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.
Blessed Twelve Days of Christmas to you!
- 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.
If you should be up and around at 5:30 every a.m. you are apt to see two young sisters making their way down the road to the barn to milk our 3 cows. These gorgeous brown guernseys keep us well supplied with quality fresh milk every day. This makes it possible for us to produce our own yogurt and soft cheeses which we have doing for some time. Only recently however, have we begun to use the Crockpot method which results in a wonderfully thick satisfying yogurt with little to no effort. Combine this with our homemade granola and some fresh fruit and you have a beautiful, bright, healthy breakfast that is a favorite at the convent.
We decided to offer it for our last oblate retreat and it was met with such overwhelmingly positive response from so many we have decided to serve it again in the near future. Perhaps you would like to give it try even if you don’t have any cows of your own. Healthy Summer Breakfast!
Homemade Granola with Yogurt
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cool Time: overnight
Ready In: Next day
Crockpot Yogurt -
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes approximately
Cool Time: 3.5-4 hours
Cure Time: 10-12 hours
Drain Time: 2 -4 hours (if thicker yogurt is desired)
Ready In: Next day
What You will Need:
Some Type of Cooking or Dairy Thermometer
A Wisk or Fork
Muslin, Plyban Cheescloth or some woven type of woven cloth
Bath towel or woolen scarf
Oven or Other draft free warm location
- Heat the first four ingredients (through the vanilla) in a skillet,
then add the next 2 items (oats and cinnamon) and mix well
- Spread evenly on paper lined sheet pans. Bake 1 hr 15 min on 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Leave granola in oven overnight and package the following day --
mixing in the raising first and breaking up chunks
- Place the gallon of milk into the crock pot and cover. Heat the milk
slowly until the milk is between 180 Fahrenheit - 190 Fahrenheit it is vital to heat
the milk to at least 180 Fahrenheit.
- Allow the milk to cool to 110 Fahrenheit (takes 3.5 - 4 hours). Milk should not be
a higher or lower temperature. There may be a skin formed on the milk
(if you are using non homogenized or raw milk). If so, carefully remove it.
- Place 1 cup of the warm milk in a separate small bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of
starter yogurt to the cup of milk. (no more than 2 Tablespoons - that is all you
- With a fork or whisk, gently stir the starter yogurt into the milk.
- Next, pour the milk back into the crock pot and stir gently from side
to side. Do not stir in circles, use a careful and slow up and down
lifting motion across the length of the crock.
- Lift it out of the electric base and place it in a cool oven. Lay a
bath towel or shawl around the crock and leave it undisturbed
overnight or for 10 - 12 hours. You want the milk to stay nice and
warm. An oven with a pilot light or electric light turned on works
great. Do not disturb the milk and keep the oven door closed. After
10 -12 hours your yogurt should be solid with a layer of whey on the
top. If you like thicker yogurt, you'll need to drain or carefully
pour off the whey by pouring it into a colander lined with cheesecloth
that has been set on top of a large pot.
- It takes about 2 hours of draining to make a thick natural yogurt, and
about 3 or 4 hours to make a Greek style yogurt. Next, yogurt can be
stored in a refrigerator or cooler to keep it sweet tasting. Some
people prefer a tart yogurt and leave it out at room temperature for
over 24 hours. The longer it stays at room temperature, the tarter it
will become. Save a little back for the next batch!
*(any kind of yogurt, but must have both the active
and live cultures of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus
thermophilus. Read the label to be sure that you have the right
Yogurt can be sweetened with jam, sugar, honey, or whatever you like.
At the convent, we received a wonderful donation recently of Agave
nectar. This natural sweetener has made some lovely batches of yogurt
for our guests!