A taste of the holidays

| December 16, 2010

It’s that time of year when holiday treats are everywhere, and we all tend to indulge a little more than usual.

Even if you live by the “everything in moderation” mantra, the holidays seem to make us want to throw that out the window.,  During the month of December, the inner baker in all of us seems to surface, even if Pillsbury break-and-bakes fill your refrigerator the rest of the year.

When I was growing up, my mother’s cookie sheets only saw the light of day in December. I have the fondest memories of standing in the kitchen eating the dough before it ever made it into the shape of a cookie.

Whether you plan on sticking to your family’s traditional cookie recipe or adding new ones to your repertoire, I asked some friends to share their favorites with us.

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Courtesy of Kris Williams

  • “¢ 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and coat with butter. Stir together butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Pour chocolate into large bowl and cool 10 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour; beat on low just until combined.
Pour batter into pan and bake until firm to touch and tester inserted into center comes out with some thick wet batter still attached, about 45 minutes. Cool brownies completely and top with mint filling and chocolate ganache (recipes to follow).

Mint Filling

  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

Beat together butter and cream cheese and add powdered sugar and extract. Spread over cooled brownies.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Cool to lukewarm and pour over brownies, spreading to the edges. Chill until firm. Using foil, lift brownies out of pan. Cut into 16 squares.

Holiday Hot Chocolate

Holiday Hot Chocolate

Courtesy of Rhonda Levitch

Makes 4 servings

Creamy Hot Chocolate

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (or chopped milk chocolate)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk

In a heavy, medium saucepan bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.,  Add the chocolate and stir until completely incorporated.,  Add the milk, stirring until combined.,  Heat until just steaming.

Peppermint Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons ground peppermint candy (pulverized in a coffee grinder)

Whip the cream in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form.,  Add the peppermint and continue to whip until combined and cream is stiff.

To assemble: Divide hot chocolate among 4 medium mugs. Top each cup with peppermint whipped cream. Sprinkle each cup with chopped peppermint bark (available at Williams-Sonoma or Godiva) or chopped chocolate and chopped peppermint candy.
Note: The milk chocolate can be replaced with good quality white chocolate. When using white chocolate, use lower heat to keep from scorching.

Reindeer Mix

Reindeer Mix

Courtesy of Ashley Blevins

  • 3 cups Rice Chex
  • 3 cups Corn Chex
  • 3 cups Cheerios
  • 1 pound plain M&M’s
  • 1 pound bag pretzel sticks
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds white almond bark

Mix dry ingredients. Melt almond bark as directed on package. Pour over dry ingredients. Spread mixture on wax paper. Break apart when dry.

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Category: Take It or Leave It

About the Author (Author Profile)

Lori Kommor

Lori Kommor, Columnist/Event Chair

Lori wears many hats: writing two weekly columns, chairing The
Voice-Tribune’s events and keeping the staff fed with a stash of snacks
Willy Wonka would envy. She’s a fervent high school soccer fan (go
Collegiate!) and has the raspy voice to prove it after game days.

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