Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Guniea Pigs Have Spoken!

I've delivered all but one of the goody bags of treats I baked and thus the results are in. Recipes! I've have a few requests for recipes from some of the items I've baked so I'm including them below.

Here's the recipes:

Will's Crockpot Sugared Pecans or Walnuts

Spiced pecans or walnuts, from the slow cooker. Sugared pecan recipe with cinnamon and spices, or use walnuts.

16 ounces pecans or walnut halves
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Turn slow cooker to HIGH about 15 minutes in advance. In hot slow cooker, stir together the nuts and butter. Add the powdered sugar, stirring to blend and coat evenly. Cover and cook on HIGH for 15 minutes.
Reduce the heat to LOW and remove lid; cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 to 3 hours, or until the nuts are coated with a crisp glaze.
Transfer the nuts to a bowl.
In another small bowl, combine the spices; sift over the nuts, stirring to coat evenly.
Let cool before serving.

Caramel Covered pretzels

1 bag of pretzel wands
50 caramels
2 Tablespoons whipping cream
any type of nuts, chopped finely
Approx 1 cup chocolate chips, any flavor

Melt caramels and whipping cream over low heat. Dip and completely cover each pretzel with caramel...then place in chopped, using hands to kind of press and cover wands with nuts. Transfer to foil lined pan (can be sprayed lightly with nonstick spray). Put chocolate (about 1 cup) and a dollop of shortening (2 teaspoons or so), in a ziplock bag. Microwave on low heat till melted. Squish chocolate and shortening together until mixed well. Snip a tiny end off one corner of the bag, and drizzle the chocolate over the pretzels. Allow to set and store in an airtight container.
(I did not have any whipping cream and rather than buy some for 2 tablespoons, I cheated and used water. It had the same desired effect as the cream.)

Cranberry, Orange & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
zest of one orange (about 2-3 tsp)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar, beating with an electric mixer until light. Beat in egg and orange zest. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring only until just combined. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls (about 1 1/4-inch balls) onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes, until edges are very lightly browned. Cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen.

Toasted Mixed Nuts

2 cups skinned hazelnuts or cashews
2 cups unskinned whole almonds
2 cups walnut halves
2 cups pecan halves
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the hazelnuts or cashews, almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Add the butter a little at a time, tossing well. Stir in the oil.

Lay the nuts on the baking sheet in one layer and roast them for 10 minutes, turning often, until they begin to toast.

Combine the sugar, cayenne, cumin, and salt and sprinkle over the nuts. Toss and return to the oven. Roast for 10 minutes more or until the nuts are pale golden. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Makes about 8 cups.

Hot & Spicy Chex mix

4 cups Corn Chex cereal
4 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup pretzels
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons red pepper sauce
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size cheese crackers
1/4 cup margarine or butter - Do not use spread or tub products
1 1/4 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 cup seasoned snack sticks (optional)
1 cup plain or garlic bagel chips (optional)

Melt margarine in large microwavable bowl uncovered on High. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on High 1 1/2 minutes, stir. Heat another 1 minute, stir; heat again for 45 seconds, stir. Heat once more for 30 seconds. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container when cool.

The toasted mixed nuts are cooling in the kitchen right now, so if you're wondering why you didn't get some, they were delayed until tonight! Also I made a very good yet ridiculously easy Peanut Butter Fudge, recipe complements of Cooks Illustrated. I'll save the typing of that recipe for another time.

The big hit this year was the Caramel Pretzels. Those were a snap to make, actually they were fun. I took a little liberties with the decorating and just topped them with anything I had that sounded good; finely chopped raw nuts, cinnamon chips, snowflake sprinkles and of course, chocolate. You can't go wrong with chocolate!

I do think I'd recommend any of the above recipes. My source for two of the recipes (the cookies and the toasted mixed nuts) is Slashfood, which is an excellent site for foodies, with daily updates.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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