28 December 2010

12th Day of Christmas

During the holidays it's always important to have some snacks set out for people to munch on. Here are a couple sweet little things I made for my parents and sister as gifts but could also just be set out to tide people over while they wait for a big holiday feast :)

The first is chocolate espresso bean bark. My family is a big fan of chocolate covered espresso beans, but it's tough to get individual coated beans when you are making them at home. Bark, on the other hand, is super simple, and the taste is the same.

Start by greasing a large (but small enough to fit in your freezer) cookie sheet with vegetable or canola oil. Then spread about 1.5 cups of espresso or coffee beans in a single layer on the cookie sheet.
Melt a bag of dark chocolate chips with 1.5 tbsp canola or vegetable oil in the microwave. Use nice chocolate chips for this, like ghiradelli.
Let the melted chocolate cool a bit so that you can touch it without burning yourself but it is still very liquidy. Then drizzle it over the espresso beans, trying to cover as much as you can.
Use your hands to smear the chocolate around so the all the beans are coated and you have a large rectangle of chocolatey-coffee bean goodness. Use a spatula to flatten the beans out into pretty much a single layer again.

Stick the cookie sheet into the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden the chocolate. When it is completely hardened, remove from the freezer and pry up the bark with a knife or your fingers. I found it came up very easily.
Use your hands to break the bark up into small pieces. Bag it for a gift or put it in a bowl and set it out for people to snack on.

The second little treat is something called Sparkling Cranberries. Basically I had a bunch of cranberries leftover from making the cran-apple spiced vodka and I didn't want to waste them so I looked up simple cranberry recipes and this was my favorite. It's very simple and very delicious.

Start by making a simple syrup out of 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Boil them together on the stove until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool to about room temperature.

Put 2 cups cranberries in a large tupperware. Pour the simple syrup over the cranberries, cover, and store in the fridge overnight.

The next day, drain the cranberries and toss with some granulated sugar. Let the cranberries air dry for several hours.

When the cranberries are mostly dry, toss again with granulated sugar. Repeat the tossing until the cranberries are coated.

That's all there is to it! The cranberries are slightly tart but also sweet- so yummy!
Thanks for reading my 12 Days of Christmas posts! They were fun to write. I'll be back in the next day or two with my regular posts :)

Happy holidays!

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