(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
(originally published December 2012)
Giving your family a white holiday season they won't soon forget doesn't necessarily mean going skiing or sledding. In fact, it can be just as easily accomplished in kitchens in warm locales like Los Angeles or Miami. Just perform the simple trick of substituting white chocolate for dark in your holiday desserts, and you'll be serving up winter wonders that won't be soon forgotten, although they are deceptively simple to prepare.
White chocolate is originally a European term and, technically, not a true chocolate because there is no chocolate liquor. However, it gets its name from the cocoa butter (32 percent in extremely fine versions) in the product, which often gives it a light chocolate flavor. It also contains milk, sugar and vanilla, and it's made in the same manner as chocolate. Less expensive versions often use vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter and still usually taste rich and creamy. These days, white chocolate is just as readily available as dark chocolate in bars, morsels and frostings in the baking aisles of most major supermarkets, yet it's still often perceived as exotic and gourmet. And, just as a home's living room looks dramatic when done in all white fabrics, carpets and furnishings, so does a holiday dessert that's engulfed in bright white.
Food preparation, from cooking to creating innovative gifts or charitable donations, can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast - as the following split-second sensations prove. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to get into motion. These creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw "wows."
Fudge Worthy of a First Place Ribbon
In your favorite fudge recipe, substitute white chocolate and include dried cranberries, crystallized ginger and melted marshmallows.
Icing That's Red Hot
White chocolate can be a wonderful accent. In "Mocha" by Michael Turback, he mixes melted white chocolate, espresso and coffee liquor into his frosting before piping it onto devil's food cake cupcakes.
Delicious "Snowball" from Your Freezer
To yield a quart of rich white chocolate ice cream, substitute 10 ounces white chocolate, broken into small pieces, into your favorite ice cream maker recipe (calls for melting first with 3 / 4 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 cups heavy cream at room temperature). The richness that results is a far more indulgent treat than even many of the best vanilla ice creams.
An Easy Add for Cookies
Substitute white chocolate chips in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and frost with vanilla icing into which you've mixed ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Sweet Holiday Mini "Sandwiches"
Break off bite-sized squares of white chocolate and top half with berry all-fruit spread (available in the jam aisle of many supermarkets) and sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts and minced fresh mint before topping with a plain square of white chocolate to complete the "sandwich."
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: XO sauce is a spicy condiment created hundreds of years ago in Hong Kong, then and now one of the world's culinary hotspots. Most famed restaurant chefs there today create their own versions and the recipes are secret. If a chef bestows a bottle on you, it's considered an honor. Consider creating your own homemade sauces, a la XO sauces. As a foundation, start with the sauces from your favorite recipes, follow bottling procedure in a good canning cookbook (usually just a few easy steps), keep refrigerated if needed, and give to friends and family as holiday gifts or favors.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.