published Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Heath meets Hershey in Chocolate Candy Lush

Jane Henegar

Good morning, readers, and welcome to April. We have a lone requester today, but she has multiple requests, which she spread out along with the family's Lean Cuisine frozen dinners at a local dinner table. We'll just highlight the whole conversation to get your attention.

"What to do with a large supply of sun-dried tomatoes? Can they be substitutes for roasted red peppers? I don't really like a red pepper taste anyway. I ate at an elegant restaurant that offered a garnish or relish of roasted red peppers, capers, garlic and olive oil. Does anyone have a relish with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic and olive oil? And I also want a tomato basil cream sauce to serve on pasta, or a pesto sauce for pasta that doesn't require homemade pesto."

Most of our correspondence this week circled around appetizer cheese rings. Paul and an anonymous correspondent found that this dish is attributed to Jimmy Carter, and Paul opines that raspberry preserves are an easy substitute for strawberry. The second recipe begins with raspberry.

Jimmy Carter Cheese Ring

1 pound finely grated Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons grated onion

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dash cayenne pepper

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons grated onion

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dash cayenne pepper

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Strawberry or raspberry preserves or jam

Mix all ingredients but preserves together. Form into a ring. Chill. Fill center with strawberry preserves; raspberry jam would also be good. Serve this ring with crackers.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Ready in: 10 minutes.

Euela Laubenheim turned up one version of a chocolate dessert containing Heath bars, as per the request. She noted that it contained a Hershey bar and a Heath bar, and plans to use both Heath bars, "since they have a more distinct taste. I think the larger, 2-serving bar will work better as well."

Chocolate Candy Lush

Pastry:

1 cup unbleached flour

1 cup softened butter

1 cup chopped pecans

Topping:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 large container Cool Whip

2 small packages instant chocolate pudding

3 cups milk

1 Hershey bar, 1- to 2-serving size

1 Heath bar, 1- to 2-serving size

1 Hershey bar and 1 Heath bar

To make the pastry crust: In a small bowl cut together flour, butter and pecans with a pastry cutter or a couple of forks. When mixture is well combined, press evenly into the bottom of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass dish. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for 15 minutes. Cool before serving.

To prepare the topping: In a large bowl of an electric mixer combine cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in about 9 ounces Cool Whip and set this mixture aside, reserving the rest of the Cool Whip for use later.

In another large bowl, use electric mixer to thoroughly combine the powdered instant pudding mix with 3 cups milk. Let sit for 10 minutes to thicken.

Begin layering toppings on cooled pastry, first the cream cheese mixture, second the pudding, third the Cool Whip. Repeat layers. Chop candy bars roughly and sprinkle on top of the final layer of Cool Whip. Chill several hours. Makes 10 servings.

The second ring, a variation on the theme, came from Camille who lives in Hixson. This one contains not only Cheddar but also mozzarella, and the onions here are green.

Raspberry Cheese Ring

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

8 ounces shredded Cheddar

3 green onions, finely chopped

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves

Assorted crackers

In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and mayonnaise until blended. Beat in cheeses and onions. Stir in pecans. Spread into a plastic-wrap-lined 9-inch round dish. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Invert onto serving plate; spread with preserves. Serve with crackers.

Perhaps you have read, or found by experimenting, that nuts are almost always better in any recipe if they have been toasted in advance. This is true with almonds and pecans for sure, and this week I bought toasted walnuts in the supermarket, because they were buy one/get one free. Toasted walnuts can raise a recipe to new heights, and of course next time, when toasted walnuts are full price, I will just make my own.

How are you using nuts of any kind, toasted or untoasted, in your recipes, your meals? Please pass on your cooking wisdom to the rest of us, on this topic or any of your particular interest.

I'll be looking for you next week, you hear?

To Reach Us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.

E-mail: janehenegar@gmail.com.

Fax: 423-668-5092.

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