Chocolate Crisps

This are the perfect quick candy to stir up for a Holiday gift. The mixture of chocolate and cranberry pairs unbelievably well with the crunch of the corn flakes. If you are really in a hurry, pop these into the refrigerator to finish setting up and drying.

Chocolate Crisps

1 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 cups corn flakes
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium sized microwave safe bowl combine the milk chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is smooth and melted.

In a large bowl pour corn flakes and dried cranberries. Pour melted chocolate over corn flakes and dried cranberries.

Combine well, coating every single corn flake and dried cranberry with the melted chocolate.

Place large scoops onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the top with salt if desired.

Allow to set up before enjoying.

Classic M&M Cookies

Blaise the Baker

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” September 18th, 2017

I love the color – and taste – of these deliciously old-fashioned cookies! They take me right back to my childhood and buying cookies at the mall. These are chewy inside and have a slight crunch outside. I used dark chocolate M&M candies for these but you can use your favorite variety.

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Classic M&M Cookies

1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups white all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups M&M candy

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the solid vegetable shortening, light brown sugar and white granulated sugar. Combine until no white shortening streaks are visable. Mixture will be thick.

Beat in the two large eggs.

Stir in the pure vanilla extract, baking soda and salt.

Gently fold in the white all-purpose flour.

Gently fold in 1/2 cup of the M&M candy.

Roll dough into teaspoon size balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Top the rest of the cookies with the remaining cup of M&M candy.

Bake, one baking sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 13 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Nancy’s Homemade Crunchy Peanut Butter Cups

CHEW THIS!

Nancy’s Homemade Crunchy Peanut Butter Cups

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 3rd 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Sharing Fabulous Memories and Recipes
Blaise Doubman

My Grandma Deloris was lucky enough to be selected for the “Live a Dream” program through Glen Oaks Health Campus, right here in New Castle! What happens is that a resident will be approached about “living their dreams” and Glen Oaks makes whatever they wish for a reality! I was in awe over this program and wanted to know more about it and I did so by actually being involved in the process! My Grandma Deloris belonged to several leagues over her 48 years of being a bowler but some of her greatest memories are those that she made at “Rose City Bowl” in New Castle. Bowling under the league name “Davis Chrysler” she held several records, both team wise and personally, at the bowling alley for many years. So naturally, when it came time for her to “live a dream” she immediately thought of her days in bowling. Glen Oaks Health Campus worked with her, my family and the local bowling alley to make her dream a reality and it touched my family and I in ways that I can only imagine in terms of how it made my Grandma Deloris feel. All day long she had a smile that I had not seen in many months.

The day of the party she was nervous but those nervous quickly disappeared when she entered the bowling alley and was acquainted again with the familiar sights, sounds and smells. Friends from all stages of her life stopped by to celebrate with her. Church friends, childhood friends, old bowling friends, Glen Oaks Health Campus friends and family all came out to watch her bowl. “Rose City Bowl” and Ann Knott from Glen Oaks Health Campus put together one of the most memorable bowling and pizza parties my family and I had ever been a part of. Grandma had the miraculous experience of bowling again, seeing friends both old and new, and making memories in a place in which she never thought she would see again – the bowling alley. While there of course we swapped stories and recipes. The recipe I am sharing today comes from my friend Nancy McCormack. She works for the “Senior Living at Forest Ridge” area in New Castle and these crunchy peanut butter cups are far better than anything you can buy. Great memories, great times, great stories and great recipes – who could ask for more!?

Nancy’s Homemade Crunchy Peanut Butter Cups

Feel free to substitute the crushed pretzels for graham crackers and feel free to substitute the semi-sweet chocolate chips for milk or dark. Also sprinkle a little sea salt on these before chilling for an even bigger sweet and salty flavor. Crunchy peanut butter also works for those who would prefer it. A very versatile recipe and perfect for making ahead! These pair nicely with popcorn as well as with a cup of coffee.

For the base…
2 cups pretzel sticks
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter

For the topping…
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup smooth peanut butter

Start by placing the pretzel sticks in a large plastic food storage bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. Be sure there are no big chunks of pretzel – these need to be crushed fine.

Place the crushed pretzels in a large bowl and pour in the melted and cooled unsalted butter, confectioner’s sugar and smooth peanut butter. Stir until everything is combined.

Line a 9×9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the combined mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

In a large microwave safe bowl combine the semi-sweet chocolate chips with the smooth peanut butter and microwave on high for two minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Remove and stir the mixture until smooth and glossy.

Pour this mixture over the prepared base and smooth out the top.

Place in the refrigerator to chill for one hour before removing and cutting to serve.

Ask and Answer: There have been a few questions about adding tarragon to the chicken salad that I wrote about in my previous column. A couple of emails expressed concern over the strong flavor and someone else mentioned that it was a very hard herb to find. The trick with tarragon is to use it in small amounts. It is a very strong herb but it pairs nicely with chicken to allow the chicken to taste more chicken like. It can usually be found in most supermarkets in the fresh herb section in the produce area. If you would rather leave it out all together, that is fine! Just use a little parsley and squeeze in some fresh lemon juice. Experiment and have fun!

Rocky Road Bark

Blaise the Baker

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” June 11th, 2017

I love the flavor combinations of rocky road and I love chocolate bark – so what could be better than combinding them together? The fabulous part about this recipe – aside from the fabulous results – is that the recipe can literally be transformed into millions of different flavor combinations! I use semi-sweet chocolate for the base but feel free to use bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate or even a combination of chocolates all swirled together. Also top with anything your heart desires. Crushed up potato chips, crushed peppermint candies, dried fruit, candy sprinkles – ANYTHING!

How fabulous is that!?

 

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Rocky Road Bark

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
2 cups chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place on top a sheet of parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the semi-sweet chocolate chips with the solid vegetable shortening. Microwave on high power 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is melted and smooth and glossy.

Carefully pour the melted chocolate directly in the center of the parchment paper. Using the back side of a spoon spread the melted chocolate out into a rectangle about the size of 12 inches by 18 inches. You want the chocolate thin enough to snap when cooled but not too thin as to break when loading on the topping. Be careful not to make the chocolate too thick either or it will not form traditional bark.

Once the chocolate is formed sprinkle on the lightly toasted walnuts, mini marshmallows and the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.

In a microwave safe bowl combine the white chocolate chips with the solid vegetable shortening. Microwave on high power 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the white chocolate is melted and smooth and glossy.

Take a spoon and drizzle the melted white chocolate over the entire surface of the bark. Use whatever pattern you desire but I think that a single line back and forth across horizontally looks the best.

You may not use all of the white chocolate.

Place into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove and carefully break the bark up into pieces. Store at room temperature.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Christmas Divinity

CHEW THIS!

Christmas Divinity

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, November 20th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Candy
Blaise Doubman

I love old-fashioned Christmas candy! There is something so warm and comforting to me about seeing a bowl full of colorful ribbon candy in a glass dish or rainbow colored gumballs. I have so many memories of Christmas candy that whenever the season rolls around I sometimes find myself dreaming in candy. I’m a huge chocoholic, but with Christmas candy, I want chocolate to take a back seat. Just this once. I want candy that is warm, familiar and seasonal in taste. Candy that is flavored with cinnamon, clove, anise and cardamom; scents and flavors that take me right back to my childhood. I can still remember eating my way through my Grandma Deloris and Grandpa Max’s crystal bowl full of ribbon candy and yellow sanded lemon drops. Or having to present, and explain, a naked gingerbread house because I had eaten all of the adornments.

My Mom, Darla and my Grandma Barbra also enjoy Christmas candy and it is from them that I fell in love with a candy known as divinity. Divinity is a creamy confection made using stiffly beaten egg whites. Although, there are some recipes that do not call for egg whites – such as the recipe for divinity I have in my cookbook. My first experience with this candy was in Metamora, Indiana at the Little Red School House. The confectioners’ factory is gone, only the memory remains, but it was there that I first fell in love with this candy. Once my Grandma Barbra and I made this for the first time, I was skeptical. Egg whites? But, at first taste, it was love! Since then I have experimented with all types of recipes and honestly, most are hard and time consuming! I wanted a recipe that would be fairly simple and foolproof. After many trials and errors I came up with the recipe I am sharing with you here today. I love making this and passing it out for Christmas gifts. Everyone loves it and it creates a great Holiday memory!

Christmas Divinity

The chopped nuts in this recipe are completely optional. If you are a fan of nuts, by all means, use them! If you are not that big of a fan, leave them out. Some people prefer the nuts stirred into the actual candy mixture, while others place the nut on top. For example, once the candy is formed and placed on the parchment paper, press a pecan half on top, or a walnut, etc. Also something that is optional is dusting the final candy with confectioners’ sugar. By dusting the candy you take away the initial stickiness of the candy while adding a hint of flavor. I am not a fan of candy thermometers; most of the people I have talked to are not either, so use the cold water test. Drizzle a little of the cooked candy into a mug with cold water and feel it. If it can be turned into a soft ball it is around 235 degrees F. If it can be turned into a hard ball it is around 250 degrees F. Follow the minutes given for the recipe and you will end up with the exact temperature needed for the recipe.

3 large egg whites
3 cups white granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

In a large bowl beat the large egg whites until they hold a stiff peak. Using a hand mixer this will take several minutes. Anywhere from 5 minutes to 7 minutes. Once the egg whites are stiff, and hold their attention when the beaters are removed from the bowl, sit the bowl aside.

In a large heavy bottom saucepan, combine the white granulated sugar, light corn syrup and water. Stir this continuously until it reaches a boil. Continue stirring while the mixture boils for exactly 5 minutes. The mixture will form a hard ball when dropped in cold water.

Add the hot boiled mixture, carefully, into the stiffly beaten egg whites while beating with a hand mixer at medium speed. This is hot and dangerous work so please work carefully.

Beat in the pure vanilla extract, salt and chopped nuts, if using. Beat this mixture several more minutes until the mixture starts to hold its own shape. This will take around 5 minutes.

Drop teaspoon size amounts onto parchment paper. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

To store this delicate candy, place in tightly sealed plastic container at room temperature.

Ask and Answer: Donna Cronk asked if my “Tomi’s Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pie” could be frozen and transformed into an ice cream pie / frozen treat. Absolutely! This would work great in the summer months when such a treat would be a cool welcome to the table. If freezing, snap on plastic pie lid and wrap well with aluminum foil. Also on the subject of that particular column, let me clarify that the location I was referring to that sells the peanut butter pies is actually called “Top Hat” which is located on Broad Street in New Castle.