Happy Holidays!

To celebrate the holidays and thank some of the special people in my life, I made my own candy for the first time. I’m not filing this under “Cooking for the Fearful” because, frankly, I was a little fearful going into this. Making candy has always struck me as too precise and precarious an enterprise for my less-than-exact ways in the kitchen. However, the bark recipe in particular is pretty foolproof, and mouse assembly is a breeze.

Orange Coconut Creams (from Taste of Home)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 package (2 pounds) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate
  • 8 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
Directions:
  • In a small saucepan, combine milk and butter. Cook and stir over low heat until the butter is melted. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Add milk mixture; beat until smooth. Add the coconut and orange extract; mix well. Roll into 1-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  • In a microwave, melt the chips, chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip balls into chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Yield: 9 dozen.

Chocolate Cherry Mice (adapted from FamilyFun Magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 24 maraschino cherries with stems
  • Waxed paper
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 24 milk chocolate Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
  • 48 almond slices

Directions:

  • Drain the cherries and pat them dry with paper towels. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.
  • Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat them until smooth, working in 15-second intervals, stirring between each.
  • Holding a cherry by its stem, dip it into the chocolate and swirl it around to completely cover the fruit. Set it on its side on the waxed paper and immediately press a Hershey’s Kiss onto the cherry for the head. For the ears, gently wedge two almond slices between the Kiss and the cherry. Repeat to make 24 mice.

This next one’s a recipe of my own creation…

White Chocolate Bark

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb white chocolate
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried mango
  • ~1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Directions:

  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Melt the white chocolate, either in the microwave or in a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted, spread it over the aluminum foil until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Sprinkle chopped up mango and ground fresh cardamom all over the chocolate.
  • Let the chocolate cool, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Once cool, break the chocolate apart into big chunks.
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