Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chocolate and Nuts

I decided to play around in the kitchen on Tuesday. Pull up a seat and watch.

First up we have pretzels and chocolate. How bad can that be? As an aside, we buy Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate because that is the only major brand that can say that the chocolate is not run on equipment that also processes nuts. Since I have a niece who is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, this distinction is important to me. The white chocolate chips are not niece-safe, so those will be for other gatherings. I was careful to avoid cross-contamination during the pretzel-coating process.

I melt some semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave and then coat one end of the pretzel rods in the warm chocolate.

Then I dip the chocolate coated pretzels in candy sprinkles.

Well, what do you know? You can burn chocolate in the microwave, even using the "melt chocolate" setting. Sadly, this wasn't the last batch I burned, either. Good thing I had enough chocolate on hand so I could toss this out and start over.

The pretzel rods are coated and the sprinkles have been finished off. It is a cold day, so I placed this tray out in the garage to allow the chocolate to set up.
Now it's time to do the mini pretzel twists.

I decided I wasn't going to chance burning this batch of white chocolate. This time I heat up the water and then place a zip-top bag of white chocolate chips in the hot water for several minutes.

First I dip the mini pretzels in the semi-sweet chocolate...

Then place them on a baking sheet. I touch up the pretzels with extra chocolate to cover the spot where I had held the pretzels.

Now I emulate Sandra Lee and snip the corner of the zip-top bag so I can drizzle the white chocolate over the pretzels. This also goes out to the garage to chill out for a while.

Next up is Sugar-And-Spice Nuts. Here I have salt, ground cinnamon, an egg white, cayenne pepper, sugar, walnuts, peanuts and pecans.

The recipe tells me to beat the egg white till foamy. I have also mixed the spices, salt and sugar together in one bowl and the nuts together in another bowl. The oven is preheating at 325 degrees.

Stir the nuts into the beaten egg white.

Then pour the spices into the nuts. Stir until coated.

I spread the coated nuts out on a silicon mat on a baking sheet. They are then baked for 20 to 25 minutes. Remember to stir often.

Crisp, sweet, spicy, nutty goodness. I think we'll keep this recipe.

Now, the only question is: how long before I have to make a new batch?

My poor daughter is stressed out over her college finals. I cut her a length of the bubble wrap I had purchased for her. The next half hour was filled with the sounds of popping bubbles. There, that's better.

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