Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

Christmas and the holidays is without a doubt a very stressful time of the year. Christmas cards, church, shopping, parties, decorating, dusting, cleaning, cooking, presents, and more presents. I'm not going to talk about the religious aspect of the holidays, since it's different for everyone. What I will talk about is sharing the holidays with your loved ones, family, friends, and others.
I recently received an email from a friend who informed me that we would not be receiving a Christmas card this year. It wasn't personal, she said, it was just something that was not going to happen this year. Bummer, we always used Christmas cards that were sent to us to decorate for the holidays. I haven't purchased a card in years and prefer using photographs that I took personally to make my own cards.

Chicago Christkindlemarket 2009
To help you get through the stress of the holidays, why not dust off your holiday drink recipes as a starter? This recipe will fill your home with the wonderful aromas of the holidays, guaranteed to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling all over. Warm and fuzzy without any alcohol! The Holiday Wassail was something I learned in my younger years while bartending at a suburban restaurant. It is a drink that the senior clientele just loved. The recipe is simple and you won't believe the aroma. 
Holiday Wassail (non-alcoholic version) 

3          cans     frozen apple juice
1          can       frozen cranberry juice
4          cans     water
1/2       tsp.      cinnamon
1/8       tsp.       ground cloves
1          tsp.       allspice


In a piece of cheesecloth wrap the cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Drop the cheesecloth packet into a large pot. Empty the frozen juices into the pot and add the water. Mix well and heat the Wassail until hot. Remove the cheesecloth spice packet. When it smells and tastes just right ladle the hot Wassail into mugs. Put on some holiday music and serve.
Now I'm sure that one or two of you just might want something with a little more kick to it. Just add a little rum (plain or spiced) to your drink and enjoy!

© TMelle 1998-2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peppermint Bark

Ambrosia Milk Chocolate

Ambrosia Alabaster White Confectionery Coating
In 2007 my wife had some left over candy canes. She put them into the freezer and forgot about them. While shopping at a food co-op in Wisconsin we found that they were selling broken 1-1/4 lb. blocks of Ambrosia® Milk Chocolate and Alabaster White Confectionery coating. We made each separately although you can layer the two flavors and then top with crushed candy canes. The remaining candy canes were used for hot chocolate.

Broken Candy Canes
1.25 lbs. Milk Chocolate (broken into pieces)
1.25 lbs. White Chocolate (broken into pieces)
10 whole Candy canes (broken into small pieces)

Break the chocolate into smaller pieces and set to the side. Divide the candy canes into two plastic bags, five in each. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin crush the candy canes in each bag. Line a cookie sheet with sheet with parchment, or waxed paper. Break the dark and white chocolate into smaller pieces so that they melt quickly. Place the chocolate pieces into a double boiler that has been brought to a boil and then reduced to a simmer. As the chocolate melts, continue stirring until the chocolate is smooth.
Add crushed peppermint
Using a fine mesh strainer held over the melted chocolate, pour the crushed candy into the strainer, shaking to get incorporate the candy can dust into the milk chocolate. Stir until well blended. Set the larger crushed candy cane pieces to the side.
Sprinkle on candy canes
Pour the melted chocolate evenly on the prepared cookie sheet and smooth it out using a silicone spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate evenly with remaining crushed candy pieces. Let the peppermint bark stand about 1 hour or until it hardens. Clean up the double boiler and any spoons or spatulas’s that you have used. Repeat the process using the white chocolate and the remaining candy canes.
Ready for bagging or tins
Variation: After you pour out the milk chocolate on the sheet, do not add the candy cane pieces, Allow the milk chocolate to cool completely before melting the white chocolate. Once the milk chocolate is cool, melt the white chocolate. Pour the white chocolate over the milk chocolate and spread evenly. Sprinkle the white chocolate evenly with remaining crushed candy pieces. Let the peppermint bark stand until it hardens. When the bark is hard, break it into pieces and serve, or wrap in plastic bags or metal tins for gift giving. Enjoy
Peppermint Bark - Yield: 2-1/2 lbs.

QUESTION: What smells remind you of Christmas?

 More to follow

© TMelle 1998-2011