Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Finally, it really feels like Christmas around here. The photos above are a bit murky, but you get the idea. I was a bit worried about how we would do our tree this year; what with a curious toddler bounding around ready to touch and taste everything in his path. We selected a shorter tree than usual, and sat it upon a pedestal. Henry hasn't chewed on any mini lightbulbs... yet.
Tonight I spruced up our porch with some garlands, a living wreath, and a living swag above the door. The parts that are "living" include pine, acuba, and other various evergreen foliage with nandina berries and fruit. I constructed them using Oasis, or florist's foam, which provides a constant source of water for the plants while keeping them tightly arranged. I'll include a daylight photo of them this week, and maybe provide a little tutorial. It is so easy, and less expensive than buying these things readymade from your local nursery.
Mike's mom had her annual holiday party at her restaurant this weekend. Every year her waitresses beg me to make some fudge, so I was up to my arms in chocolate for the past couple of days. Many batches later, I can already feel the expansion of my ass. What, I had to do a little taste test to make sure it was suitable for giving away. The recipe is so unbelievably simple, and so outrageously good. And fudge is just so sweet and rich, when giving it as a gift, a little goes such a long way. And really, I get requests for this stuff every year!

Foolproof Fudge-y Goodness

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (you can do a variation of semisweet with milk chocolate, peanut butter, dark chocolate, or butterscotch chips)
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk (do not use evaporated- it won't work)
1/2 cups walnuts coarsely chopped (or not, if you don't like nuts)
1 1/2 tsps. PURE vanilla extract (don't even reach for the imitation stuff)
1/4 cup butter (unsalted sweet cream)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (what, I warned you about the expanding ass part... but hey, just run a bit harder and farther in the beginning of the new year)

Once you've made a few batches you can experiment with add-ins such as peanut butter, or miniature marshmallows for a rocky-road type fudge.

Melt all together in a medium saucepan over low heat, constantly stirring. No candy thermometer needed. You will know the desired consistency is achieved when you start humming theme songs from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original, not the remake). Pour mixture into a wax paper-lined pan (8X9). Cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight. Enjoy!! Even the tiniest bite will satisfy the largest chocolate craving. I swear.

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