Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A few of my Favorite Christmas Things

So, the holidays end up being complete insanity for my little business. This year I had to stop taking orders the first week in December, there's only so much my little easy bake kitchen can fire out. And this little kitchen consists of a toddler, a 55 lb dog, and Gigi (who's usually into the sauce by the end of the day from the stress!). I can't blame her really, and let's be honest, I'm usually the initiator. Well, the holidays are about sharing and being nice to our fellow man, so here's a little goodwill from Southern Baking Company. These make awesome gifts for neighbors (yes Katie Gill, get your nuts on :) ! Enjoy!

Big Ol' Batch of Candied Nuts
(You need a big crock pot for this, if you have a smaller one, just halve the recipe. Also, it helps to have a giant mixing bowl.)

9 Cups Pecan Pieces (I buy these in bulk and mine are medium sized)
8 Cups Whole Almonds
1 Cup Melted Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
1 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp. Ground Allspice
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
3 tsps. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger

-Preheat the Crockpot on High for 15 minutes.
-Melt the butter in the microwave (usually about 1 minute).
-Dump all your nuts into a large bowl. (Honestly you can use any combo of nuts you want- I happen to buy almonds and pecans in bulk so that's what I used. You can definitely use your favorite though. The key is to get the right ratio of butter to powdered sugar. If you have nuts that are smaller, you may end up using more powdered sugar to get the right candied consistency- I'll get to that!)
-Pour the melted butter over the nuts and sprinkle with the Kosher Salt.
-Dump the nut butter mixture into the crockpot
-Add the powdered sugar, stirring to coat evenly. Cover and slow cook on high for 15 minutes.
-Reduce the heat to low and slow cook, uncovered, for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally (probably check on your nuts every 20-30 minutes), until the nuts are coated with a nice glaze and are lightly toasted- be very careful not to burn them!
-In another small bowl, combine the spices. Pour the nuts out of the crock pot back into your giant bowl. Sprinkle the spices over the nuts and mix them really well. (I left my nuts out overnight, in the bowl, uncovered. I found that this extra time just hanging out in the bowl made the nuts really really good.)

If you find that your nuts are too buttery- it may be due to the ratio (nut vs. butter). Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to thicken things up, trust your gut, you'll know what to do during the 2-3 hours of roasting.

Holiday Popcorn
4 Bags of buttered popcorn, popped
2 Cups of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
2 Cups of M&M's
2 Cups of Dry Roasted Peanuts
14 Blocks of Ghiradelli Candy Making & Dipping Bar (You could also use Almond Bark)
Salt to taste
Festive sprinkles

Pour the popcorn in a large bowl, sprinkle in peanut butter chips, M&M's, and peanuts. Melt the chocolate and pour over the popcorn mixture. Stir to combine. Spread popcorn out on wax paper and sprinkle with salt and sprinkles. Let dry completely.

You could also add a bag of Christmas Candy Corn to this- that would really put it over the top, but I couldn't find any this year! Enjoy!

And always remember, a toddler makes a great chef! :)