Need some ideas for Thanksgiving decorations? Well look no more! Glitter gourds are an easy and inexpensive way to glam up your holiday table this year!
This year Thanksgiving will be enjoyed around my table and I’ve been flitting about getting my home in order. I delight in setting a table for a special occasion. Putting Thanksgiving decorations together always makes me slow down and take a trip down memory lane. Gathering beloved dishes and linens, deciding on what items will make an appearance on the table that year and putting place cards together reminds me of what the holidays are all about.
Pumpkins and gourds always seem to find their way into my Thanksgiving decorations. I begin collecting them before Halloween and justify my obsession by knowing that they will last through November. This year I decided to dust my gourds with glitter to give my usual traditional centerpiece a glamorous effect.
And I must say that I am quite smitten with the outcome! The gourds sparkle and twinkle as if a magic frost encrusted them one Autumn evening. And who doesn’t like a little magic? The good news is, they’re easy as can be to make. I just painted some Mod Podge® onto the gourds, (some I completely covered and some just have a tinge around the top) then I sprinkled them with some opalescent glitter and let them dry.
I arranged them on my table, tucked a few votive candles here and there (the glitter gourds look gorgeous by candlelight) and then moved onto my other Thanksgiving decorations. I’ll be sharing those ideas with you very soon!
Supplies for the glitter gourds :
Gourds (you can usually find them in an assorted bag at your grocery store)
Mod Podge (any craft store should have this, you could use a craft glue that dries clear instead)
sponge paint brush
Glittering tip :: I like to use 2 flimsy paper plates when glittering. I dust the gourds over one plate, shake off excess, and then use that extra glitter to pour (with the paper plate folded to guide glitter) over the next gourd sitting on the 2nd plate and keep repeating.
And that’s all there is to making some inexpensive yet glamorous Thanksgiving decorations that will enchant your guests as they gather around your table.
Balsamic Chocolate Truffles make the perfect chocolate treat during the holidays and throughout the year!
Good things come in small packages, right?
Well I say that DELICIOUS things come in small packages. too. ESPECIALLY when they’re balsamic chocolate truffles.
It’s the holiday season and I’m sure that you’re hustling and bustling about but do yourself a little favor and make some of these chocolatey orbs of heaven.
They’re just perfect for that drop-in guest or last minute hostess gift.
You can roll them in any topping you desire. I rolled mine in cocoa and chocolate sprinkles just keep the chocolate theme going strong.
Wishing you and yours a most wonderful Christmas that’s full of everything Merry and bright!
Balsamic Chocolate Truffles
Author: Wendy Hondroulis | Wenderly
8 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cocoa powder (for rolling)
1/2 chocolate sprinkles (for rolling)
Chop the dark chocolate and melt with the cream in a glass or metal bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (not boiling). Make sure water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
Stir chocolate until it’s smooth and shiny. Pour melted chocolate into another bowl to cool a bit, then stir in balsamic vinegar. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the fridge for about an hour (or a couple of hours). Remove from fridge, and let the chocolate sit for 2 hours until it becomes soft enough to roll.
You can use a teaspoon to help you form the balls. Just gently run the spoon over surface of chocolate then roll in your hands until a small ball forms, about the size of a gum ball. (You can make them as large or small as you like). Place the truffles on a lined cookie sheet covered in parchment.
Roll the truffles in any topping you choose. Keep them stored in an air tight container. Place into small decorative paper cups when serving or gift giving for a special touch.
Looking for a fun and festive holiday treat? Chocolate candy cane bread is an easy dessert that’s as delicious and decadent as it is pretty!
After pouring over my pile of magazines looking for some last minute holiday inspiration, I came across Chocolate Candy Cane Loaves.
I had never heard of such a thing but decided to give them a whirl.
I immediately feel head-over-heals in love.
They are simple yet flavorful. Easy yet impressive. And just scream of holiday cheer!
I made a few subtle changes to the recipe. I used peppermint candies instead of candy canes,
and regular sized chocolate chips rather than the mini, and I must say, the outcome was divine.
Not to mention, I got to use the vintage egg separator that I recently found whilst antiquing.
It’s the little things in life, right?
This is a not too sweet… chocolatey, pepperminty, festive bread that makes for a perfect gift, dessert,
or just a sweet little treat with a cuppa tea or coffee.
Cheers to a lovely holiday season! Hope that yours is filled to the brim with love & joy.
Chocolate Candy Cane Bread
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups brown sugar
4 egg whites
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used regular size)
2 oz. white baking chocolate, melted
3 Tbsp. crushed candy canes (I used about 20 crushed peppermints)
Preheat oven 350º.
Spray three 8×4 loaf pans with baking spray.
Beat butter and brown sugar in a bowl for a couple of minutes until crumbly. Pour in egg whites, eggs, coffee (cooled), yogurt, oil and vanilla & peppermint extracts and mix until incorporated.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, add flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and whisk together. Next, pour this dry mixture into the wet mixture alternating with the buttermilk and beating well until all is gone. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pans and bake for 50-55 minutes until cooked through and cake tester comes out clean. Let the loaves cool in pans for about 15 minutes before turning them out onto cooling racks to finish cooling.
Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over tops of loaves with a spoon. Sprinkle a happy amount of the crushed candy canes (or peppermints) all over the top before the white chocolate dries.
Old fashioned hard tack candy is a holiday family favorite. The vibrant flavors and marvelous colors delight any age and makes a perfect hostess gift!
I always know that Christmas is drawing near when my sister Marcey gets into old fashioned hard tack candy mode.
She is an old fashioned hard tack candy making guru.
For as long as I can remember in the weeks leading up to Christmas, she has been like a mad scientist in her kitchen whirling around clanking cookie sheets, gathering dozens of tiny glass viles filed with a plethora of scented oils and flavorings. There are pounds of sugar, bottles of corn syrup and did I mention hammers and screw drivers?
Yes, I said hammers and screw drivers.
This year we decided to make it a family affair. My mom, my girls and I got together for a hard tack candy making extravaganza. I am now armed with pounds of colorful, brilliantly flavored candy that I have divided into sweet little Ball glass jelly jars to give as Christmas treats and hostess gifts. Thought you might like to do the same.
Here’s the skinny on how we like to make it.
You’ll need food coloring and scented vials (or drams) of oils and flavorings.
You can find them in your baking isle (some stores still keep them in the pharmacy like they did in the old fashioned days).
I just love these little vials. Aren’t they sweet?
My sister hoards them like they’re going out of style.
O.k. she shares them but she collects them all year round to insure that she’ll have enough of her favorite flavors.
There are two different types of candy & baking flavorings. There are *oils* and there are *flavorings*. We have found that you’ll need 2 of the flavoring vials and 1 of the oil vials in each batch. (With the exception of lemon…you’ll want to use 2 lemon oil vials to ensure the proper lemon-y tongue tantalizing zing).
Once you’ve got all of your flavorings and colorings in a row you’re ready to make your first batch! Remember how I mentioned my sister being a mad scientist? While I jest…it isn’t too far from the truth. Making this candy IS a science. Which to be honest makes me break out into a cold sweat. So I’ve kidnapped my sister and all of her years-of-candy-making-trial-and-error-wisdom to help me write this post.
Grab a saucepan, a wooden spoon (not a plastic spoon) and set the stove to medium heat.
You’ll begin by pouring sugar,
light corn syrup,
and water into a pan. Next attach your candy thermometer to the side of the pan and make sure that it isn’t touching the bottom.
Stir constantly until all of the sugar has dissolved. Takes about 15 minutes so make sure you’re fully caffeinated before you begin.
Once sugar is completely dissolved set your spoon down and let the heat take over.
Allow mixture to come to a boil. It should look like this…
A happy rolling boil.
Watch the candy thermometer as the mixture continues to boil,
until it reaches 260°.
Then the excitement begins! Time to add some color and pizzaz.
Add one teaspoon of food coloring to the boiling pot.
Again, don’t mix with a spoon.
Let the boiling do the mixing.
Now you’ll want to pay very close attention to the temperature.
The minute you see it reach 300° it’s time to take it off the heat, (some people test the candy mixture consistency in cold water to see if it’s ready but we just go by the candy thermometer).
Now grab the flavoring or oil that you want the candy to taste like. My girls wanted to confuse the taste buds of our recipients so they mixed up the color/flavor combinations. (Yes, our lemon flavor was red).
Allow the mixture to stop boiling before adding the flavoring. Note: My sister has learned that it is imperative at this point in time to carry the pot outside before adding the flavoring to the candy mixture because it will smoke profusely (and smell divine) but be careful not to inhale the vapors. Back in college my sister’s dear friend and candy making cohort went into a full blown asthma attack AND they set off the smoke alarm. Not exactly the way they wanted to spend the day. *Hi Amy!*
Once outside add the flavoring and stir.
Isn’t that purdy?
It’s a good idea to divide and conquer while making this sweet treat. Time is everything and remember it’s a science.
While someone is mixing in the flavoring, if possible, have someone else spray the pans with cooking spray or spray them yourself beforehand so that they are ready to go. You don’t want the candy to harden in the pot.
My sister uses non-stick pots and pans for her candy making and she has found that 9 x12 cake pans work the best.
Note: You may want to use old pots and pans or buy some inexpensive ones because they do take a beating.
So quickly pour the mixture into the cake pans.
Dividing the batch into 2 cake pans insures the right thickness for your candy-eating-enjoyment.
Let the candy sit until it is completely cool on the counter top (not the fridge), to ensure that you will get a hard crack not a sticky crack.
This is where the hammer and screwdriver come in. One of my sister’s expert tips – THIS is the very best candy breaking technique and it’s FUN TOO!
Grab a clean screw driver and hammer. Take the pans of candy back outside, (trust me on this) and place the screw driver in the center of a pan…
Give it a whack!
This is very therapeutic and gratifying. Feel free to wear safety goggles for the full mad-scientist effect. Just a thought.
Continue whacking until you’ve got as many pieces as you see fit.
You will have a few flying pieces but it’s worth it.
You may need to take a little break from time to time and do a little bonding.
Nana and her granddaughters. *sniff*
Check out this gorgeous sheet of molten sugar.
Is that nifty or what?
Don’t these look like little emeralds? Seriously. I may just have to make some jewelry out of them…
but I’ll have to remember not to wear them when it’s raining.
So the next step is the cerimonial coating of the candy with powdered sugar Once again my sister has a very specific technique for this.
Grab a gallon plastic bag that zips. Vedy important. Zips and stays zipped. Write the flavor of the candy on the bag. Especially if you’ve mixed up the flavor to color combination.
Sprinkle in a heaping tablespoon, no more than a heaping tablespoon, of powdered sugar.
Then pour the broken pieces of candy into the bag.
Make sure to leave the teenie tiny pieces behind. They get sticky and messy and almost sandlike. Totally takes away from the beauty of the candy and its magical glass-like effect.
I’m sure that Chihuly would agree.
Gently roll the bag around with the bag zipped,
until you’ve got an even coating of powdered sugar on all of the pieces.
Don’t you just want to reach in and grab a handful?
Can you guess what flavor this is?
Cinnamon! HA! And it’s SO YUMMY!
I must admit that this candy making business is really enjoyable once you know what you’re doing. The flavors burst, the colors are gorgeous and it really is some great old fashioned fun.
Hope you give it a try.
Wishing you and yours a Christmas full of sweet memories!
Aunt Marcey’s Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy
Author: Wenderly | Wendy Hondroulis
Serves: 1 batch
Old fashioned hard tack candy is a holiday family favorite The vibrant flavors and marvelous colors delight any age and will make a perfect holiday or hostess gift!
3 3/4 sugar cups
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 cup water
1 teaspoon food coloring
[i]Don’t forget: [/i]There are *oils* and there are *flavorings*. We have found that you’ll need 2 bottles if you’re using the flavorings and 1 bottle if you’re using the oils in each batch. (One or the other, not both).
In a 3 quart non-stick sauce pan, pour in sugar, light corn syrup and water. Continuously stir liquid over medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Let mixture come to a boil, without stirring, and when candy thermometer reaches 260° add food coloring. Once again don’t stir let food coloring mix itself into the liquid by the boiling motion.Watch the candy thermometer, once it reaches 300° immediately remove from heat and allow the boiling to come to a stop.
Take pan outside and add your choice of flavorings (or oil) to the mixture. Stir without inhaling the potent vapors. Quickly pour into 2 greased cake pans, divide liquid equally into the pans. Let cool completely to the touch.
Once candy is cooled, take outside and insert a clean phillips head screw driver into the center of the pan and give a good whack. Continue until all of the candy is broken to your liking.
Next, grab a gallon plastic bag that zips closed. Pour a heaping (no more) tablespoon of powdered sugar into the bag. Pour both cake pans of broken candy into bag and zip closed. Make sure to leave the tiny pieces out. Gently turn and flip the bag until the candy is covered with powdered sugar. Candy will stay nice and crunchy when stored in a container that is airtight.
Helpful hint: For clean-up ease, soak your pots and pans in hot soapy water to dissolve the candy because we have found that scrubbing doesn’t work.