RECIPES BY JESSI HAMPTON
Christmas is right around the corner! Even with all the hustle and bustle of the season, spending time with family and friends is what I look forward to the most. My favorite part is making new memories while continuing traditions. One of my fondest memories as a little girl is making butter cookies each year with my Mom, using my Great Grandmother’s old-fashioned tin cookie press while listening to Bing Crosby Christmas Carols in the background. My hope is that these recipes might spark some delight in making and sharing homemade gifts this season for you and yours.
Toffee Popcorn with Heath Bars
•12 cups popped popcorn (air-popped or microwaved)
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
• 2 (1.4 oz) Heath candy bars, chopped
- Preheat oven to 250⁰ F.
- In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring until the mixture is a golden color (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and carefully stir in baking soda and vanilla.
- Add popcorn to a very large bowl. Slowly pour the hot mixture over the popcorn, stir to coat. Place popcorn on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake for 45 minutes stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- When the popcorn is cool, break up any large clumps. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. Drizzle chocolate over the popcorn. Add the chopped Heath candy bars. Let the popcorn set until the chocolate hardens.
Sweet and Spicy Rosemary Nuts
When choosing packaging, an air tight container is best for freshness. Glass jars with a tight seal are great adorned with a festive ribbon and tag. A nice addition is to fasten a mini scoop to the outside with the ribbon.
• 1 cup almonds (raw and unsalted)
• 1 cup pecans (raw and unsalted)
• 1 cup walnuts (raw and unsalted)
• 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
• 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the nuts in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes until they are lightly toasted.
- While the nuts are in the oven, combine the rosemary, brown sugar, salt, cayenne, and melted butter in a large bowl.
- When the nuts are done, immediately toss them in the rosemary mixture, until they are evenly coated.
Gifting Ideas: Package in a clear, fillable ornament (ensuring they are food safe) strung with twine or ribbon.
•1 (11.5 oz) bag baking chips or morsels (milk chocolate, white chocolate, or dark chocolate)
•1 cup (approximate) of various toppings and flavor combinations
• dried fruit w/ roasted nuts
• crushed peppermints
• roasted pistachios and dried cranberries
• peanut butter chips w/ crushed pretzels
• sea salt and caramel
• crushed oreos
• graham crackers and mini marshmallows
- In a heat safe bowl, microwave chocolate in 20 – 30 second intervals stirring each time until completely melted.
- Pour chocolate onto the center of a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate out to an even thickness of approximately 1/4″.
- Sprinkle your chosen toppings across the surface of the chocolate.
- Place baking sheet in refrigerator to allow the chocolate to chill overnight. Once chocolate is solid, remove from the refrigerator and break into pieces of desired size or you may use a knife to cut pieces.