Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chocolate Truffles (Like LINDT / Lindor)




 Truffles are small, delectable confections (usually round and made of chocolate), with a rich center created from a combination of chocolate and cream, co-called “ganache”.  With these recipes (from the folks who make the LINDT chocolate truffles), you can create your own signature truffle and surprise your friends!

The folks and Lindor do it a bit differently, which allows them to make more truffles quickly, in mass-- they pre-mold hallow balls of shelling chocolate (they make 2 equal halves in a candy mold, then seal them together).   Then they use a small hole at the end to fill the hallow ball with the smooth, creamy center.  

Even though you don't have those big factory machines, you can still make these at home with the same ingredients, just a more old-fashioned method of forming the truffles.   And probably the way they were originally formed, before the company moved up to worldwide production.  

Chocolate Truffles (Like LINDT / Lindor)

Makes approximately 20 milk, 20 dark, or 20 white truffles.

Ingredients:
 
Ganache for milk chocolate truffels:
¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream
5oz (150g) LINDT Milk Chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (15g) butter, softened

Ganache for dark chocolate truffels:
¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream
5oz (150g) LINDT Dark Chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (15g) butter, softened

Ganache for white chocolate truffels:
¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream
5oz (150g) LINDT White Chocolate, chopped

METHOD: 

Heat the cream until it just comes to a boil, add the chopped chocolate and remove pan from heat.  Stir or whisk until the chocolate is completely melted.  Only for milk or dark truffles: Stir in the butter until the ganache is smooth.  Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap ensuring that the plastic makes contact with the entire surface of the ganache.  Refrigerate overnight or until the ganache is set.

FORMING THE TRUFFLES:

TIPS:

Use a melon baller, small ice cream scoop or measuring teaspoon.  Roll the ganache in a ball and place on parchment paper.  Roll finished truffles in unsweetened cocoa powder (see “Finishing the truffles” for decorating tips).

From LINDT’s Maîtres Chocolatiers Ann Czaja & Hans Mazenauer:

Because of their high fat content, truffles will melt in your hands when you are rolling them. Make sure you work quickly and don’t over roll. Use your finger tips and when washing your hands rinse them with cold water. You may also roll the truffles using cocoa powder to coat your hands. This will, however, only allow you to use one finish on the truffle (i.e. cocoa powder). 

FINISHING THE TRUFFLES:
 
Easy Option:

Finishing the truffles can be as simple as rolling them in cocoa powder or powdered sugar.
You can also roll them in the following: Chocolate shavings, chopped chocolate. 

Or chopped toasted nuts: walnuts, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, Coconut.

After hand-rolling the truffles, place them on a shallow tray filled with the desired coating.  Roll the truffle in the coating with either a pair of spoons or your hands.

Intermediate Option:

The second option is to coat the truffles in tempered chocolate. Temper a few ounces of the desired type of chocolate.  Mount truffle on 2 tooth picks (to make it stay put better during rotating).   Hold truffle by the tooth picks over a container of melted/tempered chocolate.   Its best to use shelling chocolate, the kind used for chocolate-coating fruit (it is usually found in the produce section of the grocery store, or the baking section).   Use a spoon to scoop and pour the chocolate over the truffle, rotating the truffle to coat all sides.   Place truffle on wax paper to cool and set.  

When tempering chocolate or working with tempered chocolate, the temperature of your work space is important. The temperature should not be above 70°F (21°C) or the chocolate might not set. Store truffles in a cool place. You can put them in the fridge, but they will sweat and potentially bloom when removed from the cold environment. Truffles are best enjoyed at room temperature

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Buttery Keebler Cracker Toffee (Chocolate Coated)





You NEED to try these!   They are one of the most delicious sweets I've had to date.  My coworker Helen made these buttery, crispy, chocolaty treats and brought them in to share with us.  Soooo delicious!  The original recipe online called for regular saltine crackers... But she had this great idea of using those BUTTERY Keebler club crackers instead. Wonderful idea, it was genius! The result was these scrumptious, crispy, buttery, addictive chocolaty sweets that resembled Almond Rocas or Heath bars in flavor...  It is easy to make and will certainly win over a crowd with a sweet tooth.  The only warning I can offer is to maybe make 2 batches if there are a lot of people, because they go fast! 

Buttery Keebler Cracker Toffee (Chocolate Coated)

Ingredients:
1 box Keebler club crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag (12oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate)
1 – 2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts (optional, or any nuts you like, hazelnut is also great)
Parchment paper (or thick foil)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.  Line a 12 x 17 inch pan with parchment paper, or foil. Place Keebler club crackers side-by-side in the pan as tightly as possible without overlapping. As many as will fit.   Use cracker pieces to fill any gaps at the bottom of the pan.

3.  In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat stirring frequently with a spatula. Once butter has melted, add brown sugar and vanilla stirring to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes or until mixture is an even dark brown color and has begun to bubble. Remove from heat and pour over crackers using spatula to spread sauce.

4.  Bake crackers for 5 minutes or until butter mixture begins to bubble. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with chocolate allowing the heat to melt the chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly with the spatula so all of the crackers are completely covered. Sprinkle nuts (if desired over chocolate.    

5.  Refrigerate until chocolate sets and hardens. Break apart and serve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grandma Brown's Fruit Salad With Jello And Whipped Cream




 This was more from my father's side of the family.   Grandma Brown made a big bowl of this for every family gathering.  She combined fresh cut fruit with canned / jarred fruit, for lots of variety and a fresh texture.   We loved the festive pink color made by the combination of whipped cream and jello, and that is the one our family is most familiar with.  Sometimes the whole thing would be pink.   Sometimes, we would see more distinctive chunks of jello, it all depended on the mixing.  But you can use other colors/flavors of jello, if you wish.  This was a cool, refreshing dessert we all loved!   

Grandma Brown's Fruit Salad With Jello And Whipped Cream

Ingredients:
3 apples, peeled cored and diced (1/2-inch cubes)
2 cans (15 oz) fruit cocktail, juice drained
3 Bananas, peeled and cut in ½-inch slices
1 medium bushel (appx. 20 grapes) sliced in half
1 can mandarin oranges, juice drained
1 jar (10 oz) Maraschino cherries, juice drained
1 tub (8 oz) Whipped Cream
Strawberry or Cherry Jello (3 oz package) prepared according to directions in a LARGE bowl, and chilled to set

Directions:

1.        In a very large bowl, combine the apples, fruit cocktail, bananas, grapes, mandarin oranges, and cherries.  Very gently mix them together until combined.  Try not to mash up the bananas, or the canned fruit, as they are very soft.  
2.       Mix the chilled jello with a spoon, until it breaks up into very tiny clumps.
3.       Stir the whipped cream into the jello, until thoroughly combined.  
4.       Add Jello mixture to the fruit bowl, and blend very well with the fruit, again being gently so you don’t crush any soft fruit.  Cover with plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until ready to serve.  


Melissa's Green Bean Casserole






This is one of my favorite side dishes, whether its a holiday or not!  But I do often save it for holidays, just to keep it special.   My Mom taught me to add sour cream and butter to the recipe, even though many recipes don't have it.   I think it adds a great, extra-creamy taste and really brings out the flavor of the onions.  Also...   Its extremely simple.   Enjoy!

Melissa’s Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup sour cream
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups (or 2 cans, water drained) cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 cups French’s crunchy fried onions (or any brand you can find)

Directions:
1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees, F. 
2.       In a large bowl, mix together the mushroom soup, sour cream, milk, melted butter, salt, pepper, green beans and only 1/3 of the crunchy fried onions.  Combine well, but mix gently so the green beans don’t fall apart. 
3.        Transfer all the green bean mixture into a 1 ½ qt baking dish.
4.       Place dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.   Pull the oven rack out so you can stir the casserole mixture gently.   Then top with remaining cup of crunchy onions and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until onions are golden.   Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.  Serve. 

Old Fashioned Turkey Stuffing




 Yes, you could always go the old easy, boxed stuffing route.   But if you prefer to do something that could create a family tradition to pass on, something that is "only yours" and cannot be bought in a box-- set aside some time for this old fashioned turkey stuffing recipe!   Its enough to stuff a pretty large bird, and can certainly feed a crowd.  You can stuff it into the bird, or make it in a separate dish.    Or both.  This recipe is moist and delicious, it will keep the stuffing lovers wanting seconds!

Old Fashioned Turkey Stuffing
Ingredients:
30 slices of bread
1 large onion (finely chopped)
2 stocks celery (finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp sage
½ tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

** You will need to toast and dry the bread 1.5 days ahead of making the stuffing / doing your turkey.  The bread needs at least 24 hours to fully dry.  Otherwise your stuffing may come out to gummy and doughy.

1.        Start by toasting the bread slices.  Lay them out on cookie sheet, under your broiler.  Toast until golden brown.   Flip them over and toast the other side the same way.   Place them in a paper bag for a 1.5 days.
2.       Preheat oven to 325 degrees, F. 
3.       Lightly grease a 9x 13 inch pan (if you won't be stuffing a bird).  
4.       Cut bread into croutons, ½ inch thick/long.  Do this in batches.  Add the bread to a large bowl.  
5.       In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the onion and celery.  Slowly cook until the vegetables are soft.   Then remove them from the heat and set aside.
6.       Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl, and add them to the bread crumbs, mixing thoroughly.  Add the chicken broth, and mix to moisten all the bread.  The mixture should be moist, but not mushy.  Use more water, if bread is too dry. 
7.       Stir in the cooked onion and celery. 
8.       Season the stuffing with sage, poultry seasoning, garlic powder and salt/pepper to taste.  Mix the spices in well.
9.       Transfer stuffing into prepared baking dish (or stuff it into the bird if desired, you can also bake any leftover stuffing that wont fit int he bird). 
10.   Bake for one hour, until top is brown and crisp (or until your turkey is done).  Remove from oven.  Serve.