Friday, December 16, 2011

Cinnamon Roasted Pecans

1 pound almonds (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

large cookie sheet with sides (or two 9x13 pans)
no-stick cooking spray (Pam), oil or shortening for greasing cookie sheet
medium and small mixing bowls
wide spatula or mixing spoon

Also preheat your oven to 250 F.

1.  Separate the egg white from the yolk and discard the yolk. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg white with a fork until frothy. Add the vanilla and mix together. Add the almonds and stir well to make sure all the almonds are coated with the egg white/vanilla mixture.

2.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, salt and cinnamon until well mixed.

3.  Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the almonds and stir well until all the almonds are evenly coated. Try to break up any large clumps of coating--or just leave them and enjoy them later after they're roasted.

4. Lightly grease your cookie sheet either by spraying with Pam or wiping with a paper towel dabbed with oil or shortening. 

5.  Spread the coated almonds evenly onto the greased sheet, and gently shake the pan back and forth a few times so they're in one layer. You may need to use two pans if your cookie sheet isn't big enough.

6.  Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for a total of one hour, stirring twice (at 20 minute intervals). 

7.  A wide spatula works well for stirring without knocking too much of the coating off. After each stirring, give the pan a gentle shake to even out the layer of almonds.After an hour of roasting, allow them to cool. Keep them stored in an airtight container. 

8. Sprinkle them on a goodie plate, package them up in a pretty bag with a ribbon, serve them in a bowl for a party snack, or keep them for yourself as a quick, sugary treat!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Peppermint Bark

I love this stuff this time of year.  It is one of the things that I am going to be giving out to friends and neighbors.  The best thing about it is that it is so fast and easy.  I hope you have as much fun trying it out as I did.

1 pound white chocolate
1 pound of white chocolate
12 candy canes

When I made this I used Peters dark chocolate and Ghirardelli white chocolate.  You can use what ever you like the best.  Just know that if you are using a non-tempered chocolate you will need to temper.  If you use chocolate chips or a chocolate that is already tempered you will not have to temper.  My dark chocolate had to be tempered and my white chocolate did not.  

How to temper:

  1. Chop your chocolate. It is best to use at least 1 pound of chocolate, as it is easier to temper (and retain the temper) of larger amounts of chocolate. If this is more than you need, you can always save the extra for later use. Be sure that your chocolate is in block or bar form, not chocolate chips. The chips have additives that allow them to retain their shape at higher temperatures, and so they will not temper properly.
  2. Melt 2/3 of your chocolate. Place it in the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water. Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the side of the boiler to monitor the chocolate’s temperature.
  3. Stir gently but steadily as the chocolate melts and heats up. Use a rubber spatula, not a wooden or metal spoon.
  4. Bring the chocolate to 115 degrees (for dark chocolate) or 110 degrees (for milk or white chocolate). Do not allow the chocolate to exceed its recommended temperature. When it is at the right temperature, remove it from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl, and set it on a heat-proof surface.
  5. Add the remaining chunks of chocolate and stir gently to incorporate. The warm chocolate will melt the chopped chocolate, and the newly added chocolate will bring down the temperature of the warm chocolate.
  6. Cool the chocolate. Once the chocolate gets below 84 degrees, remove the remaining chunks of chocolate. They can be cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap, and saved for another use.
  7. Reheat the chocolate briefly.Place the chocolate bowl over the warm water in the double boiler for 5-10 seconds, remove it and stir, and repeat, until the temperature reaches 88-89 degrees (87 for milk and white chocolate). Do not leave the chocolate over the hot water, or allow it to exceed 91 degrees.
  8. Your chocolate should now be tempered! To make sure it has been done properly, do a spot test: spread a spoonful thinly over an area of waxed paper and allow it to cool. If the chocolate is shiny and smooth, it is properly tempered. If it is dull or streaky, it has not been tempered correctly.
    1.  Line cookie sheet with tin foil and smooth as possible
    2. Unwrap your candy canes and put in a food processor.  Pulse a few times until the candy canes are in small pieces.  Remove 1/2 cup for topping and set aside.
    3.  Melt or temper your white chocolate and  mix in the candy canes.  Pour the white chocolate onto your lined cookie sheet and with a spatula spread the chocolate to about 1/4 inch thick.  Place in a cool area to harden.
    4.  Melt our temper your dark chocolate.  Pour onto your hardened white chocolate and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with the reserved candy cane and press slightly to make sure they stick to the chocolate once it is hardened. Place in a cool area to set.  Once the chocolate is hard break into pieces.  Serve on a plate or store in a air tight container.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Winner Announced

And the winner is.....

Angie (belensmama at gmail dot com)

Congratulations!  Thank you to everyone that participated in our giveaway!