Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28, 2012

Oh my...this week has flown by and here it is Friday already!  I almost missed posting!  Thankfully I have 2 wonderful recipes from the holidays with my in-laws.  It is tradition to make quite a few types of Christmas cookies, as I am sure it is with many of you.  You should see the cookie trays that my grandmother-in-law puts together.  Traditional treats like fudge and thumbprint cookies, but then specialties like bird-nest cookies, chocolate crinkles, apple pie bars, and so many others.  This year there were even her chocolate chip cookies just in case some of the great-grandkids weren't feeling too adventurous. You cannot go wrong with one of those!

This week I am highlighting two of my favorites, Peanut Butter Brittle and Three Layer Christmas Bars.  The layer bars are from the famous cookie platter, but to be fair, the peanut butter brittle was found by my mother-in-law years ago in the paper.  It is really soft, and not at all like your traditional brittle.  It can be a bit of a two person job in the final stages, though, because you need to work quickly in order to get the mixture on your pan.  If you do try this one, maybe the first time you make it enlist some help.  If you do make it, I bet there will be a second, and a third, and a fourth time...

Well, the next time we meet it will be 2013!  I am just so surprised that the year is coming to a close.  I hope for you a new year better than the last, even if you had a wonderful 2012.  We here around our dinner table are looking forward to an excellent, but hopefully uneventful, new year.

Give your loved ones a hug, and try a new recipe!

New Recipes
Peanut Butter Brittle
Three Layer Christmas Bars

Three layer Christmas bars

* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 5 tbsp baking cocoa
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 1 egg
* 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
* 1 cup coconut 
* 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts of your choice (walnuts is what we've used)
* 1/4 softened butter
* 3 tbsp milk
* 2 tbsp instant vanilla pudding
* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 1 tbsp butter
* 4 oz chocolate

1. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and egg in the top of a double boiler.   Cook until set.
2. Add the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and nuts.  Blend well and press firmly into a 9x9 pan.
3. Mix softened butter, milk, vanilla pudding and powdered sugar.  If too stiff, and an additional splash of milk. Spread this layer over the crust and refrigerate until firm (about 15 minutes).
4. Melt 1 tbsp butter and 4 oz of chocolate in a double boiler. Spread evenly over the pudding layer and let it set.  Once set, cut into bars and enjoy.

The top layer is just a very thin layer of chocolate.And in the pudding layer, it will be thick, but if you think it is really tough to mix, feel free to add a bit more milk.  You don't want it to be runny, though!  These are best kept in the fridge.  They are fine left out, but are really good cold!

Peanut Butter Brittle

* 2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 1/2 cup light corn syrup
* 2 cups salted peanuts
* 2 to 2 1/2 cups peanut butter
* 1/2 tsp vanilla
* 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Combine sugar and water in heavy saucepan. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in corn syrup; cook to the hard crack stage (300 degrees).  Watch the mixture carefully to prevent scorching.
2. Mix peanuts, peanut butter and vanilla.  Butter a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
3. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat, immediately add the peanut butter mixture.  Stir in the baking soda and pour onto the buttered sheet.  Quickly spread the candy with a fork.
4. Once cool, break or cut into pieces.

This is a tradition in my husband's family.  It is a soft peanut brittle and delicious!  It is a challenge to make this on your own, so you will probably want to enlist a helper, especially for the quick stirring at the end and pouring it onto the pan.  You will need to boil water in the saucepan you used in order to remelt any candy that didn't get onto the sheet pan.