Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Treat Guide - 20 Christmas Cookies and Treats

28 delicious treat for your Holiday celebration. Whether you are making a cookie plate for friends and neighbors, participating in a cookie exchange, or bringing treats in to school or work, this guide will have you covered with tried and true recipes everyone can enjoy. Just click on the picture to take you to the recipe. 


       



       



        


        



         



         



        














Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gingersnap Truffles


This post is sponsored by Hamilton Beach. A big thanks to the sponsors that make this blog possible. They gave me a product to review and one lucky reader will get one too!

With Thanksgiving tomorrow I have to say, I am truly thankful for all of my readers. I love getting your comments and emails. Nothing makes my day quite like getting an email from a reader who made a recipe and loved it. To celebrate, let's give something away!


Today we're talking about the Stack and Snap ™ 10 Cup Food Processor by Hamilton Beach. Have you ever had problems getting your food processor to work because you can't get it put together right? I definitely have. The Stack and Snap is designed to be easy to put together and it is. You don't have to worry about twisting the lid to get it to work. It has a wide shoot for things to fit a bit easier which is great. I hate having to cut things up a million times in order to get them to go through the processor. The more I can shove in there the better. 




To enter the giveaway make sure you check out the rafflecopter below the recipe. 


One of my favorite things to make during the month of December is truffles. They are simple to make, but look fancy. And who doesn't love a ball of chocolate with a surprise flavor inside?  My husband loves gingersnaps and I love chocolate so it is fun to combine the two into a Christmas treat that can fulfill all our tasty desires. Perfect for Christmas cookie exchanges, and a great neighbor gift!



Time to Make It: 30 to 45 minutes
Yield: 3 to 4 dozen

Ingredients

1 (16 oz) package gingersnap cookies (found in the cookie isle near the oreos and graham crackers)
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips


Instructions

1. In a food processor or blender, pulverize the gingersnap cookies.

2. Combine "cookie dust" with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir through. Add in cream cheese and vanilla and mix until well combined into a smooth dough. Roll into about 48 small, bite-sized balls.

3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler (see cooking lesson below), stirring constantly. Once melted, remove from the double boiler to dip. If the chocolate starts to harden you can place it back onto the double boiler to melt again, stirring constantly. 

4. Dip dough balls into the melted chocolate and place on waxed paper to harden. Store in the refrigerator to finish hardening and ready to serve or deliver to friends and neighbors.






So you don't own a double boiler. Here's a secret: neither do I. All you need is a mixing bowl (glass or metal) and a saucepan. You want the sizes of the mixing bowl and saucepan to compliment each other so that the mixing bowl sits firmly on top of the pan. To use this set up as a double boiler, just put an inch or so of water in the bottom of the saucepan, bring to a boil and let simmer. The steam will heat the mixing bowl and help give you a controlled melt of your chocolate. Chocolate burns easily so you want to make sure you don't get it too hot. Chocolate should be melted slowly. Remove it from the heat as soon as the last chunks start to fade. Stirring will melt the remaining lumps.


Must be 18 years or older and reside in the 50 United States or D.C. Hamilton Beach is unable to ship to P.O. Boxes. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Homemade Gum Drops


Gum drops are something I recommend every home cook make at least once. Not only are they fun and cute, it's actually really good practice in the science of cooking. Lots of different chemical reactions are happening in this recipe and it is a fun experience to watch the process as it moves along. Sure, you can't eat the candies for a few days, but it's a great kitchen experiment. Kids will love watching the process as well as eating the results. I do love some good, clean kitchen fun!



Prep Time: 35 minutes
Fridge Time: 8 hours
Hands on Time: 30 minutes
Wait Time:  48 hours


Ingredients

6 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups boiling water
4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp flavored extract (lemon, orange, peppermint, etc)
food coloring
extra sugar for coating (1/2 cup)

You will also need:
2-4 silicone candy molds (see below for options)


Instructions

1. In a large pot (yes, a large stew pot, you'll need it!), stir together the gelatin and cold water. Let sit 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, let the additional water come to a boil in a small saucepan or in the microwave.

3. Pour the boiling water over the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. 

4. Stir in the sugar.

5. Place the pot over a burner at medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for about 25 minutes stirring constantly and scraping sides to avoid burning any sugar. The mixture will get quite thick. 

6. Remove from heat and stir in the flavor extract of your choice. Next, add food coloring, or divide the mixture among bowls and add food coloring for multiple colors.

7. Pour gelatin into candy molds. 

8. Refrigerate 8 hours.

9. Remove candy from molds. If you need to cut the candies, run your knife under hot water before each cut to avoid sticking. Roll in extra sugar to coat.

10. Place on a wax paper lined tray. Cover with a tea towel and let sit at room temperature for 48 hours to crystalize. 


Note: Want sour candies? Instead of rolling the candies in sugar, roll them in citric acid. 




What kind of candy mold should I use?

I used a square mold and then cut each square into 4 pieces so that the candies would be bite sized,  but there are lots of other options. Everything from squares and circles to cartoon, bugs, and robots. 
 








Monday, November 24, 2014

Pecan Sandies


Pecan Sandies are a delicious Christmas treat that are a must make for any holiday cookie platter. I love the nutty crunch. The powdered sugar makes them all festive too with a kiss of "snow." In fact, my daughter got all excited thinking it had somehow snowed in the house right on the cookies. This is their first winter involving snow so everything snow-like is very exciting. Go nuts and make yourself some delicious pecan sandies! 


Prep Time: <10 minutes
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yield: About 36 cookies


Ingredients

1 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
3 TB powdered sugar


Instructions

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in water and vanilla.

2. Stir in flour and pecans until well combined. Cover dough and chill for at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place at least 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Roll the cookies in the powdered sugar and then cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

6. Cool and store in an airtight container.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gingerbread Men Cookies


You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man! Children love making gingerbread men at Christmas time. They are cute, tasty, and fun to decorate. It's a craft and a dessert all mixed in one! It makes for a fun afternoon activity for the kids. These cookies are soft and flavorful, but still hold their shape enough to be perfect for decorating. 


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yield: 12 (4-inch) gingerbread men, 18 (3-inch) gingerbread men


Ingredients

6 TB Butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups flour

You will also need:
1 gingerbread man cookie cutter
royal icing for decorating


Instructions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy.

2. Mix in molasses, egg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, baking soda, and salt until smooth, scraping the sides as necessary.

3. Using a dough paddle, add in the flour until well incorporated.

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

6. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on  a lightly floured surface. Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Lay cut cookies on the prepared baking sheet, 1 to 2 inches apart. Re-roll the dough as necessary to cut out cookies until dough is gone.

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. 

8. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack. Cool completely (about 30 minutes) before decorating. 





Saturday, November 22, 2014

White Chocolate Christmas Sprinkle Bark



Simple, but beautiful. This Christmas bark is a fun, easy treat that my kids absolutely loved. The contrasting colors make it particularly festive and enticing. And all it takes is 5 minutes!


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Fridge Time: 30 minutes
Yield: about 3/4 pounds bark

Ingredients

10 oz white chocolate chips
1-2 tablespoons red and green sprinkles


Instructions

1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

2. Pour white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate chips are almost all melted. Stir until remaining chocolate chips are melted and smooth.

3. Spread chocolate out on the prepared baking sheet into about an 8x10 inch rectangle. Immediately dust with sprinkles.

4. Refrigerate until hard, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces. Store at room temperature.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Pomegranate-Orange Chocolate Bark


If you are looking for a quick treat that is a cinch to pull together, but is also somewhat elegant and impressive, well, look no further. This chocolate bark will only take 5 minutes of your time, but will produce an elegant treat. 



Prep Time: 5 minutes
Fridge Time:1 hour
Yield: almost 1 lb. bark

Ingredients

10 oz semi-sweet or 60& cacao chocolate chips
1 cup pomegranate seeds
3 tablespoons diced candied orange peel


Instructions

1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

2. Pour chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate chips are almost all melted. Stir until remaining chocolate chips are melted and smooth.

3. Spread chocolate out on the prepared baking sheet into about an 8x10 inch rectangle. Immediately sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and candied orange peel.

4. Refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour. Break into pieces. Store at room temperature.




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