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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cherries - 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 10)


Did you all survive Thanksgiving? We hosted almost 20 people this year and it.was.exhausting. Trying to clean and prep the few days beforehand was like 1 step forward, 5 steps back.  But, we did it and it's over and I'm glad.  Next year pizza is sounding better and better, though. We can officially move forward with Christmas prep without getting the side-eye from friends for making Christmas cookies in September (and October & November).  It did feel a bit odd to start baking Christmas cookies in September, didn't it?  

Today's treat takes a bit of planning.  Did you know that it takes a couple of weeks for the centers of chocolate covered cherries to get that liquidy/gooey center that you're used to from the store bought box?  I had no idea how they were made before beginning this project, but I just assumed it did not take weeks. You can make these in steps if you don't have time to finish making them in one day. They don't take long, but there is a chilling step that makes a nice stopping point if you need it. You can wrap the cherries in the fondant one day and dip in chocolate another day. Then try and leave them alone for 2 weeks. I did my fair share of testing along the way ;)

If you're just now getting into Christmas mode, as I think most people are, there's still time to jump in and finish out the hop with us.  We have 2 more weeks to share our treats. Visit Meal Planning Magic for all of the details. Thanks Brenda, for all of your work with planning and organizing.



Source: Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
  • 60 maraschino cherries (with or without stems)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 pound chocolate confectioners' coating

Directions:
Drain cherries and set on paper towels to dry.

In a medium bowl, combine butter and corn syrup until smooth. Stir in confectioners' sugar and knead to form a dough. Chill to stiffen if necessary. Wrap each cherry in about 1 teaspoon of dough. Chill until firm.

Melt confectioners' coating in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Dip each cherry in by its stem (I didn't use cherries with stems), and place on waxed paper lined sheets. Chill until completely set. Store in an airtight container in a cool place. Best after 1 or 2 weeks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Peppermint Bark Ice Cream - 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 9)


With Thanksgiving this week, I am taking a break from baking another Christmas treat. I'm letting my oven rest up for Thursday. Instead, I'm turning to my freezer for help with this festive treat. Our ice cream maker was looking lonely on the shelf after a couple months of neglect. We don't normally make a lot of ice cream through the colder months, but I found a good reason to make some now. (Do you really need to have a good reason to make ice cream?). I'm sure you can find Peppermint Ice Cream in the grocery by now, but can you find Peppermint Bark Ice Cream?  Ok, possibly, maybe somewhere. But, would it be this good? Probably not. Wouldn't this be great to make in January to use up all of the leftover candy canes from Christmas?

I used 8 regular sized candy canes, crunched up fairly fine. I didn't want the crunch of the peppermint, just the flavor. Then, I added white chocolate chips because I had 1/2 bag left from the Snowflake Crunch Popcorn a couple weeks back. I chopped dark chocolate and mixed everything in during the last few minutes of mixing in the ice cream maker. It is cool and creamy with bits of chocolately crunch, and of course pepperminty!

Can you believe we only have 3 weeks left in the hop? Time is flying.  Check out the other wonderful goodies everyone has made this week! Thanks again to Brenda, from Meal Planning Magic, for putting everything together for this fun hop.



Source: KokoCooks

Ingredients:
  • 2 ½ c heavy cream
  • ½ c whole milk
  • 1 ¼ c sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ c crushed peppermint candies
  • 3 oz white chocolate chopped
  • 4 oz milk or dark chocolate, chopped
Directions:
Stir the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Chill for 1 hour. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. Just before stopping the machine, add the peppermint candies, and both chocolates. Transfer to a freezer safe bowl and freeze until firm.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chewy Noels: Walnut Cookie Bars - 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 8)




Guys, this week's treat was a big failure. Or at least it started out that way. Has this happened to you?  I'd love to hear about a kitchen disaster you've had.  Here's what happened to me - I had saved this recipe to make over the weekend. Everything was going fine as I followed along with the simple recipe, starting with melted butter in the bottom of the pan. (no sticking, right?) Then, I got to the step of flipping them out of the pan. It wouldn't come come out! What happened to all of that butter I used?  AGH! Maybe I should have let them sit longer before attempting to flip.


How was I going to cut this into pretty bars?! LOL The taste, on the other hand was enough to knock your socks off.  So good, that I couldn't scrap this disaster.  Instead I scraped  the crumbles into a container and now it's topping my oatmeal in the morning. Yum!

But I had to try again.  I didn't want to bother with the same recipe, though. I went searching and found this one from The Cookie Scoop. It had a crust. That seemed a bit safer. Wouldn't you know, as they were baking, I realized that I never buttered the pan!! LOL Leave it to me. I thought I was setting myself up for a second pan of stuck-on cookie bars, but that didn't happen. (Thank goodness!) They turned out much, much better!  I did follow the recommendation of using less butter in the crust.  I went with 3/4 cup. The result is a rich, chewy-and-a-little-bit-gooey-in-the-center, crunchy-on-top cookie bar. It's kind of like pecan pie. You can make it with pecans if you want.

We're already in Week 8 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Brenda, at Meal Planning Magic.  It's never too late to jump in if you want to bake along with the rest of us. Look for next week's post a day early due to Thanksgiving.  Have a great Turkey Day, everyone!

Source: The Cookie Scoop

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter ( I used 12 tbsp.)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups chopped black walnuts ( or regular walnuts or pecans, even)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or butter a 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1" jelly roll pan. (I made this in a 9x13 pan)

Crust:

Mix together the 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of brown sugar in a large bowl.

Add the butter and mix with your fingers til crumbs form.

Press mixture into your prepared pan and bake 10 minutes.

Take crust out of the oven and let it cool about 10 minutes.

Turn oven up to 375.

Filling:

Beat eggs til light.

Gradually beat in the 2 cups brown sugar, then the vanilla.

In a small bowl, stir together the 2 tbsp. of flour, baking powder and salt.

Add this to the egg mixture along with the nuts.

Pour onto the crust and bake about 20 minutes, or til the top is a nice darker ( but not too dark browned) color.

Cool bars in pan for a few hours so the filling sets well. Cut into sizes you like.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Roly-Poly Santa Cookies - 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 7)



Are these not some of the most adorable cookies you have ever seen?! The second I saw them, I knew I had to find time to make them. They are not difficult at all, just a little time consuming. Instead of telling you how great they taste (Yes, I did try a decapitated one and it was good!), let's be real - these are all about looks!  I'll just share some things that I learned while making them.

First, I doubled the recipe and got 33 Santas out of the recipe. I also doubled the frosting recipe, but one batch would have been plenty for all of the Santas. I might have to make more Santas to use the rest of my frosting now. It took me about 3 hours total, with lots of baby interruptions and toddler "help".

After mixing the dough, I tried making the entire Santa start to finish - rolling out the red pieces, then the white.  I found that the red food coloring was starting to get on my hands and turning the white dough a little pink. That's when I decided I needed to roll all of the white balls first, then go back and do the red.  I lined 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper and laid out the pieces for each body. Then, I went back and rolled the red balls to finish the assembly. After handling all of the dough so much, I decided I would chill my trays of cookies before baking.  After all that time and work, I didn't want to take a chance that they would spread into a big blob as they baked. I think I chilled them for 15-30 minutes.

The only other suggestion I have that is different from the original source is to add the Red Hot at the very end - after you pipe the beard/hair.  Otherwise, it kind of gets buried and doesn't look as cute. Next time I may use an M&M or Mini M&M. My Grandma used to make cookies and decorate them with Red Hots all the time, but I don't remember them being so hard to bite!


There have been so many great recipes made for this blog hop, the list of everything I want to make keeps growing. Thanks once again to Brenda, from Meal Planning Magic, for putting this together every week!!


Source: SugarandCharm

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 10 drops red food coloring  (I used Americolor)
  • 1 bag mini chocolate chips for eyes and buttons
  • 1 bag Red Hots for Santa's nose
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cup powder sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Beat the butter at room temperature on high for about 30 seconds or until light and fluffly

Add in the sugar and beat until combined. Then add in the milk and vanilla while the blender is still going.

Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour

Remove 1 cup of the dough and set aside. With the remaining dough, add in the red food coloring.

To create a Santa, make one 1-inch ball and five 1/2-inch balls from the red dough. From the plain dough, make a 3/4-inch ball and four 1/4 inch balls. You will have a body, head, hat, four red arms and four hands and a white ball for the top of the hat

On a non-stick cookie sheet, attach the Santa's by pushing the dough parts together. Add the chocolate chips for eyes and three buttons.

Bake the Santa's for 12-15 minutes and then let them cool for about 2 minutes.

To make the frosting for Santa's beard, beat the shortening and vanilla for about 30 seconds. Gradually add the powder sugar and enough milk to make the frosting piping consistency.

Spoon the frosting into a decorating pastry bag with a fun tip to create Santa's beard. Use the pastry bag to go around Santa's face, arms and legs.

Add the Red Hot nose to Santa's face.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Snowflake Crunch Popcorn - 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 6)


Last week we were enjoying near 80 degree weather with lots of sunshine. This week, we've had freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, and even snow. It's not very often we get snow in October. I'm not ready for this! I finally put away my flip flops and got out my socks. My daughter wondered why my feet were all brown. I guess she isn't used to me wearing socks, either :)

So now that the cold and snow are here, I thought this Snowflake Crunch Popcorn would make a fitting treat for Week 6 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats. It's not too late to join in the fun! Thanks to Brenda, from Meal Planning Magic,  for hosting every week. And make sure you check out the rest of the treats linked below!

This would make an easy and delicious gift for teachers, coworkers, neighbors, etc. You could change this up with different colored sprinkles and m&m's for different occasions, too.



Source: Sugar Bean Bakers

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag popcorn, popped (remove the unpopped kernels)
  • blue m&m's
  • 3-4 blocks of white almond bark (I used 1/2 bag white chocolate chips melted)
  • blue sprinkles
Directions:
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. With the popcorn in a large bowl, pour the melted chocolate over the top and gently stir to coat. Mix in the blue m&m's and sprinkles.  Gently stir until mixture is coated evenly. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper and let cool. Once it's cool, break apart any large pieces and serve!
 
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