Tuesday, December 22, 2015

More family favorites for Christmas!

This fall I shared some my family's favorite recipes. And we all know that Christmastime brings out a whole array of family recipes and traditions! We have two in our family that we look forward to having only once a year - or only during this season! And I enjoy the treats as much as I can during the season!


The first is fudge. My dad has turned our family and friends into fudge snobs. And I won't hide that fact or apologize for it one bit! My dad is the only one who has truly mastered this task in our family. He learned from his mom - my grandma. It's the real cooked stuff - not the marshmallow fluff stuff. It takes time and is very precise and each batch is made with patience and love.

When dad makes it, he will actually make a triple batch, but the amounts I give are for a single batch. And you have to make it in a copper or aluminum pot or kettle...no stainless steel. Stainless will make the texture too sugary and not smooth and yummy like its supposed to be.

Start with:

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. half and half
  • 1/3 c. light corn syrup
  • 2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate bars
Then you will need:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts (if desired)
Cook the first 4 ingredients over a low heat until the temp gets to 236 degrees. It may take a few batches to get the correct temp on your thermometer. A degree to high or too low can affect the texture of the fudge too. 

Cooking to 236
Once you have cooked to the correct temp, remove the fudge from the heat and place the 2 Tbs of butter on top and let sit and cool. When slightly cooled, come back and add in 1 Tsp of vanilla. (If you add this when the mixture/pan is too hot, it will evaporate away.) Do NOT stir the fudge at any point during the cooling process. Just let it sit and cool to 110 degrees. (So you leave your candy thermometer in the pot the whole time.)

Once it cools back to 110, take a wooden spoon and start beating the fudge. If you want to add mix-ins, which my dad likes to add black walnuts, you can add these in as you are beating the fudge. (about 1/2 c. nuts for a single batch.) 

Starting to beat the fudge
Adding in the walnuts
The fudge has lost the shine and has started to turn dull
Keep beating until the fudge starts to turn dull and looses it's shine. At that point, turn in out into a buttered pan and let it set up for a little bit. 

Getting into a pan to spread out
After its come out of the pan and spread out
Then can cut into desired size pieces. It is rich and delicious, so you don't need very large pieces...dad always cuts them into about an inch square. Enjoy!! It does take some time to make fudge, but the result is so worth it! My dad made about 100 lbs of fudge last year around Christmas. He gives away as gifts to neighbors, friends and farm businesses he works with. And, of course, a batch or two go to this daughter and her family. :)

Always been my favorite part of the process - getting to scrape the pan!
Now my kiddos getting in on the act!


The second delicacy we enjoy during the holidays is ostakaka (some spell it ostkaka.) "Ost" means cheese in Swedish, and "kaka" means cake. So the name basically boils down to cheese cake. It may sound a little odd, but if you give it a chance...it is OH SO GOOD. This is definitely a heart attack in a bowl, but when you only eat it once a year, it is worth the calories and fat! My dad actually learned this recipe from my mom's mom - my other grandma! This is a traditional Scandinavian dish - and it is delicious. Here's what you need:

  • 1 gallon fresh milk - pasteurized, but NOT homogenized
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of sifted flour
  • 1 tsp rennet
For custard

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • strawberries (the frozen kind - in the syrup)
  • fresh whipped cream

The recipe starts with 1 gallon of fresh milk. It can be pasteurized, but can not be homogenized. My dad has a local place that will sell fresh milk for these kinds of purposes.

Pour the milk into a large pot and warm it to about 105 degrees. When it reaches that temp, take a little bit of the milk (maybe about 1-2 cups) and put in a bowl and mix with 1 beaten egg and 1 heaping cup of sifted flour. Mix all those together until smooth and then add back into the whole pot of warm milk.

Egg and flour mixed with some of the warmed milk
Egg and flour have been mixed back in and adding the rennet
Turn off the heat, and add 1 Tsp of rennet. (I almost hate to say what rennet is, but it is necessary for the recipe that you have it! Rennet is acid from a calf stomach. When you put it into warm milk, it will cause the milk to separate into curds and whey.) After adding the rennet, let the milk sit for about 10 minutes. While it is is sitting, use your time to butter your baking dishes. You can use any size dish you want, but it will fit into a casserole dish nicely(like a 9x13 size.) Sometimes my dad gives it away as gifts along with the fudge so he will make many smaller ones in the disposable foil pans. Whatever sizes you want to make! After you butter your dish(es), you should also make the custard to go over the curds. Mix together the 5 large eggs, 1 c. half and half, 1 c. sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla. Set aside.

The custard is mixed up
Once milk is set up, take a spoon and slice through the curds on the top to separate the curds and whey further. Let stand another 5-10 minutes until the curds settle. Pour the contents of the whole pot through a colander to strain off the whey. Keep draining thoroughly until the curds are about the texture of cottage cheese. Pour the curds into your buttered baking dish (or divide up into smaller dishes if you went that route.) Pour the custard over the curds and kind of mix together and break up curds with your fingers til they are a nice size and spread evenly across the dish.

Straining the whey from the curds
Curds in baking dish with custard poured on over them
Bake in a 300 degree oven for 1 to 1 hour 15 minutes or until the edges are a nice golden brown. Remove and let it cool. Serve with strawberries and fresh whipped cream - the real stuff.....no Cool Whip! :)

Final product - yum!!!!
A big bowl of deliciousness!!
**If you've never made fresh whipped cream, take a bowl and your mixer beaters and place in the freezer about 10 minutes before you make it. Take out of the freezer and depending on how much you want (I usually do about 1-1 1/2 cups), add fresh whipping cream to a bowl with approximately 1-2 Tbsp sugar and whip with your mixer until it forms soft peaks - don't whip too long or it will turn into butter!! You will never buy cool whip again once you have had real whipped cream!

My NEW favorite this year! Egg nog cookies - click on the link for the recipe! These are easy and delish!!

So what is your family's favorite traditional favorites??