Chocolate Fancies

By MELINDA KRAEMER For the Flathead Beacon

Everybody I know loves the Christmas season, and my family is no exception. The snow, the cheer, the lights, the good food – my whole family seems to be in a jolly mood all through December.

Christmas is hands down my favorite holiday, and I find myself looking forward to it all year long. My eagerness is so strong that this year I already have a few presents wrapped and sitting in our living room just waiting for a tree to put them under (but my family insists on waiting until after Thanksgiving to get a tree).

My family is big on tradition, especially during the holiday season. The morning after Thanksgiving, my mom, dad, two sisters, niece, brother, and I venture out into the woods and spend the day searching for the perfect Christmas tree. After hours of trekking through the snow, we make our way home to warm ourselves up with peppermint hot chocolate and a sizzling dinner straight out of the crock pot.

The rest of the evening is spent decking the whole house in Christmas adornments and decorating the tree with ornaments, lights and tinsel until the branches are so heavy they threaten to break off. We drink eggnog and listen to our favorite holiday music. The rest of the days leading up to Christmas are filled with anticipation and unparalleled holiday cheer.

11-21-2012_Melinda-Kraemer_Chocolate-Fancies

Chocolate Fancies | Photo courtesy of Culinary DesignStudio

Each year, we pass the time by making and decorating our own homemade ornaments, sledding, decorating cookies to leave out for Santa Claus, watching Christmas movies (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a favorite), taking advantage of our much-loved vacation days, trying to build the perfect snow fort, catching up with family from out of town and, of course, baking.

My mom is the queen of Christmas baking. She never fails to make the most delicious treats to keep our stomachs full until Christmas day. Although she has not yet perfected her peanut brittle recipe and we always find ourselves eating it with a spoon (though it is still delicious), every year comes with an abundance of peppermint bark, white chocolate dipped pretzels, multiple batches of decorated sugar cookies, fudge, gingerbread cookies and the family’s very favorite: chocolate fancies.

The recipe has been passed down through our family from generation to generation, and every year since I can remember, my mom has made them.

The creamy coconut and chocolate treats are eaten nearly as fast as they’re made, never lasting more than a day or two. As the years have gone by, I have helped my mom bake at Christmas time, moving from simple sugar cookies when I was younger, to the more complex chocolate fancies in more recent years. Although they are the most time-consuming and frustrating treats we make, they are more than worth it.

CHOCOLATE FANCIES

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 block food-grade paraffin wax

Mix butter, sugar, milk, coconut, nuts and vanilla in large bowl.
Chill until firm.
Form small balls (using a melon baller works well).
Freeze for at least one hour. Melt chocolate chips and wax in double boiler.
Dip balls in melted chocolate using a toothpick.
Chill.

Melinda is a student of The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com or call Instructor Hillary Ginepra at 756-3862.

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