Chocolate Almond Braid

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Similar to an almond crescent, this braided pastry creation is  so light and flaky, but is filled with a rich chocolate and  almond center. It is so versatile you can serve it for dessert, breakfast or brunch. It will taste as if it was made from scratch at a bakery, yet the packaged puff pastry makes the recipe quick and easy for both the novice and experienced home cook.  Your friends and family will be amazed by this delightful treat.

Enjoy!

Serves 12
(Makes 2 braids-6 slices each)

Ingredients:
For the Almond Paste Filling:
One 7-ounce  package of  almond paste
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed
Two 3.5-ounce Ghirardelli Intense Dark Hazelnut Heaven Bars*
1 medium egg, for the egg wash

For the Glaze:
3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds,divided, toasted

Directions:
Place the almond paste, butter and sugar in a food processor; cover and pulse until chopped. Add 1 egg and flour; process until smooth.

Unfold puff pastry sheets onto a parchment lined greased baking sheet.

Spread half of the almond filling mixture down the center third of one pastry sheet. Place the chocolate bar in the center, cut diagonal lines along the left and right side of the chocolate bar about an inch apart.Remove the corner pieces.

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Starting from the top, fold down the flap then alternate right and left until you are close to the bottom.

Fold the bottom flap up and finish alternating between right and left. Pinch ends to seal. Tuck any extra puff pastry underneath.

Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almond slices.Bake at 415°F / 213°C for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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Remove to a wire rack.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and almond extract. Drizzle over braids; sprinkle with additional almonds. Cut into slices and serve.

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*Cook’s Note:
Feel free to  use your favorite chocolate bar in this recipe.
You can also omit the almond paste filling, if desired.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


Sausage Stuffed Potato Skins

These potato skins are stuffed with savory  breakfast sausage and shredded cheddar cheese, ingredients that makes for the perfect finger food to serve at a football tailgate, a Super Bowl party, brunch, or for an any time snack.  To top them off, garnish with sour cream and chives.


Serves 4 to 6
 
Ingredients:

One 12-ounce  Pork Sausage Roll *
8  baby Yukon gold potatoes
4 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 Tablespoons  unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded *
2 Tablespoons chives, diced
1/2 cup sour cream *

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Prepare sausage according to package directions. Clean and dry potatoes. Rub skin of potatoes with 2 tablespoons canola oil. Place potatoes on rimmed baking sheet and bake 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove the potatoes from pan and let cool. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out insides, leaving thin layer of potato on the inside.

In small bowl, combine remaining canola oil and melted butter. Brush on inside and out of potatoes; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place potato halves on baking sheet and bake 5 to 7 minutes.

Using tongs, turn the potatoes over and continue baking until potatoes turn golden brown.

Remove potatoes from oven. Top inside of each skin with prepared sausage, sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Return potato skins to oven and bake 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Top skins with chives and sour cream; serve warm.

*Cook’s Notes:
To make these stuffed potato skins a bit more healthy, substitute the pork sausage with 1 pound of turkey sausage links and remove the casings. Also substitute the cheese with shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese. In the place of  the sour cream use a good quality Greek yogurt.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


The Fool-Proof Guide to the Perfect Cocktail Party

From Fiestah

Photo: Drinked In

We know, it’s been a long ride since Thanksgiving! Don’t burn out just yet, you’ve got one more cocktail party to whip up, to usher in the New Year with a bang your guests will not forget. It may seem like a daunting task to host a gathering, but we promise, you can get things into shape in two hours.

We’ve got a quick check list of all the things you need for the perfect cocktail party:

Starry, Starry Night 
Whether you’re about to brave the cold outdoors, or you’re blessed with warm weather, twinkle lights will always be a quick way to bring a party space together. It’s inexpensive, and you can even fix removable hooks to your wall and drop the lights so it mimics the falling snowflakes!

Dramatic Pop of Color 
It doesn’t have to be the super fancy, but a strong color is the the perfect party styling to create that lush look. Complement dark tablecloths with flowers in rich berry tones. It will change the entire table!

Candles, Every Single Time 
Another sure fire way to bring it all together and create a cozy vibe are candles! We don’t recommend scented candles near the food, you wouldn’t want to mess with the gorgeous smells of yummy bites, do you?

One Signature Cocktail Or Punch
You don’t need a myriad of cocktails to impress your guests. You just need one cocktail or a boozy punch so that they can top up on their own, and won’t be shy about getting the drinks. A hot toddy will take you less than 15 minutes to make, and it makes about a jug! Just pop the teapot next to the drinks stand and watch your guests flock.

Mixed Nuts and Such
While something is brewing in the oven, distract your guests with a mix of nuts and figs to complement the drinks. Scatter the snack mixes in bowls around the room, and see how guests will gather around the space to mingle! Snack mix recipes here. 

Don’t Stress Yourself, Call On Us! 
If you’re not the type to whip up something in the oven while guests start to enter, take a minute a day or two before the party and call on Fiestah! We’ve got a long list of vendors of all types of amazing food and services, so you just have to call on one of them (or a few!) and deliver your chosen party bites straight to your door. It’s so easy, and you get to enjoy yourself at your own party without fussing if enough food is available.

There you have it, folks! What are some of your go-to fool proof tips?

“Like” Fiestah on Facebook

Follow Fiestah (@Fiestah) on Twitter

Check us out on Pinterest!

Sign up at http://www.fiestah.com to get first access to our beta site.

Source: The Fool-Proof Guide to the Perfect Cocktail Party


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