Friday, December 24, 2010

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

It is that time of year again when I need to get the teachers a little something for all their hard work during the year. I like to give them something from the store and add a little something homemade as well. I found the perfect thing on another blog (Make & Takes) this year that went with the mug/hot chocolate set I bought...Hot Chocolate on a Stick.

First you need to make a recipe from King Arthur Flour that has been featured in their catalog for some time now...Cocoa Blocks.

The person at Make & Takes used Alton Brown's marshmallow recipe but I thought I would make the recipe I saw last year from King Arthur Flour instead.

Homemade Marshmallow

3 packages (1/4-ounce each) unflavored gelatin
1 cup (8 ounces) cool water, divided
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup (11 ounces) light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
crushed peppermint candies, peppermint oil, or espresso powder, all optional
confectioners' sugar, to sprinkle on top

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cool water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy, and has cooled to lukewarm, 8 to 10 minutes. (It should be cool enough that you can spread it into the pan without burning your fingers.)

Add vanilla towards the end of the mixing time. This is also the time to add a few drops of peppermint oil, if desired, instead of vanilla extract. Or try 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder for a coffee-flavored treat. To use the crushed peppermint candies, which will tint the marshmallow pink and add flavor, stir the candies into the marshmallow mixture, leaving some swirls of plain white.

Spread the marshmallow mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan (glass or ceramic is best). Use your wet hands to smooth and flatten the marshmallows. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar over the top, and let sit for several hours (or overnight) before cutting. Use a greased knife or cookie cutters to make squares or other shapes. Yield: about 100 1" squares.

Review: Both recipes where not hard to make at all. I found that cocoa blocks to be like making fudge which I guess you can say is fudge in a way. Making homemade marshmallow is something I have always wanted to do again and I think the recipe was much better then the last one I tried out a while ago. Next time I might try a different flavor then vanilla to make it interesting. I did make hot chocolate like suggested on the blog with heating up some milk (6oz) and swirling the stick into it. One of the best Hot Chocolates I have ever had...which makes this a keeper for sure!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reindeer Cookies

Someone made these cookies for Jacob's holiday party last week and I just had to try and make them. There really isn't a recipe for them it is more of decorating cookie dough. The only thing I did different was use sugar cookie dough instead of peanut butter cookie dough. I used a heart shaped cookie cuter instead of trying to make triangles. I also put the M&Ms on before they went into the oven and stuck all the chocolate stuff on when they came out of the oven...super easy and super cute!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pretzel Things...

Today Jacob had a holiday celebration at school and I signed up to bring juice but couldn't pass up the opportunity to make something as well.

I have seen these all over the place lately and I know Heidi just made something similar so I had to give it a try.

Chocolate Pretzel Things

Waffle type pretzels

Hershey Kisses (I used the caramel ones)


1) Preheat over to 275

2) Put the kisses on the pretzels

3) Put in the oven for 2 - 3 minutes (I did 3 and it was too long probably because it was the caramel kind). Take out and put one M&M on top of each pretzel/chocolate.

4) Put in the refrigerator to cool for about 10 minutes. Then eat them!

Review: These are super easy to make and so addictive it isn't funny. I know Heidi made them using rolos and a pecan on top but since I was bringing them to school I didn't want to use nuts. This is a keeper for sure and a great treat to make as a gift for someone...

Dinner Week of 12/12 - 12/18

I am starting to feel the holiday laziness for cooking dinner...

Sunday - Had take-out because we were out all day
Monday - Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tuesday - Tuna Casserole
Wednesday - Picadillo and Rice
Thursday - Baked Chicken cutlets with pasta and veggies
Friday - Went out for dinner
Saturday - Pizza

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dinner Week of 12/5-12/11

I forgot to keep track of what I made this week but I think I got most of it...

Sunday - Had a Hanukkah Dinner at Oma's
Monday- I can't Remember
Tuesday - Beef Stew in the slow cooker
Wednesday - Sausage Pasta - I changed things a little bit but this is where I got the idea
Thursday - Sweet & Sour Tofu Stir Fry - I prepared the tofu the same way from this recipe but I made a sweet & sour sauce and added it to some broccoli, scallions, mushrooms and red pepper.
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - At at Ma & Pa's


Monday, December 6, 2010

Butter-Pecan Kringle

I am amazed on how much nuts cost every year. When I went to buy pecans for my Thanksgiving dessert I realized that I could get almost 3 times as much at my wholesale club then buying them at the supermarket. The only "problem" I was left with was I had a lot of nuts leftover.

Of course I started to search for more pecan dessert recipes to try out. I found this one and the very next day Heidi sent me the recipe as well...well then I just had to make it for the next gathering!

Easiest Butter-Pecan Kringle


  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pats
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • *Reduce salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter.

Pastry topping

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter rum, eggnog, or vanilla butternut flavor, optional but delicious
  • *Reduce salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter.

Pecans and caramel

  • 12 ounces caramel, cut from a block (about 1 cup, packed); or about 3 dozen individual caramel candies*, unwrapped
  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted in a 350°F oven till golden brown
  • *Use fresh, soft caramels. If using harder, supermarket-type caramels, add a couple of tablespoons milk or cream when melting, to keep them soft on the kringle; or substitute caramel sauce.


  • 1 cup confectioners' or glazing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half, or milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
  • 1/8 teaspoon butter rum, eggnog, or vanilla butternut flavor, optional but good
  • pinch of salt


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet that's at least 18" x 13"; or a 14" round pizza pan.

2) To make the base: Combine the butter, flour, and salt, mixing till crumbly. Add the water, and stir to make a soft, sticky dough.

3) Wet your hands, pick up the dough, and shape it into a 12" x 8" oval ring on the sheet pan; or a 10" ring in the pizza pan. This will be messy going, but just keep wetting your fingers and pushing it into a ring.

4) Once you've made the ring, flatten the dough so it's about 1 1/2" wide; basically, it'll look like a train or NASCAR track.

5) To make the pastry topping: Place the water, butter, and salt in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat till the butter is melted and the mixture is boiling.

6) Transfer to a mixing bowl, and immediately add the flour, beating until the mixture is cohesive and starts to form a ball.

7) Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the flavor at the end, if you're using it.

8) Spread the pastry along the ring, covering it completely; you'll now have a much wider ring, though it won't be completely closed in the center; it should still look like a ring.

9) Bake the kringle for 50 to 60 minutes, till it's a deep golden brown. If you haven't yet toasted your pecans, this is a good opportunity to do so; they'll need about 9 to 11 minutes in the oven. When they're golden, remove them from the oven and cool. When the kringle is done, remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool completely on the pan.

10) To add the pecans and caramel: First, have the pecans all ready beside the pan of kringle; you'll be sprinkling them atop the caramel as soon as you pour it on.

11) Place the caramel in a microwave-safe spouted cup, if you have one; it's not necessary, but makes it easier to pour. Melt the caramel till it's bubbly, remove it from the microwave, stir a few times to smooth out the bubbles, and immediately drizzle it over the kringle. If it stiffens up, reheat briefly in the microwave.

12) Sprinkle pecans atop the caramel, pressing them in gently. Allow the kringle to cool completely.

13) To make the glaze: Stir together the confectioners' sugar, salt, flavor (if you're using it), and enough milk or cream to make a pourable glaze. Drizzle it over the kringle.

14) To serve, cut the kringle in 2" slices. Yield: one large (12" x 16" oval, or 14" round) kringle, about 2 dozen servings.

Review: I am not sure how you make a regular kringle but I did find this one pretty easy and straight forward. There are a few parts to make but really worth the effort. I always love it when a recipe from KAF website is featured on their blog (Bakers Banter) with step by step photos because it always gives me an idea of if I am doing it correct. I used parchment paper on the bottom so it was easier to transfer it to a platter to bring to my Mom's house. I also used the caramel sauce instead of making my own caramel or using store bought caramel. The only problem with this is that the caramel doesn't set and stays in a liquid type form. I did put it in a really cool place which got it to set a little bit but once it got to room temp it was liquid again. The only thing I was worried about with this that it was going to make my Kringle soggy which it did not but next time I will try to use real caramel instead. All in all this was a real crowd pleaser and would be perfect for a brunch. It is a keeper for sure!


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