Treats sweeten the season
Published 8:13 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I'm holding up my end of the bargain by passing along some sweet treat recipes for you this week.
For some reason, it just isn't Christmas without some sinfully fattening treats on the table. I've gathered some recipes for favorite holiday treats this week to get your family into the spirit of the holiday.
Fudge is a favorite and can be found on just about any holiday table you'll pass by. Divinity is also very popular and it wouldn't be right to miss out on something gooey and chocolaty.
The thought of making divinity scares me. For that reason I began a search for an easy way to make this wonderful candy. Although I'm sure the traditional way produces the best candy, this is the next best thing. The fact that the recipe calls for a box of powdered frosting mix, gives the impression that it will be easier to make. The frosting does cut down on some of the work, but it still takes a little bit of effort. The frosting mix can be a little hard to find sometimes, but you'll want to look around to find some and give this treat a try. The toughest part is waiting for it to dry.
1 (7.25 ounce) package white frosting mix
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
Line a 10×15 inch cookie sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Set aside. Beat frosting mix, corn syrup, vanilla, and boiling water in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Mixture will be very thick, and it is helpful to use a stand mixer. Transfer to a large bowl and gradually beat in sugar; stir in nuts. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto lined pan. Let stand about 4 hours or until firm. Turn candies over and dry at least 12 hours. Store in an airtight container.
Fudge is one of those temperamental dishes that require a good bit of effort. But, as far as I'm concerned, it's worth every drop of sweat. There are so many recipes out there for fudge that it is almost mind-boggling. You can change the flavor of the fudge by adding just about any kind of flavoring you'd like. The variations continue if you put in pecans or walnuts or leave the nuts out completely.
This next recipe is one that can be done in the microwave. I've actually used this recipe before and have had a lot of success with it. I will let you know that the power of your microwave will determine how quickly this recipe comes together for you. You may have to experiment a little with the timing depending on the outcome you get from the suggested cooking time given in the recipe. No matter though, mistakes taste just as good.
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grease a 9×9 inch dish. In a microwave safe bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and cocoa. Pour milk over mixture and place butter in bowl. Do not mix. Microwave until butter is melted, 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla and stir vigorously until smooth. Pour into prepared dish. Chill in freezer 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
If you're more of a traditionalist, this next fudge recipe should fit the bill.
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grease an 8×8 inch square baking pan. Set aside. Combine sugar, cocoa and milk in a medium saucepan. Stir to blend, then bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer. Do not stir again. Place candy thermometer in pan and cook until temperature reaches 238 degrees. If you are not using a thermometer, then cook until a drop of this mixture in a cup of cold water forms a soft ball. Feel the ball with your fingers to make sure it is the right consistency. It should flatten when pressed between your fingers. Remove from heat. Add butter or margarine and vanilla extract. Beat with a wooden spoon until the fudge loses its sheen. Do not under beat. Pour into prepared pan and let cool. Cut into about 60 squares.
Here's a recipe for a holiday favorite I'm sure you'll enjoy. This version of rum balls doesn't call for using the real thing. The flavor comes from extract. You may have to hunt a little for the extract. I have made this using graham cracker crumbs instead of vanilla wafers. You may have to add a few extra drops of water to the graham crackers to get the proper considtency. If you want, you could even dip these in melted chocolate and chill to harden. They are great for big parties.
3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup ground pecans
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
2 tsp. rum flavored extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
In a medium bowl, mix vanilla wafer crumbs, ground pecans, cocoa, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, water, and rum flavoring together. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, and then roll in remaining confectioners' sugar. Store, covered, about a week before serving
This last recipe is one that can be changed to suit just about anyone's tastes. The recipe makes a large amount of the treat, so be ready to get your hands dirty.
You can flavor these truffles with liqueurs or other flavorings by omitting the vanilla and adding the same amount of whatever flavoring or liqueur you want. I will tell you that Kahlua makes a great addition if you like the flavor of coffee. Other flavors that would be great for a holiday treat would be orange or peppermint. You can divide the mixture into thirds before adding the flavorings and add one tablespoon of liqueur to each third for a variety of flavors.
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll truffles in ground walnuts (or any ground nuts), cocoa, coconut, confectioners' sugar, candy sprinkles, etc.
I hope you get a chance to pull out some of your family's favorite recipes and create memories and full stomachs for everyone. I believe these recipes will go a long way toward freeing up a little time to allow you to spend time with your family and friends during the holiday season.
With just one more Cook's Corner column before the holidays, I'll try to share some recipes that you can use for holiday leftovers. I'm sure you'll need a little break from cooking by then.
I hope you get some good use out of the recipes I've given you for the holidays. Also keep in mind these recipes would be great additions to any New Year's parties or celebrations you may have planned.
If you have a recipe you'd like to share, or one you'd like for me to search out for you, please let me know. I'll give you credit for your submissions. You can give me a call at 867-4876 or drop me a line by e-mail at email@example.com.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!