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Holiday ‘gift’ recipes from Meals by the Week

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Chocolate Holiday Bark

2 pounds white chocolate candy coating
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger

Melt chocolate coating over a double boiler. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread mixture in a foil-lined cookie sheet, and freeze until chocolate is solid. Break into uneven pieces to serve.

Gourmet cocoa mix

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Pour about 1 cup of the mixture into a food processor. Using the knife blade, pulse until smooth. Spoon into jars. To make hot cocoa: add about 3 tablespoons of the mix to 8 ounces hot milk.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture boils. Reduce heat to low and slowly add the heavy cream. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat; add vanilla and salt. Pour into jars and cool. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Spiced Hot Fudge Sauce

1 cup heavy cream
6 whole cloves
zest from one orange
1 cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long
dash of nutmeg
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Combine cream, cloves, orange zest, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 30 minutes. After the spices have infused, strain the liquid to remove the solid spices. Add cream if necessary to measure 3/4 cup.

In a clean saucepan, add the liquid, brown sugar and simmer over medium heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Pour into glass jars and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Spiced Nuts

1 pound raw pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spices and stir, just until aromatic. Add the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Finally, add the sugar, salt and water. Continue to cook until mixture thickens and coats the nuts, about 3 minutes. Spread nuts evenly on the parchment-lined sheet and toast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool nuts to room temperature before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Marshmallows

3 envelopes gelatine
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar

Place gelatine in the bottom of a standing mixer, and use the whisk attachment. Pour the cold water over gelatine and let it soak while you make the cooked syrup. To make the syrup, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F (soft ball stage). Turn the mixer on low, and slowly stream the syrup into the mixing bowl. When all of the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and whip until the mixture is very thick and opaque, about 10-15 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.

While the mixture is whipping, line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Generously coat the bottom and sides of the lined pan with a dusting powdered sugar. Spray a rubber spatula with pan coating spray or vegetable oil. Carefully pour the whipped mixture into the prepared pan. Cover with another layer of powdered sugar and let stand overnight at room temperature. The next day, cut the marshmallows into squares and roll in more powdered sugar to cover cut edges.
Cinnamon Bread

2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups water (115 degrees F)
1/4 cup sugar
7 cups unbleached white flour (approximately)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
for the filling:
3/4 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Dissolve yeast and 1/4 cup sugar in water. In the bowl of a standing mixer fit with the dough hook, blend 3 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and eggs. When the yeast mixture is foamy, pour into the mixing bowl. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is formed and no longer sticks to the bowl. Continue to knead on low speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and place in the oven preheated to the lowest setting. Turn off heat and let dough rise until it has doubled in size. While dough is rising, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon; set aside. When doubled, remove dough from oven and punch dough down. Knead for about one minute, then divide in half. Roll out each half into a 8x20 inch rectangle. Spread half of the butter onto the dough, then sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture on top. Starting with the short end, roll up, jelly-roll style, and place in a greased loaf pan. Place prepared loaves back in warm oven and allow to rise until doubled again. When doubled, turn oven to 350 degrees F without removing loaves from the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and loaf pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.