Salted Caramel is a taste bud extravaganza! Combining salted caramel with chocolate has to be a winner.
A few weeks ago I discovered this recipe on Pinterest and, of course, had to try it. I made a batch to give as gifts but stashed a few servings away for me, too. It’s delicious. Add the sea salt to your taste and…BONUS…you have to try it to assure that the combination is absolutely perfect.
A cup of salted caramel hot chocolate mix for a long winter’s night…mmmm!
SALTED CARAMEL HOT CHOCOLATE MIX
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups good quality Dutch cocoa powder
1 to 3 tablespoons good sea salt (I used 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 cup dry milk powder
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
10 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Heat the 2 1/2 cups sugar in large, heavy pan, over medium heat. Stir often.
When the sugar begins to melt, continuous stir (or swirl the pan) to melt without burning. The sugar seems to crystallize but it will melt to a deep amber color after 15-20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vanilla (it will spatter). Whisk the caramel until smooth again, then immediately pour in the lined baking sheet. Allow it to spread without touching the sides. Set aside and let the caramel harden, at least 1 hour.
When ready to make the mix, use the back of a large spoon to tap the caramel several times into small broken pieces that can fit into the feeding tube of a large food processor.
Turn the processor on, and while running, feed the caramel pieces into the tube so the processor pulverizes the caramel into a fine powder. Continue to add the pieces, a few at a time, until it is completely powder (a cloud of caramel dust will float out of the tube). Turn the processor off and follow the next steps to complete the mix.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate, into the food processor with the caramel powder. Replace the lid and process until smooth.
Add the chocolate to the bowl and process again until the mixture is a fine powder.
At this point, I made a cup to taste to assure I added enough sea salt. Originally, I started with 1 tablespoon and after tasting, I added another 1/2 tablespoon to the mixture.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, for up to one month. To serve, stir 3 tablespoons mix into 1 cup hot milk.
Adapted from Pennies on a Platter 2007; Adapted from Mom It Forward
Peppermint Buttons are a relatively new family favorite, brought to us by former neighbor. Several years ago Pam shared this recipe with us during one of my Holiday Cookie Exchanges (I must have another one some year soon). It’s easy, refreshing, and soooo yummy.
1/2 cup browned butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour
1/2 cup coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies
To browned butter, place butter in an 8 to 10 inch frying pan over medium heat until lightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and cool.
In a bowl with a mixer, beat butter with sugar until well blended. Then beat in egg white and vanilla.
In another bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add to butter mixture. Stir then beat until well mixed. Stir in crushed peppermint candies.
Drop dough in 1/2 tsp portions 1 inch apart onto buttered cookie sheets.
Bake in 350F oven until tops of cookies begin to look slightly cracked and are deep golden, 8 to 10 minutes. If using more than 1 pan in oven, switch pan positions halfway through baking.
With a wide spatula, transfer cookies to racks to cool. If hot cookies start to break, slide a thin spatula under them to release, let stand on pan to firm, 2-5 minutes, then transfer to racks.
Norwegian Christmas Bread (Julekake) brings back fond memories of our elderly Iowa friends, the Butlers. Growing up, Anna would bake Julekake, Kringla, and Lefse to share with friends. She would brew a strong cup of coffee for adults and children to enjoy with the seasonal treats. A cup of hot coffee with a toasted slice of Julekake and butter, at Anna’s oak table was the best. Today, I sit at the same oak table in my dining area thinking of the wonderful stories and memories created in that small farm-house so many years ago.
Kringla is an annual tradition with Julekake only every few years. Kneading bread dough is hard for me so I’ve included, along with the traditional recipe, my version for the bread machine. This year I borrowed daughter Sarah’s Kitchen Aid mixer to make the traditional recipe, which I split into two parts to accommodate the smaller size of the mixer.
NORWEGIAN CHRISTMAS BREAD
This is the original Christmas bread recipe from Norwegian family friend, Anna Butler
2 packages dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup chopped citron or candied pineapple
3 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups raisins
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped candied cherries
2 beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamom
10 to 11 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Scald milk and then add butter, salt and sugar. Cool to lukewarm. Add to yeast mixture and add 1/2 flour and eggs. Beat well.
Add fruit and cardamom and remaining flour to make light dough. Knead and place in a greased bowl. Let rise until light.
Knead and let it rise again.
Shape into 5 loaves and place in greased bread pans. Let rise 1 hour or until light. Brush tops with egg yolk mixture of beaten egg yolk and water.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. After removing from oven, brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar
NORWEGIAN CHRISTMAS BREAD (ADAPTED FOR THE BREAD MACHINE)
This is a conversion of the original Christmas bread recipe from Anna Butler
1/6 cup lukewarm water
1 cup scalded milk (cooled to lukewarm)
1/3 stick melted margarine
1 small beaten egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/6 teaspoon cardamom
3 to 3.3 cups flour
1 package yeast
2/3 cup raisins
1/6 cup citron
Place ingredients in bread machine in the order given but put raisins and citron aside.
Start bread dough in knead mode and add raisins/citron when your bread machine prompts for add-ins.
Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip is a holiday/party regular. This is an easy, tasty appetizer to serve for a holiday party or family gathering.
SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP (BAKED) WITH PITA CHIPS
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke heart quarters, drained and coarsely chopped
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeeze to drain
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
Toasted baguette slices, assorted crackers or Pita Chips (recipe below)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach and bell pepper.
Spoon mixture into greased 1-quart casserole.
Sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.
Cover and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm with pita chips, crackers or baguette slices.
Pecan Pie is a favorite but I haven’t made one in 10+ years. Recently a friend made one for a gathering and it was so wonderful, daughter Sarah and I decided to make one. This recipe is from my trusted Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook (1972) and it did not disappoint. However…note to self…
1) Use a deep pie pan to avoid the pie filling bubbling over in the oven and causing you to open all windows in the house while you are serenaded by the fire alarm and choking family.
2) Put aluminum foil in the bottom of the oven to avoid last-minute oven cleaning.
3) Put aluminum foil over the edges of the crust to avoid the crust burning. (I remembered this one)
4) Put the above issues aside when savoring the decadent wonder of a slice of slightly warm pecan pie with fresh whipped cream.
SOUTHERN PECAN PIE
Unbaked 9″ pie shell
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
Arrange nuts in pie shell.
Beat eggs; add and blend corn syrup, butter and vanilla.
Combine sugar and flour. Blend with egg mixture and pour over nuts in pie shell.
Let stand until nuts rise, so they’ll get a nice glaze during baking.
Bake in moderate oven, 375 degrees 40-50 minute or until filling is set. Cool.
Cranberry Bread was a favorite of mine back in the day. I would make several loaves to give as gifts for the holidays when I young, single and fancy-free in St. Joe, MO. I’m glad to have this recipe back on my radar screen. The kids loved it. The tartness of the cranberries complimented by the sweet dough is wonderfully delicious warm from the oven with butter.
The bread freezes well to make ahead for holiday gifts.
2 cups flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
3/4 cup orange juice
1 beaten egg
1 cup raw cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, soda and sugar. Add the orange juice, melted butter, then add beaten egg.
Mix well and add the chopped cranberries. Put into greased loaf pan and fill half full of batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes and then run knife around the pan to remove loaf.
Peanut Brittle was a Christmas tradition for my Mother. As a matter of fact, she would make so many candies to share with the neighbors, family and friends. Her home-made candy traditions included the peanut brittle, divinity, chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, and caramels. I’ve gained 10 pounds just thinking about it…and this doesn’t even include the list of cookies and breads she would make! She would decorate a box and include a sampling of all of her wonderful goodies.
While I wish I could do the same, I know that I would be sampling everything a little too much so only make a few of my favorites this year. Peanut Brittle is a favorite and at least it has ‘some’ protein, right?
Whatever your traditions, continue and share the memories or your childhood with your children and encourage them to create their own traditions.
1 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups raw peanuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (added after candy has cooked)
Combine everything but peanuts and baking soda, and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
Add raw peanuts. Boil and stir constantly with wooden spoon about 15-20 minutes.
Cook to hard crack stage (300 degrees). Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon baking soda.
Don’t stir much after you add the baking soda.
Pour in large buttered cookie sheet and spread out to corners fast with hands while hot and place quickly on cold table, cement or surface until foam disappears and candy hardens.