I'm doing a bit of goodie prep every day, and storing the finished items in the freezer (I have a second refrigerator downstairs, which helps a lot this time of year). Making it a bit more complicated... my microwave croaked on me a couple weeks ago - so any easy peasy 'melt in the microwave' instructions have turned into 'using a makeshift bowl in pot method since you have no double boiler...' It's working, but it's somewhat aggravating!
One last 'helper' for me is my laundry room - it began life as a porch off the kitchen, but somewhere along the way got closed in - but never was provided with any central heat or air. So doing laundry in the wintertime is c-c-cooollldddd. But it makes the perfect spot to set food items that need to chill for awhile without taking up refrigerator space. Since I'm doing a lot of chocolate candy making this year, that's been a lifesaver.
Here's what I have so far:
Mini Pumpkin Raisin Bread Bundts
No recipe for this one - I used the Pumpkin Bread Kit put out by Libbys. Tossed a generous handful of raisins into the batter, and used it to fill my Nordicware Garland Bundt Pan and baked for about a half hour. The kit made enough for me to make 12 small bundts. The only trick to this at all was making sure to get shortening and flour into every crevice so it wouldn't stick. I used a pastry brush to 'paint' the interiors with shortening, then dusted with flour, dumped the excess flour and then used the brush again to clear away any flour that had packed into the grooves. The bundts came out with no issues and no breakage - yay! Cleaning the pan isn't the most fun I've ever had, but the results are worth occasional use.
No pictures - I forgot to take any before I hustled these off to the freezer. But the taste is almost just right - I used regular semi-sweet chocolate chips because I couldn't find the Hershey's Special Dark chips I'd bought... until about 5 minutes after I finished them. Story of my life! They're good either way. The peppermint oil I used is carried by CVS - I would imagine anywhere they carry candy making supplies would have them. A tiny little bottle goes a long, long way.
4 c. confectioner's sugar
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 t. peppermint oil (NOT extract)
3/4 t. vanilla extract
6 T. evaporated milk
18 oz semi sweet or special dark chocolate chips
2 T. shortening
On low speed, beat together sugar, butter, peppermint oil, extract and evaporated milk until combined. Increase speed and beat at least two minutes, or until very smooth. If need be, add a tiny bit more evaporated milk, being careful not to use too much. Transfer the resulting 'putty' into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill at least an hour.
Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper. Roll the putty into balls (1" for larger patties, 1/2" for bite sized), then flatten the balls into patties about 1/3" thick and place on waxed paper. Once the cookie sheet is filled, cover and let chill another hour.
Prepare the coating: Melt chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl over a pot of boiling water - be careful to make sure it melts rather than burns! Dip patties one at a time into the melted chocolate (I used two forks - one to lower the patty into the chocolate, the other to 'paint' the top of the pattie quickly... let excess chocolate drain off), and place on waxed paper cookie sheet. Once the sheet is full of dipped patties, let it chill again. Once hardened, the patties can be frozen or kept in the refrigerator until served.
One final note on this - the patty is pretty much all sugar. That means you really have to be careful to get it in and out of the melted chocolate fast, or it will start to melt itself. So have the patties as cold as you can, and work fast. I had much better results with the batch of patties that chilled overnight than I did with the ones I let chill for an hour.
I already gave the recipe here - oh boy did this go from easy to irritating... melting the candy corn on the stove involved a lot of stirring and fussing, and though I had enough candy corn for two batches, I only made one and am probably leaving it at that for now.
I make these every year - usually with the little square waffle shaped pretzels, because they are bite sized and just right for snacking. But when I went to buy them, I found that Utz had a barrel of holiday shaped pretzels - trees, bells and 5 pointed stars, and I couldn't resist.
These are simple... I don't even try to dip the whole pretzel... just hold the pretzel, dip as much as possible without burning fingers. Use a fork to help cover any bits that might need a little touch up, and then drain off as much chocolate as possible. I am using chocolate almond bark for this (and have some white chocolate almond bark as well).
Once dipped in chocolate and drained, a quickly dip into a plate of non-pariels along one edge, and then lay on a sheet of wax paper to chill. In place of the non-pariels, these could be dipped into toffee bits, nuts, colored sugar, or left plain. Aren't they pretty?
These can be stored in the fridge or freezer for a good long time, and offer the perfect little burst of salty-sweet.
Lots more still to do and I'll try to be better about getting pictures as I go.
Shared with Made By You Monday, Mad Skills Monday, Santa's Gift Shoppe Bloghop, DIY Holiday Highlights, Homemaker Monday, Market Yourself Monday, Your Making Do Monday, Made With Love Monday, Follow Me Monday, Get Your Craft On Tuesday, Show and Tell Wednesday, and Getting Crafty On Hump Day.