Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2-on-Tuesday: Jeweled White Chocolate

Here's a super quick candy presentation to dazzle your guests. They don't need to know it only took you a few minutes in the microwave to create! Just smile and say, "I'm so glad you like it!" To be sure you'll have a couple of grumblers who'll argue White Chocolate is not chocolate, at all. They're correct. But, the real white chocolate lover doesn't give a flying fig! Enjoy!

Jeweled White Chocolate

1 or 2 bags of Hershey's Premiere White morsels
Dried Fruit (I used Apricots, Blueberries, Cherries and Craisins)
*optional: 1 tablespoon of Crisco
Reynold's Genuine Parchment non-stick (in the foil and plastic wrap aisle)

  • Melt white chocolate chips (and Crisco) in a microwave-safe container in increments of 1 minute and stirring after each minute. Really watch those chips! As soon as they start to melt, just stir for the remaining chips to melt. You truly don't want to rush this and ruin the batch.
  • I use a mixing bowl with a handle for ease of removal and stirring. And, the Crisco keeps the "chocolate" velvety and shiny.
  • Pour onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, smooth out and, then, rap the cookie sheet on the counter top to release any hidden bubbles.
  • Sprinkle the dried fruit mixture on top of the melted "chocolate." I chop the apricots into smaller bits.
  • Allow to set. You can rush this part by placing the cookie sheet in the freezer until the "chocolate" sets.
  • Break the "chocolate" into shards to be shared and store in an airtight container or tin lined with parchment.

Another way to enjoy this treat is to use any topping your family and friends will love, like mini M&Ms or crushed Oreos or nuts or crushed peppermint for Christmas! Be sure to check out Coffee Bean Crack, which basically uses the same techniques used in this recipe!

First Snow

Chasing the sunrise or the sunset or the Super Moon have been part of our travels and some our runs in 2014. This time, I chased the first snowfall of the season in Tennessee on October 31!

Living in the burbs of Nashville, I had not given it much thought when the weather gurus were predicting snow for the higher elevations of our state. However, with my work caught up, hubby in India and a free weekend, the thought tickled my fancy and I quickly posted an invitation on social media. Several friends were too busy, some considered it a joke and others thought it to be a crazy idea. 

"Where will you sleep?" 
"In the back of my fake SUV."
"When will you be back?" 
"Are you going alone?" 
"No. I'll have my vicious Shih Tzu."

That evening Zuzu and I blazed a trail eastward down the interstate toward the Great Smoky Mountains and encountered the first flakes mixed with rain on the Cumberland Plateau near Crossville! It was getting late. No time to stop.

Taking the national park bypass around Gatlinburg, the road climbs and is where the rain flipped and the flakes gathered! By the time we reached Elkmont Campground at midnight, there were 3 inches of the fluffy stuff on all surfaces! 

Throughout the night the river behind our campsite could be heard along with the wind howling through the trees and my puppy snoring under the wool blanket. We were comfortable... until a loud ruckus too close outside startled us awake. Black bear? Holding my breath I listened. Hearing nothing else other than the river and the wind, we drifted back to sleep.

November 1. The sounds of other snowchasers waking and making breakfast were too exciting for me to remain in the warmth of my sleeping bag, any longer! Only brightness was filtering through the windows. Quickly I jumped into my hikers, leashed Zuzu and opened the door. Oh my goodness! 

The winter storm had veered off the predicted North Carolina course and came right over our side of the mountains. Elkmont was blanketed in 9 inches of heavy snow and with the weight of it, a huge tree branch had fallen barely missing the front of the SUV! Park rangers clearing the fallen trees said Clingman's Dome (Tennessee's highest point) had received double-digit inches with hikers taking refuge at the primitive lodge at LeConte.

After my breakfast and a walk-around, fellow campers helped to remove the tree branch blocking my passage while others were gathering groups to go hiking to the abandoned homesteads. We had all come hoping to catch the first snowfall and did! Some had braved the night in tents!

Plans to stay one more night were halted when the park rangers announced the mandatory evacuation due to another storm approaching. I didn't mind, because I had chased and caught the first snow of the season in my mountains!