Aunt Nancy’s comforting trail mix

homemade comforting trail mix

My very, very, very best friend S brought this when she visited last. It’s her aunt’s recipe and is usually reserved for special occasions or times when comfort food is in order. I got lucky and received a jar just for running a half marathon. It didn’t last the weekend.

2 cups almonds
light corn syrup (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla (feel free to use more!)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi sweet, or a mix of your favorite chocolates if you prefer. I’d avoid milk chocolate or white alone, it’s just too sweet)
1 cup dried cherries

Stir almonds in a bowl with some light corn syrup and vanilla. Bake at 300° on a parchment lined cookie sheet for about 20 to 30 minutes, until they get a hard coating. Let cool. Then mix in a bowl with chocolate chips and dried cherries. Put in a jar and screw the lid. Avoid shaking once in the jar, the hard coating cracks. Not that I learned from experience or anything.

My opinion:
Like I said above, this didn’t last the weekend. It’s amazing. Don’t be surprised if friends and family start requesting this as a gift.

Peppermint Balls

Peppermint Balls

While the holiday baking season might be over, we’re still eating our left overs. No complaints though! My newest favorite candy is these peppermint balls. I originally tried to make patties, (like this recipe suggests) but they didn’t work out as well and ended up coated in less chocolate. Once we got past that part, the recipe was actually surprisingly easy, I don’t think these will be regulated to just winter holiday food after this year.

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (you might need a little more or less depending on how it comes together.)
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water (we had the best luck with warm water)
2 teaspoon peppermint extract (the original recipe called for one, but we like it a little more minty)
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

Beat 2 1/4 cups of confectioners sugar together with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract and vegetable shortening until combined. The mixture might crumbly (this is good!) If it isn’t, add some more sugar. Dust a work surface with remaining 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar.Empty contents of bowl onto work surface and knead until smooth (this will take a few minutes). This is when we put it back in the bowl and stuck it in the freezer. Where we left it for about an hour.

Before you take the dough out of the freezer, you need to temper your chocolate. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Cool slightly.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from freezer. Using a spoon make a ball and dip into the chocolate and then set on the parchment paper. If the chocolate doesn’t cover the ball all the way, drip chocolate over the top once it is on the wax paper. Once all the dough is used, put the entire baking sheet into the freezer.

Once set, we stored these in the refrigerator between wax paper.

Peppermint Balls (inside)

My opinion:
The colder the dough is the easier it will be to work with. We ended up doing these in two batches because the dough thawed too much in between.