Candy confections make wonderful gifts. Place a few in pretty paper confection cups, in a pretty gold box.

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1-1/2 cups dried pitted dates
1-1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup walnuts

Toast the coconut by preheating the oven to 375° and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Stirring frequently, bake the coconut for about 10 minutes, until it becomes lightly golden brown and fragrant.

Roughly chop the dates and walnuts.

Place 3/4 cups of the toasted coconut in a shallow dish. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of toasted coconut, graham cracker crumbs, dates, and the honey in your food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse the ingredients just until they’re combined. Add the walnuts and pulse until the mixture forms a ball.

Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of the mixture and form balls. Roll the balls in the toasted coconut in the shallow dish, pressing slightly to make the coconut adhere to the surface.

Yield: 32 pieces

Tip: It’s worth the effort to find and purchase raw honey from local beekeepers. Beekeepers are fairly common in more rural areas. If you’re in an urban setting, you may purchase raw honey at your farmers’ market or organic food store. Raw honey is superior to pasteurized or processed honey. Pasteurizing involves heating the product, which destroys enzymes, nutrients and flavor. Some processors add corn syrup to the honey, which further reduces the nutritional value and flavor. Raw honey can last for years if kept in a glass jar in a cool, dark environment.

*Magic: this recipe is exclusive to I Love You Recipes. It is from my personal, unpublished collection.

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This is, hands down, the best caramel popcorn with Spanish nuts on the planet. This is the “adult” Halloween candy we give to family and friends. It travels well. A big tin is always well received as a Christmas gift, and often asked for!

1 cup butter (no substitutes)
3 microwave bags regular popcorn, popped OR 6 quarts air popped popcorn
2 cups salted Spanish peanuts
1-16 ounce package light brown sugar (2 cups packed)
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place popcorn in a huge mixing bowl. I use a canning pot or a clean, large plastic bin. Add the peanuts to the center.

Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and molasses. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour caramel mixture over popcorn starting with the nuts in the center. Stir the popcorn and nuts to coat popcorn evenly. Pour the coated popcorn into 2 large lightly greased roasting pans or 4 (13 x 9 inch) baking pans, spreading into a thin layer.

Bake at 250 ° for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. The goal is to spread that warm caramel into every nook and cranny.

Cool the pans on a wire rack.

Clean-up is a breeze using hot, soapy water.

When completely cool, transfer to tightly covered tins for storage.

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