Quick And Easy Chocolate Almond Haystacks
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O.K., so Christmas is nearly here. I have somehow managed to get all of our Christmas shopping done (yes, all online. Yes, all on Cyber Monday. Yes, I saved some money. Yes, I therefore spent more). I even managed to get it done in time for the two “Pretend Christmases” that we’ve already celebrated this year, one with my in-laws visiting from the UK and one with my brother and his family visiting from Canada.
With all these Christmases, you can bet that there has some good food floating around. My mom made a traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve for us out in Cocoa Beach (where they’re snow-birding) while my brother was in town, followed by a savory crown roast for “Christmas Day”. Did I mention Carrot Cake Trifle?
My in-laws and I worked some true magic in the kitchen when we whipped up this elegant make-ahead Christmas dinner by Molly Stephens from Fine Cooking Magazine. We did make it all ahead and we were then free to relax together before the meal. Or rather, we would have been free to relax together before the meal if I wasn’t off nursing M while my in-laws entertained J and my hubs kept his eye on everything warming in the oven. We were however able to relax together during the meal without a lot of getting up and down between or during courses. My fave parts of the dinner: the red wine sauce drizzled over the gratin potatoes (note: we used cauliflower instead of rutabaga in the potato dish) and the Gingerbread-Brandy Trifle which was somehow satisfyingly dense while also being soft and light. It wasn’t too sweet either, probably because the crystallized ginger in the mix cut through everything with a hot zing. So good. (Honest truth: I was caught standing in front of the open fridge with a spoonful of trifle in my mouth THREE times on the day after our meal.)
Anyhow, with all the shopping, the visitors and the extra Christmas dinners, the new baby and the new house (no, we have not fully unpacked yet), I haven’t found much time for Christmas baking. Thankfully, I did manage to develop and test a recipe perfect for my Christmas cookie tray earlier in the month when putting together a post I contributed with my friend Christine to Frosting for the Cause.
I’ve whipped up another batch of these quick, easy and fun, chocolatey, nutty, chewy wonders to have on hand for the holiday season. To round out my dainty tray I’ve made four types of chocolate bark: Dark Chocolate with Roasted Salted Almonds and Raisins, White Chocolate with Cranberries and Toasted Pecans, Dark Chocolate with Crushed Werthers Original Hard Candies and Dark Chocolate with Crushed Candy Canes (yes, the emphasis is on dark chocolate because that’s what my hubs loves best. I was tempted to go with white chocolate for the candy canes but then worried that I would be the only one in the house left to eat the leftovers, which would not be good for any of my upcoming New Year’s Resolutions!).
I’m so happy that I developed this recipe for easy chocolate almond haystacks because I honestly don’t have time for any other baking this year nor for anything else really. Not even for writing this post! Seriously, right now there is a slightly damp baby attached to me by a sling. (Not sure what has caused the dampness. There are of course several possibilities when it comes to babies.) I’ve really gotta go!
Happy Holiday Hugs to you all!
P.S. The appearance of this post does not mean that my hiatus is over, just that I suddenly felt the urge to write and simultaneously had the time (sort of) to write. I have a lot of fun blogging plans for the New Year though so I am hopeful that the stars will align regularly. I’ve missed y’all!