gifts

Chocolate Coconut Candy Balls

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 “From that moment and through everything that followed, sugar could always be counted on to please her. It was as though sweet things were what she was born for.” - Beloved by Toni Morrison

That pretty much sums it up. Sheer sugar with some butter thrown in for good measure. What could be better? In fact, these chocolate coconut balls are so good they were christened with the nickname “balls of heaven.” I do not know if I would go that far, but they are surprisingly good.

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I also do not know what possessed me to make homemade chocolates in August. Although the mindset for many has turned to back-to-school, the way I look at it, there are still a good two good weeks of bikini season left. Here in the south, we can probably get away with six. Bikini time is not a good time for chocolates.

But if you are in the mood for a homemade sweet, these are the way to go. The recipe yields close to four dozen chocolates, so there is plenty to go around. I think they would make for a nice homemade gift around the winter holidays or Valentine’s Day when love and comfort are in the air and bikinis are safely tucked away in dresser drawers (where they belong). Enjoy!

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Chocolate Coconut Balls
 
Author:
Serves: 42-28
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds confectioners sugar
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • 1 package chocolate bark coating
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the powdered sugar, condensed milk, butter and vanilla until well combined.
  2. Add the coconut and nuts and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Chill for at least one hour or up to overnight. This will help the mixture hold together when rolled into balls.
  4. When ready to prepare, roll tablespoons full of the mixture into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  5. Melt the chocolate bark in the microwave, heating 30 seconds at a time and then stirring until completely melted.
  6. Dip the prepared candy balls into the melted chocolate one at a time, then place on a separate cookie sheet lined with wax paper to allow the chocolate to set.
Notes
You may want to work in batches by rolling two dozen balls, then refrigerating one dozen while dipping the second dozen in chocolate and so forth.

 

And the Oscar Goes to…Coconut Curry Popcorn

IMG 2301 Edited And the Oscar Goes to...Coconut Curry Popcorn

It’s Saturday afternoon, and though I baked today, I feel a bit drained after pouring my heart into some birthday posts you have already seen and are about to see in the coming days. Couple that feeling with an outdoor temperature that is a good 25 degrees cooler today than it was yesterday, and all I really want to do as the day winds down is snuggle in on the couch and watch a movie. And where there is a movie, there must be popcorn.

I’m a pretty traditional popcorn eater. A pat of melted butter and a couple of shakes of salt please me, but when I want to amp up the flavor, I turn to a recipe for Coconut Curry Popcorn Seasoning. The blend offers a little sweet – in the form of coconut and sugar – and a little heat – in the form of curry and cayenne pepper. Add those ingredients to some ginger, cinnamon, and garlic powder, and you have a wonderful combination of flavors waiting to meet your popcorn.

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If you have plans that will lure you out of the house instead of on to the couch tonight, perhaps you can enjoy some Coconut Curry Popcorn tomorrow evening during the Oscars. I haven’t had the opportunity to see every film nominated for best picture, but I loved The Help almost as much as I did the book, and Midnight in Paris was a delight. I was thoroughly entertained by Moneyball,  though Tree of Life ranks on the list of worst movies I have ever seen.

My favorite movie, in terms of number of times watched, is StarWars. Before I was old enough to attend school, I had the lines from most scenes memorized. When we got home from the baby-sitters’ house, I’d rush to pop the tape in the VCR (well, Mom probably did that for me), and proceed to act out the scenes. Today my favorite movie, in terms of actual favorite, is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a bit unusual, but I like the way it makes me think about things.

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Coconut Curry Popcorn Seasoning makes a nice gift from the kitchen. Present it alone or as part of a gift basket that could include popcorn, a DVD, movie tickets, or even candy (I love to eat Junior Mints right along with my movie popcorn).

Looking for other popcorn toppings? How about trying some Dijon Buttered Popcorn or Spiced White Chocolate Popcorn. Or maybe you feel like baking with popcorn instead? Try some Popcorn Bread or Caramel Corn Chocolate Chip Cookies. Just make sure to try this Coconut Curry Popcorn the next time you have a movie night. It’s reel good – enjoy!

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Coconut Curry Popcorn Seasoning
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups Sweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 7 tablespoons Curry Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Salt
  • 3½ teaspoons Sugar
  • 1¾ teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 1¾ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoons Garlic Powder
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pulse to combine.
  3. Sprinkle over popcorn.

 

 

A Gift From The Kitchen: Salted Caramels

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My first encounter with salty caramel was a scoop of ice cream at the Jeni’s (Splendid Ice Creams) in Grandview.  At the time, salty caramel was just beginning to approach the intersection of Trendy and Cool.  Now salty, or salted, caramel is a flavor I have seen used in almost every dessert imaginable. It’s popularity is exactly the reason I avoided making my own salted caramel dessert for as long as possible.  Why should I post something that every one else is posting?  Um, because it’s delicious, that’s why.

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Making caramels fell under the “must do” portion of my blog list near the holidays. I remember many an afternoon during the school break holiday when I would sit at my grandma’s or my aunt’s kitchen table wrapping homemade caramels in squares of wax paper.  I loved the caramels. I tolerated the wrapping.

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A friend from work and I recently had a conversation about gift ideas for parents, or the people who have everything.  It went something like this:

Friend: “It’s so hard to buy gifts for my parents.”
Me: “No kidding. My sister and I are struggling to come up with ideas this year.”
Friend: “It’s like, hey Mom and Dad, how about I buy you a car for Christmas? Oh wait, that’s right, you bought me a car.”  
Me: [Unable to speak due to laughter.]

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Perhaps our next conversation will go something like this:

Friend: “It’s so hard to buy gifts for my parents.”
Me: “Make them some salted caramels. They’re delicious.”

Enjoy!

SAM 5291 Edited A Gift From The Kitchen: Salted Caramels

 
Salted Caramels
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
  • 2¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup water
  • 2¼ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with aluminum foil, then generously butter the sides and the bottom of the foil.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients except the vanilla extract in saucepan over medium-low heat.
  3. Stir frequently until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns golden brown and measured 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer. This will take approximately 18-25 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and very carefully stir in the vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble up very rapidly.
  6. Pour the caramel into the prepared, buttery foil-lined dish. Let stand at room temperature until the top is set, approximately 20 minutes.
  7. When the top is set, carefully transfer the dish to the refrigerator. Chill until the caramel is firm enough to cut, approximately 2 hours.
  8. Invert the firm caramels on a cutting board and peel back the foil.
  9. Use a sharp knife to cut the caramels into one-inch squares.
  10. Garnish with coarse sea salt if desired.
Notes
A disposable 8 x 8 inch aluminum pan can be used in place of an 8 x 8 baking dish lined with foil, but please recycle it when you finish making caramels! Please also be sure to set a disposable pan on a baking sheet to provide stability.