Monday, March 7, 2011

Christmas Candy!

Originally posted 12/15/10

Good Morning!  Happy Wednesday!  10 days till Christmas…..are you ready?  Today is my last “homemade” gifts post.  But I think I saved the best for last…..candy!  Let’s face facts here folks…..everybody loves candy.  Certain kinds of candy are synonymous with Christmas.  I think that Peppermint Bark screams Christmas.  What other time of the year would you eat it?  Today I will show you a super easy recipe for Peppermint Bark and another easy candy recipe for S'mores Truffles.  Both candies are easy and fun to make and people will love them!
Let’s start with the Peppermint Bark.  I have seen this sold all over for insane amounts of money.  I say insane because it is so cheap to make, I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on it.  Basically, you are paying for the fancy packaging it comes in.  But you have your own fancy packaging now, right?  (Pringles cans!!)
All you need to make this is white chocolate, dark chocolate, candy canes and peppermint extract.  That’s really it.  Could not be easier.
I usually prefer not to use white chocolate chips because they contain stabilizers that might make melting more difficult, but that was all my store had yesterday….so I made it work.  I used dark chocolate that came in a bar...you can use milk chocolate, but dark is a better contrast to the white.
Little tidbit-white chocolate actually doesn’t contain any of the cocoa that is used to make chocolate.  It really isn’t “chocolate” at all.  It is made with cocoa butter, so I guess that is its excuse;)

I start by melting almost all of the white chocolate in the microwave (leave about ¼ a cup out).  I put it in a heat proof dish (obviously) and nuke it for 30 seconds.  Stir really well, and then microwave it in 30 second increments until completely melted.  Stir really well each time.  Once it is melted, stir in the remaining ¼ cup, and ta-da….tempered chocolate!
One the chocolate is melted, stir in a teaspoon of peppermint extract.  Remember, a teaspoon is a capful.  You can find peppermint extract pretty easily at any grocery store.
Pour the chocolate onto a cookie sheet you have sprayed with cooking spray.  You can also line your pan with foil and spray it.  Either is fine, it won’t stick if you use cooking spray.  I spread it out and make sure it is even.
While the chocolate is hot and melty, sprinkle it with crushed candy canes.  I put all of my candy canes in a big sealed bag and went after them with a rolling pin.  Leave the pieces all different sizes….it looks better that way!!

While the chocolate is hot and melty, sprinkle it with crushed candy canes.  I put all of my candy canes in a big sealed bag and went after them with a rolling pin.  Leave the pieces all different sizes….it looks better that way!!

This should harden in about 20 minutes if you use white chocolate chips.  I believe this has to do with the stabilizers, but I am not a scientist;)

After about 20 minutes, I microwave the dark chocolate in 30 second increments, until it is melted. 
I spoon the dark chocolate all over the bark.  It doesn’t have to be even and pretty.  This will be broken into pieces, so it really doesn’t matter how you strew it on.

Once that hardens, break the bark into pieces.  The pieces can be whatever size you want….that is the joy of making your own.  If you want to eat the entire thing like it is a huge candy bar, so be it.  Just wipe the chocolate off your face when you are done.
See how pretty it is?
Here is a close-up view in case you couldn’t take all of the prettiness in before…..

Onto the S’mores Truffles…
I know that making your own truffles can sound intimidating, but it shouldn’t.  It is super easy, and requires few ingredients.  And once you know how to make the base “ganache”, you can roll them in just about anything and create your own.  Ganache is just a fancy "cheffy" word for chocolate melted with butter and cream.
I used dark chocolate bars, cream, butter, graham crackers and marshmallows.  I could eat it just like that, using the cream as a chaser;)
I didn’t use the microwave for this.  Instead, I put the cream and butter in a sauce pan and heated it slowly.  You do not want your cream and butter to burn!!  Once the butter was melted, I added in the chocolate and stirred that until it melted.  Then, I drank that and had to start all over again.  No, I didn’t;)
The ganache gets poured into a dish and put in the fridge for about 2 hours.
While the ganache was doin’ its thang in the fridge, I crushed the graham crackers in a sealed bag.  I didn’t use the food processor because I didn’t want the pieces to be too uniform.
After the ganache hardens, you are ready to go.  If it is too hard, let it sit on the counter for about 15 minutes.  I scoop mine out with a teeny-tiny ice cream scoop and form into balls.  This is a messy process…..
The balls get rolled in the graham cracker crumbs.  I put them on a fancy Christmas toothpick with a marshmallow and call it s’mores;) 
These are so cute and such an unexpected gift to give.  These can’t be made too far in advance, though.  If you aren’t giving them away immediately, or serving them immediately, put them in the fridge.  Take them out about 30 minutes before serving or giving so the marshmallows have a chance to soften back up.
You will love these as much as I do, and you will see how easy truffles are to make!

Also, just wanted to remind you that if you purchase 3 jars of my products, from now until 12/22/10, you will get a free jar of Ginger Peach spread or County Fair Peach spread.  At check-out, enter the code ‘Xmas”, and $7.79 will be taken off of your total.
Shop at www.gourmetrooster.com!

Peppermint Bark
24 ounces white chocolate (2 bags white chocolate chips)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
8 candy canes, crushed
2 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate

Melt white chocolate.  Stir in peppermint extract and pour mixture, evenly, onto a greased baking sheet (it will fill one baking sheet).  Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.  Set aside to harden.
Melt dark chocolate.  Drizzle over the bark, and let harden.
Break into pieces.

S’mores Truffles
¼ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
6 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate
12 graham crackers, crushed

Heat cream and butter in saucepan.  When butter is melted, add chocolate and stir until melted.  Pour mixture into a shallow dish and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Once ganache has hardened, roll into 1 inch balls.  Roll balls into graham cracker crumbs and place on skewer with a marshmallow.
Will make about 20 truffles.


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