Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas crack.

My aunt used to make some type of holiday chex mix with white chocolate that she called Bad Ass Trail Mix.  (My siblings and I also referred to it as the Fat Ass Trail Mix because we couldn't stop eating it.)  This year I decided to give the recipe a shot, but I can't totally remember everything that was in it.  So this may be close, but it may be missing some things too.  Here is what I'm sure of:  it makes a HUGE amount.  As in so much I'm not quite sure what I will do with it all.  I wonder if it will freeze?  I may have to try that.

I'm calling this mixture Christmas Crack.  It has enough salt to cut the sweetness and it's hard to stop eating it.

1 box of Corn Chex cereal
1 container of peanuts
1 bag of pretzel sticks
1 bag of chocolate m&ms
1 block of almond bark or white chocolate

Mix the cereal, pretzels, m&ms and peanuts in a large bowl.  Melt the chocolate in a glass dish by microwaving it for 30 seconds, then stirring and microwaving for another 30 seconds if necessary. (Don't just put the dish in the microwave for a couple of minutes to melt it in one session - this generally scalds the chocolate and ruins the consistency.)  Let the chocolate cool a few minutes, then pour it over the top of the cereal mixture and toss until covered.  Pour all of it out onto cookie sheets lined with waxed paper, allow it to cool, then break it apart and put it in tupperware containers to store.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Sugar Cookies

I'm generally not too interested in having mint in sweets, but I make an exception for these cookies - I love these. They get a great response from anyone who tries them...there is something about the combination of the soft sugar cookie with the chocolate and hint of peppermint that is just right. This recipe makes a huge batch, but these will freeze up to a couple of weeks really well so they are a good make ahead option for the holidays.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Sugar Cookies    (adapted from Bon Appetit)
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (4 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg yolk
1 bag semisweet mini chocolate chips
1 bag Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses – chopped
7 ounces white chocolate

Several crumbled mini candy canes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Use a large metal cookie sheet with sides/jelly roll pan (13 x 9 x 2) and lightly spray the bottom of the pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with long strip of parchment paper, leaving overhang on both short sides of pan.   

2. In a mixing bowl, whip the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolks. Gradually add flour and salt, beating on low speed until just blended.

3. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.

4. Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, start checking about 20 minutes (baking time will vary depending on how thick the sugar cookie layer is).  Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using small offset spatula, spread chocolate chips over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped candy cane kisses  and candy cane pieces over the top.

5. Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring in between. Using fork, drizzle white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
6. Using paper overhang as aid, lift cookie from pan and transfer to work surface. Using large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces.

*Store in refrigerator (or freezer) in airtight containers between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper. Can be stored in the freezer for several weeks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lemon quartz pendant

I made this mother's pendant for my sister.  I was set on an October birthday, opals in hand.  But my nephew decided to wait until November to arrive, so I needed a yellow stone.  The citrines that I found all seemed so dark yellow that I settled on a lemon quartz instead - the yellow is paler and seemed a little easier to pair with everyday clothes.  And just...happier.

It's sort of like this pendant I made for another sister a couple of years ago. I like the simplicity of the setting because all of the focus is on the stone and I'm in love all of the facets in the quartz - it really catches the light.