a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I LOVE Chocolate!

The average consumption of these
scrumptious little chips
is 11 pounds annually! 
                                                                                                       Most people love chocolate !!   
Chocolate is a weighty matter!!!

 It has been reported that Americans consume it in quantities that average out to eleven pounds per person per year. Averages are scary because they mean that for each person that eats less chocolate than that---there has to be another who eats more.

In terms that I visualize, the average amounts to eating 14 large bags plus one small bag of chocolate chips annually. That is a lot of chocolate!

I have been known to sneak a handful of those tasty morsels on more than one occasion. And I have too often tried to drown my sorrows or disguise unsatisfied wants with gooey hot fudge. I've also been known to have a hot fudge sundae for dinner when I wasn't trying to drown or disguise anything but my craving.

I am a true believer in servin’ lovin’ from the oven and it, more often than not, contains chocolate in one form or another. But, and I am pretty sure I know this for a fact, I have never consumed that much chocolate, in all of its delectable forms, in 365 days.

Maybe that is because I like my chocolate spread out---buried in rich buttery cookie dough, cascading down mounds of vanilla ice cream, enhancing a pie, or surrounding marshmallowy and peanutty candy fillings. If you like chocolate in solid portions, in the form of 1.75 oz. candy bars you, too, can be average in just over 100 days.

Following are a few of our favorite ways of spreading it out.

Peanut Clusters
12 oz semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
8 squares vanilla almond bark
2-3 cups salted Spanish peanuts
Melt the chocolate pieces and vanilla squares together over low heat or carefully in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat Add peanuts. Drop by clusters on waxed paper or aluminum foil covered surface. Let set until firm.

Marshmallow-Peanut Clusters
Use above recipe but allow mixture to cool slightly. Stir in mini-marshmallows and drop by clusters on prepared surface.

Marshmallow Cups
Growing up in California, one of my favorite candy bars was a “Cup-O-Gold” — gooey marshmallow encased in chocolate! Similar ones are called "Mallo-Cups," an East Coast version. Both are very hard to find and we think these are better than the originals. Please try and come up with a better name for these, and let me know. I promise, they deserve it.

There are no specific ingredient quantities. Make up the amount you need for the amount you want to make.  You have your choice of size also—mini or regular.
          Chocolate-flavored almond bark
          Handful of chocolate chips, if desired
          Finely shredded coconut
          Jar of marshmallow cream
         Mini or regular size cupcake papers

Lightly toast the coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly because it doesn’t take long. Set aside.

Place paper cups in mini or regular cupcake pans.

Melt chocolate in microwave or over low heat, watching carefully and stirring often.
Stir toasted coconut into melted chocolate.

Place a small amount of the chocolate-coconut mixture into each paper cup. Let the chocolate set a couple of minutes so it very slightly sets up. With a small spoon, “drag” the chocolate up the sides of the paper about 2/3rd of the way up, forming a bowl. After they have set up, you may repeat or touch up if there are areas you want a little thicker.

Place a dollop of marshmallow cream, right from the jar, into each “bowl.”

Go back and spoon additional chocolate-coconut mixture over the top of the marshmallow to cover it.  Gently tap the pan so the chocolate will fill in any gaps.

If you like these, I’ll add some of our other chocolate favorites another time—including more “copy-cats.”

‘til we eat again,
    Simply, Gail

A portion of this post was originally printed in Desert Saints Magazine

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