Through the years, I have witnessed many reactions when I inform people that I am allergic to chocolate. I would say that the most common one is horror, followed by pity. If I had a dollar for every time someone remarked, “You poor thing!” I would be a rich woman. A few people wish they had an allergy to chocolate so they would stop eating it. Once in a great while, I run across another “poor thing” that cannot eat the substance a lot of folks think they can’t live without.
My parents decided that since I was not able to ingest chocolate without repercussions, my sisters couldn’t, either. Mom had problems with it herself, so Dad was the only one in our family who regularly indulged himself with the much-favored candy flavor. He kept quite a stash for himself; he didn’t bother to hide it since he knew the rest of us should leave it alone. We won’t talk about the times that I yielded to the temptation to enjoy the forbidden treat and sneaked a piece for myself.
History is filled with stories of folk who did just that – yielded to temptation – and it started with the first people God created. They lived in a garden filled with perfection. However, when tempted to eat the only fruit the Lord had specifically told them to forego, Adam and Eve succumbed to their desire. They ate it in spite of the Lord’s command. Because of their transgression, evil entered the world. The couple had to leave their ideal home and contend with the consequences of their actions.
Even though God was saddened by their rejection, He still loved His creation. He announced a plan of action that would take many years to come to pass. Centuries later, in just the right time and place, a tiny baby was born to a mother the Lord had chosen. God incarnate (in the flesh). Fully human, yet fully divine. Sweet and innocent. He made His first appearance in a stable, which seems an unlikely place for the Son of God to enter the world. The account of His life goes on to reveal His purpose – He was to be the atoning sacrifice for the sin of all mankind.
Christmas is all about the celebration of the birth of God’s Son, Jesus. Everything else is like the ornaments and tinsel that will be packed away after the holiday is over. However, the sweetness of God’s gift that holy night will never fade.
Maybe the word “sweetness” gives away the subject of my recipes this week – candy! Almost every December since I started writing Cooks’ Corner, there has been a column dedicated to sugary confections; this year will be no different. The first two recipes are new. Pistachio-Cranberry Brittle sounded tasty, so I tried it. Thankfully, it is cooked in the microwave. I made it when I arrived home after a busy Sunday and was in no mood to stand over a hot stove. It is a unique alternative to peanut brittle. I also tried Melted Snow Puddles, which are very easy to make. Melted candy coating is mixed with peanut butter, followed by marshmallows, peanuts, and cereal. They have an excellent flavor and are surprisingly light in texture. Use these candies, along with the others, to add some sweetness to your holiday season.
Pistachio Cranberry Brittle
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup pistachios, toasted
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stir together sugar and corn syrup in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with waxed paper; microwave on HIGH 4 minutes.
Uncover; microwave on HIGH 7 to 8 minutes more or until mixture is light golden brown; stir in pistachios and cranberries. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 1 minute or just until mixture returns to a boil.
Using oven mitts, remove bowl from microwave. Quickly stir in butter, soda, and vanilla. (Candy will foam.)
Quickly pour candy mixture into a buttered 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan or large rimmed baking sheet, spreading to edges of pan using buttered metal spoons or spatulas. Cool completely. Break candy into pieces. Store in airtight container. Makes about 1-1/2 pounds.
Melted Snow Puddles
1 pound white candy coating
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1-1/2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
1-1/2 cups Rice Krispies
Melt coating in a 200-degree oven (or in microwave according to package directions). Stir in peanut butter. Add remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper. Let cool completely. Makes 4-6 dozen.
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 sleeve of Club-style crackers (may need more)
12 ounces chocolate chips (may use white morsels)
In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar in the butter and bring them to a boil. Boil for three minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Cover the foil with a layer of club crackers.
Pour the buttery/sugary mix over the crackers, making sure they are all saturated. Put pan in the oven for 10 minutes.
Take pan out and sprinkle chocolate chips over the crackers. Let sit until chips soften. Spread the chips with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Freeze for two hours.
Remove the pan from the freezer and peel off the aluminum foil. Crack it up into pieces, whatever size you like. Store in a container and refrigerate until you are ready to eat!
White Thin Mints Recipe
1 box vanilla wafer cookies
2 cups mint white candy melts
Melt chocolate in microwave (Use about 1/2 tablespoon shortening to thin if it is too think for dipping.)
Dip cookies into mint white chocolate. Garnish with sprinkles if desired. Let cool. Yield: 4 dozen cookies
You can find mint white candy melts at most craft/baking supply stores.
You can substitute regular white candy melts with crushed peppermint candy canes.