Thank you for stopping by to view my blog. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy sharing my favorite thing to do.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Truffles Anyone, Elegant, Decadent Delicious...

I will be practicing my truffle making with couverture chocolate until Valentine’s Day.  I want to give my friends and family some of the really good stuff. Yes, I am barely done with Christmas and I am thinking about the most popular Holiday for chocolates. I am starting with the basic truffle recipe and I will branch out as my level of bravery progresses. The wonderful truffle is the most basic chocolate treat; chocolate, cream and butter if you like. Truffles are like eating pure chocolate. The great thing about truffles is the many flavors that can be created. I am planning to try the green tea truffle, espresso, cinnamon and cardamom, amaretto etc. There are many more options for flavors. Also there are many options for toppings. Plain cocoa is always a favorite and of course dipped in more delicious dark chocolate creating a nice shell is wonderful. Crushed nuts, powdered sugar and coconut are good too.

The challenge in my little truffle excursion is tempering the chocolate. I am always fearful that I won’t quite get it right. But this is a new year (soon) and fear must dissipate and triumph will prevail. That sounded good. I will let you know how it turns out. I highly recommend making truffles when you have other thing to do because the process is time consuming.

Classic Chocolate Truffles

2 ½ pounds of bittersweet chocolate          1 ½ cups of heavy cream

3 to 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder          2 quart mixing bowl

1quart saucepan                                         Whisk or spatula

Baking sheet                                              Parchment paper

Place 1 pound of the chocolate into the mixing bowl. In the saucepan over medium heat bring the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let the cream and chocolate sit for one minute, then, stir with a spatula or the whisk until completely blended. The chocolate should be silky and shiny. Cover the mixture and let it cool at room temperature. Next let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours until thick. Use a small ice cream scoop or spoon to form mounds of the mixture unto the baking sheet lined with the parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 2 hours or the refrigerator for 6 hours.

Dust your hands with the cocoa powder and roll the mound into balls. Cover and let chill for another 2 hours in the freezer. Remove from freezer and bring to room temperature. Melt and temper the remain ing11/2 pound of chocolate. With a fork dip the truffles into the tempered chocolate and place each dipped truffle on to clean parchment paper

Tip: I placed the  thickened  truffle centers in a large freezer bag, clipped the corner of the bag and pipped the truffle center onto the parchment paper. This instead of the scoop. Neat and easy.

Really good dark chocolate. This is 58% Felchlin chocolate

1 pound of chocolate exactly

cocoa, powdered sugar, finely chopped cashews.
Hot cream over the chocolate coins

Chocolate coins swimming in the milk for one minute

Whipped and ready for truffles

Ready to pipe

Ready for the freezer

Ready for enrobing in chocolate or to be rolled in selected toppings

Ready for taste buds

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dipping and Gifting (Day 10)

Caramel corn is the quintessential Christmas basket item. I make it every year for the family and for gifts. I found Paula Deen’s recipe for caramel corn and I have been hooked since then. Later I came upon a recipe from the ladies at Our Best Bites Blog that added cinnamon or should I say “sinnamon”. So I combined the two recipes. Oh my goodness how many ways can I say delicious. I added one teaspoon of cinnamon and one teaspoon of vanilla to Paula Deen's recipe. I added the chopped pecans just before the baking process. Then drizzle the  cooled popcorn with white chocolate. I have named it:

Sin-a mon Nut Caramel Popcorn

 Packaged and ready for gifts

Out of  the oven for a quick stir

Cooling on the counter.

Drizzled with white chocolate

Paula Deens Grandma Paul Caramel corn

• 1 cup butter

• 2 cups packed brown sugar

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 cup light corn syrup

• 1 teaspoon baking soda


Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Over medium heat, combine first 4 ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Stir well. Pour over 8 quarts popped corn. Stir to coat well. Bake in large roaster or pan for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper to dry.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dipping and Gifting (Day 9)


I love turtles, no, not the cute little reptiles but the ones that have a delicious combination of caramel, pecans and chocolate. So I made me some. Last year I was at the Savannah River Walk in Georgia. I went into the very large candy store there. The turtles were beautiful. The pecans and caramel exposed with a dollop of chocolate on top. They were sold by weight and very expensive. Needless to say I am worth every penny I paid to have such a wonderful tasty experience eating one of those turtle candies. So, I tried my best to make mine look like theirs. Close second, but just as tasty. Once again I used the microwavable caramel recipe.

Pecans and caramel in waiting

Getting closer to the final project

Drizsled in delicious chocolate

You will need:

One recipe of the microwavable caramel

 1 large bag of pecans

Chocolate (Ghirardelli dipping chocolate)

Parchment paper

Spread the pecans in a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Drop teaspoons of the cooked caramel on to the pecans. After the caramel has cooled removed the caramel with however many pecans are attached to the caramel. Place on another piece of parchment paper. Melt chocolate according to directions. Put the chocolate on top of the caramel. Let the chocolate set. Give as a great gift or enjoy!

Dipping and Gifting (Day 8)

Pretty packaging for the peppermint bark

I love the peppermint bark from William Sonoma that I only get to eat if some one is giving me a gift. It comes in a pretty tin with the bark perfectly fitted.  Even though I know how to make my own it is nice to eat the expensive stuff. I am making peppermint bark today in my candy molds and cookie molds just to add some interest. Then of course I will make some  the simple way by spreading it out on the parchment paper in a very loose manner. Either way it tastes great. Peppermint bark is one of those gifts that people love receiving.  It is just plain good. I love eating peppermint bark with a cup of hot earl gray tea. Hm.
As usual I will be using the Ghirardelli dipping chocolate.

The tree is just beautiful

O course the little gingerbread man is quite handsome 

The bell will definitely ring someones taste buds

I like the look of the molds

Basic ingredients

Basic preparation

Peppermint Bark
16 oz of white chocolate
16 oz of dark chocolate
A few drops of peppermint candy flavoring
12 crushed peppermint sticks
Cold candy or cookie cutters
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper

Melt white chocolate according to the package instructions. Add a few drops of the peppermint oil to taste. Spread parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Place the cold cookie cutter on the parchment paper. Fill the cookie cutter half full with white chocolate. Sprinkle some of the crushed peppermint on top and allow chocolate to set.  After the chocolate has set, fill the mold with the dark chocolate. Sprinkle some crushed peppermint on top and allow the dark chocolate to set.  If using candy molds, place some crushed candy in the bottom of the mold first. The candy mold need not be cold.  The cold cookie cutters help prevent the chocolate from seeping out of the cookie cutter.  This will also fit into a 9x13 cookie sheet or dish.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dipping and Gifting (Day 7)

Mendiants, a small chocolate disk topped with pieces of candied or dried fruits and nuts. I am sure you  are going what?  It is simply a fine quality of chocolate melted and placed in a small circle on parchment paper with fruit and nuts added. I think I just repeated myself. It is my understanding that this is very European.  I have been doing this for years to use leftover melted chocolate when I was done with a project. Now I find out that it is very chic and Euro. The finished product is also very pretty. The chopped fruit and nuts on white or dark chocolate are very inviting. Today I chose to add candy sticks to my little circles to make chocolate pops. Easy is almost not adequate to describe how simple it is to make these candies.   You can vary the topping to accommodate your tastes. Children enjoy doing this.

4 ounces best-quality chocolate (white, milk, OR dark),

Nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pine nuts, cashews, or others)

Dried fruits (do not use fresh, canned, or frozen fruit)

Line a baking sheet with or use parchment paper 

Place a tablespoon or teaspoon of the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper creating
a circle. Add your choice of topping. Only do 10 or 12 at a time. The chocolate needs to be soft
enough to press the fruit and nuts into the chocolate.

Assorted  fruit and nuts

Final mendiants

Without candy stick, add your favorite dried fruit and nuts

With candy stick, add your favorite dried fruit and nuts

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dipping and Gifting (Day 6)

Today homemade caramels dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with all kinds of toppings I can find in my stash. I have not been feeling well of late so I was concerned about standing over the stove and stirring caramel forever. I have been using the same recipe from a Betty Crocker cookbook for years and I have found it to be tried and true. I know there are other great caramel recipes out there so, I started my search. I came upon a microwavable caramel recipe. Yep, in the microwave… To add to my joy, it was the same recipe that I have been using for years. All I could think about is I have got to try it. No candy thermometers, no dead arm from stirring and hoping I don’t burn the caramel. I am so happy right now. It is in the microwave and so far it looks good and it smells good. This is the site where I found the instructions for microwave caramel. The title of the article is Gifts From the Kitchen.
I hope I am not the only one that did not know about this heaven sent idea. If so, don’t tell me. Let me languish in my find. OK, back to the candy. I will dip some in chocolate and sprinkle with smoked sea salt flakes. The next set will have a whole pecan placed on top and drizzled in chocolate offering the unmistakable taste of the popular turtle candies and the last set I will dust with silver and gold sugar powder.Once the basic caramel is ready there are many options for candy.

Four candies, plain caramel wrapped in wax paper, caramel dipped in chocolate and decorated with candy transfer, caramel dipped in chocolate with a pecan on top and finally caramel dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with smoked sea salt. YUM!

Adding to the gift basket

You will need:

1 cup butter (no substitutions)

2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup light-colored corn syrup

One 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Parchment paper
Follow the microwavable instructions listed in the link above.

Cooking in the microwave, It works well.

Caramels in their plain and delicious  glory
Chocolate and salt

Chocolate and pecans

Candy transfer sheet

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dipping and Gifting (Day 5)

 OK, I am on day 5 of dipping stuff into chocolate. Well today is not exactly dipping but a close cousin to dipping. I made another one of my favorites.  I call them butter pecan ice cream because that is what the flavor reminds me of.  I mix a few drops of butterscotch candy flavoring into white chocolate  then add chopped pecans. Once I am satisfied with the desired taste, I pour into molds or place spoonfuls onto parchment paper making little chocolate disks. These are really good.  I place each molded chocolate into cellophane bag and tie a pretty ribbon.

Added these beauties to my now almost empty candy gift basket.  We had our family Christmas dinner on Sunday and everyone enjoyed choosing a nice chocolate gift.

I used a Christmas tree mold and a decorative round mold. The molds are inexpensive.

You will need: A good dipping chocolate.  As you can see, I love Ghirardelli Dipping chocolate
Butterscotch candy flavoring
lollipop sticks

Mixture with chopped pecans and flavoring. Melt the dipping chocolate according to package directions.
Add flavoring a little at a time, tasting as you work. Remember, you can always add but you can't take out.
Add chopped pecans as desired.

Wrong! Chocolate over flowing in mold will give the molded chocolate wings.

Right: molded chocolate will be a perfect tree.

Chocolate mixture on parchment paper. Just spoonfuls spread into a circle.