Holiday gifts from the kitchen can be made in less time than you might expect. Look to the appliance where you heat your coffee. This is the b…
Judy’s Microwave Pralines
Microwave Pralines may set up quickly, so have buttered foil and everything else ready before starting to cook. I like to keep the nuts in larger pieces and make these in small sizes. Makes 2 to 3 dozen. Recipe adapted by Judy Walker.
1 pound light brown sugar
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream, plus 1 to 3 teaspoons more for thinning batter if needed
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pans
1 ½ cups toasted chopped pecans
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1. Line two baking sheets with foil, and generously butter the foil.
2. In an 8-cup glass measuring cup or microwavable bowl, stir together sugar, cream and corn syrup until sugar lumps dissolve. Microwave on high 13 minutes. Very carefully, remove from microwave. The bowl will be extremely hot.
3. Stir in 4 tablespoons butter, pecans and vanilla. Beat by hand 1 minute, until mixture is noticeably less glossy. Working quickly with two tablespoons, drop mixture by tablespoons onto the prepared pans.
4. If mixture thickens as it cools, add 1 to 3 additional teaspoons cream, and stir well to loosen.
5. Let pralines cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Serve as soon as possible. Pralines are best the day they are made, but they can be stored in airtight containers up to four days.
Microwave Lemon Curd
This can be made only with real butter and fresh juice. It keeps for weeks in the refrigerator and is a classic for teatime. Bakers love to fill cakes with lemon curd, or put it into small sweet pastry cups, topped with whipped cream, for a party. I’ve even used it as filling for miniature fried pies. Makes about 2 cups. Recipe by Judy Walker.
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut in pieces
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter at 50 percent power.
2. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar. Slowly whisk mixture into the melted butter, continuing to whisk until well combined.
3. Cook in the microwave on high for 1-minute intervals only, stirring well after each minute, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, about 3 or 4 minutes. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
4. Pour into small clean glass jars, or one large bowl if you’re using it to fill a cake. Refrigerate, covered.
Microwave Champagne Mustard
A couple of decades ago, store shelves were filled with specialty vinegars. Now, it’s harder to find Champagne vinegar, but you can use flat Champagne instead, or white wine vinegar. Also, shop around for dry mustard powder. My local grocery store had an off-brand 2-ounce container for $1, which is more than enough to make one batch. (Name brands in smaller sizes are expensive.) Makes about 2 cups. Recipe by Judy Walker.
¾ cup dry mustard
¾ cup sugar
1 cup Champagne vinegar OR ½ cup flat Champagne and ½ cup cider vinegar
3 eggs, beaten but not foamy
1. In a 2-quart microwave-safe bowl, combine mustard and sugar. Whisk in Champagne, vinegar and eggs.
2. Microwave on high for 2-minute intervals, whisking well after each interval, until mixture is thickened and smooth, a total of 4 to 7 minutes depending on the power of the microwave.
3. Store in small covered jars, refrigerated. Keeps up to four weeks.