I love the Holidays…Family & Friends making time for one another…
The time we spend together most often involves gathering around the table…OR STANDING AROUND THE KITCHEN…no one seems to ever want to migrate AWAY from the food:) Does this happen at your house? We do have lovely furniture to sit on.
So, anyway…Cooking for family and friends brings me great joy, wherever the food is eaten. It’s my favorite way to express love.
So, I am sharing with you some of my traditional food gifts that those family and friends have come to expect this time of year. Below are a few recipes for some of my favorites, and most requested:)
Please keep visiting…more fun recipe gift ideas coming soon!
Soft Salted Caramel
NOTE: My best caramel making advice is as follows…
1.) You must not stop stirring, or the delicious caramel will burn.
2.) Before you start, pull up a stool…right next to the stove. Have something on your computer to watch, a book to read, or a friend to call, because the stirring process will take about 40-45 min…REALLY…and you mustn’t stop.
3.) Use this time to enjoy the above movie, TV show, good book, or good friend.
4.) Did I say DO NOT STOP STIRRING?!!
5. Do not cover caramel tray with wax paper, it will stick to warm caramel.
6. Do not make caramels if it is raining! (seriously-humidity creates great inconsistency)
Soft Salted Caramels
Tools: Candy thermometer, Jelly Roll Pan, Tall stock pot (this is very important! If your pot is too short the hot caramel will splatter on your hand as you stir)
1 Lb. butter (I use Land ‘O Lakes)
2 Lbs. brown sugar (I use dark brown, but light brown is what most recipes call for)
2 C Karo syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbs. vanilla
dash of salt
Coarse Sea Salt to finish (optional)
Slowly melt butter in a tall stockpot on low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. I may have already mentioned…DON’T STOP STIRRING.
Add Karo syrup and condensed milk. Turn heat to medium and cook stirring without ceasing…really…I’m serious… sit down, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend…but, DO NOT stop stirring!!! It will take about 40-45 min.
Heat until mixture reaches 238 degrees. Add vanilla carefully. (it will really bubble and spatter) Continue to heat until temperature reaches *238-242. Pour into jellyroll pan. (The exact size doesn’t matter really matter) If desired, sprinkle with Sea Salt. Cool & then cut into squares or rectangles, forming with your fingers. I pre-cut wax paper and wrap them twisting each end the opposite way.(think of a tootise roll)
*The higher the temp the firmer the caramels. I like a chewier caramel, so I usually cook mine to 242. If your batch turns out too soft, you can keep them in the fridge.
Caramels have been a long time favorite Teacher gift, and has become expected from Co-workers, neighbors and friends:)
I bag a dozen in a pretty cello bag and tie the recipe on with a bow.
Moist and Chewy Granola
5 C Oatmeal
2/3 C Butter
2/3 C Honey
1 C D Brown Sugar
2 Tbs. Cinnamon
2 Tbs. Vanilla
1 Tsp. Salt
2 C Coconut
*Optional: Nuts of choice (I like macadamia & praline pecans-add p.pecans after baking granola)
Dried fruit (I use cranberries and/or blueberries)
Place first 7 ingredients in a small saucepan and melt on low heat until combined.
Pour melted mixture over 5 C Oats, Nuts (unless using praline pecans..add these after baking), & 2 C Coconut ; stir until combined.
Spoon mixture onto a greased sheet pan. Bake for 20-30 min, stirring several times, until brown.
Remove from oven and cool on pan. When cool, transfer to a large mixing bowl and toss in any dried fruits you like and praline pecans if using them. (I buy Kroger’s Private Selection Praline Pecans- but, you could make them yourself)
Package the granola in Cello bags and tie the recipe on for a yummy holiday gift.
Apple Hand Pie w/Salted Caramel Sauce
For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water
1 beaten egg (egg wash)
Sugar in the RAW (sprinkled on top of pies before baking)
For the filling:
6 Granny Smith Apples
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 Tbs. flour 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbs.granulated sugar
1/2 Tsp. salt
For the Pastry:
For the pastry dough, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until “crumbly”. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, just until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap with plastic or wax paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Unwrap the chilled dough and roll out on a floured surface. Use a round biscuit cutter (mine was about 4 inches in diameter) If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you could use a drinking glass.
Cut out 2 rounds for each pie. (the recipe should make 10-12, depending on size of your cutter)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
For the filling:
Peel, core, and cut the apples into very small chunks.(about the size of corn kernels) Toss the chunks with the orange zest, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Melt 2 Tbs. butter over medium heat in a skillet and cook until tender.
Unwrap the chilled dough and roll out on a floured surface. (roll to about 1/8 inch thick) Use a round biscuit cutter (mine is about 4 inches in diameter) If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you could use a drinking glass.
Cut out 2 rounds for each pie. (the recipe should make 10-12 pies, depending on size of your cutter)
Place one half of each pie about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place about 2Tbs. of the apple mixture in the center of each pie. Top with second round of dough. Using a fork to “crimp” the two halves together all around the edge. Brush each pie with egg wash and sprinkle with RAW sugar. Make 2-3 small cuts (pierces) with a sharp knife to “vent” the pies as they bake.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-18 min. Bake until they are slightly brown.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup salted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed. In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium-high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally. Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. Carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble really bubble!). Whisk until mixture is smooth. Add Salt to taste, then pour caramel into a glass jar to cool.
I use these jars:
You can get super cute jar labels here.