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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cats taste surprisingly like licorice….

That’s because they are licorice, silly!
Here we have Gustaf’s Dutch Licorice Cats.
Now I don’t know what is Dutch about the licorice. In our American vernacular, anything Dutch usually means it’s been split in half; Dutch door, going Dutch. This licorice tastes full strength to me.
According to the letter on the back of the bag from Gerrit (where’s Gustaf?), the folks in Holland consume the most black licorice of any country in the world. I wonder if they get heart palpitation like I do after eating far too much in one day….I also wonder, “why licorice?” Do they crave licorice after visiting those coffee shops which used to sell pot, but now can’t? Hmmm, so many questions…
As for the cats. They are about an inch tall, and pretty good.
I found them at World Market, which should get an international candy award for all of the amazing treats they carry. They were $1.99, and worth the price.

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“Mini” Eggnog Cheesecakes

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Eggnog is a love/hate food.  I happen to love it, but only in small doses. Adding it to a latte is wonderful, and a small glass with some Kahlua is grand.
Speaking of small doses-I think all desserts should come in “mini” form. I found this mini cheesecake recipe on beautiful blog called “Life Made Simple”
I tweaked it a bit to make it easier (am I creative or just lazy?) The original recipe has a lovely whipped cream topping, but I also took a shortcut there…

Mini Eggnog Cheesecakes (makes 10)

Ingredients:
1 package (8 oz) original cream cheese, room temperature*
¼ c. eggnog*
½ c. sugar
1½ tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1⁄8 tsp. nutmeg

For the crust:
6 gingersnap cookies (I used the 1 1/2″ diameter store-bought ones)
2 graham crackers
1½  tbsp. melted butter
1½ tsp. brown sugar
pinch of salt

Topping:
Ready Whip real whippped cream (you know, the canned stuff)**
pumpkin pie spice

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 2-3 paper cupcake liners in 10 holes of a 12-hole muffin tray.  Lightly grease cupcake liners. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind all ingredients for crust, except for the melted butter. The mixture should resemble slightly coarse crumbs. Remove mixture and pour melted butter over. Mix until crumbs are wet. Press into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. (It may smoke a little at the end)
3. While crust is baking prepare filling beating together cream cheese, sugar, and eggnog until smooth. Add flour and spices, vanilla, and egg. Mix until just combined.
4. Pour filling over each crust, dividing evenly. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing cheesecakes (yes your cheesecakes will sink a little, this is normal).
5. Remove cheesecakes in cupckae liners from pan, and cool on a cooling rack. Refrigerate in a covered container for at least 2 hours before serving.
6. Peel off cupcake liners, and place cheesecakes on a tray. Right before serving, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle lightly with pumpkin pie spice.
Note:
* I think that these could be lightened by using the 1/3 less fat cream cheese, and light eggnog, but I haven’t tried that version yet.
** The canned whipped cream melts at room temperature, so don’t top them ahead of time. If it does melt, not to worry, just spray the topping on again, and no one will know.

The shelf life (or half life) of candy canes

Have you ever had an extra box of candy canes after Christmas, and wondered if they’d keep for another year? Well, the answer is yes, and they’d still be good after 2 years. Look at the date on this box from 2012…. Good until Feb. 28, 2015!
However, if you live in the humid, deep-south, all bets are off. We know how nasty and sticky humidity makes candy.
So, in closing, hold onto those canes if you wish. Merry Christmas Eve, eve.

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Godiva chocolate covered raisins

Look what I found in a gift basket, sent from a vendor, to our office.
Unlike most gift-basket food, which is highly suspect, and tastes about as good as the actual basket, these are good. These are bigger than raisinettes, and the chocolate is creamier.

Chocolate covered raisins are a stealth candy. They rarely make a “favorites” list, but they are remarkably good. If you spy these in a gift basket, grab them.

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Gingerbread housing starts are up!

It’s been a crazy month, and the new construction starts are up 2,000% from November. There has been a rumored royal icing shortage, which has contributed to some price-gouging iin the powdered sugar markets. This week alone, Necco sales are up 10-fold, and the shelves have been cleared of green and red gumdrops.

Here are my rules for a legitimate gingerbread house contractor to follow:

1.The house must be covered in candy, not just pretty icing swirls.

2. It should be made by a novice builder. The ones made by pastry chefs are about as exciting as those iron chef cooking shows. The less-professional looking, the more authentic it is.

3. The more creative use of building maerials, the better. Cereal, nuts, pasta, or anything edible is fair game.

4. It can’t be from a boxed kit. Those kits are great for parties, but a real house has to be made from scratch.

5. It doesn’t have to be a “house” see the trailer below.

Take a look at photos (courtesy of Pinterest) from the booming market…

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check out Fallingwater below, and on this site

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You’ve got to try Saltine toffee, that’s right, you heard me…

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I am a Pinterest recipe stalker, and this was my latest obsession. It looked and sounded so good, I had to make it. I could have eaten the whole batch, but instead I brought it to the office. Everyone loved it, and I was asked for the recipe several times.

The ingredients list is short, and inexpensive. The total time is about an hour, and the result is delicious!
The stealth ingredient that makes this amazing is the simple saltine.
It will make great gifts for the holidays, or bring it to a potluck, and be the belle of the buffet.
The recipe that I used is from the blog sixsistersstuff. I tweaked it very little and I really think I have a new favorite. I hope you try it soon.

Saltine Toffee
Ingredients:
40 (or more as needed) salted saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, sliced into cubes for easy melting
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews, you can use whatever kind you like)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the saltine crackers evenly on the pan (I put mine really close together so that they were touching).
In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and let it boil for three minutes without stirring. After three minutes remove from the heat, and add the vanilla. Pour the hot brown sugar mixture evenly over the saltine crackers.
Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips across the toffee. Let them melt for a couple of minutes and then use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly across the toffee (like frosting).
Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of the melted chocolate. Let the toffee and chocolate cool completely (I put mine in the fridge for about 30 minutes to help it set up quickly).
Once cooled, remove the foil, and toffee from the pan, and slice toffee into bite-size pieces.
To store, keep in an air-tight container for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months. (Ha, just try to keep it around for 2 days!)

*use the best ingredients you can. I used Premium saltines, and Ghiardelli Milk Chocolate

Kinder Country=tiny yummy

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Just look at this tiny bar, so cute, and so sweet. My friend brought a bag of these back from Italy. They are coated in creamy, European milk chocolate, with just the faintest hint of coffee. Inside there is a crispy filling. A nice candy all the way around.
I love how the mini bar has 6 sections, as if I’d break off a few at a time. Ha, it is the perfect bite-size.
You can find this brand at World Market here in the U.S.

The only odd thing about this candy is the name “Kinder Country”. I guess it gets lost in translation.