Today, I am a guest-blogger over at one of my favorite foodie blogs, Pizzelles, where I wrote about how to make simple chocolate bark and put your own spin on it. I featured two that I regularly make: a white chocolate peppermint bark and a spicy dark chocolate bark with pistachios and almonds! Over the past week my house has turned into a small holiday candy factory – I made two chocolate barks, peppermint fudge, sweet + salty candied pecans, skillet toffee, and I have yet to make sea salt caramels, but those are next on my list.
I make batches of several kinds of candy every year and they are all wildly successful as gifts. I get loads of thanks, compliments and even special requests. So I’m going to make it really easy for you to get started if you’ve never made any of these. Even though I’ve put my own spin on my versions over the years and I encourage wild experimentation, these are recipes that I have gotten from other people. I link and give credit where credit is due, except for the barks. I have been making those for so long, I can’t recall where I got a recipe from.
Here are 4 sure-fire recipes that you can make and give this year, with limited time and not-too-expensive ingredients:
1. chocolate bark
Head right on over to Pizzelles for my own basic recipe and suggestions on how to make a variety of different kinds.
2. skillet toffee
I found this recipe at the kitchn and made it for the first time this year. If you are not familiar with the kitchn blog, it is the part of the Apartment Therapy Empire of Everything Good in the Universe. The part where Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan presides over discussion of all things foodie and a treasure trove of such remarkably good recipes that even I have managed to make several without messing them up! This one took some patience in stirring and stirring, but man was it worth it! I brought this toffee to a party tonight and wished I could call it my own design.
makes about 2 1/4 pounds
1 pound unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup chopped toasted blanched almonds
Please click here to go the kitchn site and the original post of this excellent recipe! (Edited for copyright purposes since this recipe is not my work. I hope you will support that site and find a lot more great recipes to try there!)
3. peppermint fudge
I first saw Rachel Ray on an episode of Oprah making fudge in the shape of a wreath. I didn’t like the wreaths. I didn’t like the toppings or the stuff she put in hers. So I stole the basic recipe and tweaked it to make one I did like.
All I do is melt a bag and 3/4 of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a pan on superlow heat or a double-boiler with one 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk. I stir in a tsp of peppermint extract. I stir constantly until it’s melted and then press it into a buttered casserole dish to set. I break up candy canes or peppermint candies with a hammer and I top the fudge with the candy pieces while it’s still hot and press them into it lightly.
(Sometimes I use about half the amount of semisweet and the other half bittersweet chocolate instead.) That’s it! I stick it in the fridge to cool, but let it get back to room temperature to cut it up later into little squares.
4. candied pecans
I use a recipe from the amazing Smitten Kitchen, another of my favorite foodie blogs. It works for all kinds of nuts, but I am in love with pecans, so that is what I make. Easy easy easy and soooooo yummy. I end up eating more of these than I give away.
Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water
Please click here to go to the Smitten Kitchen site and the original post of this excellent recipe! (Again, edited for copyright purposes since this recipe is not my work. Go support this fabulous site and try out more of their recipes!)