Archive for the ‘Candy’ Category

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Coconut-Dark Chocolate (and Date) Truffles

June 30, 2013

Coconut_Truffles

I love coconut and chocolate, and I like dates a lot, so when I saw this recipe, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I made it. These truffles, with a filling made of dates, cocoa powder, and coconut flour, are a bit less indulgent than a typical piece of candy. Oh, but they are tasty. The dates and cocoa powder create a soft, sweet filling that’s only better when covered in chocolate and rolled in toasted coconut.

Coconut_Truffle_Inside

The recipe is from Eating Well, and you can find it here. And if you’re in a truffle kind of mood, Michele made Butterfinger truffles! Go to her site to check them out!

Some notes on coconut flour

These are pretty easy to make, unless you are like me and decide that since you have a bunch of unsweetened coconut, you’ll go ahead and make your own coconut flour. I did it, and it worked out, but it was a long road to get there! I followed these instructions and used option 2, the boiling water method. If you do that, I suggest letting it cool a bit before blending it. My blender was super-full and I ended up getting splattered with some hot liquid.

The coconut flour I ended up with looked like this:

Coconut_Flour

It worked fine in the truffles, but since it wasn’t the consistency of a traditional flour, I don’t know if it would work in other recipes.

As a by-product of making the flour, I had some coconut milk which I used to make this sorbet (I didn’t make the other components of that recipe). It was a delicious, and a nice reward for the unexpected work involved in making the coconut flour.

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Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s a holiday all about sweethearts and sweets, so to celebrate, my friend L and I got together over the weekend and made cake pops.

It was the first time either of us had made them, and boy is my arm sore…from patting myself on the back! We were pretty excited about the results. I knew we better not try any over-the-top designs, so we stuck with basic white- and chocolate-dipped cake balls topped with sprinkles. L brought some really cute Valentine lollipop bags and ribbon, and believe me when I say that even a less-than-perfect cake pop looks great packaged in a cute bag tied with ribbon.

I was shocked to learn that we didn’t have any styrofoam in the house. My handy husband came through by drilling holes in some foam core and taping it on a cooling rack. It worked well, but next time, I’ll make sure we have styrofoam.

Of course, there were some flops. Perfect for snacking though!

If you aren’t up to speed on cake pops, this video from Bakerella, the inventor of cake pops, will catch you up.

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Girls’ Night, featuring Salted Chocolate Pretzel Toffee, Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, and more!

January 15, 2012

Last night I had some friends over to watch a movie, chat, and eat. While I was planning what to make and making my grocery list, I saw this recipe for Salted Chocolate Pretzel Toffee, and immediately put it on the menu. I’m a sucker for sweet and salty, and if the salty component involves pretzels, all the better. It’s so easy to make, and dangerously tasty.

I didn’t want to serve just one dessert, so I also made Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies. I saw these cookies in Real Simple Magazine and was intrigued by a variation that called for mixing in 1 cup of broken pretzel pieces and 1 cup of chopped chocolate-covered toffee bar after mixing the other ingredients (the variation was in the magazine, but is not included in the recipe that I linked to). I made the recipe that way the first time and it was delicious. This time, since I already had a pretzel dessert on the menu, I added mini chocolate chips, which was also delicious. How the heck these end up looking and tasting like cookies amazes me, but they’re good, so I’m not going to question it.

And there was cotton candy!

Last summer, my friends found out that I had a cotton candy maker, so I knew the next time I had them over, I better serve cotton candy. My husband is the expert cotton candy spinner, so we let him do the work! I don’t make cotton candy very often, but it’s a fun activity once in a while.

It sounds like this was an all-dessert gathering, but it wasn’t. Actually, the star of the show was Pioneer Woman’s Olive Cheese Bread. Oh my gosh, this was an olivey, cheesy, buttery delight. The full recipe makes a ton, so its good for a gathering, plus there’s a tip for freezing it at the end of the recipe. I sent my friends home with some extra bread and topping so they could assemble and bake their own at home.

I’m a little sad that I gave away all the leftovers of the Olive Cheese Bread, but not too sad, because I have leftover Baked Chicken Meatballs. When I was thinking about what to make, I somehow got fixated on meatballs. I’m not sure if I’ve ever made meatballs of any kind before; if I did, it was a long time ago. So where the meatball idea came from, I don’t know, but I took a look on Smitten Kitchen and decided on these. I made them appetizer size (about 1 tablespoon each) and got 30 meatballs. They tasted great!

I didn’t get photos of the savory food, but if you click over to the recipes, you’ll see photos that are a whole lot nicer than what I would have taken. I also made Baked Potato Skins with Creamy Spinach and Turkey Bacon, which I’ve written about before, and Pioneer Woman’s Sangria, which I’ve also written about. We would have had a good time even without all of the food, but I enjoyed making it and they enjoyed eating it, so I think girls’ night was a success!

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Homemade Kit Kat Bars

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! I signed up to bring dessert (of course) to an office potluck lunch, but wasn’t sure what to make. Then I saw a TV commercial with trick-or-treaters and Kit Kat bars and the light bulb went off in my head: homemade Kit Kat bars! These aren’t a fancy-shmancy individually dipped in chocolate homemade candy bar; they’re a pan of bars that you cut and serve. Easy to make and really good.

They don’t taste exactly like a Kit Kat, but they taste pretty fantastic, with sweet brown sugar and butter filling between layers of crisp, salty crackers, topped off with a soft blanket of chocolate, butterscotch, and peanut butter.

I’ve made these quite a few times, but it’s been years since the last time. Right after I put them in the refrigerator to chill and sat down to type this blog post, I got an email from one of my good friends, who happens to be the person I got the recipe from. She said she got the recipe from a co-worker’s wife many years ago, and that she remembered eating them and thinking I would like them. She was right! At the top of the recipe, she wrote “A recipe for those of you who appreciate a good treat.” So true.

Recipe Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for Waverly crackers. I couldn’t find those, so I used Club Crackers instead. The Waverly people, whoever they are, may not agree, but I think the Club Crackers are pretty much the same thing.
  • I used unsalted butter, but I bet you’d do fine with salted too.
  • Thanks to the peanut butter in the topping, they are easy to cut. None of that rock-hard chocolate that cracks when you cut it.

Kit Kat Bars

Club Crackers: I used 90 crackers, which is about 3/4 of a box
1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with whole Club Crackers. Put butter, sugar, brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and milk in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat; bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour half of the mixture over the crackers. Spread to create an even layer. Add another layer of crackers and top with the remaining sauce mixture. Add a final layer of crackers for a total of three layers of crackers.

In a small bowl, melt chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and peanut butter. Mix until smooth and pour over the top layer of crackers. Spread to create an even layer. Refrigerate until firm. Cut and eat!

I used Club Crackers

First layer of crackers

Adding the second layer of crackers

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Fundamentals of Chocolate Candies Class

January 7, 2011

I just returned from three days in Chicago, where I attended Fundamentals of Chocolate Candies at the French Pastry School. I learned a ton…way too much to summarize here, but I’ll give you the rundown of what we made in class.

The circular molded chocolates at the top of the plate are filled with Orange Liqueur Caramel.

To the right of those are Trios: three whole caramelized hazelnuts, set on a disc of chocolate and then dipped in chocolate.

In the center of the plate are Swiss Rochers: The center is a mixture of Hazelnut Praliné and dark chocolate, which is rolled into a ball, dipped in chocolate and rolled in Pralinettes (caramelized granulated almonds) and dipped in chocolate again.

The squares at the bottom of the plate are Lime Ganache, dipped in chocolate. Not pictured are Creamy From Normandy Ganache, dipped in chocolate (those look exactly like the Lime Ganache chocolates).

The oval-shaped molded chocolates are filled with Raspberry Ganache.

We made almost all of the components used in the chocolates. We didn’t make the Pralinettes, and although we did make Hazelnut Praliné, we used the commercial version in our Swiss Rochers.

Below is a photo of our Hazelnut Praliné 60/40 (60% nuts, 40% sugar). To make this, we cooked sugar and water and then added hazelnuts to create the most-delicious smelling concoction of roasted nuts coated with caramelized sugar. The cooled caramelized nuts are then pureed. The school has a heavy-duty food processor, but it can be done at home if you’re careful.

How do you like this lovely dish of my exclusive chocolate caramel ice cream topping? It’s so tasty, but I will admit that I was supposed to make Chocolate Caramels that are firm enough to cut into pieces. I asked the chef what happened and he said I didn’t cook it long enough. I’ll be trying this one again; the ones the chef made were just chewy enough to be satisfying without endangering your dental work and oh-so-chocolatey and caramely.

Here’s a hunk of Passion-Apricot Pâte de Fruit. I should cut this into squares and roll them in sugar, but I haven’t gotten to that yet. My table partner made this and it turned out extra-firm, but still tastes good. I’m glad that he goofed, because it made me feel better about the chocolate caramels. I made Pâte de Fruit once before using a simpler recipe, so I would probably stick with that if I were to make it again.

As with most things, working with chocolate takes a lot of practice. We learned about tempering and practiced dipping, molding, and stove techniques for making caramels, ganaches, and caramelized nuts. The class was a great jump-start to something I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Although I’m comfortable in the kitchen, there were a lot of things that were new to me, so being able see demonstrations and to try it hands-on with a chef ready to answer questions was fantastic.

My favorites are the molded chocolates because they’re so pretty as well as delicious. I’m looking forward to getting some molds and practicing my technique!

I’ll wrap up with a few more photos from the class. Casting ganache into a made-to-size mold:

Swiss Rochers before the final coating of chocolate:

Cutting ganache on the guitar, which is like a giant egg slicer:

Trios in progress. You can see the mold for the discs on the left:

Warming up filled chocolates so that the cap (the top of the mold, which will be the bottom of the chocolate) adheres to the chocolate in the mold:


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The Kitchen Reader: Memories Around the Holiday Table

December 24, 2010

The Kitchen Reader group is taking the month off from reading and instead posting a memorable holiday recipe. I decided to pick up where I left off last year and continue my quest to make fudge like my grandma’s.

Friends, the quest is over.

Fudge Fail

Over because I am done trying to make fudge. Some memories are better left alone.

Happy holidays!

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Mango Pates de Fruits

March 6, 2010

I’ve always loved fruit slice candy. You know, these things…

Click the image for some fun facts about fruit slice candy!

…but I hadn’t thought about making them at home. But after reading many food blogs, I’ve realized that there’s nothing you can’t make at home! When I visited The French Pastry School in Chicago, there was a package of delicious jelly candy in the goody bag. It was wonderfully soft and obviously made with real fruit. I realized that if they made it at the school, I could probably make it at home. Then I remembered that Michele from Veggie Num Nums had fruit jellies on her list of goals. Since I have no goals (well, none that I’ve publicly documented), I may as well help her work on her list, right?

We researched recipes and found that, first of all, the name for these candies is Pâtes de Fruit. Many of the recipes call for tartaric acid and some call for apple pectin. Also according to one source, the amount of pectin needed depends on the fruit you’re using. This was getting complicated and more than I wanted to get into to just make some fun fruit candy. Happily, I found an easy recipe for Mango Pâtes de Fruit on the About.com Candy blog. The candy blog is written by Elizabeth from Cake… or Death?. Two more blogs for you to check out after you’re done reading my engaging post!

Without further ado, here are my Mango Pâtes de Fruit.

And here is an extreme close-up (with a bonus close-up of my fingernails).

These were good! The fresh fruit flavor shines through. If I make them again, I’ll make them when I can share them with a group, because an 8×8 pan makes a lot of candies! They are also best when freshly coated with sugar.

You can find the recipe here. Here are a couple of notes:

  • I needed two mangoes to get enough pulp. Instead of cooking and mashing the mango to get the pulp, I let them get very ripe, then peeled them, cut into chunks, and gave them a whirl in the food processor.
  • The recipe says that you will need to cook the pulp and sugar for 30 minutes – 1 hour. I cooked mine for an hour, at which point it was very thick and had reduced by about half.
  • I found liquid pectin at the grocery store. I read a little bit about pectin and it sounds like you cannot swap powdered for liquid pectin; the general rule is to go with whatever the recipe calls for.

Be sure to stop by to see Michele’s strawberry version!

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