Holiday Goodies

CHOCOLATE-BARKI honestly love this time of year. It’s a time to share, give, and do what I love – creating tasty treats for others. Each year I pull out many of my favorite, archived recipes and always manage to add a few new ones that have quickly become family favorites.

Bark is an essential “holiday must have” mainly because it is quick and easy, while being versatile at the same time. The key to good bark is tempering your chocolate. I am fortunate to have this tempering machine, but if you don’t have one, follow these instructions for full proof tempering.

Different combos make a good bark. Lately, I like toasted, raw almonds, cocoa nibs, and Celtic sea salt. Another great combo (especially for this time of year) is dried apricots, pistachio nuts, white chocolate chunks. Crushed candy canes are another household favorite. The best way to make bark is on a silpat pad. If you don’t have one, use parchment.

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cranberries.jpgPudgy, glossy and scarlet red. There they were, bright and fresh, in plastic bags piled one on top of the other in the produce department of the grocery store, reminding me the holiday season is quickly approaching.

Images of Thanksgivings of the past appeared in my mind. I pictured our family gathered around the dinner table, nearly finished with a big turkey meal, when suddenly my mom yelled out, “The cranberries!” The roll of jellied cranberries pushed from a can (I know, I can hardly believe it, either) into a long, narrow crystal bowl had been forgotten in the refrigerator.

Those who don’t care for cranberry sauce may be familiar with only the canned varieties. Nothing beats the flavor of firm, fresh, deep red cranberries that have been cooked with water and sugar until they pop, pop, pop.

These little red jewels are so lovable. They are easy to store, they’re versatile and they’re so good for you. Refrigerated in their original packaging, they can last as long as two months. Put the original bag inside of a freezer bag, and you can store them frozen for about nine months. This is good news for all cranberry lovers, since the season is short.

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Got leftover Halloween candy? Make cookies.

If you think Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are good straight out of the wrapper, then wait until you taste them baked into these big, bumpy, nutty, chocolate chunk cookies.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Print this recipe.
  2. Ransack your kids' Halloween bags for 6 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
  3. If you don't have kids, then go the supermarket and buy a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. It's not as much fun as #2 but at least you might catch them on sale.
  4. Bake the cookies, turning on the oven light to watch them swell.
  5. Eat a still warm, melty cookie and wash it down with a glass of cold milk while you reminisce about Halloweens past.
  6. Sigh in satisfaction. There are still 23 cookies left to eat.
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cake.wholewheathoneyFall always symbolizes new beginnings; fresh school supplies, cozy scarves, and the celebration of the Jewish New Year.

Traditionally, we eat apples and honey which represent a sweet new year. For the next 10 days I try to incorporate honey into most of what I cook. And lately, I have been turned onto raw honey and I am loving the results.

Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, a honey cake is a wonderful way to end any meal. Drizzle some chocolate glaze over the top and you will have your kids (as well as the spouse), begging for more.

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pecan-pie_sm.jpg Every Christmas I used to cook a pecan pie from a recipe I found in one of Ann Landers holiday columns sometime in the sixties.  Since I was thinking of making it again this year, I was thrilled to learn that Dear Abby also had a pecan pie recipe.  Hoping to combine recipes to create my own distinctive version of the dessert, I got a copy of each. 

After studying them carefully, here are the only differences that I could find:  Ann tells us to use white corn syrup; Abby suggests using light corn syrup.  Although both women's recipes call for a cup of dark brown sugar, only Abby wants us to make sure the cup is firmly packed.  Ann tells us to use a pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla; Abby, clearly wanting to leave nothing to chance, recommends using 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Otherwise, the recipes are exactly the same.

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