Super Easy Coconut & Walnut Fudge

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Hey! I have this totally festive and celebratory fudge for you all! It’s so damn simple, I mean, literally 2 ingredients, plus mix-ins for flava.

Why is this fudge festive AND celebratory? Well, 2 reasons…

1. It’s the holidays, y’all! I’m sure you already knew that…that’s where the festive comes in. 2. Sean loves holiday fudge and we have a major reason to celebrate him, as he just landed a new job is a far-off and distant city–Portland, Oregon!

So, we are totes moving in a few weeks. We found out the officially-official news just last week and are in a whirlwind of packing and purging and holiday planning. We are super excited since this position (with his current company) is a total step up and will bring us SO MUCH CLOSER to our beloved family and friends…like, a day-trip in the car away, instead of a 3-day driving marathon. Also, I hear Portland is a pretty cool place, so it will be totally exciting to explore a new city.

And even though things may be a little more than hectic around here, I’ve still gotta get my holiday-treat on, so easy is the name of the game and this fudge is exactly that. No stirring of boiling sugar and chocolate and hoping/praying for a smooth, grain-less result. We’re just melting with a side of stirring, then we’re done. Not a grainy bite of candy in site, just creamy-dreamy chocolate and coconut + walnut goodness. BOOM, easiest holiday treat ever!

PS, I’ve never been to Portland and won’t make it  there before our move in January, so any recommendations or affirmations would be greatly appreciated. I AM SO EXCITED!!

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Super Easy Coconut & Walnut Fudge

Adapted from Heather Baird for Betty Crocker

This recipe can be made in the microwave or on the stove top. For microwave instructions, click the link above. 

1 can (14oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1 bag (12oz.) chocolate chips, I like semisweet

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 cup toasted coconut

Prepare an 8x8inch baking pan by spraying with cooking spray and lining with parchment, leaving a few inches of overhang on two sides for easy removal. Secure the parchment with binder clips.

Fashion a double boiler out of a heat proof bowl fitted over a saucepan with a few inches of simmering water, taking care that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Add the condensed milk and chocolate chips and stir until the chips are melted, the mixture is well combined, and smooth. Remove the bowl from the top of the sauce pan and stir in the vanilla, followed by the walnuts and coconut, until well combined. Scrape the fudge mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Allow the fudge to cool to room temperature before covering with plastic and placing in the refrigerator to set for several hours. Once set, cut the fudge into cubes and serve (or gift)! [/recipe]

Walnut Caramels w/ Hawaiian Black Salt

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Hey! I have yet another salty-sweet combo for you today. This time in the form of nutty, chewy, caramels.

I pretty much make a batch of these caramels every year–with or without nuts–for certain friends and family members around the holidays. These caramels ship well AND can be made several days in advance AND you won’t even have to rush the shipping…plus, they won’t get damaged by rough handling. I love a treat that doesn’t cause me stress when it comes to shipping and sharing.

These walnut caramels start out by cooking sugar with a bit of water and some syrup (golden, corn, and honey all work nicely). The syrup helps the sugar from re-crystalizing and keeps the caramel smooth and free of gritty granules. Once the sugar becomes deeply golden–as dark as you dare, I shoot for a rich bourbon/whisky color–warm cream, butter, vanilla, and sea salt are added. There’s a lot of hissing and steaming and fuss at this point, but everything mellows out and comes together. The caramel is then cooked a little longer until it comes to temperature–key for a set caramel–it’s then mixed with plenty of toasty walnuts, scraped into a pan, and liberally sprinkled with black salt. The caramels are chewy, nutty, crunchy, and salty-sweet. I think they are really pretty wrapped in gold candy foils–like little gold nuggets–but parchment or wax paper is nice, too.

Walnut Caramels with Hawaiian Black Salt

adapted from this recipe

I love the black salt on these because it’s super -dark color makes for a dramatic piece of candy, but don’t feel like you have to go out and hunt for fancy salts. I have a variety of salts on hand, mainly because whenever I travel (or friends/fam travel) my favorite souvenirs are edibles–specifically specialty/locally harvested salts and honeys. Every time I use one of my fancy salts, I remember the trip or the people or the place–it’s a nice, edible reminder. This black salt–also called Hawaiian Black Lava Salt–was a gift from one of my brothers-in-law. It’s dramatically black, a bit mineral-y, and super crunchy–which is a great contrast with the sweet and chewy caramel. 

1 1/4 cups granualated sugar

1/4 cup golden or corn syrup, or honey (honey will impart a distinct flavor)

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (a touch less if using table or kosher) plus more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 generous cup toasted walnut pieces (I like halves and large pieces)

Prepare a standard loaf pan by lining with parchment, leaving an overhang on the two long sides, securing parchment with binder clips, and spraying the parchment and pan lightly with canola oil.

In a small sauce pan, gently heat the heavy cream, butter, salt, and vanilla. Bring to a bare simmer and remove from heat, set aside.

In a heavy bottomed, medium saucepan gently mix sugar, syrup, and water until everything is well moistened. Heat the sugar mixture over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and a clear syrup forms. At this point, it is important to not stir the sugar syrup–or it will re-crystalize and you will have to start over…if you must, you can swirl the pan, but mostly leave it alone. Continue to cook the sugar syrup, without stirring, until it becomes deep golden brown–it will start off a light honey color, but try to take it to a whiskey colored golden-brown. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and add the cream/butter mixture and stir to combine well. The caramel will hiss and steam violently–I recommend using a long wooden spoon and covering your stirring hand with an oven mitt.

Clip on your candy thermometer and continue to cook the caramel over medium heat, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 260*F (I found that at higher elevations, above 4,000 ft, the caramel becomes too hard–when I lived in Nevada, I always cooked to about 250-255*F). Remove the caramel from the heat, quickly stir in the nuts, and scrape into the prepared pan. Allow to cool about 5 minutes before sprinkling with salt–this keeps the salt from sinking into the caramel, but still allows it to stick nicely to the top. Allow caramels to cool before cutting into squares and wrapping. Can be stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks.

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies w/ Chocolate Chips + Walnuts

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I made these cookies for my mom.

Well, I made the recipe for my mom so she’d have something to bake for my aunt’s annual holiday cookie party. In her usual fashion, my mom doesn’t want to bake anything.

To quote her, “I hate-dat-dang-baking…”(to get the full effect, say it in one word, in your head like a scolding-Korean-mother would).

What she really wants is to bribe one of her baking-friendly pals into make something totally cute and delish for her… except, according to my aunt, that is cheating. And, my aunt is totally right! You cannot show up to a cookie party with another persons baked goods–it’s a tragic holiday charade. I told mom to suck it up and get to baking! Usually moms dole out the tough love, but sometimes adult-daughters have to step it up.

So, after figuring out what my moms dream cookie would be–something chewy and oat-y, with mix-ins, and the possibility of sandwiching some cream cheese frosting between two–I came up with these lightly spiced, chewy oatmeal cookies full of dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate. It also had to come together quickly and with the least amount of fuss possible–since my mother thinks  the no-bake, rice krispy treat is fussy and somehow a baked good. While mom will most certainly switch out the chocolate chips for white chocolate (excuse me while I weep, I have a white-chocolate bias), and the dried cherries may become cranberries, these cookies are everything she asked for–chew, chunky texture, endless mix-in possibilities, sandwich capability, easy assembly…the works.

These cookies have molasses and thick oats, for lots of rich and chewy goodness. The dried cherries are tart and deep, the walnuts are toasty, and the chocolate does it’s chocolate thing. These are a great cookie-jar cookie. They are not too sweet and would totally welcome a slick of tart-creamy frosting to make the best holiday cookie sandwich. Like those oatmeal cream pies in the cellophane but, well, better.

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

These don’t have to be cherry-walnut-chocolate cookies, you can use whatever nutty, dried fruit, chocolate-y mix-ins you’d like. I made small cookies, about the size of a silver dollar–but you could make these larger, just bake a few minutes longer. I used my favorite Extra-Thick Rolled Oats, but regular Quaker rolled oats will work just as well. 

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup each dried cherries, walnut pieces, chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line two baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and molasses, beat well until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Add the egg and vanilla, mix to combine well.

Scrape bowl and add the dry ingredients, pulsing mixer until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Mix in the dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate. Scoop cookies in desired amount (I used a mini disher for these) and place on a baking sheet spaced about 1-2 inches apart (1 for smaller cookies, 2 for larger) and bake 1 sheet at a time in the center of the oven for 11-13 minutes–possibly more for larger cookies–until the bottoms are golden brown and cookies are just done in the center. Over-baking will make for a less chewy cookie. Cool on sheet pan about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Repeat process with remaining dough. Can be kept in a cookie jar or other container at room temperature for 3-4 days.