Month: December 2010

Gingerbread House Party

No recipe for today’s post (the holidays have kept me busy with other things!), but there are some drool-worthy candy photos!

When I was a little kid I would decorate a gingerbread house every December. Some years it would just be me, other years I would invite friends over, and one year I invited all the girls in my 5th grade class (15 girls in our basement on sugar highs… just imagine…). This year I wanted to re-live the fun with M & S. I gathered every candy imaginable, assembled the houses, made gallons of icing (or so it seemed), and helped the girls decorate their houses. It was a blast and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

If you’d like to try this, I bought the houses at Target and they’re about $10. The kit includes candy, but we obviously bought extras. Many, many extras! I improvised on the icing — but any royal icing recipe should work fine. My icing consisted of powdered sugar, a little meringue powder, and milk.

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks to all of my wonderful blog readers for a great year. :)

Buckeyes

Oh sweet lord in heaven: buckeyes. Given my obsessive love for all things peanut butter, it should come as no surprise that buckeyes rank high on my list of favorite treats. I will admit that these are not the prettiest of buckeyes – some are cracked, some are poorly coated in chocolate, some are a little lopsided. But that’s okay! I’ll have to work on my chocolate-coating skills for next time :)

Buckeyes

Recipe source: Smitten Kitchen
Print Recipe

1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 14 graham crackers)
Pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped

Make the filling:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together until combined.
2. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat for 10 seconds.
3. Add the sugar and butter, and mix on the lowest speed until it stops floating off everywhere, then increase the speed until the ingredients are combined. Scrape down the whole bowl well, then mix again. The mixture will be quite sturdy and a little dry — perfect for shaping. Set it aside while you prepare the coating.

Make the coating:
1. Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, stirring until it is completely smooth or in a microwave in 30 then 10 second increments, stirring before you start it again until it is completely smooth.
2. Let it cool to tepid (about 100 degrees) while you shape the peanut butter centers.

Assemble the candies:
1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out slightly more than one tablespoon’s worth of filling and use your hands to form it into a ball.
2. Place the ball on the prepared sheet and repeat the process until all of the candies have been shaped. They can sit close to each other but make sure they are not touching.
3. Using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate and roll it about so that almost the entire candy is coating, leaving a small circle uncoated.
4. Chill the buckeyes until they are set, about 30 minutes.

Buckeyes will keep in the fridge for about 3-4 days.

Almond Shortbread Bars

My lovely co-worker made these bars and I fell in love with them (hi, Vicki!!). They are so full of almond flavor, which is always a good thing in my book.

Almond Shortbread Bars
Print Recipe

1 cup margarine (butter will also work)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs (reserve 1 tsp)
4 cups flour
50 whole almonds, blanched
2 teaspoons almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9×13″ pan.
1. Cream sugar and margarine, then add oil and mix well.
2. Add beaten eggs (minus reserved 2 teaspoons) and almond extract; mix well.
3. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
4. Spread into prepared pan. Brush 2 teaspoons of egg onto the dough and score into 48 squares.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, cut on scored lines.

Special K Bars

My friend Lauren dropped off a big container of her homemade Christmas goodies. These Special K bars were included in the mix and I ate all of them in less than a day. Shameful, but so worth it! Lauren gave me the recipe that she used and I made another batch, adapting her recipe just a bit!

Special K Bars
Print Recipe

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
6 to 7 cups Special K cereal
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips

1. Cook the corn syrup, sugar, and vanilla over medium heat until it begins to boil; remove from heat. Use a large pot for this, as you’ll be adding in the other ingredients.
2. Add the peanut butter and cereal, stirring until well-mixed. I used about 6-1/2 cups of cereal.
3. Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13″ pan.
4. Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in a double boiler (microwave is OK if you make sure not to burn the chocolate). Pour the chocolate/butterscotch mixture over the cereal. Refrigerate to cool.

Cutting these bars can be a p-a-i-n. I found it was easiest to refrigerate the bars to cool them — and when you’re ready to cut them, let them sit out on the counter for about an hour. This warms them up and they become much easier to cut.