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Christmas

Candy, Christmas

Caramel Peanut Butter Cups

December 5, 2014

‘Tis the season for holiday get togethers! And this weekend we have three – three – all of which we’re hosting (or co-hosting). I secretly love having holiday parities. I think it’s because neither Adam or I have a ‘staff party’ of sorts to go to, so I feel like we miss out. Since I’m a teacher on call, though I work everyday, I’m at different schools all the time. I don’t have my ‘own’ school that I belong to, which if fine by me because I love being a substitute right now. With Adam working out of town, there isn’t a staff party for his crew (although I’m not sure they could if they wanted, seeing as how there are a few hundred of them there). 

And hosting a party means I get to bake up a storm – oh, and decorate. The house is wrapped up in decorations.

Tonight we have a neighbourhood party that we’re co-hosting with friends, tomorrow we have another party at our house with friends, and sunday we are having an early Christmas get together with our  family because we will be in BALI for Christmas! I can’t even believe we’re actually going! T-17 days!!!!

These Caramel Peanut Butter Cups are little bites of heaven – a dark chocolate shell, sprinkled with sea salt or crushed peanuts, and filled with a creamy, caramel-y silky peanut butter centre. It’s the grown up version of the beloved peanut butter cup. It’s almost as if a Rolo and a Peanut Butter Cup had a baby – this is what it would be. Only healthier, made with dark chocolate, natural peanut butter and dates as a sweetener. 

I made about 4 dozen of these for a holiday bake exchange last weekend. They’re great because they require no baking, and very little prep. I use a mini muffin tin, which can hold 24 liners at a time. This makes for a fast production line. 

You can also make the other version from last year,  Salted Almond Butter & Pretzel Cups.

 

Caramel Peanut Butter Cups
Yields 24
A decadent grown up version of the peanut butter cup - naturally sweetened with dates, sprinkled with sea salt.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of dark chocolate chunks/chocolate chips
  2. 1 tsp coconut oil
  3. 1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter
  4. 4-5 Medjool dates
  5. sea salt (optional)
  6. crushed peanuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. 1. Line a mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners, set aside.
  2. 2. Melt dark chocolate and coconut oil in doubler boiler, or place in small bowl on top of shallow pot of simmering water, until completely melted, stir.
  3. 3. Drop a teaspoon full of melted chocolate into bottom of mini cupcake liner. Repeat for all liners, tap pan slightly to evenly spread out chocolate. Place in fridge to chill for a few minutes until hardened.
  4. 4. In a food processor add medjool dates along with a Tbs. of water. Pulse until the dates make a paste. Add in the peanut butter and pulse again to mix.
  5. 5. Remove muffin tin from fridge and, using pastry bag, fill the peanut butter mixture into the centre of the chocolate disk. Alternatively you can spoon it in.
  6. 6. Spoon enough of remaining melted chocolate on top of peanut butter centre until completely covered. Sprinkle tops with coarse sea salt. Return finished tray to the fridge to chill completely.
  7. These can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for late night cravings. They are even better cold.
Notes
  1. Note: if not using medjool dates, soften your dates in hot water for 5 minutes, drain.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
 

Christmas

Holiday Baking Roundup 2014

November 30, 2014

There is something so magical about the first snowfall of the season. 

Friday night while watching a movie with one of my friends, and snacking on our charcuterie board (the best), the soft white flakes began falling down. We took a peak outside and were happily surprised to see how much had accumulated over the past couple hours. 

As a kid it was always so exciting when the first snow fell – waking up to a winter wonderland was everything.  And, if you knew it was supposed to snow, you would leap out of bed and tear open the blinds to see if it really had snowed. You’d race to get your snow gear on and bound out to the fresh mounds of snow to make snowmen and snow angels.

Now, as an adult, I get equally as excited about the first snowfall. However, for much different reasons. First, I’m happy it was on a Friday night so I didn’t have to get up and drive to work the next day because, lets face it, people freak out at the tiniest bit of snow. And second, instead of running out to enjoy the snow, I am happier to stay indoors, cozy up with a warm cup of tea, a good book or show and watch the snow fall around outside. 

What better way to spend a snowy day inside than by baking. I’ve rounded up a few of this past years favourite holiday recipes. Some new, some old and some gluten free and/or vegan! Something to please everyones taste buds :)

1. Italian Pizzelle Cookies – crisp, light and delicately sweet.

2. Vegan Brownies - bake them in a larger pan, cut into smaller squares to please a crowd. 

3. Personalized Gingerbread Cookies - monogrammed cookies means everyone gets one :)

4. Flourless Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars – fluffy and light, gluten free. 

5. Fudgey Raspberry Brownies – dense, and deliciously decadent. 

6. Christmas Toffee Crack(le) – addictive, salty and sweet – amazing 

7. Flourless Almond Brownies – made with almond meal, dense and fudge-like

8.  Almond Butter Blossom Cookies – an almond-butter take on the traditional thumbprint classic

9. Nanaimo Bar Bites – one of my favourite holiday treats, just dressed up a little different

10. Salted Almond Butter & Pretzel Cups – just like their peanut-y partner, these almond butter cups are a bite of heaven.

11. Pumpkin Biscotti – a seasonal twist on another italian classic – drizzle in chocolate for an extra treat.

Bars & Squares, Candy, Christmas, Holidays

Chocolate Toffee Crack(ers)

December 21, 2013

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 The last weekend before Christmas – and I woke up this morning feeling not so great. I already had one cold this month, which turned into an ear infection. I’m hoping it’s just the result of walking around in the cold windy snow yesterday. I’ll be popping vitamin C for the next few days before the big day. 

On the plus side – I got all of my Christmas wrapping done yesterday – including some last minute gift pick ups. All that’s left is to get ready for our Annual Christmas Cousins get-together tomorrow.

Every year Adam’s cousins try to get together for Christmas and this year we’re having it at our new Club House – which is perfect since it’s easier to have a large group of people there than in our townhouse – although we have done it before. Plus, there’s a pool table in the Club House. However, someone has taken all of the pool cues – or – they have put them inside a locked closet. Hopefully we have some for tomorrow’s get together. 

I’ll be bringing most of my baking – It is currently taking up real estate in our freezer and we have no room for even the ice tray anymore. 

I have made this ‘toffee’ style cracker dessert before, only with saltine crackers. I’ve seen both versions, and I actually prefer it with the Graham Crackers. It’s a better, thicker base than the saltine’s, and I think the Salt overpowers the chocolate – the base needs to be fairly bland for such a sweet and decadent topping such as toffee and chocolate. Here I used bought Graham Crackers, however if you have the time (and I suggest you do) you can totally make your own. I have a recipe for Graham Crackers here, and they are very simple and taste amazing when you make them yourself. 

graham cracker toffee

The recipe is affectionately called ‘Christmas crack’ – and the title is deserving. It is mildly addicting – but like I said, with the more neutral graham crust it isn’t tooth-sickeningly sweet. It’s just the right amount. The Toffee portion also isn’t the hard-as-rock toffee, more of a caramel-smooth toffee. 

It’s a super simple recipe – lay tray with graham crackers, boil the sugar and butter, bake then spread with chocolate. You can sprinkle anything on top – I like the combination of nuts (walnuts or pecans would be good) You can even package the crackers up for a sweet gift. 

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Chocolate Toffee Crack(ers)
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup butter
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. Enough Whole Graham Crackers to Line baking tray (about 1/2 package)
  4. 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate, chopped
  5. 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. 2. Arrange whole graham crackers to fit the bottom of the pan in a single layer.
  3. 3. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  4. 4. Remove saucepan from heat and pour mixture evenly over the graham cracker layer. Spread with a spoon to cover. Bake in preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. 5. Remove pan from oven and allow bubbling to subside. Place chocolate chunks on top of toffee layer. Wait two minutes for chocolate to melt, then use an offset spatula to gently spread chocolate in an even layer on top of the graham crackers.
  6. 6. Sprinkle chocolate with chopped walnuts.
  7. 7. Allow to cool to room temperature. Break into chunks.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/