If there was just one thing that my Mother was renown for, it was her Christmas baked goods. Whether they were fresh out of the oven, on a Christmas platter wrapped and ready to travel to a party, or still frozen out of the huge chest freezer in our basement — they were never “un” anything — and by that I basically mean, uneaten or unloved.
We are at my Dad’s, and I asked the 3 men here – Husband, Brother, and Father – which cookies were their top picks for me to bake. All three of the fellas heartily agreed that the Peanut Butter Blossoms with the Hershey Chocolate Kisses needed to be near the top of the “must-bake list”. Betty Crocker’s version is wonderful. To enhance them with a touch of Christmas cheer, I roll the peanut butter dough balls in the red and green sugar prior to baking. After pulling them out of the oven – you press the Hershey Kisses into the hot cookie, and let them cool for a good while. The kisses will take quite a while to re-solidify atop the cookie as they both cool.
But, if you’re a chocolate lover, and a Paula Deen type of butter advocate, this next Christmas recipe is definitely for you. I have no idea where Mom originally got the recipe, so I don’t know who should receive the credit for this masterpiece, but thank you to the ghost-chocolatier who graced us with Napoleon Creams.
Yields: (1) 9×13 pan; These are cooked on a stove-top & chilled in the fridge – no baking required.
Ingredients for Crust (Bottom Layer):
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg, slightly beaten
2 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
Ingredients for Filling (Middle Layer):
1 cup butter
6 Tablespoons milk
2 (3 1/2 oz) packages of vanilla instant pudding mix
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Ingredients for Topping (Top Layer):
1 12-oz bag of semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter
How to make the Crust:
- In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the butter, cocoa, sugar and the vanilla extract.
- Cook over the simmering water in the bottom pan, stirring until the butter melts.
- Add the eggs.
- Continue stirring until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Add graham crackers and coconut, mixing well.
- Press into a greased 9×13 pan (you can use butter or cooking spray). I use a piece of waxed paper and my hand to pack it down into the pan firmly.
Your crust will look something like this when it’s pressed in the pan. You can see that I have some chunkier bits of Graham Crackers in there. The Coconut adds a wonderful flavor, even if you’re not a big fan of Coconut.
Set aside the Crust, to work on the Filling:
- Cream the butter well with a mixer.
- Stir in the milk, dry pudding mix, and powdered sugar.
- Beat until fluffy.
- Spread evenly over crust, but don’t mess with it too much, or the crust will start to break up and mix in with the filling.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator until firm.
Butter is the central ingredient here. The pudding mix gives it a rich color and flavor. I let my butter soften on the countertop for at least a 1/2 hour to make it cream nicely. Make sure to chill this layer spread over the crust well, or it will blend with the top layer – not good.
Make the top layer (it’s almost like a frosting)
- In the top pan of a double boiler, melt semi sweet morsels and butter over the simmering water in the bottom pan.
- Cool slightly.
- Spread over pudding layer.
The semi-sweet chocolate chips & butter create a type of frosting topping. I like using the semi-sweet, as I think with the decadence of the dessert, the milk chocolate would be too much or the dark chocolate would be too harsh.
To finish off the Napoleons
- Chill until set.
- Cut into small bars to serve.
Look at all those lovely layers of Napoleon Cream goodness! These take some time to prepare, but will not disappoint.