Five indulgent winter snacks

Julie Rene Tran

From the sweet aroma of cinnamon, gingerbread and red apples to the rich flavors of brown sugar, vanilla and chocolate, the winter holidays are the only season to have its own unique blend of scents, spices and ingredients. A dash of nutmeg or a string of vanilla bean could easily deepen any indulgences, perking up a chilly evening and warming the house and soul. As the weather drops and the merriment of December begins to unravel, here are five of the Daily Texan’s favorite warm winter treats.

Mint Chocolate Deluxe S’Mores
Serves 1

2 pieces of Andes Chocolate Mints
2 squares of graham cracker
1 giant marshmallow

Stack the pieces of mint chocolate on top of each other and place them on one cracker. Top off with a marshmallow. On a napkin or plate, microwave the open-faced s’more for 20 seconds or until the chocolate and marshmallow is slightly melted. Place the second cracker on top. Gently squish down the sandwich and enjoy.

Chocolate Cherry Croissants
Serves 6-8

1 package of frozen croissant dough
2 tablespoons of your favorite chocolate, chopped (for each pastry)
1 tablespoon of cherry preserves (for each pastry)
2 teaspoons of chopped almonds or pistachios (for each pastry) (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. On a cutting board or plate, separate the dough into the triangular pieces. On the base end of the triangle, add chocolate and jam. For a crunchy texture, add chopped almonds or pistachios. Carefully roll up the pastry and place on cookie sheet. Continue to make as many as desired. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes or until pastry is lightly golden brown. Pair the croissants with a hot cup of black coffee or chai tea for a complete late-night indulgence.

Extra Creamy Hot Chocolate
Serves 2

4 tablespoons of condensed milk
1 bar of Lindt’s Sea Salt Chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
4 cups of whole milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
1 handful of mini marshmallows (optional)
1 dollop of whipped cream

Heat the condensed milk, chocolate, cocoa, milk and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture slightly bubbles but do not let it come to a boil. Whisk occasionally. Pour the mixture into a mug and top the chocolate drink with marshmallows and whipped cream. Serve hot.

Honey Cinnamon Oatmeal with Warm Persimmon
Serves 1

1 ripe persimmon, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 pinch of cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 pinch of salt
1 package of instant oatmeal
2 teaspoon of honey

In a nonstick sauce pan, cook persimmon on medium heat until soft. Persimmon — the deep orange-colored Asian fruit — has an incredibly sweet, honey taste when ripe. Reduce heat and add in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to fruit mixture. Cook until the butter and sugar is melted and the liquid is syrupy. Remove from heat. Cook oatmeal according to the package. Add spoonfuls of glazed persimmon to the oatmeal and top off the comforting dessert with a drizzle of honey.

Vanilla Churros
Serves 4

1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of nutmeg
2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 quarts of oil for frying
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Over medium heat, combine water, vanilla extract, salt, nutmeg, 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in flour and gently mix until batter forms a ball. Heat cooking oil in a frying pan over medium high heat until oil begins to pop and crackle. Fill a pastry bag with the batter, and using a star tip, pipe strips of dough into pan. If you don’t have a pastry bag, put batter into a Ziploc bag and cut off a corner of the bag. Cook the batter until golden yellow. Remove and let cool over a few sheets of napkin. Pour 1/2 cup of sugar into a small plate and mix in cinnamon. Roll the pastry into the sugar mix. Best served immediately.

Printed on Thursday, December 1, 2011 as:Winter holidays bring top five indulgent recipes