Sunday, December 16, 2012

Homemade Brittle

I LOVE Christmas. I love everything about it. More importantly, I love Christmas FOOD! I like making special little treats too. My kids call them “goodies.” We LOVE receiving goodies and we also LOVE making our signature goodies to deliver to people over the Holidays. I’m a brittle person. I basically like any kind of brittle. Rich, crisp, crunchy, chocolaty brittle.

My all time favorite is the California Brittle from See’s. You can go ahead and buy me a 2 pound box of that for Christmas:) I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I originally decided to make a brittle this year at the request of Justin’s Boss. He gave me his specific specifications of his perfect brittle, which happened to be mine too!! There MUST be almonds. There MUST be a thick layer of chocolate. Now get the good stuff…none of this Nestle chocolate chip business. The best is Ghirardelli or Guittard, which you can find in almost any grocery store. Splurge…believe me

. I have to admit, it was extremely easy and by far the best brittle I’ve had. Even the hubs loved it and he doesn’t like almonds OR brittle. So there you have it. It’s easy AND delicious therefore you must make it. Now get to work!

1 cup raw whole almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 (12oz) bag milk chocolate chips (4 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Toast almonds by spreading them in a single layer on a plate and microwaving on high for 3-5 minutes (stir after each minute).  On foil-lined baking sheet, arrange almonds in a single layer over an area measuring approx. 13x9 inches. I do this by getting a jelly roll pan and lining half of it with foil, folding the foil up in the middle of the pan to create an edge.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Cook over med-high heat, stirring constantly with a clean, dry wooden spoon till butter is melted.  Continue cooking and stirring for approx. 7-10 min. until candy is the color of the brown skin of the almonds; it will start smoking slightly. You need to work quickly at this point so that the toffee doesn’t burn. As soon as it reaches the almond color, immediately pour candy, without scraping pan, over almonds, covering all nuts.  Sprinkle 2 cups of chocolate chips evenly over the hot candy.  Cover with another baking sheet and wait 1 minute. The chocolate should be completely melted. Spread the melted chocolate with a rubber spatula until it is smooth over top of the toffee.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup pecans.  Let cool completely. 

After the toffee is cool and the chocolate is hardened, Pick it up (it should be a solid piece now), remove the foil, and turn it over. Melt 2 more cups of chocolate chips in the microwave in 15 second increments and pour over top of the bottom of the toffee. Immediately sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of pecans. Wait until the second layer of chocolate is cooled and solid and break into pieces. You can only do 1 layer of chocolate, but it’s best with both layers:) Then wrap it up and pass it out to your friends for the Holidays and they’ll be begging you for the recipe! The first time I made it I think I literally ate half of the pan. It’s TOO DANG GOOD!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Snickers Cupcakes

I love a good Snickers now and then. So then I though…why not a Snickers cupcake?!
So I made some. And they’re my new favorite:) A moist, fluffy cake filled with caramel then topped off with a light, whipped peanut butter buttercream.

1 box devil’s food cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 t vanilla

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 t vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 T whipping cream

1 can Dulce de Leche

2-3 regular sized Snickers bars for garnish

For the Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, combine all cake ingredients except the cake mix and mix until smooth. Stir in cake mix. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake about 17 minutes or until cupcake springs back when tapped. It’s RARE that I bake mine longer than this. Make sure you know your oven and DON’T over bake!!

Once cooled, open the can of Dulce de Leche. Microwave in a bowl until warm and loose. Pour into a piping bag, fitted with the fill tip. Fill the cupcakes with the Dulce de Leche.

For the Frosting:
With the whisk attachment, beat the butter until basically white – about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides often. Add the peanut butter and beat another 2 minutes. Add vanilla and slowly add the powdered sugar until frosting becomes thick. Add whipping cream until desired consistency is reached. You want to make sure you add enough whipping cream to get the frosting nice and fluffy and not dense. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Use the rest of the Dulce de Leche and drizzle over the frosting. Top with a small piece of Snickers. Enjoy!!!

*From Your Cup of Cake