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...
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
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
1/2 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)