Friday, December 21, 2012

Peanut Butter Fudge

Since my butterscotch fudge didn't turn out as planned, I decided to try one more fudge recipe this holiday season: peanut butter fudge . . . and it was a success!


Ingredients:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cup into little blocks

Directions:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.

Combine the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, peanut butter chips, peanut butter, and butter in a medium glass (heat proof) bowl.

Create a double-boiler by setting the bowl over a medium-size saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl shouldn't touch the water. Stir in chocolate chips. Mix until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the fudge into the prepared dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate for 5 hours or until the fudge is firm.

To cut the fudge, remove the parchment paper from the dish. Run a knife under hot water, dry it off, and use it to cut the fudge into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Butterscotch . . . Somethings

In the summer, we usually hit up the local ice cream shop. 99% of the time Eric orders a butterscotch milkshake. I think next to peppermint, it's his favorite flavor. So I had planned on making butterscotch fudge for him this Christmas. I used the Nestle Toll House recipe for butterscotch fudge. The only alteration I made to the recipe was taking out the nuts. But the fudge never set. I even tried freezing it. The recipe had awesome reviews; I don't know what went wrong, but the fudge was a fail. However, while some kitchen fails have to go in the trash, others can be transformed. So that's what I attempted to do with the butterscotch fudge. It tastes damn good (Eric said he'd happily eat it with a spoon) so I turned it into a truffle-like candy I'm calling a "something." But these somethings need to be kept in the freeze, otherwise they don't exactly melt, but become gooey and lose their shape. Even transformed, they're not my most successful concoction, but Eric loved them so much that I thought I'd share the recipe anyway.


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 2/3 cups (11-ounce package) of butterscotch chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extra
nuts, powdered sugar, sprinkles, etc.

Directions:
Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt and bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Let boil for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in marshmallows, chips, and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously until the marshmallows and chips are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pan and freeze overnight.

Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the butterscotch "fudge," roll into ball, then roll the ball in chopped nuts, powdered sugar, sprinkles, whatever you'd like. I used up some leftover pecans and powdered sugar. Set the balls on waxed paper lined plate and refrigerate. Since these suckers become gooey rather quickly, it's better to work in batches.

Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Sea Salt Nutella Fudge


http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1iRTrFcqFNY/TuYptEb_znI/AAAAAAAAMOs/O2uxiqFElyU/s1600/cmasw.bmp
Source

I've made homemade caramels, marshmallows, and even candy corn. But for some unknown reason I've been intimidated by fudge. I don't know why. It's not difficult to make. So I decided to tackle it this holiday season. I absolutely love hazelnut-chocolate spread and I love chocolate and salt, so when I found this recipe I knew it had to be my first fudge recipe. But I do have a confession. I didn't use Nutella. I used Jiffy's Hazelnut-chocolate spread. It's cheaper and just as yummy.

Recipe comes from here.


Ingredients:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cup into little blocks
sea salt

Directions:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray (you can also grease it with butter).

Combine the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate chips, hazelnut-chocolate spread, and butter in a medium glass (heat proof) bowl.

Create a double-boiler by setting the bowl over a medium-size saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl shouldn't touch the water. Stir in chocolate chips. Mix until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Double boiler


Pour the fudge into the prepared dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate for 2 to 5 hours or until the fudge is firm.

Sprinkle with salt
To cut the fudge, remove the parchment paper from the dish. Run a knife under hot water, dry it off, and use it to cut the fudge into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No-Bake Marshmallow Cornflake Wreaths


If you love rice crispy treats, you will love these no-bake Christmas cookies. My mom used to make these for me and my brother and we always loved them. I don't make them every year--there are just too many delicious cookies recipes out there--but the years I don't, I always miss them.

Now I usually decorate these with cinnamon candies. But not this year. I had a big bag of them. But a certain someone (ahem, Eric) ate them all. This is why I usually hide my baking goodies. In his defense, though, I didn't tell him not to eat them all. I just didn't think he could/would eat so many in less than a week. So I just used sprinkles to decorate them instead.



Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
3 cups mini marshmallows
4 cups plain cornflakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-8 drops green food coloring
cinnamon candies

Directions:
In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows, stirring until the marshmallows are melted. Add vanilla and food coloring. Mix until the mixture is smooth. Carefully stir in cornflakes, making sure they are well-coated. Remove from heat. On waxed paper, form the mixture into wreaths. You can make them as large or small as you'd like. Decorate with cinnamon candies. Store in an airtight container.




Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn: Peppermint and Cinnamon
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cherries

I love chocolate covered cherries. In high school my mom used to always put a box in my stocking. In college, I treated myself to a box every Christmas season when they began popping up in the grocery store in abundance. This year I decided to make my own. Chuck, my future father-in-law, considers himself a connoisseur of chocolate covered cherries. He loves them and has tried a lot of different kinds. He absolutely loved these. He even told me I should be proud of myself, they were that good. Eric was madly in love with them too.

With that said, these chocolate covered cherries were supposed to have liquid centers. However, the centers stayed cream, a very tasty cream, but still a cream. So if you're looking for a recipe for chocolate covered cherries with liquid inside, this recipe isn't for you.

Fair warning, these need to age for about a month to get the best flavor so you have to start early, like in November.

Ingredients:
2 5-ounce jars of maraschino cherries (roughly 60)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cherry liquid from the jar of cherries (you can also use vanilla extract, almond extract, or brandy)
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 cups chocolate chips*

Directions:
Drain the cherries in a strainer and dry the cherries using paper towel. You want to get the cherries as dry as you can, but be careful not to crush them. Reserve 2 teaspoons of cherry liquid.


In a large bowl, combine butter and corn syrup. You can use an electric mixer or do it by hand. I did it by hand with ease. Stir in cherry liquid and salt. A cup at a time, add the sugar to the mixture until it is well incorporated. After about 2 1/2 cups and began kneading the sugar into the fondant.

Take about 1/2 tablespoon of fondant, wrap it around a cherry, and place on a wax-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining cherries. Freeze for 1 hour.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Since chocolate is easy to burn, only microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between intervals, until it is melted and smooth. Coat the cherries in chocolate and place them back on the waxed cookie sheet.

Place the chocolate covered cherries into the freeze for 30 minutes then transfer them to an air-tight container and store for 7 to 30 days in the refrigerator. 

*The original recipe calls for 2 cups chocolate chips. I probably used double that. I always end up using a ton of chocolate when coating stuff.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn: Peppermint and Cinnamon
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate on Chocolate Cake

Happy Birthday Chuck!

Today is my future father-in-law's birthday. Since my future mother-in-law recently underwent surgery, I made the birthday dinner (lime mustard chicken and mashed potatoes) and cake. He loves a chocolate on chocolate cake (chocolate cake with chocolate frosting) so that's exactly what I made. I think this is my first cake from scratch, believe it or not. I chose it because of it's simplicity. It's incredibly moist and light in texture and rich in taste. Everyone enjoyed it. But I can't help but wonder if I could intensify the chocolate flavor by using coffee or chocolate milk instead of water.

I topped the cake with one of favorite frostings--chocolate buttercream (see recipe below).

Original Recipe (with minor alterations)

Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups hot water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoon shortening, rounded
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Mix together until well combined.

Divide equally between the two pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool then frost.


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients:
3 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup cocoa powder, sifted (the amount depends how chocolaty you want your frosting)
4 to 6 tablespoon milk

Directions:
Place the the butter into a large bowl and cream with a hand mixer or standing mixer. Add vanilla and mix. Add 1 cup of sugar and blend on low speed until well incorporated. Then add another cup of sugar and beat until well blended. By now your buttercream is getting thick. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk and mix. Blend in the the final cup of sugar. Add a couple more tablespoon of milk if desired. Beat in the cocoa powder. To get light, smooth buttercream you need to blend the buttercream for 15 to 20 minutes on low.



Enjoy!

~Krissy

More Cake Recipes:
Apple Cider Cake
Chocolate Swirl Cake
Rice Crispy Cake
Starlight Mint Cake

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Candy Corn: Peppermint and Cinnamon

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/69523_1528046759651_2117114_n.jpg

For Halloween I made homemade candy corn and it was a hit with everyone who tasted it--even those that don't like store bought candy corn. I knew right away that I was going to experiment with other flavors. So for Christmas I made a batch of Peppermint Candy Corn and a batch of Cinnamon Candy Corn.

I do have a confession to make though. Two confessions actually. Number 1: I wasn't paying close enough attention to my candy thermometer and let the peppermint candy corn go two degrees higher than it should have (230 instead of 228). This made the dough less pliable and harder than it should have been, which in turn made molding the candy difficult. So my Christmas candy corn doesn't look nearly as pretty as my Halloween candy corn. Confession Number 2: I didn't realize I was only one drop away from being out of red food coloring. Though I made sure to cook my cinnamon candy corn to the correct temperature, it's the wrong color. But at least the candy taste good, even if it doesn't look the prettiest.



Peppermint Candy Corn
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup non-fat milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract*
Green food coloring

*I'm not a huge peppermint fan, but Eric loves it. 1 teaspoon of extract is more than enough for me, but the first thing Eric told me when he tried these was that they needed more peppermint extract. So if you're a huge peppermint lover like Eric, you could add an extra 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.

Directions:
In a large bowl, sift powdered sugar, milk powder, and salt. (Sifting is very important). Set aside.

Over high heat bring corn syrup, granulated sugar, butter, and peppermint extract to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When the mixture just begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-high. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to 228 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat.

Gradually stir in the sugar mixture until it's completely incorporated. Now I'm going to be honest with you, doing this with a spatula wasn't easy. I finally got to the point to where I kneaded the rest of the sugar mixture into the dough (for lack of a better word). If you decided to do this, be very careful. The dough is still quite hot and can burn you. I only handled it for maybe 10-15 seconds at a time.

Once the sugar mixture is completely incorporated, place the dough on a piece of wax paper for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is cool enough to handle.

Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Add about 3 drops of green food to two of the pieces and knead the color into the dough. If you're worried about staining your hands, use gloves, but the food coloring washed right off my hands. Leave the third bowl uncolored.

Roll out a large piece of wax paper over your work area. If you want, you can roll three ridiculously long, thin ropes of dough (two green, one white) or you can do what I did and work in batches. If working in batches, make sure to cover any unused dough with plastic wrap or else it will dry out. Line the ropes up so they form a long rectangle with green on top, white in the middle, and green again on the bottom. Press the ropes together and flatten them a little. Using a knife, cut the rope into little triangles.

Store the candy corn in an airtight container, making sure to separate the layers with waxed paper. Keep container at room temperature.



Cinnamon Candy Corn
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup non-fat milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon extract OR 1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon*
Red food coloring

*My grocery store sells every type of extract under the sun except cinnamon extract. So I took a risk and used ground cinnamon. This didn't affect the texture of the candy corn and gave it amazing flavor. BUT it does make your candy brown, which isn't the most appetizing color. You can probably dye it red with food coloring but as I was making this I discovered I only had one drop of red food coloring left so mine turned out brown. Plus you can't make white and red stripped candy corn (or little stripped candy cane!) if you use ground cinnamon. Next time, I'm going online and ordering cinnamon extract.

Directions:
In a large bowl, sift powdered sugar, milk powder, and salt. Set aside.

Over high heat bring corn syrup, granulated sugar, butter, and cinnamon extract (or ground cinnamon) to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When the mixture just begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-high. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to 228 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat.

Gradually stir in the sugar mixture until it's completely incorporated. Once the sugar mixture is well combined, place the dough on a piece of wax paper for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is cool enough to handle.

Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Add about 3 to 5 drops of red food to two of the pieces and knead the color into the dough. If you're worried about staining your hands, use gloves, but the food coloring washed right off my hands. Leave the third bowl uncolored.

Roll out a large piece of wax paper over your work area. If you want, you can roll three ridiculously long, thin ropes of dough (two red, one white) or you can do what I did and work in batches. If working in batches, make sure to cover any unused dough with plastic wrap or else it will dry out. Line the ropes up so they form a long rectangle with green on top, white in the middle, and green again on the bottom. Press the ropes together and flatten them a little. Using a knife, cut the rope into little triangles.

Store the candy corn in an airtight container, making sure to separate the layers with waxed paper. Keep container at room temperature.

Despite my pliability and color issues, I got a little creative with the candy corn dough. There really is so much you can do with this recipe aesthetically.

Uncolored peppermint snowballs
Peppermint snowman decorated with different sprinkles. (Maybe a good decoration for a gingerbread house?)

Cinnamon stars and candy canes
Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Spiced Cranberry Juice


I think I may have found a new winter tradition: spiced cranberry juice. The spices, the sweetness, the tartness, all perfect for a cold winter day. I've wanted to make this for a while, but I didn't want to spend the money on whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and other spices. This past fall, Eric mom gave me a carton of Aspen Mulling Cider Spices. Best gift ever. I could finally make spiced cranberry juice. I should have made spiced apple cider with them. I can only image how delicious it would have been. Next year I will for sure. I now kind of want to experience with mulled wine too.


Ingredients:
4 cups cranberry juice (not cocktail juice)
the juice of 1 orange
1/8 to 1/4 cup honey (depending how sweet you like it. I prefer tarter)
4 teaspoons Aspen Mulling Cider Spices

Directions:
Add all the ingredients to a stock pot and warm over medium-low heat for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm.

Even Eric who doesn't normally enjoy warm beverages couldn't believe how good this was. And when I'm craving something sweet that will warm me up, I finally have something other than hot chocolate to drink (I still love my homemade hot chocolate though!).


Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge

Check out last year's baking list!