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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Christmas

FOOD FUN: Ice Cream Snowman

Frosty, the ice cream snowman. Photo courtesy Breyers.

 

What’s for dessert?

This recipe was developed by Breyers, which used its chocolate chip ice cream. You can use coconut, egg nog, vanilla or any other ice cream flavor.

Prep time is 20 minutes, freeze time is 20 minutes,

RECIPE: ICE CREAM SNOWMEN

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 cups ice cream, divided
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Optional: orange or red fruit leather
  • 8 chocolate-dipped candy or pretzel sticks
  • 4 slices kiwi
  • 4 strawberry halves
  • Plus:

  • 4 extra additional candy sticks or wooden ice cream sticks
  • Preparation

    1. SCOOP the ice cream and quickly roll into 4 medium and 8 small ice cream balls.

    2. ROLL the balls in coconut, reserve any remaining coconut. Arrange the balls on a a wax paper-lined baking pan. Cover and freeze 20 minutes or until ready to serve.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Stack 1 medium and 2 small ice cream balls on each dessert plate. Insert a candy or wood stick down the center of the snowman to hold the three pieces together.

    4. USE mini chocolate chips for the eyes, nose, mouth and buttons (alternatively, cut the nose from orange or red fruit leather). Add candy sticks arms. Top each snowman with kiwi and strawberry hats. Evenly sprinkle the plates with the remaining coconut “snow.” Serve immediately.

     
      

    Comments

    STOCKING STUFFER: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Crisps

    We love Pretzel Crisps year-round. The flat, bite-size pretzels are terrific for snacking from the bag, dipping into hummus or other dip favorite, topping with peanut butter and a slice of apple, or turning them into canapés, topped with cheese, ham, smoked salmon and so forth.

    Throughout the year, Pretzel Crisps are available in Original plus Chipotle Cheddar, Everything, Jalapeño Jack and Sesame.

    But for the holidays, the special goods come out: chocolate-coated pretzels with a garnish of crushed candy canes.

    They’re available in two versions:

  • Dark Chocolate & Peppermint
  • White Chocolate & Peppermint
  •  

    These delicious combinations of sweet indulgence and salty crunch are affordable stocking stuffers or party favors.

    We enjoy them plain, with a sweet dip, as a garnish for ice cream, or with a cup of something hot (cocoa, coffee, milk, tea).

     

    pretzel-crisps-bags-kaminsky-230

    Delicious in both dark and white chocolate. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Pretzel Crisps are available at retailers nationwide. Here’s a store locator. You can also find them online.

    Discover more at PretzelCrisps.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Christmas Pie Crust Cutters

    christmas-pie-crust-cutters-ws-230

    Use pie crust cutters for a professional effect. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Make your holiday pies Christmas-special with decorative crust cutters. The cutters make it easy to add seasonal fun to your pies.

    Just press them into the dough to form appliqués to go atop the pie, or to create cut-out designs in a pie’s top crust.

    You can also use them to garnish soups and salads. Or, cut out cookie dough for a dessert garnish.

    This year’s exclusive cutter set from Williams-Sonoma includes a Christmas tree, reindeer, Santa in sleigh and a snowflake.

    The shapes change yearly; you can build a collection of festive shapes over time.

    The durable spring-loaded cutters are designed for maximum precision, safety and easy of use. The spring mechanism creates delicate shapes embossed with fine detail. Even a child can use them.

     

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma stores or at WilliamsSonoma.com.

    Give a set to your favorite pie baker.

     
    TIPS FOR USING PIE CRUST CUTTERS

    For fun, color the dough red (for Santa), green for leaves, etc.

    Here are lots of tips for making pie crust cut-outs from King Arthur Flour, including helpful photos.

     

    fall-forest-piecrust-cutters-230s

    A Thanksgiving pie using fall-themed cut-outs. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPES: Strawberry Santa Hats & Santa Hat Cheesecakes

    santa-hats-blog.candiquirk-230

    Fun for kids and adults alike. Photo courtesy CandiQuik.

     

    Here are two fun ideas for Christmas. The first, strawberries decorated as Santa hats, is from Sarah at the CandiQuik blog.

    Prep time is 30 minutes. For best results, prepare no more than 2 hours in advance of serving.

     
    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SANTA HATS

    Ingredients For 30 Pieces

  • 30 fresh strawberries
  • 30 mini marshmallows
  • 6 ounces Vanilla CandiQuik Candy Coating
  • White pearl dragées (sprinkles)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WASH the strawberries and pat completely dry. Slice off the stem of each strawberry, creating a flat bottom.

    2. MELT the CandiQuik in a tray according to package directions. Dip the bottom of each strawberry in the CandiQuik, allowing the excess coating to drip off.

    3. POUR the pearl dragées into a small bowl. ROLL the bottoms of the strawberries in the pearls. Dip the very bottoms of the mini marshmallows in the coating and attach to the tips of the strawberry hats.

    4. PLACE on wax paper to set.

     

     

    RECIPE: CHEESECAKE SANTA HATS

    This Christmas cheesecake treat is from Rachel of BakedByRachel.com. The mini eggnog-flavored cheesecakes have a chocolate cookie crust, topped off with fresh whipped cream and strawberry Santa hats.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 12 Pieces

    For The Crust

  • 20 chocolate wafer cookies or 10 chocolate sandwich cookies*
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  •  
    For The Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  •  
    Plus:

  • 12 strawberries
  •  

    cheesecake-santa-hats-bakedbyrachel-230

    Eggnog cheesecake with strawberry Santa hats. Photo courtesy BakedByRachel.com.

     
    *Instead of the 20 chocolate wafer cookies, you can substitute 10 whole Oreo cookies minus the cream filling.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the 12 wells of a mini cheesecake pan.

    2. BLEND the cookies in a food processor until only fine crumbs remain. Combine the crumbs with the butter and sugar. Divide among the greased cheesecake wells, adding 1 small cookie scoop of crust mixture to each cavity. Press down firmly to create an even layer. Bake for 5 minutes.

    3. REDUCE the oven temperature to 325°F.

    4. BEAT together in a large bowl or stand mixer the cream cheese and granulated sugar, until fluffy and smooth. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the eggnog, flour, vanilla and salt. Gradually increase the speed, mixing until no lumps remain. Finally, add the egg, mixing until combined with no streaks remaining.

    5. DIVIDE the batter among the cheesecake pan cavities using a medium scoop. Add roughly 1 and 1/4 scoops (a heaping scoop) to each cavity. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the cheesecakes are set.

    6. COOL the cheesecakes in the pan on a wire rack until they are room temperature. Transfer them to the refrigerator to chill overnight or until chilled through.

    7. BEAT together the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl, until stiff peaks form. Cover and chill until ready to use.

    8. CAREFULLY REMOVE the cheesecakes from the pan, removing the pan discs from the crusts. Top off with whipped cream and strawberries. Sprinkle with optional powdered for a snow dusted look.
     
    Find more delicious recipes at BakedByRachel.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Cupcakes To Buy Or Bake

    Many people have a favorite Christmas cake recipe. But how about Christmas cupcakes?

    You can purchase a sampler of lovely cupcakes like the ones in the photo (from Williams-Sonoma).

    Or, you can do it yourself: Turn plain cupcakes into holiday celebrations with green, red and white icing and some purchased adornments such as:

  • Crushed candy canes, mini candy canes candy cane confetti or an entire round red-and-white peppermint candy.
  • Christmas tree confetti or holly confetti.
  • Candy snowflakes.
  • Gold or silver dragées.
  • Christmas sprinkles.
  •  
    Hanukkah cupcakes are even easier: just blue and white icing, topped with:

  • Blue and white sanding sugar.
  • Blue and white sprinkles.
  • A gold-foil coin.
  • Sugar dreidels.
  •    

    christmas-cupcakes-ws-230

    Inspiration to bake your own! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    holiday-cupcake-decorating-kit-ws-230

    Decorate plain cupcakes with flair. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    The absolute easiest way to make Christmas cupcakes is to purchase paper decorations attached to picks—or make your own. Just stick them in the top of the cupcake.

    Different companies make a variety of designs. The set in the photo is from Williams-Sonoma, and includes festive holiday cupcake papers.

    Holiday cupcake decorations can be found online, at craft and baking stores, and maybe even the baking department of your supermarket.

    Make Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday cupcakes an annual tradition!

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Go A-Wassailing

    christmas-punch-bowl-baccardi-230

    Christmas punch bowl. Photo courtesy
    Baccardi.

     

    If you live in a community where you can walk from home to home, how about going a-wassailing?

    No one has to sing—that’s caroling. But you certainly can combine the two.

    Line up friends to participate, have everyone make a different punch (or egg nog). Start at one house, work your way down the line and then, if you like, vote on the best. Make it an annual tradition.
     
    WHAT EXACTLY IS WASSAIL?

    “Wassail” began as a greeting among Anglo-Saxons, early Englishmen. Pronounced WASS-ul from the Middle English wæs hæil, it means “good health.” Centuries later, the term evolved into a drinking toast.

    The wassail bowl tradition began in the 14th century in southern England, home to apple groves galore and a lot of apple cider. The first wassail bowls contained hot mulled cider. When you come across references to “a cup of good cheer,” that’s what you were served.

     
    How does wassail fit in to these hot mulled drinks?

    During the holiday season in Merrie Olde [medieval] England, a host would invite friends over for a celebratory drink. The festivities began when the host held up the big bowl* of drink and exclaimed, “Wassail!”

    As wine became more plentiful—and there was a need to salvage bad batches of wine—hot mulled wine became an alternative to mulled cider.

    Both are still traditional Christmas drinks in Europe. Mulled wine is called Gløg in Sweden, Glögi in Finland and Glühwein in Germany.

    You don’t have to serve mulled cider or wine in your wassail bowl. There are many, many Christmas punch recipes, made with your favorite spirit or alcohol-free.

     
    *Today that big bowl is known as a punch bowl, but punch was not to arrive in Europe for three more centuries. Details below.

     

    WHAT DOES “MULLED” MEAN?

    If you consult a dictionary, you’d think that mulled wine is one that is studied or pondered. According to Harvard University, the origin of the word “mull” to mean heated and spiced is shrouded in mystery.

    Mulling spices are a blend of allspice, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (what some Americans call “pumpkin pie spices”). The recipe varies, and star anise, cardamom and peppercorns can also be included, along with dried fruit such as apples, orange rind and raisins.

    Thus, a “mulled” drink is one which has been prepared with these spices. The technique is to heat the drink with the spices and then strain them out before serving. Mulling spices may also be added to the brewing process to make spiced beer.

     
    HOW DOES PUNCH FIT IN?

    In the 17th century, merchant travelers of the British East India Company discovered the festive Indian drink, punch.

    The word “punch” is an English variation of the Hindi word, “panch.” Panch was made from five different ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices and an alcoholic spirit. The word for “five” in Sanskrit is panchan–hence the name.

     

    Hot and Bothered-svedka-230

    Mulled cider, with an optional splash of vodka. Photo courtesy Svedka Vodka.

     

    The concept was brought back to Europe, where it became a mainstream drink at festive occasions.

    After carbonated water (soda water) became available in the late 18th century, it became a sixth ingredient, added to the punch for some effervescence. However, the word for six in Sanskrit is shata. “Shat” just doesn’t work, so we’ll stick with “punch.”

    Here’s a video recipe for wassail.

    This non-alcoholic version of a wassail recipe combines apple cider and pineapple juice: certain to be popular with the kids.

    Start planning to go a-wassailing!

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Boxes Made Of Chocolate, Filled With More Chocolate

    orange-twigs-2-230

    One of our favorites: Orange Twigs. Photo
    courtesy Charles Chocolates.

     

    We have two favorite products from San Francisco’s Charles Chocolates.

    The first, Orange Twigs, delicate milk chocolate butter truffles that melt in your mouth.

    They have a hint of fresh orange, a divine combination. The ganache is coated in a thin layer of 65% bittersweet chocolate and finished with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.

    A 6.3-ounce box is $ 16.00.

    How about a gift box made from chocolate, filled with more chocolate?

    Second on our menu are the company’s signature chocolate boxes. The square gift boxes made entirely of chocolate are filled with assorted bonbons (details below). After the chocolates are consumed, you eat the box!

     

     

    Three seasonal designs include:

  • Christmas Collection Edible Chocolate Box (shown in photo): a bittersweet box bottom and a white chocolate top
  • Hanukkah Collection Edible Chocolate Box, a bittersweet chocolate box
  • Winter Collection Edible Chocolate Box (snowflake design), a milk chocolate box
  •  

    What’s in the boxes?

    Cinnamon Spice Truffles, Orange Zest Truffles, Pecan Fleur de Sel Caramels, Peppermint Cremes, Bittersweet Peanut Butterflies, Poire William Caramels, Maple Truffles, Fleur de Sel Caramels and Bourbon Truffles.

    Each box is 17 ounces, $65.00.

     

    christmas-chocolate-box-charles-230

    An edible chocolate box filled with holiday bonbons. Photo courtesy Charles Chocolates/

     
    Get yours at CharlesChocolates.com. There’s free shipping on all orders over $75.00 shipped before Christmas.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Christmas Tree Pizza

    Who else but the folks at California Pizza Kitchen would create a Christmas Tree Pizza?

    For fun this weekend, how about making this recipe for Christmas Tree Pizza, decorated with your favorite “ornaments.”

    The recipe, from California Pizza Kitchen, makes 1 large pizza, 2 medium pizzas or individual pizzas
    If you’re making individual pizzas, let the people decorate their own.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS TREE PIZZA

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound traditional or whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 6 ounces (2 cups) mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional trimmings: sliced olive “ornaments,” anchovy “garland”
  •  

    christmas-tree-pizza-calpizzakitchen-230

    Deck the pizza with your favorite “trimmings.” Photo courtesy California Pizza Kitchen.

  • Optional garnish: carve a piece of yellow bell pepper into a star for the top of the tree
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE a seasoned (or oiled) pizza stone in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450°F for at least 30 minutes.

    2. SHAPE the dough. If making more than 1 pizza, divide the dough into 2 or 4 pieces; then roll and shape each piece into a tall triangle. The pizzas will be decorated after baking, so prepare all of them at once.

    3. SPREAD the sauce over the dough to within 1 inch of the outer edge. Top with the mozzarella and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Meanwhile…

    4. COMBINE the spinach, arugula and basil leaves in a large bowl. When the pizza is cooked, place on a serving plate and allow it to cool slightly. Then top with overlapping leaves of greens, making sure that the three different types are evenly distributed.

    5. COVER the leaves with tomato halves, cut side down, add any other garnishes and sprinkle with Parmesan “snow” before serving.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Holiday Coffee Creamers From Baileys

    You can make your home-brewed coffee as special as going out for holiday coffee flavors. Just stir in some Baileys coffee creamers in holiday flavors.

    This year’s seasonal flavors are:

  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Red Velvet Cupcake
  • White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
  •  
    They join the other flavors, including year-round classics and seasonal specialties: Brown Butter Pecan, Caramel, Chocolatini, Cinnamon Dolce, Crème Brûlée, French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Mudslide, The Original Irish Cream, Toffee Almond Cream, Triple Sweet Cream, Sweet Italian Biscotti and Vanilla Brown Sugar.

    Bet you didn’t know there were that many different Baileys creamers! The next time you have people over for coffee, you can set out an entire flavored creamer tasting bar.

     

    baileys-white-chocolate-peppermint-230

    White Chocolate Peppermint Bark creamer. Photo courtesy Baileys.

     
    The creamers are available nationwide. For more information head to BaileysCreamers.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Candy Cane Ice Cream

    candy-cane-ice-cream-foodchannel-230

    Candy cane ice cream. If you want it to be
    pink, add red food color. Photo courtesy
    Williams-Sonoma.

     

    One thing we love about the holidays is candy cane ice cream, also known as peppermint stick ice cream. The difference between it and the peppermint ice cream available year-round is the inclusion of crushed peppermint candy for a vivid peppermint flavor and crunch.

    Different brands now have their limited-edition candy cane/peppermint stick pints and quarts in stores. There’s also peppermint bark ice cream, which includes bits of chocolate studded with peppermint.

    If you want the fun of making your own at home, we’ve got some recipe options below.

    The ice cream can be drizzled with hot fudge, packed into chocolate cookie pie crust, made into a trifle, added to hot chocolate or turned into a candy cane dessert cocktail.

    This recipe produces white ice cream. If you want pink ice cream, add a few drops of red food color until the desired color is reached.

    This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma, from their book Ice Creams & Sorbets.

    Prep time is 20 minutes plus chilling and freezing.

     

    RECIPE: CANDY CANE ICE CREAM

    Ingredients For 1 Quart

  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed peppermint snap candies, candy canes or peppermint sticks
  •  

    Preparation

    1. WARM 2 cups of the half-and-half and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until steam begins to rise from the surface (3 to 4 minutes). Remove from the heat.

    2. WHISK together the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a heatproof mixing bowl, until blended. Form a kitchen towel into a ring and place the bowl on top to prevent it from moving. Gradually add the hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly until fully incorporated.

    3. RETURN the mixture to the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the custard thickens and a finger drawn across the back of the spoon leaves a path, 8 to 10 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil!

    4. POUR the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl. Stir in the peppermint extract. Add the remaining 1 cup half-and-half and stir to combine.

     

    candy-cane-trifle-perryicecream-230

    Make a candy cane ice cream trifle (recipe below). Photo courtesy Perry’s Ice Cream.

     

    5. NESTLE the bowl in a larger one filled halfway with ice and water and cool the custard to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

    6. TRANSFER the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. At the end of the freezing stage, add the peppermint candies and continue processing just until they are blended into the ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to a chilled container, cover and freeze until firm, 3 to 4 hours.
     
    MAKING AN ICE CREAM TRIFLE

    Pair the candy cane ice cream with chocolate cake and whipped cream. The trifle can be made up to 1 week in advance.

    Ingredients

  • 1 chocolate loaf cake, brownie loaf or substitute
  • Option: 1 package Oreo cookies (we used Mint Joe-Joes from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream
  • 1 quart candy cane ice cream
  • 1 cup chocolate sauce/fudge sauce
  • Optional garnish: chocolate shavings, crushed peppermints
  •  
    For 2 Cups Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 pint (1 cup) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHILL the bowl, beaters and cream for the whipped cream.

    2. PLACE a layer of cake cubes in the bottom of a straight-side glass bowl. Trim the cake as necessary to create an even layer.

    3. SPREAD 3 cups of vanilla ice cream on top of the cake layer. Repeat process and top with a layer of cake cubes or crushed Oreo cookies. Top with candy cane ice cream.

    4. COVER with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Freeze for at least 1 hour, until the ice cream is re-frozen.

    5. MAKE the whipped cream: Beat the cream, sugar, vanilla and salt to soft peaks with an electric mixer.

    6. TO SERVE: Remove the trifle from the freezer 10 minutes in advance of serving. Drizzle with fudge sauce. Top with whipped cream before bringing to the table and add optional garnish.

      

    Comments

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