Christmas Treats for Sharing

December 16, 2004

You know Christmas has almost arrived when the goodies from all your neighbors begin piling up on your kitchen counter. It’s a great problem to have! Sharing new or traditional Christmas treats is one of the holiday’s most loved pastimes. Discover a new favorite this year!

With a season so full of sweet flavors, it’s no wonder that people want to share their favorites, acquire new additions, and remember the classics. Whether the visions dancing in your head are as classic as sugarplums, or as unique as chocolate bark, these recipes will serve as the perfect treat to share with family and friends. And the best part is that you’ll get the leftovers!

Fudge Sauce

• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 tbsp light corn syrup
• 12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 tsp vanilla

Over medium heat, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until melted. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour into jars and cool completely, then refrigerate. Keeps up to 1 month in refrigerator.

Chocolate Bark

• 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts (about ½ lb. in shell)
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
• ¾ cup dried, sweetened cranberries

Lightly toast pistachio nuts in oven heated to 350° F, about 10 minutes; stir occasionally. Let nuts cool.

Melt the semisweet chocolate in double boiler or microwave, stirring until smooth (in microwave, heat on medium power for 2 to 3 minutes). Melt the white chocolate separately in the same manner.

In a small bowl, combine the nuts and cranberries; stir half of the nut mixture into the semisweet chocolate. Spread the mixture onto a large cookie sheet, about ½ inch thick. Drop tablespoon-size balls of the white chocolate over the dark. Swirl the chocolates together with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect. Top with the rest of the nuts and berry mixture.

Refrigerate the bark until firm (about 1 hour), then break it into pieces. Bark will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes about 1 ¾ pounds.

Sugarplums

• ½ cup slivered almonds
• 4 ounces dried figs
• 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• 3 tbsp honey
• 1 tbsp orange zest
• ½ tsp almond extract
• ¾ cup granulated sugar


Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool. Combine the figs, cocoa, cinnamon, and almonds in a food processor, pulsing until small balls form. Add the honey, orange zest, and almond extract to the mixture in the food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are well mixed.

Form the sugarplums into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Makes about 2 dozen.

Caramels

• 4 cups heavy cream
• 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 4 cups light corn syrup
• 4 cups sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
• 1 tbsp + 1 tsp vanilla
• Vegetable oil cooking spray


Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/2-inch baking pan with vegetable-oil spray; set aside. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.

In a heavy 6 to 8 quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, 1cup water, sugar, and salt. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan by brushing the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water.

Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 250°F (hard-ball stage), 45 to 60 minutes. While sugar mixture is heating, heat cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil. When sugar reaches 250°F, slowly stir in butter and warmed cream mixture. Keep mixture boiling at all times. Heat until thermometer reaches 244°F (firm-ball stage), 55 to 75 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into prepared pan. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.

To cut, spray a large cutting board generously with vegetable-oil spray. Transfer caramel from pan onto sprayed surface. Cut into 1x1 1/4-inch pieces. Wrap each piece in cellophane or waxed paper. Makes about 150 caramels.

Caramel & Chocolate Covered Pretzels

• Long pretzel sticks (found in any grocery store)
• 3 lbs. caramel (either small, individually wrapped or go to your local
• cake/candy supply store and buy it in 5 lb. blocks)
• 3 lbs. chocolate (white, milk, or dark)

Topping ideas:

• sliced almonds
• coconut
• drizzled chocolate
• cake sprinkles
• tiny M&M's
• cinnamon & sugar
• different color chocolate
drizzled on top

Melt caramel in the microwave or in a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Dip pretzels in caramel and lay onto waxed paper sheet. Let dry for 2 hours.

Melt chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Dip caramel pretzels into chocolate. Let dry on waxed paper for 5–10 minutes, then roll in desired topping. Let sit 20 minutes. Package and serve!

Note: To keep your chocolate warm so that it doesn’t solidify while decorating your pretzels, place the dish containing your chocolate on a heating pad, which you can set at your work table.

Holiday Popcorn

• 2 bags plain popcorn (no butter, no salt)
• 3 sticks butter
• 2 cups butter
• 1 ½ cups light corn syrup
• 1 tsp vanilla
• ½ cup chocolate chips


Possible Mix-ins:
• Mini marshmallows
• Sliced almonds
• M&Ms
• Dried Cranberries

Pop popcorn and then sift out unpopped kernels; set aside. Boil together butter, sugar, and corn syrup for 1 minute. Add vanilla; stir.

Pour popcorn into bowl and pour liquid mixture over popcorn; mix together. While still hot, add mix-ins of your choice.

Spread popcorn on baking sheet. Slowly melt chocolate in microwave, stirring often. Drizzle chocolate over popcorn.

© LDS Living Magazine

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