More Traditional Texas Food Articles   Grocery Coupons   Cookbook Reviews   Free Newsletter  

Christmas Sweet Treats

Rice Krispy Treats
by John Raven, Ph.B.

In the times before everything became literally sugar coated, sweets were a real treat. There was not a bowl of sugar on the table at every meal. Sugar was very expensive and used sparingly.

Folks who lived close to the woods could find bee trees and get honey. Others got their sweet from sorghum syrup made from the sorghum grass. Most of the sugar that we know today is made from sugar cane. Until the sugar industry came into being, cane sugar was rare.

Christmas was the time of the year to do a little something extra in way of celebrating the event. Sweets were on the menu. The "sugar plums" in the poem were probably originally made with plums, but now they are a variety of fruit-nut cookies that go by that name.

My mother's specialty was homemade custard pies. They came in two flavors, chocolate and lemon. For a really special occasion, Mama would make a mincemeat pie. Other family members had their own specialties. My cousin Winona made a wonderful chocolate cake. My cousin's Grandmother Kuhl made the Rice Krispy treats which were and are still my favorites. Let's get a few recipes and sweeten the holiday pot.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Custard Pie

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • dash of salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • baked 9-inch pie crust
  • meringue
Combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt in heavy saucepan; mix well.

Combine milk and egg yolks, beat with a wire whisk 1 to 2 minutes or until frothy. Gradually stir into sugar mixture, mixing well. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla, mixing well. Pour into baked pie shell, top with meringue and brown in oven.

These are best served a little on the warm side.

Mama's Mincemeat Pie

Purchase two bottles of Nonesuch mincemeat and follow instructions on the bottle.

If you are in Texas. you have to have a pecan pie for any special occasion. These are not that hard to make and can be served warm or cold. Warm with a bit of vanilla ice cream is best.

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-2/3 cup chopped pecans, divided
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Whisk first five ingredients in medium bowl to blend.

Mix in 1 cup of the pecans. Pour into crust. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Bake pie until set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool on rack. [Note: Check the pie after about 50 minutes -- you don't want to scorch it.]

As far as I am concerned, there is only one cake you need for the holiday season. This recipe was adapted from a prune cake recipe that was in my mama's cookbook.

Holiday Spice Cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups raisins
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, combine well. Sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with water When everything is combined, add the raisins and nuts that have been dredged in a little flour. Mix well. Place in greased loaf pan. Bake in 320F degree oven about two hours. Test with a toothpick or cake tester in center of cake. Turn onto rack to cool. [Note: Use real butter, anything else just isn't right.]

The holidays always call for a supply of cookies. You know, of course, that Santa always expects cookies and a glass of milk when he makes his visit. Here is a recipe that should keep the jolly old fat man jolly.

M & M Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups plain M & M's candies
Blend shortening and sugars together in a large bowl. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Add dry ingredients, blending well. Stir in candies.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375F degrees for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. [Note: You can get the candies in just red and green, but I think the regular color assortment looks better. Also you can use the regular candies or the small ones made especially for baking.]

Christmas just would not be Christmas without candy. Traditional Christmas candy is hard candy like the candy canes or the peppermint drops. You can make hard candy at home, but it requires a lot of planning and effort. We are going to go with the favorite of all us Texans, Pecan Pralines. Pralines are the dessert of choice after a Tex-Mex meal, but they are mighty good just alone and at anytime.

Pecan Pralines

  • 1 ( 16-ounce) box light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk, unsweetened
  • 1-1/2 cups pecans pieces or halves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in medium saucepan and cook slowly over low heat until mixture reaches the soft ball stage (see note). Remove from heat and allow to stand five minutes. Beat with spoon until mixture begins to thicken. Drop by teaspoons onto greased foil.

When pralines are cool and hard, peel foil from back and wrap each praline in a square of plastic wrap.

[Note: Soft ball stage equals 235F to 240F degrees on a candy thermometer. The mix will form a soft ball when a bit is dropped into cold water. Get a candy thermometer if you don't have one.]

And finally, I said it was my favorite:

Rice Krispies Treats

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 10-ounce package (about 40) regular marshmallows OR 4 cups miniature marshmallows OR 1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows or marshmallow creme and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Fold in Rice Krispies cereal, and stir until well coated.

Using a buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly into a 9x13-inch pan coated with butter or cooking spray. Cut into 2-inch squares when cool. Best if served the same day. Makes 24 squares.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Online Since 1997
Stay Connected
Follow us on Twitter
Our Facebook Fan Page
TexasCooking on Flickr

Message Boards
Recipe Exchange, Chat

Follow Me on Pinterest
Texas Wines & Wineries

Texas Restaurants

Website: Texana
Our website devoted to Texas books, travel, people & culture

Order your
special groceries here!

Save on Your
Favorite Coffee

Coffee For Less
5% off Coupon Code: CFLESS
Recipes Alphabetical

Copyright , Mesquite Management, Inc. All rights reserved.