Buck-Eye Bark

What is Christmas without some good ‘ol peanut butter!?!?!?!

According to my hubby, awesome. As he doesn’t like hates loathesย  anything to do with peanuts or peanut butter. Weird, I know.ย  Oh well, I love him anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

Normally I would have at least 3 things peanut butter on my Christmas cookie list. This year: one. Numero uno.

But let me tell me, it’s so worth it.

I am a fan of peanut butter balls, or better known as in the good ‘ol state of Ohio (O-H-I-O!), buckeye’s. And as you may know, a good friend of mine, (I won’t mention any names, *cough, Beth, cough* is from Ohio and VERY proud of it!)

So, I found this recipe on, you guessed it, Pinterest! I was sold. Chocolate. Peanut butter.

My description of these is this: buckeye’s in bark form.

Another plus is that they were so easy! The hardest part, was cutting the chocolate coating. Seriously. That’s it. And if you’re man is around, make him do it…lol

Buck-eye Bark (from Live Sigma Kappa)

2 1/2 lbs chocolate candy coating
1 (16.3 oz) jar (about 2 cups) creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt half the chocolate (1 1/4 lb if you are weighing it like I did) according to package directions. I just did mine in a pot on the stove. I just kept in a low heat. Spread the melted chocolate on parchment paper line cookie sheet. Don’t spread too thin. Only 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Place in freezer until firm,

In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Blend until creamy. (it will be pretty thick) Remove the first layer of chocolate from the freezer and spread the peanut butter mixture over the chocolate. Place back in the freezer until firm.

Melt the other half of the chocolate. Spread over the peanut butter layer. Place back in the freezer until the top layer is firm.

Once firm, break the bark up into small-ish pieces using a large knife.

Store in the fridge or freezer until served.

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Flamingo, 2011

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No-Cook Mint Patties

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Today I give you another recipe that has been in my family for as long as I can remember. And although I’m not a huge fan of peppermint, these little candies are delicious and help ‘clear the palate’, if you may.

These are just so simply delicious.

I do suggest NOT using a mixer. I tried, it did not work.

You also could make these for any holiday or event and color them whatever color(s) you would like!

No-Cook Mint Patties

1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp salt
4 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Food Coloring (in this case, red and green)

Blend corn syrup, butter, extract, and salt together.ย  Add sugar; mix with spoon until it gets too hard to stir, then pour onto a cutting board to knead in the powdered sugar. Knead until smooth.Divide dough into thirds. Add red food to coloring to one-third, green to another, and leave the last white. (Although, I do suggest doing the white first, so you don’t have red and green hands to roll it out. Also, its handy to have gloves, it saves your hands from being colored!)
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; flatten with fork on waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
Let dry for several hours.

Flamingo from 2010It has a bell for a butt!!!

Flamingo from 2010
It has a bell for a butt!!!

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels

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I’ve never been one to make candy. The fudge from yesterday was as close to candy as I’ve ever really gotten. Until last year.

I saw a recipe for caramel. I was in awe. Not to mention that we had just started making our own vanilla, so I had vanilla beans at my disposal. (happy dance!)

I’m pretty sure I made these at least three times last year and only within a couple weeks. Every party I took these to, they got eaten right away! They were that good.

The most difficult thing about these was just finding the fleur de sel. I went to a local bulk foods store that has a plethera of coarse salts, but none with this specific name. And the employees weren’t helpful either. But thankfully, I have had my handy dandy ‘smart’ phone and could look up some other names for it. I ended up buying was called Sel Gris, a french sea salt. It was a little pricey, but I have barely used any of it over the course of the year, so I think it’s well worth the money.

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels (from Annie’s Eats)Yield: 64 caramels

1 cup heavy cream
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped1 1/4 tsp fleur de sel, plus a little more sprinkling
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, pods and fleur de sel.ย  Cook over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water.ย  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan occassionaly, until the mixture turns a light golden caramel color.
Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream mixture and carefully stir the cream mixture into the caramel. The mixture with bubble up, so pour slowly and stir constantly. Continue simmering the mixture until it reaches 248 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Immediately remove from heat and pour in the the prepared pan.
Let cool for 30 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.
Continue to let sit until completely set and cooled. Cut in to 1×1 inch pieces.
If I recall, I buttered a pizza cutter and it worked quite well ๐Ÿ™‚
Wrap the individual pieces in small pieces of wax paper. (or just eat them all!)

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There you have it. Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels. Wasn’t that easy?

Here’s my next flamingo!
Flamingo #5, 2009

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Merry Christmas!

Fantasy Fudge

My mom makes he best fudge.
No. Really. She does.
This recipe is one I’ve been making (and eating) with her since I was a kid.
It wasn’t until recently that I found out the recipe she’s used is found on the back of the marshmallow creme jar…oh well. It’s still the best fudge ever.

I usually have to make two or three batches of this stuff, cause everyone loves it and I like to give it as gifts as well.

Life’s just better with fudge. That’s all there is to it.

Fantasy Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 (12oz) pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (7oz) marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, butter, and milk; bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Cotinue stirring constantly and let boil for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 234 degrees F.
Once it reaches the desired temperature, remove from heat and mix in chocolate chips until melted.
Add marshmallow creme and vanilla until well blended.
Pour into a greased (or parchment paper lined) 9×13 or 8×8 pan. (depending on whether you want thick or thin fudge)
Let cool before cutting into squares.
Store in refrigerator.

Flamingo #4, 2008

Flamingo #4, 2008

The “Wow” Factor

Not long ago, our Sunday school class had a progressive dinner. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain it!
A small group of people started out at the “dinner hosts” home. We had some time to chat and get to know each other (technically we already ‘knew’ each other, but it was nice to get to talk without being interrupted by 2 and 3 years-olds constantly.), we ate dinner and ended up just sitting around the table having some great conversations!
After that we all headed to the same house (at least 15 couples! and a few babies) for dessert. The spread looked fantastic!

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Yeah, that’s right. Be jealous.

There was SO much. It was so good! I took a couple small pieces of dessert and couldn’t even finish it. But it was so yummy!

Wondering which dessert I made?

ImageWhite Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake. Wow.

I had a really hard time decided what to make for this event. I perused my Pinterest boards. I conferred with Beth, a lot.
I had so many options.
But in the end, I wanted the ‘wow’ factor.
And I got it.

This dessert had a delicious chocolate cake (that could easily be made gluten free, might I add) and a smooth, minty mousse middle. The combination of flavors was superb.

I know what you’re thinking. Mint and chocolate. It’s like PB&J, oreo’s and milk, pickles and ice cream (totally kidding on that last one..I hate pickles) But seriously. The cake wasn’t too sweet and was offset perfectly by the creamy middle. Mmmm, I can still taste it.

White Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake (adapted from Sprinkle Bakes)

For the Cake:
1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour (you can use gluten free all-purpose flour as well)
1/2 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
4 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line an 11.5×17 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat almond flour, powdered sugar, all-purpose flour,cocoa powder, eggs, and egg yolk until combined, scraping the sides as needed.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until it’s shiny and forms stiff peaks.
With a large rubber spatula, carefully fold the meringue into the flour and egg mixture; trying not to deflate the meringue.
Add the melted butter and again, gently fold in the cake batter, trying not to deflate it.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until cake springs back when you gently press the center of the cake. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan.
Gently flip the cake on to a cooling rack or towel to cool. Carefully peel away the parchment paper.
Now, in an 8-inch spring-form pan, trim the edges of the cake and carefully line the sides of the spring-form pan with cake. (the cake does not have to come to the top of the pan it can be as short or tall you’d like it to be)
Once you have the sides covered with cake, cut out a circle that will fit remaining bottom of the spring-form pan. Now, set aside.

For the White Chocolate Mint Mousse:
1/4 oz pkg unflavored gelatin (2 tsp)
2 Tbsp cold water
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot milk (microwave for about 30 seconds)
8 oz high quality white chocolate (I used Ghirardelli white chips)
1/2 – 1 tsp mint extract (I used a whole tsp)
Few drops of green food coloring (or gel food coloring)
1 1/2 cups whipping cream

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In a medium sauce pan, whisk together water and gelatin. Let stand for 1 minute. Whisk in egg yolks and sugar. Stir in hot milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in white chocolate chips until melted. No streaks! Let cool. When the mixture is somewhat cool, (I tested it with my finger) add the extract and food coloring. Whip the cream until if forms stiff peaks. Gently fold into the mint mixture until well blended.

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Assembly:
Pour the mousse into the cake lined spring-form pan as you can. Smooth the top.
Put the cake in the freezer for about 2-3 hours, or until firm. Remove from freezer and remove cake from spring-form pan. Place on a cake platter or plate.

Melt 1/2-3/4 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave, in 30 second intervals. If it seizes up, add a little oil (i used coconut oil and it worked better than anything I’ve ever tried!) After it’s melted, spread chocolate, relatively thing, on a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan. Place in freezer for a few minutes. (It’s best to have a little melted chocolate left over)Z
After it’s hardened, remove from freezer and gently break in to pieces that are about as tall as the cake. Take the pieces and spread a enough of the extra melted chocolate to attach it to the side of the cake. (Trust me, it works ๐Ÿ™‚ )
Cover all the sides of the cake with white chocolate pieces. Store in refrigerator.

Make some whipped cream, by whipping some extra heavy cream and some powdered sugar together. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the cake, or just serve on the side.

Voila!

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Flamingo #3, 2007.

Soft Gingersnap Molasses Cookies

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Growing up, my mom always made Molasses Cutout Cookies. We always watched a Christmas movie and frosted cookies. It’s probably one of my most favorite memories of Christmas as a kid.

When my hubby (we’ll call him A) and I got married, I wanted to continue on some of these traditions. Let just say, he wasn’t as into it as I was. And, I was thrilled about making cookies to bring to A’s family Christmas parties! I learned quickly that his family didn’t appreciate the same type of cookies that I had enjoyed growing up.

The molasses cookies had Anise extract in them. If you don’t know what that it, it is quite similar to a black licorice flavor. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of black licorice and it’s definitely a taste you either love or hate. Well, as you may have already guessed, A hated it…as did his family. After a couple years of that, I started making half and half. Some molasses cookies with anise and other without. Now, I’ve given up and let my sister make those cookies so we can have some at my family’s Christmas. Since, us normal people, like anise flavoring. (I’m not sure what’s wrong with A’s family…lol. Just kidding. I love them!)

I still love molasses though, but I’ve moved on from cut-out’s with them. (I use my soft sugar cookie recipe for that!)

I found this recipe on a new favorite blog of mine. Not only does Sally bake, but she clearly has an addiction! LOL. (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. I love corny jokes)

Anywho, I’ve made a few things from her blog, and besides that fact that it’s making fatter, it’s great! She has so many good ideas!

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer!

Happy Day 2 of Christmas Flamingo Style!

Soft Gingersnap Molasses Cookies (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)Yield: a lot. A few dozen, at least

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar, for rolling (you might need some more, depending on how many cookies you actually get from the recipe)
Butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, and/or semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.ย  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter for about a minute on medium speed. Add brown sugar and mix until fluffy, scraping the sides as needed. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla. Mix well, scraping the sides as needed.

With your mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Do not over-mix. Cover the bowl with foil and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (mine were probly a little smaller). Roll balls in white sugar. Place on baking sheet a couple inches apart. (they don’t spread much) Bake for 8-10 minutes. I suggest for closer to 8, depending on how hot your oven is. DON’T OVER BAKE!! They will be hard and crunchy if you overbake them and that’s what we DON’T want.

If you are adding the chips to the top (you can leave them plain too!), immediately place 5-7 chips in the center of each cookie. Allow to cool for a couple minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

I apparently to forgot to take pictures of the cookies with white chocolate and chocolate chips...

I apparently to forgot to take pictures of the cookies with white chocolate and chocolate chips…

Note: That red spot you see on my parchment paper is NOT blood. I had made colored sugar covered cookies prior to these ๐Ÿ™‚

Flamingo #2 from 2006

Flamingo #2 from 2006

 

 

Pumpkin Doughnuts

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I know, you must think I’m crazy for posting another pumpkin recipe, but I just couldn’t resist! This one is just too perfect. Too yummy to not pass on.

I had never made doughnuts myself, but when I was growing up, my mom would make them once in a while. Cover them with powdered sugar, a cinnamon sugar mixer, or just eat them plain, right out of the fryer! Oh, the memories.

So my sister asked me to make these for our “down home” Thanksgiving gathering and I jumped at the chance! We happen to own a deep fryer, so I was pretty pumped to pull that out!

Did I mention it made my house smell fantastic??? Cause it did.

Did I mention we made adorable turkey's with my two boys and nephew that day!!!

Did I mention we made adorable turkey’s with my two boys and nephew that day!!!

These are seriously worth the trouble for the chance to eat them afterwards. Make them for your own Christmas morning…before the kids are up. That way you can have them all to yourself ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pumpkin Doughnuts (from Annie’s Eats)
Yield: I don’t remember how many this made..but it made quite a few

For the Doughnuts:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice, fill up to 1/2 cup mark with milk, let sit 5 minutes)
1 cup pumpkin pure

Canola Oil or Peanut Oil for frying. (This can be done in a deep skillet or a deep fryer)

Cinnamon Sugar Coating:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the dough, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and butter and beat until well blended and fluffy. Mix in the egg, then egg yolks, then vanilla until incorporated. Combine the buttermilk and pumpkin in a liquid measuring cup and whisk together. With the mixer on low-speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Once the dough is mixed, cover and chill for at least 3 hours (I had to chill mine overnight, which was nice since we had fresh doughnuts for the morning!)

On a well floured surface, roll or pat out the dough until it’s between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. (I think mine were a little closer to 1/4 inch, which was fine with me, it made more that way) Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour and with a biscuit/doughnut cutter. Re-roll the scraps as necessary.
Add oil to your frying pan (2-3 inches of oil) or deep fryer and heat to 365-370 degrees F. (Our deep fryer only went down to 375 and it worked just fine)

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Add the rings of dough to the hot oil (only 2 or 3 at a time, whatever fits best in you pan or fryer) a single layer, and not touching. Fry turning once until doughnuts are golden brown and cooked through.ย  I ended up having a few at the beginning that weren’t quite done, so I left the next ones in a little longer. Use the same process for the doughnut holes.

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar. While the doughnuts are still hot (just right to touch) and still a little greasy, roll in cinnamon sugar mixture to coat completely.

Enjoy!

Here are a few more picture of my fun!

My messy doughnut cutter. This is no clean task.

My messy doughnut cutter. This is no clean task.

Coffee, turkey's and doughnuts...could Thanksgiving get any better??

Coffee, turkey’s and doughnuts…could Thanksgiving get any better??

Done to perfection.

Done to perfection.

 

I have to share with you all my Flamingo ornaments. I’m not really sure how or why I got hooked on these birds. I just think they are so cool! So I thought I’d share all my flamingo ornaments with you. One a day per my 12 Days of Christmas Posts ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the first one!

Our first Christmas ornament; 2005

Our first Christmas ornament; 2005