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    Entries in chocolate (24)

    Wednesday
    Dec042013

    Gourmet Hot Chocolate Balls

    First, I must apologize for my recent blog neglect.  It isn’t for lack of trying, really.  It’s just that… well… see what you probably don’t realize is that between all the beautiful stuff that gets posted here, there are plenty of failures.  Unfortunately, I’ve had more than my share of those lately, hence the lack of posts.  I’m back, though, with a fabulous holiday treat!

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 cups chocolate chips
    • Cocoa and various other things for rolling in, which I will explain later 

    First up, pour your chocolate chips into a bowl and set it aside.  Next, heat your cream just barely to a simmer.  I actually did it in the microwave this time, but if you do that, be careful, and be sure to stir every 30 seconds or so.  You don’t want it to boil.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. 

    Cover and let it sit for 3 minutes.  

    When you uncover it, it won’t look much different, but trust me, it’s ready. 

    Gently whisk until it becomes shiny and perfectly smooth.  (Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of that this time around so I’m borrowing this one from when I made actual truffles.)

    Put that into the fridge until its nice and firm, which will probably take an hour or two.  When it’s ready, begin scooping out lumps that are roughly 2 Tablespoons in volume.  (If you have a little ice cream style scoop, it would be perfect for this job.  Unfortunately, I don’t have one.  Why don’t I have one?  I might just have to pop on over to Amazon and remedy that.)

    Shape it into something resembling a ball and place it onto a piece of parchment. 

    Repeat until you’ve gotten through all the ganache.  (That’s what the chocolate/cream mixture is called.)  You should be able to get about 12 of them.  I know, there are only 10 in my picture.  One is missing because it was used as a sample.  I figure there is probably another one because my balls were getting bigger and bigger as I went.  If you’re more consistent than me, you should be able to get 12. 

    Now comes the fun part.  This is where you can flavor them with all different kinds of stuff.  Let’s just start with cocoa, and then I’ll give you a list of other things to try.  Sift some cocoa into a small bowl. 

    Then drop one of your balls into it.

    Roll it around until it’s completely coated.  Shake of the excess and place it onto a foil lined sheet pan.  (Parchment would also be fine, but you don’t need the nonstick for this purpose and foil is usually cheaper.)

    Ok, so now for the ideas I promised.  I coated some of mine in cocoa, some in vanilla sugar, and some in crushed peppermint candies, because that’s how I roll.  (Ha!  See what I did there?  It’s funny because I was rolling the… oh never mind.)

    Anyway, those are just a few ideas.  You could use orange sugar or you could even mix a little salt with the sugar (chocolate and salt are so yummy together!)  For a Mexican style hot chocolate, you could mix cinnamon with the cocoa powder, or if you want a little kick, stir in a pinch of cayenne.  The possibilities are endless, and the cool part is, they can all be different.  If you’re having guests over, they’ll have their pick of flavors to choose from, and everyone will be happy. 

    So far, all we have are truffles, but when you’re ready, you can transform them into fabulous, gourmet hot chocolate in a trice.  Each truffle will be good for about ¾ cup of milk.  Just drop one of them into the bottom of your mug. 

    Then heat the milk until it’s nice and steamy and pour it over the top. 

    Allow it to sit for 2 minutes or so, then just stir.  If you have any trouble with little bits of ganache settling on the bottom, just grab a little whisk.  And there you have it.  Serious hot chocolate goodness.  I topped mine with whipped cream because duh, it’s hot chocolate. 

    What is your favorite flavor of hot chocolate? 

     

    Friday
    Oct252013

    Let's Make Whoopie for Halloween!

    Whoopie pies, that is.  Growing up in Utah, we didn’t have whoopie pies.  The closest thing I ever had before moving to New England was a Hostess Susie Q, and those are not whoopie pies.  For those of you who have never had a whoopie pie, let me assure you, you are seriously missing out.  Since moving to Massachusetts they have become one of my favorite treats.  I mean, what’s not to love?  Chocolate cake loaded with tons of fluffy frosting that you can pick up and eat straight from your hand. Laaaaaa.  Yes, that’s me singing about cake.  We’d better get started.

    Here’s what you’ll need. 

    For the cake:

    ½ cup butter, softened
    ½ cup sugar
    ½ cup brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups flour
    ½ cup cocoa
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 cup buttermilk

    For the icing:

    ½ cup butter, softened
    1 Tablespoon vanilla
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    2 cups carrot juice

    Preheat your oven to 350°.  (Yes!  I remembered!)  Ahem.  Next, line a sheet pan with parchment. 

    Maybe you can cut straighter than me.  Looks like I was drunk when I did that.  Oh well, it’ll work.  Sift your flour, cocoa, soda, powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. 

    Cocoa has lots of lumps. 

    Just press them through with the back of a spoon or your fingers.  See?  Nice and fluffy with no lumps.

    Now, just whisk it until everything is evenly distributed and set it aside while you start on the wet ingredients.  It is very important that everything is room temperature.  If you’ve forgotten to pull things out ahead of time, you can place your egg into hot water for 10 minutes, and you can microwave your buttermilk for a few seconds, just to get everything to room temperature.  If you introduce cold ingredients to your butter, it will get hard… I mean stiff… I mean... whatever, not going there.  So, put your room temperature butter into your mixing bowl along with both sugars. 

    Cream them for a minute or two until it’s nice and smooth.

    Add your room temperature egg and vanilla.

    When those are fully incorporated, scraping everything down so that nothing is left out.  Then it’s time to start adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk.  (By the way, if you don't have any buttermilk on hand, and have all the other ingredients, you can read about buttermilk substitutions here.)  Add about a third of the dry ingredients. 

    Then half of the buttermilk.

    Repeat until everything is added.  I like to just leave the mixer running on a low speed while I do that.  Don’t forget to scrape everything down again.  I know, I’m a total nag.  So, whoopie pies are traditionally fairly large.  Since they’re handheld, I prefer them to be a much more reasonable size for a single serving.  I mean, if you have to cut it in half, what’s the point of being able to pick it up, right?  So, scoop a barely domed tablespoon of batter, and drop it onto the sheet pan. 

    You’ll probably have to use a spatula to scrape the batter out of the measuring spoon.  Or, if you have a small cookie scoop, that would work well for this.  Leave a couple inches between them so they can spread. 

    Place the pan into your preheated oven and bake them for 8-ish minutes.  When they’re done, you would be able to press them gently on top and they’ll spring back.  They should look something like this:

    Want to make big, traditional whoopie pies?  Scoop out ¼ cup of batter and drop it onto the baking sheet. 

    Make sure you leave plenty of room again. 

    Bake them for about 12 – 13 minutes, using the same test to check for doneness. 

    Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the pan, and then remove them to a cooling rack.  Or, if you don’t have a cooling rack, (apparently I haven’t bought those yet) you can just slide the whole sheet of parchment off of the pan and reline it for the next batch.  While they’re cooling, it’s time to start on the icing.  Because I’m making these for Halloween, I wanted them to have orange frosting.  If you want to leave it white, or if you want to just add a few drops of artificial coloring, you’re welcome to skip the next step.  If you want orange icing using a natural option, pour 2 cups of carrot juice into a small sauce pan over medium high heat.  I just used a small bottle of this:

    Bring it to a boil and allow it to reduce, occasionally swirling or stirring to keep it from burning.

    When it has given up most of its water, the bubbles will begin to stack up on top of each other and it will begin to thicken somewhat.  You’re shooting for about 2 tablespoons.  Pour it into a small glass dish and set it somewhere to cool.  I just put mine out on the porch since it’s so cold.  You can see here how thick and intensely colored it is.

    Now for the icing.  This time you want to whip the butter before you add any of the sugar. 

    Mix in one tablespoon of vanilla.  No, you didn’t misread that.  I said tablespoon.  Now, sift in 2 cups of powdered sugar. 

    I’m going to be a nag again here.  Please, please use organic powdered sugar.  It really makes a world of difference in flavor.  Ok, stepping down off my soapbox.  Now, mix until it comes together and starts to look like icing, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl periodically.  When it’s nice and fluffy and smooth, add the reduced carrot juice.  If you’re not using the carrot juice, add 2 tablespoons of cream or milk instead.  Mix until it’s a nice even color, then sift in as much of the remaining sugar as it takes to make a good spreading consistency.  I used the whole cup, but it’s pretty humid here.  When you’re finished, you should have something resembling this:

    Take one of your cooled cake cookie things, and turn it upside down.

    Spoon on lots of icing.  (probably a heaping tablespoon for the small ones)

    Spread it out a bit. 

    Then place another cake on top. 

    Voila, you have made a whoopie pie!  After icing and sandwiching all of the remaining cakes, place them into the fridge to set up.  Pull them out for about 20 or 30 minutes before serving or eating. 

    Maybe you prefer the big ones, but personally I like them small. 

     

    See, perfect size for holding and eating.