Food & Drink

Recipes: Dec. 9

A gift of homemade candy is sure to please your friends and neighbors this Christmas. Here are some easy recipes that take only a few minutes to make.

Chocolate cherry almond fudge

24 ounces chocolate chips

2 cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 pound walnuts, halves or pieces

6 ounces candied cherries, each cut in halves or quarters (see note)

3 teaspoons almond extract (see note)

Combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 31/2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. Immediately stir in walnuts, cherries and almond extract. Pour into foil-lined 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Refrigerate overnight. Remove from pan and peel off foil. Cut into pieces.

Note: You may use miniature marshmallows instead of cherries, and vanilla extract instead of almond.

These recipes are from Better Homes and Gardens.

Hazelnut truffles

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 jar (13 ounces) chocolate- hazelnut spread

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon Irish cream liqueur or vanilla

2⁄3 cup halved hazelnuts (filberts), toasted (see note)

Finely or coarsely chopped hazelnuts (filberts), toasted (see note)

Unsweetened cocoa powder

In a heavy medium saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, chocolate-hazelnut spread and unsweetened chocolate. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Remove saucepan from heat. Cool slightly. Stir in liqueur or vanilla until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl; cover and chill about 3 hours or until firm.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. For each truffle, form about 1 teaspoon of the chocolate mixture around 1 toasted hazelnut half to make a 3/4-inch ball. Roll in chopped toasted nuts or cocoa powder.

Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Makes 120 candies.

Note: To toast hazelnuts, place nuts in a skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or shaking skillet often, for 7 to 10 minutes or until skins begin to flake and nuts are light golden brown. Watch carefully to avoid over-browning. Remove nuts from skillet and place on a clean kitchen towel. When hazelnuts are cool enough to handle, rub them together in the towel, removing as much of the brown skin as possible.

Marbled peanut clusters

1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces

11/2 cups peanuts

1 ounce vanilla-flavor candy coating

1 ounce green candy coating (optional)

Heat chocolate pieces in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly just until melted. Stir in peanuts. Spoon by rounded teaspoons onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper-.

Heat vanilla-flavor candy coating in a heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly just until melted. If using green candy coating, heat it in a similar manner. Drizzle a small amount of each candy coating atop each cluster, then swirl gently with a toothpick to create a marbled effect.

Chill candy about 30 minutes, or until firm. Store tightly covered in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Makes about 24 pieces.

Bittersweet chocolate bark with cinnamon candies

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into chunks

1⁄3 cup red cinnamon candies, such as Red Hots candy

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a small platter or plate, and set aside. In a small heavy saucepan, melt chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring often.

When chocolate is melted, remove from heat. Working quickly, stir in about 1⁄3 of the cinnamon candies. Immediately turn chocolate out onto parchment paper. With the back of a spoon, spread out chocolate mixture until candies are in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining candies on top, and place in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until hard. Leave bark in freezer until ready to break off pieces to serve.

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