Shhh, this is ‘my’ secret fudge recipe. The biggest secret is how little time it takes to make something this delicious. Confession: Though I usually make this with walnuts as per the directions, this year, in an effort to make more ‘nut-free’ goodies, I swapped the walnuts for Chippits Holiday Chips. Pretty good! And very festive.
LINE 8-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; grease foil.
Microwave semi-sweet chocolate and 2/3 can condensed milk in medium microwaveable bowl on MEDIUM for 2 min., stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Add nuts (or festive chips); mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate while preparing the top layer.
PLACE white chocolate and remaining milk in medium microwaveable bowl. Microwave on MEDIUM for 1 min 30 sec., stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Pour over fudge layer in pan. (I added extra chips to the top)
REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Cut into squares to serve.
I’m really seeing a lot of chocolate bark this year – everyone from Starbucks to the corner grocer seems to be selling it for Christmas. It warms my heart a little to see it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve received bark in my stocking. As a little girl, the Laura Secord Almond bark was there, year after year. Maybe Santa will remember this and drop some in this Christmas for old times sake.
Even if he doesn’t, the bark tradition continues around here. I find it to be an easy way to add a little something ‘extra’ to holiday treat plates. I make mine very thin, but you can use more chocolate in a smaller pan to create a thicker bark.
First is Candy Cane Marble Bark.
In a microwave save bowl, melt 8 oz roughly chopped semisweet bakers chocolate in microwave at 50% for a min. Stir and continue to heat at 50% for 30 sec more (repeat as necessary) stirring to thoroughly mix and melt the chocolate.
Repeat with 8oz of white chocolate.
Meanwhile, crush candy canes to make about 3/4 c.
When white and dark chocolate are melted, spread in touching stripes on a parchment paper lined baking tray.
I bang the tray on the counter a few times to try to evenly distribute and thin out the chocolate. Sprinkle candy cane all over.
Then, drag a butter knife in straight lines across the stripes to ‘pull’ the white chocolate down into the dark.
Let set in the fridge or on the counter overnight and snap into pieces once the chocolate is well set.
Here are a few variations. The chocolate is melted the same way for each.
S’mores Bark – with mini-marshmallows and teddy grahams.
For this one, melt 8 oz dark chocolate as above. Stir in 1 Cup mini marshmallows. Completely coating the marshmallows makes this bark WAY better. Then stir in 1/2 Cup teddy grahams and spread onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle another 1/4 Teddy Grahams onto the top and let set.
Ok – next is Oreo Cookie Bark
This one is extra easy and kids love it.
Melt 8 oz chocolate as described above. Stir in 1 Cup roughly chopped Oreo cookies. Spread onto parchment paper prepared cookie sheet. Let set.
Lastly, we have White Chocolate Almond Cranberry Bark
Melt 8 oz white chocolate as directed above. Stir in 1/2 Cup almonds and 1/2 Cup dried cranberries (in the photos I used 1 Cup and I feel that’s too much. Feel free to find your own perfect amount).
Spread onto parchment paper lined pan and let set.
And that’s it. Chocolate bark 4 ways. You can easily make all 4 in about 45 min if you need some instant gratification. Of course, you can’t really enjoy them till they set, but the fridge is your friend to make quick work of that!
Magic Bars are an oldie but a goodie. These combine tart cranberries, sweet coconut, gooey marshmallows and crunchy nuts. Delicious and so easy, Magic Bars are a great choice for baking with kids.
You can find the recipe online here.
Prep Time: 10 minutes plus baking time
Preheat To: 350ºF (180ºC)*
Serving: 24 bars
2 cups (500 mL) graham wafer crumbs
3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, melted
1 can (300 mL) Regular or Low Fat Eagle Brand® sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped pecans
3/4 cup (175 mL) white, semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 cup (250 mL) dried cranberries
1 cup (250 mL) flaked coconut
1 cup (250 mL) mini-marshmallows
1. Combine graham crumbs with butter; press evenly onto parchment-lined 13×9″ (3.5 L) baking pan.
2. Pour 2/3 Eagle Brand over crumbs.
3. Sprinkle with pecans, chips, cranberries, coconut and marshmallows; press down firmly. Pour remaining Eagle Brand overtop.
4. Bake in preheated 350ºF (180ºC) oven* 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool thoroughly and cut into bars. (Store loosely covered at room temperature.)
*325ºF (160ºC) for glass dish
Ok – now we’re really cookin’. Or baking, or whatever. Yesterday I said I’d give you a little something that would help use up any extra melty chocolate. These little fellas are the #1 cookie in my arsenal. Gooey, chocolatey. And they really look impressive. Again, not a huge batch – about 36 cookies, but so rich and decadent, that seems to be just enough. These also need a little fridge time for the dough so the delayed gratification only serves to make them sweeter.
Yield: 36 Cookies
Prep 30 mins Chill 2 hrs Bake 350°F 10 mins per batch
1. Separate egg; place yolk and white in separate bowls. Cover and chill egg white until needed. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat well. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.
2. In another bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well combined. Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until easy to handle.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a small saucepan heat and stir caramels and whipping cream over low heat until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
4. Slightly beat reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in egg white, then in pecans to coat. Place balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
5. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are firm. If cookie centers puff during baking, repress with your thumb. Spoon melted caramel mixture into indentations of cookies. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool. (If necessary, reheat caramel mixture to keep it spoonable.)
6. In another saucepan heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly. Drizzle chocolate mixture over tops of cookies.* Let stand until chocolate is set.
I decided I’d take this delicious dough and invent a cookie of my own. This is one case where the idea was better than the end result. Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious. But the candycane melted and made the cookie part very squishy and sticky. Letting them cool on the parchment greatly improved the outcome.
I give you Chocolate-Peppermint Mushies
I made the dough as above, rolled in crushed candy cane instead of nuts, put a junior mint in the thumbprint and drizzled with white chocolate. Follow my lead at your own risk on these little fellers.
Ok, one cookie down. Now for something that takes a little more commitment. Homemade Peppermint Patties. I know I posted about these a few months ago, but when looking to the Top 12, you can’t leave these out. They always get tons of compliments – I mean really, who knew you could make your own peppermint patties? So, so good.
I usually let the innards sit overnight so they have a little snap. And, I find they take more chocolate than you think. The dipping is a real pain. You’ll want to quit about 10 times. But later, once you’re polishing off the last one, you’ll wish you hadn’t given up and tossed a bunch of undipped middles out. Trust me. Keep on dipping.
Remember to use bakers chocolate or candy coating so the chocolate hardens nicely. And, (like I really need to say this) be sure to save some for guests. I know it’s hard, but you’re not supposed to eat them all yourself. You can find this recipe online here on the Eagle Brand website.
1 can (300ml) Regular Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed Milk
1tbsp (15ml) peppermint extract (I add a little more to make them extra minty)
6 cups (1.5L) confectioners’ sugar (that’s icing sugar)
1 1/2lbs chocolate candy coating or dark or semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted.
1. Combine Eagle Brand and peppermint extract. Add sugar, beating on low speed until smooth and well blended. Turn mixture onto surface sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.
2. Knead lightly to form a smooth ball. Shape into 1 inch (2.54cm) balls. Place 2cm paart o n parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten each ball into a 1 1/2 inch (4cm) patty. (I used the flat bottom of a drinking glass lightly dusted with sugar.)
3. Let dry 1 hour or longer; turn over and let dry at least 1 hour. With fork, dip each patty into warm candy coating (draw fork lightly across rim of pan to remove excess coating). Invert onto wax-paper-lined baking sheets; let stand until firm. Store covered at room temperature or in refrigerator.
4. Try very hard not to eat them all as soon as they’ve hardened.
Tomorrow, we’ll tackle cookies that you can make to use up the leftover chocolate after you dip the patties.
Are you ready to get baking? I’m digging deep into my legendary Christmas Baking Binder to bring you my top 12 Treats. Cookies, bars, brownies, bark, fudge and candy. We’re gonna make a little of everything.
In my younger days I would make 30 types of treats and give goodie baskets to a rather long list of hungry and happy recipients. Sweet! Now that time is short, I’ve cut it down to my top 12, and bake mostly for family. After all this baking, I’ve learned a thing or two.
Before we begin, here are 10 things you should keep in mind when you set out to do a big bake.
1. If you’re baking on a budget, remember chocolate goodies are spendy. Fill baskets with cookies and just a few chocolate treats to keep the cost down.
2. Read through the recipes you’re planning to make and make a master shopping list. Spots like Bulk Barn have many of the things you’ll need, and if you’ve done your homework you can get your shopping done in no time at all and for much less than multiple late night trips to the grocery store.
3. Read the recipes all the way through before you start. There’s nothing worst than setting out to make a quick batch of cookies and realizing you need to chill the dough overnight.
4. Wear a short sleeved shirt. Trying to take off a sweater when covered in chocolate and flour is the worst.
5. Tie your hair back at the start. Same reason. Pushing your hair back with messy hands is a pain.
6. Parchment paper really is the best to line trays, and can be used more than once.
7. Pay attention to the part in the recipe that talks about cooling and when to transfer the treats. Your cookies will be better looking if you follow the rules.
8. Baking is not a ‘wing it’ sport. Precision delivers the best results. Measure carefully and you’ll find things bake as expected and taste better than if you guesstimate.
9. Sometimes experiments turn out well. Go ahead and try some new things. (You’ll hear about my cookie invention later this week.)
10. Having a few cookie trays on hand makes quick work of big batches of cookies. Borrow some if you only need once a year. Preferably from someone who’ll give you a nice glass of wine when you return them. You can enjoy it with some delicious fresh baked goodies!
MOMMYDO TREAT 1: Whipped Shortbread
This is an easy recipe from The Harrowsmith Cookbook, and credit is given to Shirley Hill of Picton Ontario. It’s quick to make and is always a big hit. I’ve been making it since I was in grade school. It doesn’t go that far, so I often double it. The key to these is to really beat them between ingredients. Don’t stop when the ingredients are mixed, give them a minute or more to beat at each step.
I finish the cookies 2 ways, with a little candied cherry or with a little silver ball.
1/2 lb. Butter
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
Beat butter until light and add remaining ingredients one at a time, beating well after each addition. Roll into small balls and flatten with a fork (I JUST DROPPED MINE).
Bake at 300
F for 30 min.
Makes 3 dozen
Wow! Everything seems to get done at the last minute around here lately. But I’m happy to say that BOTH kids will have an advent calendar this year. I squeezed out an extra day, as the boy is visiting grandparents tonight, so although it’s not hung, it’s ready to go.
I got the idea from Lindsay over at Little House Blog a few years ago here and have enjoyed filling it ever since. Here it is handing last winter.
I needed to make one for Obi so I went back to Little House Blog and used this free printable to create a second set of bags.
I love the colours and set the numbers off to the side to give it a modern feel.
They’re all done and ready to hang.
His will be filled with the contents of a LEGO advent calendar and hers will be filled with baby things like socks, headbands and some Little People.
Around here, we hang day by day to avoid the whole “Why can’t we open them all at once?” drama.
If want to make one (next year, maybe, since it’s December tomorrow) you can order the bags from Lindsay’s shop.
Oh Happy Day. December tomorrow. And we’re diving into the Christmas Baking binder to start the 12 Treats of Christmas. Are you ready to get your bake on?
I wrote an entirely different post. But when I read it, it was well… sad. You see, it was this time last year that things started to go south fast in my pregnancy. Warning signs lead to tests lead to hospital bed rest lead to more failed tests lead to worry about baby’s safety lead to emergency c-section lead to Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday in the NICU lead to home on RSV season house arrest lead to a laser focus on Obi’s delays lead to tests lead to diagnosis lead to more tests, therapies, adjusting to the new normal.
It’s been a year filled with the unknown, worry, disappointment, grief and challenges. It’s been a very, very long year. And when you stop there, it sounds like that’s all it’s been.
Which is far from the reality. As with any new baby, there have been all these tough times, but there has also been unimaginable joy. I suppose this is also the real lesson I’ve learned as a parent of a special needs child. It is true that the lows are lower. The hard times are harder than with a typical child, there’s no question. But these don’t take away from the splendour or the majesty or the joy. I think they probably make it all a little bit sweeter.
The calendar is triggering all these memories of how things went from what I expected when I was expecting to this giant uncharted sea that is Williams Syndrome. But the calendar is also signalling my most favourite time of the year. It’s easy to stay at the pity party and wallow in the woe-is-me’s, but that’s not gonna help anything AND it’s going to mean next year I’m looking back at this year as another one that fell flat.
So to try and move past what happened last year and embrace THIS season, I’ve decided to stuff my advent calendar with little reminders of all the magic that happened this year. To actually count my blessings – 25 of them – and take 25 days to reflect on what a wonderful year it’s been. Really, learning my child has Williams Syndrome is just ONE thing that happened. This also happened:
1. Our infertility journey came to an end when we welcomed the sweet baby girl that completes our family.
2. We were fortunate to spend our NICU time in an incredible environment and never worried for one minute about the love and care Obi received.
3. Although Obi ultimately didn’t become a ‘nursing’ baby, the time we spent trying was filled with sweet bonding moments.
4. My eternal newborn still has that sweet baby smell, at almost 1 year old.
5. The boy has blossomed as a loving and nurturing sibling.
6. Obi’s first smile very nearly melted me into a puddle of goo and every one since has been glorious.
7. I have learned are really good people in the world whose sole purpose is to ensure children shine.
8. I got to experience the feeling of holding a new (day-old) baby again when there had been many days I thought I never would.
9. People have been gentle with me when times have been rough.
10. My business is fine despite taking a backseat.
11. I realized how grateful I am that we live near Sick Kids.
12. Obi saw many specialists but so far has no concerning health issues.
13. Obi laughed and it was magical.
14. I learned that small babies stay ‘babies’ longer – and I love babies.
15. I took a stand against something and found others stood with me.
16. Through Mommydo, I came to feel I am not alone.
17. I got to take long walks with a sleeping baby in a stroller.
18. I got to watch a lot of great TV while a baby did not sleep at night.
19. I made new friends that I would never have met if things had been different.
20. Obi sat for the first time and I thought my heart would burst with pride.
21. I made nice with my bre.ast pump and have met the goal of 1 year of bre.ast milk for my little miss – a huge accomplishment.
22. I brought a tiny human into the world and she has changed me and all those around her for the better.
23. I learned what unconditional really means.
24. We gained a whole new ‘family’ in the Williams Syndrome community.
25. With Obi’s arrival I experienced sorrow, but not as deeply as I experienced JOY.
So my Sis (STOP READING NOW SIS) is embracing a sugar free life. But we’re both big fans of advent and this year, the Starbucks advent calendar.
But what’s the fun in opening a calendar when you can’t enjoy the spoils? So I took it up on myself to adapt the calendar to include non-food trinkets. I tried to do this on a tight budget as the calendar itself is a little spendy. So cool though…the tins are sitting on a magnetic chalk board with a simple wooden frame. Nice! You should reveal a caramel each day…but instead my sis will find all sorts of weird and wonderful things.
There are little ball magnets in there, a tea-set of erasers, post-it type notes, crafty things, little puffy nativity stickers, eye shadow, rubber bands and more. Nothing fancy for sure, but a little surprise to count down to Christmas? Love. Advent is one of my fav holiday traditions.
I don’t think I’ve ever missed a year.
I’ve continued the tradition with the boy. And now need to make a version for Obi. I’m not crazy – I know you can’t have for one and not the other, even if one is only 1. I’m on the hunt for things to fill hers with. And the bags for the creation arrived from the Penny Paper Co. today!
I’ll post about that undertaking on the weekend. I also have another great advent idea to share then too!
I just realized today that December is just around the corner, so if you’re thinking of creating an Advent project you’d better get crackin’.
Trying to decide what to dress the kids in for our Christmas cards photoshoot this week with the lovely and talented crew at barebonephoto. I’m super excited but I’m not sure I have the right outfits. There are still a few days to think about it. Do you do photo cards? Whole family or just kids or pets?