I did not do my traditional pre-Christmas cookie-baking or candy-making! But I did make one batch of this very unusual Christmas treat. Dark chocolate, tart pomegranate arils, and bits of crystallized ginger combine to make a much healthier holiday treat than most. It went together quickly, and everyone who has tried it likes it. I am sure it will not replace fudge, gingerbread houses, and German butter balls, but I am pleased to add it to my file of Christmas recipes.
10 ounces good quality dark bittersweet chocolate (60% Cacao)
1 cup pomegranate arils (can be purchased in small containers at Costco, or seed your own, much more work!)
1/4 cup crystallized ginger bits (Penzey;s) or 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger pieces
pinch of sea salt
Prepare small baking sheet (that will fit in refrigerator) by lining with silicone mat.
Carefully melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. If using microwave, place chocolate in shallow microwave safe dish, cook on high until chocolate begins to melt, about 1 minute, stir with rubber spatula, then cook at 15 SECOND intervals until chocolate is soft. The chocolate may not lose its shape, so check often. Quickly stir until smooth, add pomegranate arils, ginger bits, and salt. Mix gently before spreading into 8 X 10 inch rectangle on baking sheet. Place in refrigerator at least 30 minutes or until firm. Break into pieces and store in container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I first learned to bake pumpkin bread in 1966 when we moved in our first house and I learned how wonderful neighbors can be! Amon and Lucille White lived next door. I believe this recipe came from Lucille, although it was very popular among others on South Little John Circle. For many years I baked it as we did then – in three/1 pound coffee cans, so the loaves were lovely and round and sliced beautifully. Of course, then 1 pound coffee cans became smaller than 1 pound, and baking in any kind of can became questionable so now I make this in 2 loaf pans. This is guaranteed to make your kitchen smell like Christmas.
Pumpkin Nut Bread
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can pureed pumpkin
1 cup oil (original recipe called for Mazola)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup chopped nuts
Grease loaf pans and fill half full (1966 in 3 one pound coffee cans) and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until done. Turn upside down on rack when removed from oven and let cool before removing from pan.
On the morning of St. Nicholas Day, December 6 this week, I made a European treat, a Kringle. It is simply a choux pastry which is baked and glazed. A variety of nuts or chopped fruit may be added. This one has almond flavoring in the dough as well as glaze, and is topped with sliced almonds. Although the water, butter, and flour are mixed quickly by hand, I highly recommend using an electric stand mixer for beating in the eggs one at a time – this develops alot of muscle if you do it by hand.
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
dash of salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to boil, then remove from heat. Add flour all at once and stir quickly until mixture forms a ball. Transfer mixture to bowl of electric stand mixer and set paddle to slow. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add almond extract and salt, then turn mixer to medium and beat until shiny and well blended. Spread the dough into circle (about 10 inches) on buttered baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Do not overbake. While Kringle is baking, mix glaze by combining all ingredients and stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm Kringle and sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.
A recipe given to me by a neighbor whose name I sadly can no longer remember stayed with our family long after the neighbor (or we) moved! This is a treat we often make at Christmas, but it is delicious for brunch or a light lunch anytime of the year. The English muffin halves don’t need to be cut if it is more than an appetizer. It is one of my most often requested treats. I like to keep a Ziploc bag of Crab Puffs in the freezer this time of year to pull out when needed
1 5 ounce jar of Old English cheese spread
1/2 cup soft butter
1 can king crab meat
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt or to taste
2 Tablespoons chopped Parsley
1 Tablespoons lemon juice
6 count package English muffins
If you want to make these more colorful, add 2 Tablespoons chopped pimiento.
Combine ingredients and spread on English muffins. Place on flat surface in freezer for 30 minutes or longer. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and cut each muffin half into fourths. Bake for 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Crab Puffs may be made ahead and stored in Ziploc bags in the freezer. .