HANDS-DOWN, ONE OF OUR SISTERHOOD’S MOST FAVORITE TREATS!
This is a dessert / snack that I think is fair to say, always brings a smile and sparkle to the eye. Whether served as a plated reception option, a surprise snack for a hard-working crew, a dessert tucked into a bag lunch, it always hits the mark—and is never refused! And as a living testimony to this—today, I left the batch of fresh baked Carmelitas on the counter, only to find when I returned to do my blog “photo shoot”, that the Sister on duty saw them and couldn’t resist offering a few to some Brothers doing a spackling job; I’m still hearing how much they loved them!
As a youngster I loved the story of the spoiled young prince who traveled far and wide in search of the best tasting food in the world. Coming upon a woodchopper in the forest who assured him he could give him that food, he agreed to spend the day working with him. At the close of the day the woodchopper handed the prince a chunk of coarse crusty bread which the tired, famished prince eagerly consumed. Beaming with satisfaction he loudly proclaimed, “At last, I have found the best food in the world!
On the morning of the 9th day of Christmas, without any effort or searching abroad for it, I found the best cookie in the world! It was a scrumptious little chocolate peanut butter creation on a little plate on my desk with an attached note signed, “from a Christmas angel”… I felt just like the spoiled young prince.
At our Convent and Community each year, it is tradition for us to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting and the twelve days that follow Christmas allows time for us to reflect and live the “Incarnation of Christ” as we journey towards our yearly profession of Vows on Epiphany. It’s a time of Enclosure for us when we can withdraw from the busyness of our daily lives and set aside time of quiet for Christ and community.
This Christmas, each of us cooks decided we’d make one special gift for the sisters over each of the twelve days. I chose Monday the 26th and couldn’t wait to make this decadent candy. We have lots of chocolate lovers in the Sisterhood, so I thought it might just be ‘the bomb’ and it was! With just a couple tweaks, it is now going to become my favorite holiday indulgence. I had to quadruple the recipe in order to make enough for 65 Sisters and have some extra for gifting, so it will multiply out well. This recipe is just too special to make for just “any” time of year, so save it for a special occasion.
In a large, deep heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter.
Stir in the salt, sugar, water, and corn syrup, and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil gently over medium heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches hard-crack stage (300°F on an instant-read or candy thermometer). The syrup will bubble without seeming to change much for awhile, but be patient; all of a sudden it will darken, and at that point you need to take its temperature and see if it's ready, about 10 to 12 minutes. Pay attention; too long on the heat, and the syrup will burn.
While the sugar mixture is gently bubbling, spread half of the toasted nuts (1 cup), in a fairly closely packed, even single layer, on a lightly greased baking sheet or 1/2 sheet pan.
Top with half the chocolate chips (1 1/3 cups).
When the syrup is ready, pour it quickly and evenly over the nuts and chocolate. Immediately top with the remaining chocolate (1 1/3 cups).
Wait several minutes for the chips to melt, then gently, using the back of a spatula, spread the chocolate evenly and top with the remaining toasted nuts (1 cup).
Allow to cool at room temperature and the chocolate will harden. When cool, break it into uneven chunks.
Store cooled candy tightly wrapped; it'll stay fresh for a couple of weeks at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.
Today was a beautiful day – it was warm and smelled like spring – do you know what I mean? The daffodils in the orchard had opened up, along with the grape hyacinths. Lots of buds on the apple, peach, pear, plum and nectarine trees. I just love all that new life waiting to burst forth!
There is nothing like a good cookie, don’t you agree? We serve a lot of them here – for tours and receptions, coffee hours, lunch desserts, to name a few; so I have found the recipes that work well in quantity and that I really like. And actually a lot of other people really like them, too. I have a weakness for white chocolate. I love other chocolate, too, but I really like white chocolate – and yes I know it’s not really even chocolate, but I do really like it! Anyway, I thought that it would be a great companion to cranberries – which are so Cape Cod – and pecans, so I started experimenting with recipes that would stand up to that threesome. Here is the result: