Thursday, December 12, 2019

M&M MAGIC BARS for the Holidays!

I love M&Ms.They're always a great addition to cookies, bars, and brownies! Here's an easy holiday treat to make with the Christmas Red & Green M & Ms: M & M Magic Bars! So festive. Recipe adapted from The Foodnetwork!

Christmas M & M MAGIC BARS

Ingredients 
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the dish
14 chocolate graham crackers
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
One 10-ounce bag mint chocolate chips
1 cup cocktail peanuts, coarsely chopped
 2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup red and green M&M's
1/2 cup coarsely chopped candy canes
1/4 cup red and green sprinkles

Directions
Position oven rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Line 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil, leaving 2-inch overhang on both sides. Butter foil. Pulse graham crackers into fine crumbs in food processor. Add melted butter and pulse to combine (mixture should hold together when squeezed).
Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and press it into bottom in even layer, using bottom of measuring cup to help. Pour sweetened condensed milk over crumbs. Sprinkle chocolate chips, peanuts, marshmallows, M&M's, candy canes and sprinkles over condensed milk.
Bake until  sides are golden brown and begin to pull away from baking dish, 30 to 35 minutes.
Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Using foil liner as handles, lift bars out of baking dish; remove foil.
Cut into 24 bars.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

CHOCOLATE BARKS FOR SANTA & FRIENDS!

Just 2 weeks until Christmas, and you might still need to make a gift or have treats ready for Santa. I can't think of anything easier or more versatile than Chocolate Bark. What do you have in your pantry? Well, chocolate, of course, and you can add anything to the chocolate, and voila! instant candy! Package your bark nicely in a tin, and you have a gift for Auntie Em! Put it on the table for Santa, along with cookies and milk, and he'll love it!

So here are recipes for a variety of Holiday Barks! Be sure and scroll down for links to other Chocolate Holiday Barks. Let's face it, you can never have enough bark! Woof!

1. White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
1 pound white chocolate
candy canes, crushed to make 1/2 cup

Directions
Heat white chocolate in double boiler over low heat until melted.
Add crushed candy cane to white chocolate. Make sure white chocolate stays warm.
Pour mixture onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet, spreading very thinly with spatula.
Place cookie sheet in freezer until  mixture has hardened.
Take out of freezer and crack bark into small pieces.
Remove from wax paper and store at room temperature.

2. Microwave White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
1 pound white chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Directions
Place chocolate in microwave-safe dish. Microwave on 50% power, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and of creamy consistency.
Stir in crushed candy canes.
Spread on cookie sheet and place in the freezer until set (about 20 minutes).
Break into pieces.

3. Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
12 ounces high quality dark chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler (or saucepan on top of saucepan of simmering water).
Remove from heat, add peppermint extract and stir.
Pour melted chocolate onto cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out with spatula or wooden spoon.
Sprinkle peppermint candy chunks on chocolate and gently press in with hands.
Put in freezer until hardened (5 minutes).
Break into pieces. Store in fridge in an airtight container.

And, here are two recipes for festive holiday barks that feature red --and red and green--in the bark.

4. Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Ginger Bark

Ingredients
6 ounces dark chocolate (65-70% cacao), chopped
2 Tbsp crystallized ginger
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 tsp sea salt

Directions
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler or saucepan over saucepan of simmering water.
Remove saucepan with melted chocolate from stove and stir in crystallized ginger and half of pomegranate seeds.
Line baking sheet with parchment. Pour melted chocolate mixture onto sheet. Using a spatula smooth chocolate into even layer about 1/4 inch thick.
Sprinkle with remaining pomegranate seeds and sea salt.
Chill 20-30 minutes (until firm).
Break into pieces and store in airtight container, separating layers with waxed paper.
Serve same day, if possible.

5. Cranberry Nut Chocolate Bark
This recipe is from King Arthur Flour. I love the innovative recipes on the website and blog, and, of course, King Arthur Flour's great products! This recipe is very festive with red cranberries and crunchy pecans...and it uses both white and dark chocolate layers.

Ingredients
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup toasted diced pecans
2- 2/3 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
2- 2/3 cups chopped white chocolate, melted

Directions
Toss cranberries and pecans together. Set them aside.
Melt dark chocolate (in the top of a double boiler--see above), and spread into 8" x 12" oval on parchment paper.
Allow chocolate to set, but not harden completely.
Melt white chocolate (in the top of a double boiler-see above) and mix with about 3/4 cup of cranberries and pecans. Spread this over dark chocolate.
Sprinkle rest of nuts and fruit on top, pressing them in gently.
Refrigerate for about 10 minutes--no more than 20-- until hardened, then break into chunks.

6. Whiskey Marshmallow and Caramel Bacon Bark from Bakers Royale

Happy Holidays!

Cartoon of the Day: Gingerbread House


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CHRISTMAS CAKE

Who says Guinness is just for St Patrick's Day? Guinness has a long history as a Christmas baking ingredient -- from truffles to cupcakes to brownies to cake! I've posted several Guinness Cake recipes, but here's a new one for this year's holiday. As always use the very best ingredients. Decorate this fabulous chocolate cake with holiday designs or mistletoe (don't eat the mistletoe). Save the recipe for St. Paddy's Day!

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CHRISTMAS CAKE

Ingredients 

Cake 
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups Guinness
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream

Ganache 
16 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Guinness
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

Cake 
With rack in middle position, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 8-inch springform pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour sides.
In  bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.
In saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with beer and cocoa powder, stirring with whisk. Let cool. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar and salt. With whisk, add lukewarm butter mixture alternately with dry ingredients and eggs. Add sour cream and stir until mixture is smooth.
Divide batter between pans and bake for about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of each cake comes out clean. Turn out cakes and let cool.

Ganache 
Place chocolate in bowl. Set aside. In saucepan, bring beer, cream and syrup to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute. With whisk, gently stir mixture until chocolate has completely melted. Add butter and stir until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until ganache is spreadable but not too thick. If needed, microwave a few seconds at a time and stir until spreadable.
Cut and discard rounded tops of each cake.
Spread one-quarter of ganache onto one layer. Top with second cake layer and frost with remaining ganache.
Decorate with holiday designs or mistletoe (don't eat the mistletoe-it's poisonous).