I love Christmas. .and everything about it. .the lights and glitter. .the cheer. .the warm fuzzy feelings. .the meaning of the season. .and the FOOD!!
I always love the day when I get to flip to the back of my beloved family cookbook and map a plan. This year, my "plan" includes 8 different kinds of candy (with 6 of those under our belts as of this evening), 7 different cookie/bar recipes. .and 9 snack foods. .including varieties of dip mixes, beverage mixes, and savory snacks. Does that sound out of control?? I'm in heaven!! B-R-I-N-G I-T O-O-O-ON!!
I. .I mean WE. .tried out that new candy thermometer last weekend.
Helpers. .helpers. .there are always more helpers than one person should be allowed to have around here. I did have Devin hold my old thermometer up to make a point. .this beast of a pot held the ingredients that ultimately made 7 pounds of peanut brittle. .In past years. .I would have rigged up a rope from twist ties found in my top drawer and loop them around the pot handle and dangle the thermometer in. But you can see the nice big digital thermometer. .it is standing there all by it's little 'ole self!!
I can set it to beep at the right temperature. .and don't have to keep bending over to try to read the mercury one. I love it. .I love it. .I LOVE it!! If you become a serious candy maker. .this is the thing for you!! After 15 years of making increasingly larger amounts of candy. .I guess I finally earned one!
Here's my recipe for the nut brittle. .candy isn't really as hard as you would think!! This takes a little bit of time, around an hour. .give or take. .but so worth it!! We don't eat that much peanut brittle. .but it makes great gifts for people, and I always give a ton of it away!
This was the biggest batch I have ever made at one time. .much faster than making a couple separate batches because I run out!!
Divine crispy goodness!
Next up that afternoon was toffee. This has got to be the easiest thing to do. .four little ingredients. .and about 20 minutes of cooking!
If you want to get really fancy, you can drizzle the toffee with white chocolate. .which is really nice. .I'm just too lazy to do it!
I always use real butter to make it. A couple of years in a row, I had trouble with my toffee separating back into a runny butter-y mess near the end of cook time. If that happens, you add a couple tablespoons of water to the mix and keep cooking until it straightens out. .I never did figure out what that was all about. .but it hasn't happened for a long time. .wonder if it was the candy thermometer at the time. One should really test it before they use it. You do that by boiling water with the thermometer in the pan. It should boil at 112 degrees. If it boils at 108, subtract 4 degrees off your final cooking temperature (296 instead of 300 degrees for example)
This afternoon, I whipped through the easy-peasy recipes. .Salted chocolate pecan candies. . melted chocolate bars swirled together and topped with toasted pecans and sea salt.
Peppermint bark. .Just like all the gift stores sell. .takes 5 minutes TOPS!!
These were new this year. .Coconut bonbons. They are much like an almond joy. .with coconut, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and toasted almond bits inside that chocolately coating. I just finished dipping them and I haven't sampled them yet, but Jeremy proclaimed their goodness as the chocolate dripped off his beard!!
And these little d-e-v-i-l-s! Oreo cookies dipped in white chocolate or almond bark. Most of them will be repackaged into little bags to tuck into gift baskets. .or arranged as a pop of Christmas color on a goodie plate. Cami and Devin were in charge of the sprinkles. .I'll bet you would have NEVER guessed that had I not brought it up!! It was a race to see who could sprinkle it first!
My 3 regular Christmas shopping buddies are meeting up at 6:30 in the morning to head for the city. .it will be shopping till we drop. .eating till we're stuffed. .and talking as fast as we can. .until we pull back into town tomorrow night, hopefully by midnight!!
Have a great weekend!!