What a great time of the year for everyone to share special family desserts.

Cookies, cakes, chocolates, plum pudding, pies, tarts, everyone has a family dessert to share, well almost everyone.

You all know about my wife. It’s not her fault. Her idea for a holiday dessert is a S’more. In all fairness she learned that from her mother, who thinks a homemade dessert is Jell-O with milk poured over it.

Now my wife can make a wonderful Baklava and can actually cook very well. The problem is, she only likes to cook certain things in a certain way.

My problem is everything must be organized, and you must clean as you go. To most of you out there who cook, this means you do not pile everything in the kitchen sink and clean it when you are finished cooking, or even more irritating after you eat…

I remember last year she said, “I want to cook the holiday dinner of turkey.” Wow I thought, “That’s great, if you need help, just holler.” She seasoned the turkey and asked me to lift the 24-pound bird and put it in the oven. That’s when she said, “Honey, you can do the rest … let’s see there’s gravy, dressing, mash potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh vegetables, antipasto salad with different deli meats and cheese cut and folded, and fresh cranberry sauce from scratch.”

As she walked out of the cooking area she said, “Don’t forget to clean as you go!” Later she stuck her head in the kitchen and said, “And don’t forget to cover the wings and drumsticks so they don’t get too brown.”

By the way, I taught her that and she also asked me to make some fresh eggnog.

The truth is, I love cooking for the family and my wife knows it, but she wanted to be part of the special meal plans. So, when the turkey was done, I removed it from the oven and bragged on the great job she did cooking it … this article was supposed to be about holiday desserts. I guess I got off track.

We could always hang animal crackers from the Christmas tree. Oh, let me explain, that’s why the box had a little string, so you could hang it on the tree. Before that time, they were sold in a barrel.

In Florida, Key Lime pie and Cheesecake is the favorite along with nine other states. Every region has its favorites, so here is one of my favorites. Enjoy and don’t forget to clean as you go!

Southern Style Pralines


1 cup light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups chopped pecans


Mix the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, heavy cream, butter, water, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugar dissolved. Stir in pecans and cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches the softball stage, 238 to 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. If you spoon a drop of boiling syrup into a cup of ice water, it will form a soft ball that flattens easily between your fingers.

Remove pan from heat and stir rapidly until the mixture thickens. Drop pralines by the spoonful, 1-inch apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Let cool completely until firm. Store in an airtight container.

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or costa.magoulas@daytonastate.edu.

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