Friday, December 6, 2013

Fun Food Friday- Christmas Treats- Peanut Clusters (Gluten Free) & Almond Tarts

First off, I apologize for no Fun Food Friday last week.  To be honest, I forgot it was Friday :).  All that day I thought it was Saturday so it never dawned on me to do a blog :).  Oh well, who felt like cooking the day after Thanksgiving anyways. :)  So to make up for it I have a few for you today.  Do you ever get stuck for ideas of what to give as Christmas presents to teachers, Cadet/GEMS leaders, pastors :), piano teachers, etc.?  Here are a few ideas for you:

Cake Balls- Gluten Free (if you use gluten free cake mix)
Just make these Cake Pops but form them into balls instead of footballs and don't put a stick in them.  Right after you coat them with chocolate sprinkle on some fun Christmas sprinkles:

Then after the chocolate is hardened just put some in a mini loaf tin...

Lay out some plastic wrap, place the tin on top and bring up the plastic wrap...

And tie with some ribbon.  And there you go, I promise, whoever you give these to will love them. :)
Peanut Clusters- Gluten Free
These are seriously the easiest things to make.  I always make sure I have these 3 ingredients on hand if I need to make a quick treat to bring somewhere.  And they are gluten free as long as you make sure the ingredients you buy are gluten free (chocolate and peanuts are naturally gluten free, you just need to make sure they are processed at a place that don't have wheat products present- the brands I used all are gluten free)
Vanilla Almond Bark, Chocolate Chips, Cocktail Peanuts
Break up the almond bark into a microwave safe bowl
Add 2 cups of chocolate chips
(or if you're a normal person who doesn't buy their chocolate chips in 72oz bags but instead in the 12oz bags, just add one 12oz bag :))
Place in the microwave...
And heat on high for 2 minutes
Stir the chocolate...
Until nice and smooth- at first it might seem like you might need to microwave more, but just keep stirring and it should all melt.  If you do need to microwave a little longer, just do it in 30 second intervals so the chocolate doesn't burn.
Add a can of peanuts...
And stir until the peanuts are coated with chocolate
Then just scoop them out onto wax paper
You can just leave them on the counter to set, it will take about an hour for them to harden.  Or if you're in a hurry or just impatient like me, just stick them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes :)
Then just place them in a mini loaf tin...
And wrap up with plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon.  Another yummy treat!
Almond Tart
I'm Dutch which means that I love treats with almond in them :).  But the problem is most almond treats are made with Almond Paste and that stuff is not cheap.  So when my mom told me about this recipe that uses Almond Extract instead of Almond Paste, I was intrigued.  And then after I made it and tried it, I was hooked.  And bonus, it's super easy to make and you can either make it into a 9-inch tart, or what I do is make it into 2-6 inch tarts and they fit perfect on a dessert paper plate and make a great treat to give at Christmas time.  So if you're looking for a non-chocolate idea this year, give this one a try! 
Ingredients:  Flour, Sugar, Butter, Eggs, Vanilla, Almond Extract, Salt, Sliced or Slivered Almonds (which I forgot to add to the picture because for some reason it isn't listed in the ingredients on my recipe)
To a mixer bowl add 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) of softened butter- this takes a lot of concentration :)...
And 1 1/2 cups of sugar
Cream together until nice and smooth
Add 2 eggs...
And mix
Then add 1 1/2 cups of flour
And mix :)
Then comes 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla...
2 teaspoons of almond extract...
And a dash of salt
Micah knows exactly how to work the mixer- you pull down the top...
And turn on the mixer- this kid's a pro! :)  Mix for about a minute until it's nice and fluffy
Line 2- 6 inch pans with foil...
And generously spray with cooking spray (2 year olds are excellent at generously spraying :))
Fill the pans with the dough...
And top with slivered or sliced almonds.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  If you make one in a 9 inch pan you'll need to bake it a little longer.
Place on a rack to cool
When cooled remove from the pan with the foil...
And place on a dessert paper plate
Pull the foil off the edges...
And cut into a circle leaving about 1/2 an inch to wrap around the plate
Then go ahead and wrap the foil around the plate...
So you end up with a very cute looking almond tart :)
Then just go ahead and wrap up with plastic wrap...
And tie with a ribbon (yes, I wrap all my Christmas treats the same :))  And then go ahead and make someone's day by giving it to them as a gift :)
I hope you have fun with all of your holiday baking!!!
Peanut Clusters
1 pkg almond bark
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 1-12oz bag)
1 container cocktail peanuts
Break up the almond bark and add to a microwave safe bowl with the chocolate chips and heat on high in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir until all the chocolate is melted.  Add the peanuts.  Drop in mounds onto wax paper.  If you need them to harden quickly just place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Almond Tarts
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond extract
Dash of salt
slivered or sliced almonds
Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs, mix.  Add flour, mix.  Add vanilla, almond extract and salt, mix for about a minute until nice and fluffy.  Line 2-6 inch pans or 1-9 inch pan with foil.  Generously spray with cooking spray.  Pour batter into pans and sprinkle with almonds.  Bake at 350 degrees for  25-30 minutes (a little longer for the 9 inch pan). 

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