12/13/11

Candy Box Caramels

  • Ingredients
    12 ounces chocolate- and/or vanilla-flavor candy coating*, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup toffee pieces, crushed; finely chopped pistachios; and/or nonpareils
  • 48 short plastic or wooden skewers (optional)
  • 1 14-ounce package vanilla caramels (about 48), unwrapped
  • 2 ounces chocolate- and/or vanilla-flavor candy coating*, coarsely chopped (optional)
Directions
1
In a microwave-safe 4-cup measure, place the 12 ounces candy coating. Microwave on 100% power (high) for 3 minutes or just until melted, stirring every 30 seconds.
2
Place toffee pieces, nuts, or nonpareils in a shallow dish. If desired, insert a skewer into each caramel. Dip one caramel into melted candy coating; turn to coat as much of the caramel as desired, allowing excess coating to drip off caramel. (If not using skewers, use a fork to lift caramel out of candy coating, drawing the fork across the rim of the glass measure to remove excess coating from caramel.) Place dipped caramel in toffee pieces, nuts, and/or nonpareils, turning to coat. Place coated caramel on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Repeat with remaining caramels. Let caramels stand about 1 hour or until coating dries.
3
If desired, microwave 2 ounces of a contrasting color of candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl on 100% power (high) for 2 minutes or just until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Cool slightly. Transfer coating to a small, heavy plastic bag; cut a small hole in one corner of bag and drizzle additional coating over coated caramels. Let caramels stand until set. Makes 48 pieces.
4
To Store: Layer caramels between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
5
*If desired, substitute milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and/or white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter for candy coating.

12/12/11

Frosty Snowballs

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softenedOn Sale
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugarOn Sale
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flourOn Sale
  • 1 cup chopped pecansOn Sale
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugarOn Sale
  • Green, pink, and purple edible cake sparkles or colored sugar
Directions
1
In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in water and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the chopped pecans.
2
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
3
Bake in a 325 degree F oven 20 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool completely.
4
In each of three bowls place 1/3 cup of the sifted powdered sugar. Add a different color of edible cake sparkles or colored sugar to each bowl. Gently roll and shake cooled cookies in desired powdered sugar mixture. Makes 36.

DIY Truffles

Ingredients
    GANACHE
    • 1 quart heavy cream
    • 3 pounds bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
    • 1 pinch of salt
    TRUFFLE FLAVORINGS
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
    • 4 teaspoons pure peppermint oil
    • 2 teaspoons instant espresso dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
    • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    OPTIONS FOR COATINGS
    • Finely crushed toffee bits
    • Mint candies
    • Pretzels
    • Dehydrated raspberries
    • Amaretti cookies
    • Malted milk balls
    • Chocolate cookies
    • Finely chopped toasted almonds
    • Chocolate covered espresso beans
    • Toasted coconut
    • Roasted salted peanuts
    • Candied ginger
    • Cinnamon-sugar
    • Confectioners' sugar mixed with cocoa powder and large pinch kosher salt
    Directions
    1
    MAKE THE GANACHE: In a large saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. In a large bowl, combine the chopped chocolate with the butter and salt. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate and butter are melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk the ganache until smooth and shiny.
    2
    Divide the ganache into 4 bowls. To flavor it, add either the rum, peppermint oil, espresso, or cardamom to each batch. Cover the ganache and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
    3
    Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1-tablespoon-size ice cream scoop, drop level tablespoons of the ganache onto the baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
    4
    COAT THE TRUFFLES: Spoon the coatings into small bowls. Moisten your hands with ice water and roll the ganache into balls, then roll in the coatings. Package the truffles in decorative bags or boxes.

    MAKE AHEAD
    The coated truffles can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

    NOTE
    Truffle ideas: Peppermint filling with powdered sugar; chocolate cookie crumbs or mint candies; espresso filling with cinnamon-sugar, amaretti, or cocoa powder-salt mixture; rum filling with coconut, candied ginger, or toffee; cardamom filling with cinnamon-sugar, amaretti, or candied ginger; plain chocolate filling with raspberry, malt balls, or peanuts

    Chocolate Orange Truffles

    Ingredients
    • 1/3 cup whipping cream
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange flavoring
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into chunks
    • Cocoa powder
    • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    • 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
    Directions
    1
    Heat the whipping cream and butter together just to a simmer, then add chocolate. Remove from heat while chocolate melts. Add flavoring. Stir until glossy and pour into a chilled bowl. Set aside until firm.
    2
    Once firm, use a small melon baller and scoop ganache out. Roll by hand, using cocoa powder to reduce stickiness. Chill until firm.
    3
    Melt 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate with 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir until melted; microwave additional seconds as needed. Drop each ball individually into chocolate, roll with a fork until coated, then use the fork to lift out and place on parchment paper. Chill and keep refrigerated.

    10/21/11

    Steve's Ahhhhhmazing Banana Nut Muffins!

    This morning my wonderful Husband surprised the heck out of me and our boys by waking us up with the amazing aroma of his divine Banana Nut Muffins!!!



    Ingredients:

    3/4 cup sugar, divided (1/4 cup & 1/2 cup)
    1-1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided (1tsp & 1/2tsp)
    1-1/3 cups all purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/4 tsp clove
    1 egg
    1 cup mashed over ripe bananas (the browner & mushier, the better!)
    1 cup French Vanilla Yogurt
    1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 375* and in a small bowl combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon & set aside for topping the muffins at the end.

    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, clove and the remaining cinnamon.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, egg, bananas, yogurt and butter until well blended.

    Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir JUST until blended (DO NOT OVER MIX!!!). Gently fold in chopped walnuts.

    Spray your 12 cup muffin pan with a baking spray (we use the Walmart Brand with flour added to it)

    Divide batter equally among the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mix & if desired toss on a few more chopped walnuts to the top.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 23-25 minutes or till the tops are golden brown and the toothpick inserted into the center pulls out clean.  Let them cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 3 minutes before transferring the muffins directly to the rack.

    Serve warm with coffee, hot cocoa or your favorite tea & some softened butter & enjoy!!!

    10/8/11

    Kitchen Tip: Baking Tip #1

    Kitchen Tip of the Day - When you need to line a baking dish with foil follow these simple steps for a tidy result & much less chance of it ripping:

    1.) Turn the dish upside down.
    2.) Press the heavy duty foil over the surface.
    3.) Remove the foil, turn the dish over & drop in the shaped foil.
    4.) Crimp the foil over the edges of the dish.

    Then with those 4 simple steps you have a beautifully line baking dish with a far simpler clean up!

    9/8/11

    Make-Ahead Butterhorns (aka Crescent Rolls!!!)

    I found this nummy recipe at moneysavingmom.com and I can HONESTLY say I am MEGA impressed!!! Normally I just buy the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls to use with my casseroles (because I am too cheap just to use them as a dinner roll LOL!!!) but NOW my lil bugs can have them on the SIDE of dinner in addition to their usual treat of with a casserole or as the wrapping for a home made hot pocket!!! Thanks so much for sharing with all of us Crystal!!!


    These are pretty much hands-down the most-delicious dinner rolls you’ll ever eat. And best of all? You can make up a batch or a double-batch ahead of time and then just pull out, thaw, and bake as many as you need for dinner. (They can be baked right away too if you prefer!) This is one of our family’s very favorite recipes and these are served at least a few times per month at our family gatherings.
    Make-Ahead Butterhorns (makes 32 rolls)
    2 Tablespoons dry yeast, heaping
    1/3 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
    9 cups flour, divided (you can use any mixture of white or whole-wheat flour you’d like)
    2 cups warm milk (110-115 degrees)
    1 cup butter, melted
    1 cup sugar (we substituted sucanat)
    6 eggs
    2 teaspoons salt
    3-4 Tablespoons butter, melted
    In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add 4 cups flour, milk, butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Beat 2 minutes or until smooth.
    Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto floured board and knead lightly. (Or, knead in mixer until sides of bowl are clean, then knead two more minutes.)
    Place in a greased bowl, turning dough once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1-3 hours).
    Punch dough down and divide into four equal parts. Roll each part into a 12-inch circle and brush with melted butter.
    Cut each circle into 8 pie-shaped wedges.
    Roll up each wedge for wide edge to tip of dough and pinch to seal. Place rolls, top down, on baking sheets and freeze. When frozen, place in freezer bags and keep frozen until needed.
    To bake: Take out as many frozen rolls as you’ll need and place them on a greased baking sheet. Thaw for five hours or until doubled in size. Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned (about 8-10 minutes). Brush with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven. Remove and serve immediately or cool on wire racks.