Merry Christmas! Matt and I started off the holiday with a lunch party for work last Friday and then kept the fun going with dinner at my family’s house on Sunday, Christmas Eve dinner at our house, and Christmas Day dinner with Matt’s family. At some point in the future I will post about the dinner that Matt and I made on Christmas Eve (standing rib roast with yorkshire puddings… YUM!) but for now I want to focus on some sweeter holiday treats that make great gifts for friends and family. Here they are…
Oh yes, those are candied nuts! Sugary, salty pecans with just a hint of cayenne, to be precise. Don’t they look delicious?!? I found the recipe over at Smitten Kitchen and after a quick trip to Target for some walnuts and pecans we were ready to start cooking. These candied nuts are really easy to make, by the way. We simply coated the nuts with egg white, stirred in the sugars and spices, and baked them in the oven for 30 minutes. After the nuts cooled completely I packaged them in jelly jars with a red bow and they were ready for gifting!
Candied Walnuts and Pecans (from Smitten Kitchen)
You will need…
2/3 cup White Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or hot smoked paprika)
1 Egg White
1 tablespoon Water
1 lb. Walnuts or Pecans (or any other type of nut you want to candy)
Combine the sugars, salt, cinnamon and cayenne in a bowl and stir well. Place the egg white and water in a separate large bowl and beat with a fork for approximately 30 seconds until the mixture is frothy. Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and stir to coat evenly, then sprinkle on the sugar mixture and stir well until combined.
Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the nuts in a preheated 300°F oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the nuts are done baking separate them (we transferred them to another piece of parchment paper on the counter) and allow them to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until you are ready to eat them (or gift them!). I found that one pound of nuts filled approximately 4 1/2 ten-ounce Ball quilted jelly jars.
Peppermint Bark was one of the first recipes that Matt and I ever made together. I remember the experience clearly… we were home from college on winter break in my mom’s kitchen and we slaved away over a double-boiler for what seemed like hours until our dark chocolate and white chocolate mixtures reached the perfect level of melted-ness. Then we layered the chocolates (making sure to give the dark chocolate time to set before adding the white) and topped our masterpiece with crushed candy canes. The resulting bark was decadent and well worth our time, but it was not easy to make!
Fast forward to present day… It’s now quite common for Matt and me to spend an hour or two in the kitchen making dinner on a weeknight so that peppermint bark no longer seems like such a daunting task. Nevertheless, we still jump at the chance to make easy recipes every now and then. That’s where this Magic Mint Chocolate Bark comes in. This delicious, fancy-looking bark literally took about 6 minutes to make and no double boilers required!
I first saw this recipe when Anne from UniHomeaker.com posted it a few weeks ago. I immediately decided that we had to make this mint chocolate bark ASAP. Check out Anne’s post on this chocolately treat… she used crushed pretzels in her bark and it looks delicious!
** Magic Mint Chocolate Bark **
(recipe from the back of the Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsel bag)
You will need…
Two 10 oz. bags Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels
1 handful Roasted, Salted Almonds, roughly chopped
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and pour all of the chocolate and mint morsels onto it. Spread the morsels so they are all touching and arranged in a single layer. Place the pan in a preheated 325°F oven for 2-3 minutes or until the morsels look wet and shiny. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately swirl the chips together using the end of a butter knife.
Distribute the almonds evenly over the swirled chocolate. To help the almonds sink into the bark, raise the pan about 3″ above the counter and drop it back onto the counter. Repeat this process a few more times. Refrigerate the bark for an hour or until completely cooled. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Enjoy!