Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Traditions, Part 1

Chocolate Mint Sticks - A new tradition!

Today I shall begin a little Christmas series to share Harasick Family Christmas traditions. Of course, I choose to begin with food. Are you surprised?

I used to do quite a bit of baking for the holidays. Double batches of English toffee, Nupulups (a type of rugalech), Russian Tea Cakes, Cranberry-coconut chews, Lemon bars, Pecan pie bars, and of course cut-out kid-decorated Sugar cookies. After preparing a solid freezer stash weeks ahead, I would then make mixed boxes of treats for friends, bible study, kids' Sunday school teachers and AWANA leaders, neighbors, etc. Then, somehow, my sister and I also got hooked into bringing my mom's office a big cookie platter as well. I think it all began with my mom asking us to give her some homemade treats one year, as she had signed up to bring some to the office and she didn't bake. Everyone raved about the cookies, so it became a yearly tradition to bring them. We had to keep increasing the amount because somehow when the platter arrived more and more people came streaming in from other departments at her office to eat some. My mom truly beamed when my sister and I, plus all our kids, came to the office with our platter each year. We would bring 12 dozen cookies and they would all get eaten in 1-2 days! Incidentally there were only 5 or 6 people in my mom's office.

Well, this year it came down to only Russian Tea Cakes and Sugar cookies. Russian Tea Cakes are Rich's absolute favorite and the kids would never let me drop the Sugar cookie tradition. We do it with Suzanne and the boys at our house. We make powdered sugar frosting in all colors, and lay out a smorgasbord of sprinkles. Believe me, I still find the sprinkles clear on the opposite side of the house in March. But it is a lot of fun, and a tradition I'm glad to preserve.

However, Rich needed something for his office today, so yesterday I decided to try a new recipe called "Chocolate Mint Sticks". I came across the recipe online, and had been dying to try it. It sounded like something I knew and loved from the past, kind of a Creme de Menthe brownie. It has a not-too-thick brownie layer on the bottom, topped with a mint creme layer, finished with a dark chocolate shell on top. You could call it perfection in the form of a cookie bar.

Well, I must say, they're a keeper! They turned out FAB! I highly recommend you make some - as they are so easy, and are absolutely incredible.

CHOCOLATE MINT STICKS

2 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.Melt chocolate and butter together in a small bowl in the microwave, stirring after every 30-second interval until smooth. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar, salt and vanilla extract until smooth. Beat in chocolate mixture, then stir in the flour. Mix in chocolate chips, then pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Mint Icing
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp milk or cream
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Spread evenly on cooled chocolate base, then refrigerate until hardened.

Bitter Chocolate Glaze
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp butter

Crushed Peppermint candy, optional

Melt together chocolate and butter in a small bowl, in the microwave, stirring after every 30-second interval until smooth. Immediately pour the hot glaze (it should be fairly fluid) over the chilled chocolate/mint base. Tilt the pan around to coat the mint layer as much as possible, or drizzle over evenly. Some white will show through; this is ok. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy if desired. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before removing foil and chocolate bars from pan and cutting into 24 thin bars with a sharp knife. Sticks can be served at room temperature, but are best when chilled or frozen.

Makes 24.






1 comment:

Myra said...

You have always been the Queen of the Kitchen!!! I still think of your box of mixed fancy sweets at Christmastime. That is a sweet memory of long ago when all our kids were little and we would have playdays at your house in Sunland.
I have enjoyed browsing your blog and stepping back into your world. Especially appreciated your post on Brady's birthday, as you were in my thoughts that day, and the day we took Savannah to Master's. Love you!