Homemade Peanut Brittle

Candy making, of any kind, was always something I was terrified of in the kitchen. I eased myself into it with Salted Caramel Sauce, then pushed myself a little further when I made Vanilla Bean Caramels for the first time. After those two things, I wasn’t scared of it anymore. The next thing I wanted to conquer was peanut brittle, which is one of the husband’s favorite thing on the planet.

My mom used to make cashew brittle all the time at Christmas, as a homemade treat for gift-giving, and it was delicious. But, I’d say my standard for peanut brittle was set when I first had See’s. Buttery, chock-full of peanuts, and tender to the bite – it was everything that a peanut brittle should be. After trying several recipes, I’ve narrowed it down to this one as coming the closest to what I’ve been searching for.

I like to use Spanish peanuts (still in their skins) for my peanut brittle. I usually find them around the bulk nut section of the produce department this time of year. But, I’ve also made it with regular old cocktail peanuts.

I usually make a couple batches to give as gifts, as it can be made well in advance. And folks are usually happy to receive something other than cookies. You can also swap out the peanuts for cashews, or even mix. Just keep a very close eye on it once you’ve added the nuts, as the temperature rises very quickly towards the end of cooking time!

Source: adapted from Food.com

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As I mentioned on Friday’s post, I joined in on a really fun virtual cookie swap with some other bloggers. These gals really came through with a whole slew of different and delicious cookies!

I’m always looking for something new to bake each year, to go along with our traditional favorites – and all of these look like sweet treats my family would enjoy. I know yours will too! I just hope I have time to bake them all before Christmas…

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Festive Shortbread Bites

I’d seen these little festive Shortbread Bites pop up in my Facebook feed several times over the past couple weeks. I immediately was smitten. I mean, seriously, how cute are they? While I love shortbread, it’s so rich that a whole cookie can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. But, one perfect little bite? How can one resist that?

The recipe for the shortbread is on-point. Tender, buttery, and crumbly – it really is a little perfect little bite of  baked perfection. The key is to knead the dough with your hands until it comes together. Use the mixer to break down the butter, but then your hands to bring it all together. When you dump the mix out of the work bowl it will be crumbly – don’t despair! After a few scrunches in your palms, the butter warms and makes a dough that is easy to work with.

I loved the flecks of color through-out the bites. Looking forward to making this with different colored nonpareils for other holidays as well – pink & red for Valentine’s, pastels for Easter, purple and orange for Halloween! I’ll definitely be making them again before the year is over for gift bags as well. There’s nothing better than homemade goodies to give as gifts!

Speaking of which, make sure you check back here on Sunday for a cookie swap party that I’m doing with some fellow blogger friends. There will be some great ideas to add to your “must bake” list this year! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Source: adapted from Good Housekeeping

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream

Is anyone as excited for the Holidays as I am? We had a great visit with Jon’s family over Thanksgiving, and now I’m looking forward to getting the house decorated this week – and ready for Christmas! We’ll be going to get our tree this weekend, *squee*.

I couldn’t help but kick-start my excitement a few weeks ago when I was asked to develop a recipe for Eggland’s Best to celebrate holiday baking. Did you know that their eggs contain 25% less saturated fat than other supermarket eggs? Or that they are typically to the supermarket within 72 hours of laying? Impressive.

Anyways, the cupcakes. I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, which is as moist and chocolaty as it gets. Then I topped it with a delicious peppermint buttercream frosting, and garnished with pieces of broked up peppermint candies. They were nothing short of incredible! I loved the crunch of the candies with the smooth frosting. And they were so pretty to look at!

So if you’re looking for something to get you in the kitchen, and holiday baking underway before the cookie exchanges and whatnot start up – make these cupcakes. They’re fun and festive, and sure to please!

Eggland’s Best has also graciously offered to host a giveaway for our readers! I have a $25 Visa gift card and a coupon for 1 dozen free eggs for one lucky reader. What a great way to get started on your baking! To enter just leave a comment telling us your favorite holiday baking memory. Contest ends at 12/7/14 at 11:59 PM. A winner will be chosen by random number generator and announced on December 8th. US residents only, please.

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Congratulations to Carla, who had Comment #23! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Eggland’s Best, and as always all thoughts are my own.