I am kicking off the Christmas season with some of our favorite cookie and candy recipes. These recipes over the next few weeks are mostly simple cookies and candy that freeze well and can be made in large batches to share with friends and family or at parties.
I grew up baking our own cakes and cookies. We never used a mix. By the time I was 10 I could bake a cake or make a batch of cookies without a recipe. At Christmas there were always lots and lots of cookies. Grandma’s White Cookies were cut into big puffy shapes likes stars and trees. Chocolate Meatballs with a hint of cinnamon and cloves were always my favorite. They were sweet and savory all at the same time.
Then there was the Apple Kuchen. My mother made this every Christmas Eve as long as I could remember. The dough would sit overnight near the floor registers to keep it warm. The big pot would be wrapped in blankets so that it did not get cold. Then early on Christmas Eve my mother would start making the Kuchens. Apples laid out in straight lines just like the ladies at church taught her to do. Then the melted butter poured over the top, close to the edge but not too close or it will burn. And her mantra every year was how horrible her dough was. Yet, everyone always loved it. Family would start arriving about 7 am for coffee and hot Kuchen and donuts. The house was always filled with great smells and noises on those days.
We now carry on the Kuchen tradition. Although we will be away this Christmas Eve we will find a day over the Christmas break and deliver it to our friends and neighbors as we do each year. We have made the tradition our own but it continues with the same recipe and the same thoughts of sharing.
So to start our holiday baking we started with something very simple. How simple are these? My daughter made them with just a bit of guidance. She is still learning how to coat the candy with chocolate but for her first attempt with little bit of instruction from me she did a great job. She has already said what she will do differently next time is not do such a thick first coat on the tops of the candy before she turns them over to coat the bottoms.
Everyone who has tried one of these says, “They taste just like an Almond Joy/Mounds.” My kids are not fans of dark chocolate so we made these with a mixture of milk chocolate and semi sweet chocolate so that they would not be too sweet. If you want to make them with dark chocolate just switch the chips to dark chocolate.
If you wish to make the chocolate coating a bit softer add 1/4 of a block of paraffin to the chocolate mixture. Let it melt right in. You can usually find paraffin in the canning section of your local grocery store. The way keeps the chocolate from hardening quite as much as a chocolate chip without losing any of the flavor.
Both kids have asked when we will be making another batch. Very, very soon!
Homemade Almond Joys
- 1 (14 oz) bag of sweetened coconut
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (11.5 oz) bag of semi sweet milk chocolate chips
- 1 (11.5 oz) bag of milk chocolate chips
- Roasted almonds, if desired (Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t!)
- 1/4 of a block of paraffin, if desired
- In a medium bowl mix the coconut and sweetened condensed milk together until well combined.
- Drop mixture by teaspoons or tablespoons, if you want them larger, onto a waxed paper cookie sheet.
- Place the cookie sheets into the refrigerator for about 45 minutes until they are firm to the touch.
- In a clean, dry, medium bowl mix 2/3 of the chocolate chips and melt them in the microwave in 10 second increments until fully melted. (if you are adding paraffin this is where you will add it to the bowl)
- Place almonds on top of the candy if desired and with the back of a spoon coat the tops and sides of the candy with the chocolate. Return the candy to the refrigerator for 30 minutes until the chocolate sets.
- Remove candy from refrigerator and melt the rest of the chocolate. Turn the candy over and coat the bottoms of all the candy with chocolate.
- Return the candy to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Store in a closed container in the refrigerator or the freezer. Defrost before serving!