With the holiday season here, kitchens across the world will be filled with the aroma of baked goods and treats. Below are some easy and delicious recipes to make and give to neighbors, take to holiday parties — or just to enjoy yourself.
(Taken from Chocolate Never Faileth, by Annette Lyon)
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 1/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C. + 1 Tbsp. butter
3–4 Tbsp. ice water
1 stick butter
1 C. sugar
3/4 C. corn syrup
1/2 C. semisweet chocolate chips melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. pecans, chopped
1 C. semisweet chocolate chips
Crust: Cut the flour, salt, and butter together with a pastry blender (or use two butter knives, pulling opposite one another through the mixture) until the butter pieces are the size of peas.
Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, to form a dough that’s workable with the hands and not too wet. Roll the dough into a ball and place on a floured counter; dust the top of the dough with flour. Dust a rolling pin with flour and gently roll the dough into a 9-inch circle. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, but be careful—the more you handle the dough, the poorer quality pastry it will be. Sometimes you can simply use a spatula to release it from the countertop. Tip: An easy way to transfer the pie crust to the pie tin is to fold the circle in half and then in half again, making a triangle. Now you can easily lift it off the counter. Place the point of the triangle in the center of the tin and unfold the crust. Gently press the crust into place with your fingers and shape as needed.
Filling: Preheat oven to 350. In a small saucepan over low to medium heat, melt the butter, sugar, and corn syrup, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. When the ingredients are fully combined, remove from the heat and stir in the melted chocolate chips. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla and salt; mix well.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each until fully incorporated before adding the next one. Finally, stir in the pecans and chocolate chips. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie crust. Bake for about an hour, until the center is nearly set and no longer wobbles like liquid when gently shaken. Cool on a wire rack. If desired, chill for several hours before serving.
Quick and Easy Fudge
1/2 stick butter
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 C. total (1 C. each) of two different types of chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract OR 1/2 tsp. almond or mint extract
1 C. nuts, chopped
Grease an 8 x 8 square pan. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter; stir in the milk. Remove from heat and stir in the chips. The heat of the milk and butter should melt the chips, but if you need more heat, put the pan back onto the stove briefly (take extreme care to not burn or scorch the chocolate). When the chocolate is completely melted, stir in the extract and nuts. Pour into the pan and smooth out evenly. Refrigerate until hard (about an hour). The fudge is very rich, so cut into small squares before serving.
After putting the fudge mixture into the pan, melt 1/2 C. white chocolate chips and drizzle the melted white chocolate over the top. Using a butter knife, make large S-curved shapes with the white chocolate into the fudge, creating a pretty marbled effect.
My Favorite Variation
For the chocolate, use half semisweet and half milk chocolate chips
(preferably Guittard brand for both). Use almond extract (more than 1/2 tsp.), thinly sliced almonds, and white chocolate marbling.
Hot Cocoa Mix
4 C. dried milk powder
1 C. cocoa, sifted
2 C. powdered sugar, sifted
1 C. flavored coffee creamer of your choice
1 tsp. salt
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a big spoon, making sure to mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container or divide into smaller airtight containers for gifts. To use the mix, add 1/4 C. mix to a mug containing 1 C. hot water and stir. If desired, add some mini marshmallows and/or a squirt of whipped cream.
Gourmet Pretzel Rods
A solid caramel block
Melting chocolate (such as Guittard A’Peels)
Embellishments of your choice, such as:
• Contrasting color(s) of chocolate for drizzle
• Toffee bits
• Crushed candy canes or other candy
• Chopped nuts
Cover a large area of the counter with parchment or waxed paper.
Prepare your embellishments so they’re ready to stick to the wet chocolate: put any sprinkles, nuts, crushed candy, or other embellishments onto plates so the pretzels can be rolled across them easily.
Melt chocolate for drizzle and either put it in squeeze bottles or zip-style bags (see p. 10 for tricks on keeping the chocolate warm and liquid while you work).
Using a good knife (such as a butcher knife) and a cutting board, slice the caramel into pieces that measure about a quarter-inch or so thick. Then cut each of those slices into at least four or more pieces. Roll each piece of caramel into a “snake.” When it’s about a foot long, wrap it around a pretzel, starting at the top and spiraling it around, pressing gently so it attaches to the pretzel as it goes.
The spiral should cover about two-thirds of the pretzel, leaving the last third empty. Repeat with all the pretzels you plan to dip.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a large bowl. Stir the chocolate well periodically to keep it tempered and at the right temperature.
To coat the pretzel with chocolate easily, fill a tall glass about two thirds with chocolate. Put a pretzel into the glass, then spoon chocolate over any of the caramel-covered part of the pretzel that doesn’t have chocolate on it.
Let the excess chocolate drip off the pretzel (you can also wipe off the extra chocolate with the spoon). Immediately roll the pretzel into any toppings/embellishments and then lay it on the parchment or waxed paper. If you want to drizzle the pretzel with chocolate, do so now.
Repeat with remaining pretzels, refilling the glass with more chocolate as needed. Let the pretzels cool and harden before moving.
They will likely puddle slightly, but no one minds extra chocolate! If desired, wrap in cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon.