37 cooks, cookies, food network magazine, holiday cookies, pralines

No-Bake Cornflake and Chocolate Pralines

(reposted from 37 Cooks)

I don’t have holiday cookie traditions. No tattered pieces of paper or index cards tucked away, scribbled with Great Aunt Peggy’s or Grandmas faded handwriting. Truthfully, and part sadly, there isn’t a lineage of recipes in my family. So, every Christmas, I make a different cookie recipe. Several ones, even. I say I like to just keep it interesting but, in part, I think I’m secretly searching for a recipe to make my own. One to pass down to my own children some day.
Of all of the cookies I’ve made over the past decade, this is one of those recipes that I could see making with grandchildren. And I have The Food Network Magazine to thank for it.

No-Bake Cornflake and Chocolate Pralines
1/2 cup pecans
2 cups cornflakes 
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter  
1/4 cup pure cane syrup (such as Steen’s) or 2 tablespoons each molasses and light corn syrup 
2 Tablespoons heavy cream  
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped

Toast the pecans in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; let cool, then coarsely chop.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss the pecans and cornflakes in a large bowl.

Make the caramel: Bring the butter, cane syrup, heavy cream and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and comes together into a loose ball, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Once the caramel stops bubbling, stir in the semisweet chocolate until melted.

Pour the chocolate caramel over the cornflake mixture and toss to coat. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets and pack into compact mounds with your fingers. Let set, about 1 hour.

Begin sugar coma.

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12 days of cheesemas, cheese advent calendar, cow's milk cheese, French cheeses, stinky cheeses, Trou du Cru cheese, washed rinds

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 12

(photo from SFGate)

The little button of Trou du Cru is the perfect blend of sweet and pungent. Essentially, it’s a pocket sized Epoisses cheese, washed with the same Marc de Bourgogne alcohol as it’s larger brother. The nose on it is strong, but it’s bark is much worse than it’s bite. The paste is a combination of butter and straw that lingers long on the pallet. It’s size is ideal for a single serving, for those who don’t like to share their cheeses, but would be right at home at the end of a cheese plate shared with friends.

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12 days of cheesemas, cheese advent calendar, Clochette Cheese, French cheeses, goats milk cheese

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 11

(photo from Fine Food Specialist)

Ahh, the Clochette.  If ever there was a cheese that was perfectly dressed for a cheese plate, it is the “little bell.”  With a white, slightly wrinkly rind, this young French goat’s milk cheese is mild and creamy, without much of the barnyard carrying over to the milk. But, because of transport time, we tend to get older, and more wrinkly, Clochettes in the states. This aging can make for a slightly more intense flavor, but takes absolutely nothing away from the sheer beauty of this cheese.

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12 days of cheesemas, cheese advent calendar, raw cow's milk cheese, rush creek reserve, stinky cheeses, washed rinds

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 10

(photo from Joy of Cheese)

You want to stick your face in it, don’t you? C’mon, we’re all friends here and, honestly, I wouldn’t judge you if you did.

Rush Creek Reserve is this years “It” cheese on all the cheesecentric blogs. The love started two years ago when Uplands Cheese Company released their companion cheese to their multiple award winning, Pleasant Ridge. This one was crafted in the image of Vacherin Mont D’or and, when perfectly ripe, can have it’s top rind sheered off and inner paste ladled out. It’s paste is dense and its nose and profile is not for those wary of strong cheeses. It shares the same smokey, cured meat flavor that has made cheeses like Vacherin and Winnimere such favored winter cheeses.

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12 days of cheesemas, aged cheeses, cheese advent calendar, cow's milk cheese, Gouda

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 9

(photo from Eats… blog)

So, you think you know what a sharp cheese is? You think it’s a 2 year aged cheddar or something cryovaced from Cabot or Cracker Barrel?

That’s adorable. 

Obviously you’ve never had a 5 year Age Gouda before.

This cheese knocks you in the jaw and doesn’t look back to see if you’re ok. It’s brittle and sweet like a hard butterscotch and riddled with pockets of ‘crunchy bits’ that people lose their shit over (tyrosine, for those that want to up their geek factor). The texture is dry and crumbly, so don’t even both trying to slice this cheese and melting is all but a no go unless you grate it like Parmesan.

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12 days of cheesemas, cheese advent calendar, goats milk cheese, sheep's milk cheese, Spanish cheese, Tres Leches cheese

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 8


Mixed milk cheeses are some of my favorites. To me, it’s like having the best of all worlds. With Tres Leches, you have the best of three worlds. You have a slight acidity from the goat’s milk, a rich mouthfeel from the denser sheep’s milk and the cow’s milk is there to make sure everyone keeps it cool. The paste remains firm enough to slice and never gets runny despite it’s bloomy rind. This would be wonderful on an after dinner plate with a light honey (Acacia, maybe).

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12 days of cheesemas, Belper Knolle, cheese advent calendar, illegal cheese, raw milk cheeses, swiss cheeses

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 7

 

(photo from Flickr.com)

My Deadhead friends will know this feeling well. Many of them, even those who have gone to hundreds of shows, have chased a song while on tour. That yearning and deep rooted desire to hear one particular song at a live show. Usually, that song is a rare one, but they don’t feel satisfied until they’ve heard it.

I have found my cheese equivalent.

Belper Knolle haunts me. It does.  I purchased the truffle looking cheese about 4 years ago at The Cheese Iron in Scarborough. The price was steep, so I only took home half a knob–but, I savored it. The texture is hard, as it’s meant to be grated or shaved, and coated in garlic, black pepper and Himalayan Sea Salt. This little raw cow’s milk nugget from Italy tastes like alfredo sauce, through and through. You want to find reasons to break it out and grate it on top of something. It’s that good.

Now here’s the part where I break your heart.

You can’t find it in the US.

I don’t know if it was dumb luck, but coming across it in Maine will probably never happen again. I have emailed cheeseshops and importers, to no avail. So, if you happen to be taking a trip to Europe–remember that name. It’s worth sneaking a little nub back into the country.

And, bring an extra for me, too…. Please?

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12 days of cheesemas, cheese advent calendar, cow's milk cheese, italian cheeses, Ubriaco del Piave, Wine washed cheese

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 6

(photo by Affinage Cheese)

The nose on Ubriaco del Piave is intoxicating. The vibrant purple rind is a literal mash-up of Merlot, Raboso and Cabernet grapes and, unlike it’s bastard Spanish cousin, The Drunken Goat, Ubriaco (which means ‘drunk’ in Italian) actually takes on the flavor of the grapes. Its paste is sharp and sweet, with a good bite coming in from the raw cow’s milk. The finish, however, is smooth and pleasant.  Finishing the last bite, with both paste and rind, turns it into a pleasant bowl of berries and cream.

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12 days of cheesemas, blue cheese, cheese advent calendar, goat cheese, Monte Enebro, Spanish cheese

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 5

(photo from Formaggio Kitchen)

The mental image of blue cheese is a stark white canvas with a smattering of blue-green pock marks across, and through, its surface.

Monte Enebro is not that kind of blue cheese. 

This pasteurized Spanish goat’s milk cheese is not inoculated with peniciullium roqueforti and then pierced with a hollow needle, leaving room for the air to bloom it’s molds. This cheese is enrobed in it, leaving it’s spicy blue profile to linger at the end, rather than attack the senses on first taste.  The bright paste, when young, is tart and tangy. As the cheese ages, the milk turns bolder and more pungent–the grass traded off for that barnyard ‘goatiness’ that can alienate people to any goats milk cheese.

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12 days of cheesemas, bonnieview farm, cheese, cheese advent calendar, cheesemas, Herve Mons, Pyrenees Brebis, sheep's milk cheese, vermont shepherd

12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 4

(photo from a random Tumblr)

Pecorinos and Manchegos seem to dominate when we talk about sheep’s milk cheese, but little is ever said about Brebis. Yet, you can’t have a conversation about sheep’s cheese–or ANY cheese–without bringing the French into it. For their contribution, many know of the widely produced Petit Basque. However for those who want a little more age and nuance to their cheese, you can look to Pyrenees Brebis.

As is characteristic of all sheep’s cheese, the Brebis is rich in butterfat, with an ever so slight back note of caramel and almonds.  I always find cheeses like the Brebis (locally, look for those from Bonnieview Farm and Major Farm in Vermont), carry what the sheep were eating that season a little more upfront. So, don’t be surprised if you catch glimpses of clover and mustard amongst the sweet profile of the milk.

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