Christmas Cooking: Fantastic Fudge

FudgeOh Fudge, how fun it is and so varying. I made 5 kinds on the Ninth, only technically two of them were from the same original recipe, I just altered it a bit.

Simple Fudge: Take 1

SimpleFudgeCompliments of Better Homes and Gardens I didn’t make too many changes, mainly I didn’t make my first batch with nuts. There is something to be said about the name: Simple. It may be the name of it, and it was simple, but more importantly even though it may have been more complicated then the three ingredient mint, I think it was my favorite version. The consistency was really nice and the possibilities of variation are endless.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 – 5 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups small marshmallows
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Line a 8x8x2 baking pan with foil, butter lining and set aside
  2. Butter sides of a large saucepan and combine sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. (I put the butter in first and turned on the heat to let the butter melt a bit before adding the next two ingredients). Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 6 minutes. Don’t get sidetracked and decide to eat a clementine during this time, you may burn the fudge the mixture a little if you do.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and add remaining ingredients. Mix until marshmallows and chocolate have melted and everything is fully combined.
  4. Spread fudge evenly in prepared pan. I placed mine in the fridge for twenty minutes before scoring into squares. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 (or until firm).
  5. Once firm use foil to lift out of pan and fully cut fudge (if you didn’t earlier. I had so it pulled apart rather easily).
  6. Store tightly covered in fridge for up to 1 month.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

CookieDoughFudgeI was surprised that this one had flour in it, that really threw me. Also, this was the recipe that required me to nearly burn my face off to check the thermometer. Also, mine did not look like the one on the blog I found the recipe but that’s okay (obviously).

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half (original recipe called for using 1/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup heavy cream)
  • 1 Tbs corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp  sea salt
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Spray an 8×8 inch  baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugars, cream, milk, corn syrup and salt.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 242 degrees (ie the soft-ball stage).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, and flour.
  5. Adding the flour made it crumbly so I skipped some of the other directions, poured it into a dish and covered with chocolate chips, then immediately popped it in the fridge to stop them from melting too much.
  6. Let set for at least two hours, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge

FunfettiFudgeI altered the recipe, or rather the directions from the original. Mainly because I have terrible luck when it comes to microwaving chocolate. I have a hard enough time not burning the chocolate when I’m constantly watching it in a pot. Anyway yeah, if you want microwave directions check out the original post.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3.5 cups white chocolate chips
  • 3 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • Rainbow Sprinkles

Directions:

  • Pour milk and white chocolate into pan and heat until chips are melting and blend both until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and almond and combine thoroughly.
  • In the original directions
  • Immediately add vanilla and almond and combine thoroughly.
  • Transfer to an aluminum-foil lined baking pan. Sprinkle fudge generously with sprinkles. Put in refrigerator until set.
  • Once set, cut into cubes (and peel off foil). Store leftover in an airtight container in a cool place.

3 Ingredient Fudge

3 Ingredient MintLikewise with the funfetti I adapted this one to be a stove-top over microwave venture. Backwards huh? Usually people want to go from stove to microwave not the other way around. Original recipe from Made (I like the header)

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 oz can condensed milk
  • 1 – 14 oz package of semi sweet chocolate chips.
  • 1 – 10 oz package of Andes mint chips
  • Optional garnish: Crushed Candy Cane (I only used 1 but kind of wish I had used more because I only had enough to cover half of the fudge)

Directions:

  1. In pot combine chocolate, Andes mint chips and condensed milk; mix
  2. heat until mixture is smooth
  3. pour in to lined pan (I poured some, then added some food coloring, did NOT fully mix it in, I liked the marble look)
  4. sprinkle with garnish and pop in fridge to cool
  5. once set, cut into pieces and store in cool place

Simple Fudge: Take 2 – Simple Mint Fudge

SimpleMintLike I said earlier the possibilities for variation are endless. The original post had a peanut butter option, and I was going to go that route but apparently I decided to make more mint stuff. I had planned on using both vanilla and mint (hence both are in the photo) but instead just substituted mint for vanilla. I also added more Andes mints then what I pictured. I had peppermint Andes chips that I topped the fudge with once I was done. I decided to use all white chips and then added a few drops of food coloring to make a swirled white/pink fudge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 – 5 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups small marshmallows
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon mint extract
  • Chopped candy cane

Directions:

  1. Line a 8x8x2 baking pan with foil, butter lining and set aside
  2. Butter sides of a large saucepan and combine sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. (I put the butter in first and turned on the heat to let the butter melt a bit before adding the next two ingredients). Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 6 minutes. Don’t get sidetracked and decide to eat a clementine during this time, you may burn the fudge the mixture a little if you do.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and add remaining ingredients. Mix until marshmallows and chocolate have melted and everything is fully combined.
  4. Spread fudge evenly in prepared pan. At this time I sprinkled the fudge with chopped candy cane. I placed mine in the fridge for twenty minutes before scoring into squares. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 (or until firm).
  5. Once firm use foil to lift out of pan and fully cut fudge (if you didn’t earlier. I had so it pulled apart rather easily).
  6. Store tightly covered in fridge for up to 1 month.

41 days of Celebration: Days 16-22

Decorating_2It’s that time again. The roundup of what the last week of celebrating has held for yours truly. It, as time does, has flown right on by. Although it’s been filled with mainly decorating, given the right playlist, it has been an uber blast. So without further ado, the synopsis.

Day 16: Friday, December 7: Movie Night
I decided to go ahead and skip the surprise and watch While You Were Sleeping (since, indeed, it had been left out of the bag). I really enjoy that movie, and it’s all about Christmas time. 

Day 17: Saturday, December 8: Decorating (will it ever end)
Decorating_1Spent the day just chillin’ and decorating the apartment. It was nice to get it almost done (needed to print some stuff to actually finish). I was able to use up most of the ornaments though (I only have about 8 left) so that made me feel unnecessarily accomplished. I was also happy to have a use for all of the random glassware that I have acquired.

Day 18: Sunday, December 9: Cooking and a Classic

It was a fudge-filled day on Sunday. I woke early (for a weekend at least) and started with the first of five batches of fudge. After two I realized I messed up when I went grocery shopping, not getting enough white chocolate chips. I also ran out of sugar. That’s a staple in the kitchen, how did I run out? Anyway, I popped off to the store (stopping in at work for a short while-yeah, I’m cool) and returned ready to knock out three more types. I had only planned on making 4, but decided the Simple Fudge recipe was so easy (obviously, apparently the name wasn’t enough of a give away) that I decided to alter it a bit and make another mint variety.
In the photo above, clockwise starting with the white with sprinkles, I made Funfettif Fudge, 3 Ingredient Mint, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge, Simple Fudge & Simple Mint Fudge. It was fun making it because with the various recipes they all came out with different textures. For instance the cookie dough fudge is more crumbly then the simple mint which is more chewy. Always a learning experience.

Better Way

Better Way

Wrong Way

Wrong Way

Something I love about cooking is that since I’m such a novice (apparently that beginning foods class I took freshmen year in high school didn’t make me a pro) that I do a lot of learning by experience. For instance one of the recipes told me to use a candy thermometer. The pot I was using was too short for the thermometer to properly clip to the side and be perfectly upright. At first I attached it to a tumbler and put it next to the pot. That notion was quickly dismissed and I just angled it in the pot. However I was afraid to check it. In order to read it I had to put my face over the bubbling boiling sugar. Sugar burns are the worst (if past memory is accurate). Luckily I came out of this episode of cooking unscathed.

Every time I almost forget to mention the classic. Any road, this week it was The Phantom of The Opera. I love musicals in general, but the notion of being so overcome with emotion (both positive and negative which this movie has a LOT of) that the only way to expel it is through song is foreign to me. SO fun and it came out around Christmas which may be why I felt the need to include it. (I enjoy how some movies, that have absolutely nothing (or very very little) to do with Christmas are inextricably linked with the holiday. Personal examples include Harry Potter (that one scene in the first movie apparently pulls them all into holiday season, even though most of them came out in the summer), Lord of the Rings and (of course) Sherlock Holmes thanks to Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.) It is so easy for me to forget that Gerard Butler is the Phantom in this movie. It was done long enough ago (and introduced) before he started doing all of the action/rom-coms that it really seems like its two different people. Just a side note.

Day 19: Monday, December 10: Story time (and yes! done decorating)
PostersFINALLY DONE DECORATING! I had some Christmas posters that I ‘needed’ to print before I could sign off on the holiday decorating. L->R: The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear” From Elf; “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” from Luke: 2; and “What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I also enjoyed listening to A Christmas Carol, narrated by Patrick Stewart – love! He certainly makes a good scrooge (in both the video and audio format).

Day 20: Tuesday, December 11: WHO Tuesday (doesn’t have the same ring to it as WHO Wednesday). Ever the flexible person I watched Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned. As always, I really enjoyed the Doctor. However I do forget that Astrid is  Kylie Minogue. For whatever reason I have a different picture of her in my head. Oh well, obviously not important. 

Day 21: Wednesday, December 12: No Christmasy stuff
I had some non-Christmas family stuff tonight. Nothing major, but it did take me away from home for the entire night.

Day 22: Thursday, December 13: Red & Green Supper
RedGreenSupperThis idea was mentioned on some blog or another and I liked it (obviously). I did cop out a bit though and just had a salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I didn’t really have time to do anything fancy since I headed out for a night of volleyball. However, elaborate or not, just knowing it was all green and red made me almost giddy, weird.

More celebration and Christmas to come as well as the recipes from fudge week! ~ Q

Christmas Cooking: Kisses, Hugs & Cookies

Kisses, Hugs & CookiesSo, as I wrote last time, last week for Cooking and a Classic I cooked Pretzel Hugs, Grinch Cookies, and Mint Kisses.

Pretzel Hugs

Pretzel HugsIngredients:

  • Hershey’s Hugs
  • Pretzels Snaps

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300
  2. line baking sheet with wax paper
  3. place pretzels on paper
  4. unwrap hugs, enough for each pretzel (I made 63 – one baking sheet worth)
  5. once oven is preheated pop in oven for about 2 minutes
  6. remove from oven and let sit for 1 minute
  7. top hugs with pretzels and press down, making sandwiches
  8. pop in fridge for 20-30 minutes to cool.

I had fun making these, despite hulking a few of the sandwiches. Easy enough that if I ever needed something for little kids to do, this could be totally up their alley. (For example we had a 5 year old at Thanksgiving who really wanted to help with the cooking. I think she would have loved this project, instead she helped put potatoes in a pot after we cut them. She really liked that too though, so whatever floats her boat I suppose.) Original directions found at cookies & cups blog, although I’m sure I could have figured it out. I so often forget these treats so credit given where it’s due…to pinterest.

Grinch Cookies

GrinchCookiesIngredients:

  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 8 drops green food color
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mint baking chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in both mint and chocolate chips.
  3. Using small spoons (teaspoons, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set.
  5. Remove from oven and cool.

Grinch BatterOriginal recipe found via pinterest which lead back to here. I made these before the mint-kisses and I like the coloring of the later better. Perhaps because it’s more natural? As far as not adding food coloring personally, but I do like the coloring of theses as well. Not like the mint kisses are naturally green, but I digress.

Mint Kisses

MintKissesIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint baking chips
  • granulated sugar
  • candy cane kisses

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and clear room in freezer or fridge for cookie sheet
  2. in large mixing bowl combine powdered sugar, butter, extracts and egg. Mix until creamy.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to wet mixture and combine thoroughly. Stir in chopped up baking chips.
  4. Shape dough into small bolls, roll in granulated sugar and place 1-in apart on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 10-12  minutes or until set
  6. When cookies come out of oven immediately press kiss into center of each cookie and set tray in fridge/freezer.

FreezerI made a dozen cookies, then I decided to make the rest using mini-cupcake tins (which I got since baking the poppers).  They made much cuter little cookies. I think I made them a bit ‘wrong’ since they didn’t turn out like the original blog entry. Granted I made a few adjustments, but even before the mint-chip substitution my mixture was smooth, not crumbly. That may have made them spread out more than they would usually. Which is why, of course, I used the mini-muffin tins.

If you try any of these, let me know how it works out for you! Until next time ~ Q

41 days of Celebration Surprises

Wow, twenty days…where does the time go? Not only that, but now it’s 36 days until the new year and already 4 days of my ’41 days of Celebration and Surprises’ have passed. I feel like 25 just aren’t enough (the 25 days of Christmas made popular by ABC Family…and Advent and just so many things in general.) Also, by having 41, instead of just 25, there isn’t the…what’s the word? Let down isn’t right, but if you do that 25 it’s like excitement excitement excitement, Christmas hits and then BAM nothing…so instead I’m gonna keep going right through to the new year, and greet 2013 in a way I haven’t greeted the others.

Day 1: Thursday, November 22: Thanksgiving
Although we are thankful to be together, my immediate family doesn’t really do Thanksgiving in a traditional sense anyway, on the day of

As my dad calls us, The Brain Trust had lots to discuss about the various trees. We’re even starting my nephew off early, he’s not even two yet.

. No, instead our family usually goes Christmas Tree hunting. In the past the hunt has been…heated. All three of us siblings can be headstrong with our opinions on which tree is ‘perfect’. The first year it took us over two hours to agree on a tree. However since then it’s been easier and easier to agree. Either we’re growing up, learning to pick our battles, or know/understand the traits we each look for most. After our tree expedition out to the tree farm we returned home to have dinner. Rather than having turkey or ham we had Nachos (why I love my family). Then we did prep and cooking for the big weekend.

Day 2: Friday, November 23: Atkins Thanksgiving
Every year my mom’s family comes to town for Thanksgiving weekend. Two days of nearly 20 adults in my parents house. It’s awesome and usually crazy. Friday is the big traditional meal day. The family starts arriving around noon and spends the time before the meal either helping with the cooking or out shopping (trying to score a couple Black Friday deals). This year two (of the three that would travel to our house) siblings were able to make it. It was weird, for whatever reason with four less people than usual (still leaving us with 17) it seemed like a much smaller crowd. Seriously, that line of thinking seems rather ridiculous. Anyway, Friday is the day we have our typical Thanksgiving meal. After we washed up and ate too many desserts my cousins and I went to my apartment to finish watching the Creighton- Wisconsin game. It was favorable that we left. One of the families are huge Creighton fans while my brother-in-law is a Wisconsin man. My cousins were able to rejoice in the win without punishing him too much.

Day 3: Saturday, November 24: Atkins Thanksgiving continued & Brunch with the Girls
I was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with a couple of my besties since they were in town for the holidays. (This is a major bonus to me staying close to home. I’m always here when they come home to visit their families, so if they have spare time for a cup of coffee or something we can usually meet up. We decided to head to The Cafe for brunch, us and maybe a fourth of the population, but I can taste why. It was sooooo good. Pumpkin pancakes, cranberry-lime scones, parfaits. Perfection. It was fun seeing the two of them and hearing about their shenanigans (one of them just closed on a house, the other is a teacher. There are always shenanigans to discuss). After returning home the day was full of soup, games (like Ticket to Ride which, with many of us being rather cut-throat, means it’s usually a five-way battle of wits. My only goal this year was to get longest route. A goal which I did achieve even though I didn’t win overall) , and a couple episodes of Top Gear. (My uncle is really into car, a passion he has somewhat passed onto his son. He had talked about this show and despite myself I may be hooked on it).

Day 4: Sunday, November 25: Cooking and a Classic
My darling sister likes to do some of her Thanksgiving baking weeks ahead and then freeze it (like the amazing rolls/breads we usually have just laying about on Saturday). This has lead me to try an experiment this year. I’m going to start cooking holiday goodies now for our Christmas festivities. That was the plan anyway. Yesterday I tried 4 recipes: Honey-Almond Fudge, Honey Cakes, Pumpkin ‘Fluff’, and Pumpkin Poppers. I had a 75 percent success rating. Care to guess which one didn’t work out?
The Honey Cakes, although more biscuit like, turned out just fine. They are these dense tough cookie-like baked goods that taste really good with some jam. (Sadly I didn’t bring my camera from my parent’s house after the other weekend activities so I don’t have any photos. I even told my mother I wouldn’t be needing it, once again, mother knows best. However since I’ll have the goods for a while, I’ll post a follow up post with both the pictures and the successful recipes when I get it back). I don’t usually bake from scratch, and part of the reason is obvious: I don’t have the proper materials. I had to use a cup to roll out my dough since I didn’t have a proper roller, nor did I have a round cookie cutter. Then I realized I had mason jars and the lids were the perfect size, so that worked out rather well.
Pumpkin Poppers are delicious. They are meant to be more doughnut hole-esque though and I didn’t have the right materials for them either. You’re suppose to cook them in mini-cupcake tins. I only have normal sized ones. Once I had filled them up I decided to just make a shallow loaf/cake with the rest of that batter. It worked shockingly well…except for when I dumped it out and broke it. Even then I just cut it up into various shapes (based on how it had fractured) and it worked out just fine. The ones that I had cooked in pumpkin tins I finished the way the recipe intended (brushing/rolling them in butter then in cinnamon-sugar). The loaf I combined with the Pumpkin Fluff.
Pumpkin Fluff is cool-whip with instant pudding and pumpkin added and is a bit addicting. It made a lovely ‘frosting’ for the Pumpkin loaf-cake and will taste amazing with graham crackers. (This last bit is an extrapolation, but it tasted good with the pumpkin loaf and on it’s own.)
This leaves the fudge being a fail. I don’t have a candy thermometer, so perhaps that was my downfall, but I’ve made fudge without it before. The directions were just poor. I was trying a new recipe and after heating the mixture to soft-ball stage I was instructed to cool it until it reached 100 something degrees (which was suppose to take 50-60 minutes). After 40 I checked it and had a hard mess stuck to the bottom of the pot. The poor pot will never be the same…it still has hardened sugar stuck to it. I’m going to have loads of fun trying to fix that situation. Rather than trying the fudge again I decided to pass on it. I’ll be making more fudge in the next couple of weeks. We don’t need this batch of fudge.
To finish up the day I watched a classic movie. Oh perhaps I should take this time to explain the ‘surprise’ part of the next month. Earlier this month I put a handful of movies in two separate opaque bags. On Friday/Sunday I will close my eyes (for good measure) and pull one out to watch. The ones on Sunday are suppose to be older movies (I honestly can’t recall what I set aside for either night). Yesterday it was The Court Jester starring Danny Kaye. (Also Basil Rathbone who, of course, voiced Sherlock Holmes for so many years)

I love old movies, particularly this one. The writing, although decades old, is still funny and witty. The large ensembles are amusing and add a sense of grandeur that just isn’t the same nowadays.  Which makes it highly re-watchable. If you’ve never seen the movie and are looking for a comedy set in the days of lords and vassals pick this sucker up, you wont be disappointed.

Must dash – plenty of fun to come though, let the holiday festivities begin!
Until next time ~ Q