3 Sweet Holiday Treats

    Baked Goodies for Gift-Giving

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    Pecan Clusters

    Arrange 48 pecan halves, plus a few broken ones, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. When baking sheet is cool to the touch, arrange 3 pecan halves into clusters so the tops are touching. Remove extra couple of broken pecans and finely chop; reserve this for later. Cut 8 store-bought caramel candies in half and squish them down; place these over the middle of the pecans so some caramel is covering each pecan. Repeat this for each cluster; you now have 16 pecan clusters. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the caramel has melted slightly. Remove again, and top the caramel with one regular-size chocolate chip. Place back in the oven for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove baking sheet. Use the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate slightly. Sprinkle a tiny amount of chopped pecans on top of the chocolate. Allow to set, and store in an airtight container.

    Chocolate Truffles

    Place 8 ounces 60% dark chocolate chips in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup heavy cream to a low boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips until covered. Let stand for 30 seconds. Use a small whisk or fork to stir and melt the chocolate completely. There should be no lumps and the chocolate should be glossy. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour melted chocolate and cream mixture into a small plastic bowl and cover promptly with plastic wrap, pressing down slightly to remove any extra air. Allow to sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. The next day, pour holiday sprinkles into small bowls. Use a spoon to scoop small 1-inch balls from the chocolate mixture. Use your clean hands to roll into balls. Dip the balls in the sprinkles. Place finished truffle on a clean plate and continue to make about 20. Store in an airtight container. (Truffles are meant to be imperfect, so enjoy the mess!)

    Gingy-Rice Treats

    In a large pot, melt 10 ounces marshmallows and 6 ounces unsalted butter, stirring continuously. Once melted, add 2 teaspoons molasses, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg, stirring well. Add 6 cups crispy rice cereal and stir until mixed. Coat a 9×13 glass dish with baking spray, and pour the rice cereal mixture into the pan, pressing down to create an even top. Allow to cool and set. Once set, mix ½ cup powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl and add a few drops warm water until it flows, but is still thick. Cut into 2-inch crispy rice bars, and use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the treats. Top with gingerbread sprinkles and store in an airtight container.

    Photos: Jenny Tremblay West

     

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    Jenny Tremblay West

    Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is part of the team at Mise en Place.