Holidays are hectic, with shopping and wrapping and planning menus. However, even more important, they are filled with love of family and friends. During the whole year, but especially at holiday times, I like to create the unexpected.
My idea for today’s column is to share muffin and candy recipes that could easily be used to please family and friends during the holiday and the days following the big event. Candy treats are always welcomed during the holidays and sweeten your Christmas and New Year’s even more.
Muffins are quickly prepared and are easily varied. Depending on the variety you make they can be either served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Caveat: Some, not all, of the muffin recipes include ingredients high in fat.
Basic muffin recipe — Ingredients: 2 cups sifted flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 beaten egg, 1 cup cold milk and 1/4 cup melted butter.
Procedure: Sift the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients all at once. Stir just to moisten the dry ingredients. The batter should be lumpy and rough. Fill greased muffin tins only two-thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve with a selection of butter, cream cheese, fresh fruit puree or jam. For simple variations, follow the basic muffin recipe, adding one of the following ideas.
To the dry ingredients add 1/2 to 1 cup of any well flavored cheese.
Add crumbled cooked bacon to the batter.
Lay a cooked sausage link, or chicken link in the bottom of each muffin tin before you spoon in the batter.
Substitute 1/3 cup peanut butter for the butter and add 1/4 cup chopped peanuts to intensify the flavor
One cup of any other flour may replace an equal amount of white flour. Be sure to use brown sugar in place of white sugar. The molasses in the brown sugar compliments the whole wheat flour.
Banana bran muffins — Use only 1 1/2 cups flour and add 1 cup bran flakes and 1/2 cup mashed bananas. Replace white sugar with brown.
Date orange muffins — Substitute 1/2 cup orange juice for 1/2 cup milk and add 1 cup dates.
Delicious cream muffins — Use heavy cream in place of the milk. No other substitution needed.
Wheat-germ muffins — Substitute 1 cup wheat germ for the same amount of flour. Use 1/2 cup brown sugar in place of the 2 tablespoons white sugar. Add 1/2 cup chopped favorite dried fruit (raisins, craisins are good choices) and another 1/4 cup melted butter.
Fudgy truffles — Simmer 1 cup cream and 1/4 cup butter. Stir until smooth. Pour over 1 pound chopped semisweet chocolate (see note). Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Note: Use bar chocolate, not chocolate chips. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Chill for 1 hour. Roll into small balls. Coat with crushed candy canes.
Peanut chocolate bark — Melt 12 ounces of finely chopped milk chocolate in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tablespoon melted shortening and 4 ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup raisins add 2/3 cup salted and roasted peanuts. After chocolate hardens, break into pieces.
Chocolate peanut crunchies — Melt 1 cup milk chocolate chips. Stir in 2 1/2 cups dried chow mein noodles. Drop from a tablespoon onto an oiled baking sheet and sprinkle with coarsely chopped peanuts or almonds. Let cool.
Enjoy a “sweet” holiday season and Happy New Year from our home to yours.