Need a great dessert or sweet snack to feed a crowd? A friend of mine passed me a version of a recipe which I tweaked to create these Chocolate-Coconut Toffee Bars. These remind me of a cross between S’mores and Hello Dolly bars, but these are a little less fattening. I used low-fat graham crackers as the base with a toffee layer topped with coconut, pecans and dark chocolate. They are so easy to make, and the kids loved them (especially for a study break snack).
Every year, peppermint bark is a holiday hit! My friend and neighbor, Kathy, said she was searching for a wonderful peppermint bark recipe, and since one of my favorite parts of being a Food Consultant for magazines and Food companies is recipe development, I made it my mission to help Kathy out. This recipe is simple to prepare and tastes great. I crushed my candy canes in the food processor to save time and went a little overboard, so I ended up with peppermint snow (as my kids called it-and that’s just how they liked it, by the way). Feel free to chop them more or less, depending how you like it. I used Nestle white and semisweet morsels, but I recommend using a quality chocolate such as ghiradelli (you can also use dark chocolate, if you prefer). Be sure to refrigerate the bark and keep it stored in the refrigerator for optimal results. It will keep for up to 1 month.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes
Yield: 2 pounds
1 (8-ounce) package candy cane
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet morsels or baking dark chocolate
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate morsels or baking white chocolate
1. Place candy canes in a food processor and process until crushed or in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.
2. Melt semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl 1 to 2 minutes on HIGH until melted, stirring once. Add peppermint extract, stirring well. Spread evenly on a large 12-x 16-inch baking sheet covered with parchment paper; spray with cooking spray. Place chocolate mixture in refrigerator for up to one hour to set.
3. Melt white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl 1 to 2 minutes on HIGH until melted, stirring once. Spread over semisweet chocolate and top evenly with crushed candy canes. Refrigerate 1 more hour or until set. Break into pieces and give as gifts.
I was working in New Orleans last week, and one of my closest food friends took me into a fabulous classic New Orleans candy shop where they were making Pralines, Fudge and other homemade confections. It’s “Southern Candy Makers“, and next time you head to New Orleans, put this stop on the top of your list. It inspired me to try a new recipe with pralines for Thanksgiving. It’s really simple to prepare and my kids loved it for breakfast, a snack, dessert and especially for Thanksgiving.
Praline Bundt Cake
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Cool: 1 hour
Yield: 12 servings
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Arrange 1 cup pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
3. Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in toasted pecans and vanilla. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.
4. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.
5. Prepare Praline Icing, and spoon immediately over cake. Sprinkle top of cake with Sugared Pecans.
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Use immediately.
Southern Candy Makers has two locations on Decatur Street. See http://southerncandymakers.com
Recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine see http://southernliving.com