies this year. It's a recipe from Publix and I posted it and a pic of Molly on tsu.
    I'll have to try your treats for Molly next - I like making homemade treats for her without all the preservatives.
    Merry Christmas! Thanks for the recipes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Pamela! I know what you mean about the weight. That's why I'm sending my goodies out as quickly as I can. *grin*

      I'll check out the recipe on tsu. Always looking for good homemade treats for Rachel.

      Delete
  17. bake and buy all kinds of treats
    like to decorate the tree together

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I miss having family here to help with the tree. It's a lot more fun when done as a group. Hope you have a lovely Christmas!

      Delete
  18. One family favorite is Congo Bars, a wonderful brown sugar/chocolate chip bar cookie. The recipe is below. Thanks for sharing some recipes--but how about the one for Turtle Bark? Merry Christmas!

    Congo Bars

    2-3/4 c. flour
    2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    2/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
    1 lb. brown sugar (2-1/2 c.)
    3 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 c. chopped walnuts
    6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

    Mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine melted butter and brown sugar. Allow to cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add dry ingredients, nuts, chocolate chips and vanilla. Pour into greased and floured pan (10-1/2 x 15-1/2 x ¾ inches.) Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Cool. Cut into 60 bars

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Turtle Bark is easy. Melt milk chocolate; spread a layer on a waxed paper lined baking sheet. Let cool slightly. Drizzle melted caramel over the chocolate and sprinkle with toasted pecans. Pour another layer of melted chocolate over the caramel and nuts. Spread to cover entire sheet. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Chill in refrigerator. Break into pieces and enjoy!

      When using store-bought caramel, I prefer to buy it by the loaf. I've used Nestles in the past but my current favorite is the loaf from Chocoley.com. Great service and excellent quality!

      Melt the caramel in a double boiler or in microwave over low heat. If microwaving, heat in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until completely melted.

      Thanks for the recipe! I like Congo Bars!

      Delete
  19. My mom has a secret sugar cookie recipe that I love. I'm a buyer, I like sweet and the sugar cookies are what everyone in my family insists on every year :) Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like sugar cookies too. Several years ago, someone gave me a recipe that included lemon extract. It gives the cookies a little extra zing that I really like.

      Delete
  20. My favorite was always Sweetheart (aka thumbprint) cookies with a dab of raspberry jam, and because that recipe called for egg yolks we used the eggwhites to make Forgotten cookies (ie Meringue) with chocolate chips.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, I like the sound of those meringue cookies with chocolate chips!

      Delete
  21. Making and decorating sugar cookies is a must. I make them every year with my grandchildren just as I did with my children, even though they usually desert me about half way through the baking process. : ) My husband loves fudge so I'll attempt to make fudge as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Decorating sugar cookies with the little ones in my life is a must too, Pam. The boys usually desert us about halfway through but the (almost) six year old girl is in it with me to the very end. :)

      Delete
  22. PJ, what a fabulous post! Thank you so much for the recipes! I am also a sweet-plus-salt lover. There is a chocolate bar I find just every now and then at the grocery, and it's got bits of coarse kosher salt stirred into it, so you bite into the bitter, dark chocolate, and you get one of the little salt cells for a salt hit on your tongue, and OMG, it's an amazing treat with a glass of red wine.
    I'm a baker, but not candy. I make my grandmother's (1920s recipe) German Chocolate Cake for holidays, and I make pumpkin pie and such. I've never gotten good at the baking for giveaway tins, and I really want to. Yes, it takes some time, but there is no substitute for what's made with love, and I find that people will accept that, when they would not necessarily accept something you'd bought.
    Love this blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cassondra, I know what you mean about the salt. Divine! The dark chocolate-coconut-pecan bark I make has sea salt lightly sprinkled over the top and the turtle bark as it as well. It really makes the flavors POP!

      I'm ready to hop into my car and head to your house to get a bite of that German Chocolate Cake. It's my all-time favorite cake and a recipe from the 1920's that was your grandmother's? Oh, my. :)

      Delete
  23. Thanks for the recipes, PJ, especially the doggy treats! I can't wait to make them for my pup!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope your pup enjoys them, Frances! Thanks for stopping by. :)

      Delete
  24. We like the sweets here. I'll be making family favorites - frosted chocolate cookies, chruschiki (a Polish holiday cookie), spritz cookies, rice krispie treats, and saltine toffee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't make the saltine toffee in years. It's good, isn't it?

      Delete
  25. The main one that HAS to be made every year is the Chocolate Raspberry Walnut Fudge. It's the recipe on the marshmallow creme with an extra handful each of chocolate and marshmallows, an extra splash of vanilla, some raspberry extract or candy flavoring (depending on what I can find each year) and close to twice the recommended amount of walnuts.

    We also do a ton of pies and cookies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yum! I'm going to pass those fudge tips on to my brother, the family fudge maker. :)

      Delete
  26. My home made marshmallows! This year I'll add rum balls, chai marshmallows and lemon thyme dollars. Fav is pecan balls....looking forward to trying your recipes.....and would love to get one of the boxes of books as Christmas present......Merry Christmas and Happy and prosperous New Year to all!!!! mickey macD,
    ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't made marshmallows in years! Somewhere along the way it just became easier to buy them but nothing beats the flavor of homemade. I have the feeling you're very popular at Christmas, Mickey! :)

      Delete
  27. Hi PJ!
    I love to bake and Christmas is my favorite time to splurge and make multiple amounts when I'm baking to share with my friends and neighbors! I must admit that the long they want me to make the most is cherry covered cheesecake but I can't tell you the "secret family recipe" but I can give to a hint of how I make by letting you know that I use crushed Ziebach on the bottom and sides of the pan! I've learned that no matter how many I make I've don't eat them myself because I'm a juvenile Type I diabetic but I love seeing everyone else enjoy a very special "sweet treat"!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knowing how to make a good cheesecake is an art. I'm okay at it but no expert. Thanks for the hint! :)

      Delete
  28. Can't believe I just erased my comment : ( This will be shorter.

    We don't bake like we did when the kids were at home. I did Teddybear yeast breads for all their teachers every year. I usually do apple bread for coworkers. For cookies, we did bourbon balls (a different recipe than yours.), gingerbread, sugar cookies, toffee bars, my grandmother's filled cookies, and Swiss Merengue Horns (these are relatively light and delicious. They are a bit of work, but elegant. Whenever we had a party, I would make them. The recipe makes 10 dozen.). I usually make apple, pumpkin, and mincemeat pies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandmother always made apple cake at Christmas. I loved it so much!

      Those Swiss Meringue Horns sound delicious! I always made mincemeat pie when my dad was alive. It was his favorite (he was the only one in the family who liked it) and a special treat I could make just for him.

      Delete
    2. I love mincemeat pies, but no one else in the family is crazy about it. I use the None-such mix and add diced tart apples, walnuts, and brandy.

      Delete
  29. I love to bake! My sister came down over the weekend and we made cheesecake bars, cake truffles and a creamcheese pie.
    This weekend we have to make cookies for Quinn's (My youngest) Christmas show at preschool, we are also making Newyork Cheesecake and maybe Panna Cotta :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. I don't bake as much as I used to but I do enjoy it. The recipes above look great and I will point them out since she is in charge of baking this year. I am going to her house today and we are doing a bunch of baking. Butter cookies are my favorite and I hope they are on the list.

    ReplyDelete
  31. PJ
    I love sweet and salty. Love chocolate! Each year is different for me. Last year I was in the mood to bake quite a bit and I made several batches of cookies and candies and did the packaging and gifting thing.

    Why is it the busier we are, the more productive we are? This year, I'm unemployed after 24 years and I just can't get the momentum to get baking...although I bought some ingredients so I will get to it soon. (I hope!)

    My favorite standby is a very simple candy recipe. You melt chocolate and butterscotch chips and stir in red-skinned peanuts, plop them on a cookie sheet and stick them in the fridge until they are hard-- they're delicious!! My son loves the peanut butter muffin cookie with a mini Reeses peanut butter cup on top.

    So glad I saw your post today. Might just be the motivation I need.

    Happy holidays to you and your family!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Finally had a chance to read this post and now I am hungry! I bake at Christmas and host a neighborhood cookie exchange the second weekend in December. We used to have a lot of guests but there were only four of us this year. Seems fewer people bake nowadays, at least in my neighborhood. I bake fruitcake every year and have to send one to my Dad. A favorite, and easy, recipe I have is for peppermint treats:

    Candy Cane Cups

    12 ounces vanilla-flavored candy coating or Almond Bark
    12 candy canes (real peppermint oil flavoring is best)

    Crush candy canes (makes about ¾ cup of candy pieces). Place candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at Medium (50% power) for two minutes, stir. Cook an additional minute or two at Medium, until coating is melted. Stir in candy and spoon mixture into paper petit four or candy cups. Chill until firm. Store in an airtight container. Makes 3 to 4 dozen candy cups.

    ReplyDelete
  33. My favorite dessert to make is chocolate cream pie. Everyone loves a pie with real whipped cream. I love just about all desserts by the way.
    LIMarie

    ReplyDelete
  34. The only cookies I make are the slice and bake so I am definitely buyer and eater and not a baker. LOL I do appreciate everyone else's creations.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Scanning the blog and these sweets surely look good. I just may make some.
    LIMarie

    ReplyDelete