Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Mint Oreo Truffles

So there is one bad thing about baking Christmas cookies and sending them to all your friends. You are left with an empty fridge and one heck of a sweet tooth!

I have one tin of cookies left, but I have sealed it with ribbon so I can't sneak any cookies since they have to make it to my in-laws house in Florida. My only option is to make something new!


Rewind to yesterday...the hubbie asked me why I didn't make any rum balls this year. I told him that "I've never made rum balls in my life!" He said then "What are those cake things you decorate?", ahhh he meant cake balls! Silly hubbie, although they are addictive they don't have rum in them. He was right though, I hadn't made any this year. I decided to try something new, since I have been addicted to mint oreos ever since I put them in homemade ice cream, I made mint oreo truffles. 

These are super easy, hardest part is waiting to eat them. Believe me not all of the truffles made it to the candy coating step!


Christmas Mint Oreo Truffles 

1 package Mint Oreo Cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
white chocolate bark 
red and green candy melts

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat, set aside. Remove 6 oreo cookies from package, crush, and set aside for later use (or eating). Finely crush remaining cookies in a food processor or in a ziplock bag using a rolling pin (more therapeutic). In a large bowl combine cookie crumbs and cream cheese. Mix till completely combined and shape into 1-inch balls on prepared pan. Chill for 30 minutes.

In a deep dipping bowl, melt chocolate bark or candy coating according to package directions. Dip each oreo ball into chocolate using a small spoon, gently shake to remove excess chocolate and place back onto prepared pan. Repeat with remaining oreo balls and chill till coating has hardened. 

To decorate, place remaining chocolate bark or candy coating in a pastry bag fitted with a small tip or use a small ziplock bag with a corner cut off. Once oreo truffles have hardened, use pastry bag to decorate with Christmas shapes or drizzle. If you would rather decorate with remaining crushed oreos, while chocolate bark or candy coating is still wet sprinkle crushed oreos over the top. 

I used white chocolate bark, my preference, and red and green Wilton candy melts. If using white, I like to double-dip my truffles to ensure there are no dark oreo colors seeping through.



These guys are one of the easiest things I made all season, so no worries you still have time before the family comes over to make them. If you can't find mint oreos, this recipe would still work for regular oreos!


Happy Baking!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peppermint Marshmallows and Rocky Road Fudge

This is a bonus post today as I am going to present two recipes! Hopefully the second recipe will cover up for my slight fail on the first one, please?


This homemade marshmallow post by The Cilantropist had me excited from the first time I read it, thanks to Project Food Blog there were so many good posts and this was by far one of my favorites, mostly since I have a weak spot for s'mores. I decided to change it up a little for the season by adding some peppermint extract. Well, not thinking about how much stronger peppermint extract is than vanilla extract, I used WAY TOO MUCH peppermint extract. As perfectly fluffy and cute the marshmallows turned out, they were potent! They tasted like you just swallowed a bottle of Scope! I know the picture is deceiving, they look innocent!

So with some reading around and slight adjustments, here is the recipe with the correct amount of peppermint extract!

Peppermint Marshmallows

~1 cup confectioners sugar
3 and 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 tsp peppermint extract

Grease the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 pan with butter, sift confectioners' sugar over the butter till the pan is completely covered in sugar, chill in refrigerator. In a large mixing bowl pour 1/2 cup cold water and sprinkle gelatin packets over, mix slightly and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the egg whites and beat till stiff peaks, chill in refrigerator till later. 

In a large saucepan combine remaining 1/2 cup cold water, sugar, salt, and corn syrup over low heat. Stir mixture till the sugar is dissolved, then increase heat to medium-high. Do not stir the mixture any longer, you will have to fight the urge to scrape the sides of the pan, just don't do it! Heat the mixture till a candy thermometer measures 240 degrees. This will take 10-15 minutes, depending on the heat and pan. 

Once the sugar mixture has reached 240 degrees, remove from heat and pour over the gelatin mixture from earlier. Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat on low till gelatin has dissolved into sugar mixture. Then beat mixture till it has tripled in volume and is a creamy white texture, about 6 minutes. Add the peppermint extract and chilled egg whites and mix just until incorporated. Pour the mixture into prepared chilled pan and sift confectioners' sugar over the top till covered. Let marshmallows chill for 2-3 hours or let stand at room temperature overnight.

Prepare a cutting surface with sifted confectioners' sugar. Once marshmallows have set, run a thin knife, or in my case with a non-stick pan I used nylon pan scraper, around the edges of the pan. Using gravity's assistance, turn the pan upside down and loosen the marshmallow from the bottom of the pan till it drops to the cutting surface. Using a greased knife, scraper, or pizza wheel cut the marshmallows into 1-inch cubes. Throw cut marshmallows back into prepared pan and sift confectioners' sugar over cubes till they are completely coated on all sides. Store in airtight container till ready to use.


The marshmallows were fun to make, that is if you think making a mess is fun! You will go through what feels like a bag of confectioners' sugar and it will end up everywhere! The end result is so worth it though, if you have never had homemade marshmallows they are these delicious, spongy, cloud-like little squares of joy.

Since I had a whole batch of fluffy marshmallows and didn't want to waste them I racked my brain for recipes with marshmallows, what could I make with these so mask the potent taste?


Besides putting them in hot chocolate, I can only drink so much, I decided to dice em up and throw them into a super easy batch of Peppermint Rocky Road Fudge. This was YUMMY! The potent marshmallows gave the fudge a slight peppermint taste, perfect for the season and just in time to send out to friends and family! 

Peppermint Rocky Road Fudge

3 cups mini-peppermint marshmallows
1 and 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Line a 13x9 pan with parchment paper, then grease lightly and set aside. In a medium saucepan over low heat combine the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. Stir till chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, walnuts, and marshmallows. Using greased hands, press the mixture into the prepared pan. Chill the fudge till hardened or ready to serve. Cut into 48 small pieces. 

Hope you enjoy both recipes, I would love to hear some other marshmallow variations!

Also some exciting news, I'm now on Twitter! Bare with me as it is like learning a whole new language!

Happy Baking!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mint Chocolate Delights and an Award

I know everyone has their favorite cookies they make each year for the holiday season. Mine are these Mint Chocolate Chip delights. I actually found the recipe on the back of the Mint Chocolate Chip bag a few years ago and have been making them ever since!


Mint Chocolate Delights:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 10-ounce bag dark chocolate and mint chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, then set aside. In a large bowl combine butter, vanilla, and sugars and mix till creamy. Add in eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined. Slowly add in flour-cocoa mixture till incorporated. Gently stir in chocolate and mint chips. Drop by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on wire cooling rack.

I learned a great tip recently about re-using the same baking sheet. I had always used two baking sheets when making cookies, this allowed the first baking sheet to cool so all the cookies baked evenly. That was until recently I read to simply rinse the back of the hot baking sheet with cool water, wipe it down and voila the same baking sheet is cooled to room temperature and you can use it right away!

Besides the recipe being on the back of the bag, it is online as well: verybestbaking.com.


I am also behind on getting my award posted and I really can't wait to pass it along to other bloggers. Kitchen Morph, KonstantKraver, and Gingerbread Bagels have given me the One Lovely Blog Award. I am truly honored by these bloggers, they have an intense amount of creativity and really show it in the kitchen and through their blogs. So thank you and please go check them out!!


So the rules of the award state that:
1. You accept the award and thank the person that gave it to you.
2. Pay it forward to 15 bloggers, whose blogs you admire.
3. Contact those bloggers to let them know they have been given the "One Lovely Blog" Award.

It was so easy to decide who to pass the award on to, I have some definite favorites and have also started reading a lot of great new blogs.

1. Comfort of Cooking: Georgia is one of my go-to blogs for recipes and she has just re-designed her blog, so what better time to give this award!
2. Cooking with Sugar: Sugar is truly inspiring, she has a passion to encourage woman to cook again and it really shows in her blog.
3. The Mom Chef: Mom Chef devours magazines for recipes and brings us the good and the bad of all her favorite finds, I love her honesty!
4. Bakergirl: She has made quite possibly the cutest Christmas cookies I have seen all season, you must take a look!
5. Sweet SugarBelle: I recently found her blog via University of Cookie and fell in love. I am obsessed with her beautiful sugar cookies and find her hints extremely helpful!
6. Patty's Food: This girl has delicious recipes for things I haven't dared to try yet, like these chocolate fig bars that I wish I had right now!
7. Meet the Shannons: Annie and her husband are working their way through the Betty Crocker cookbook vegan style! I am no vegan, but love the way she makes veggies look delicious!
8. swEEts by e: Evan, a fellow Texan, makes my dreams come true with her Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares!
9. Krafted by Kelly: I love love love her blog. Not only is she a baker like me, but she doodles. These are not your ordinary heart and flower doodles, she write comics from people's tweets! You MUST check her out!
10. The Pink Apron: She has some cute Christmas baking going on that I think you all need to check out, plus she gives the secret to making better chocolate chip cookies!
11. Chicago Cuisine Critique: I am not from Chicago, but love reading her stories and yummy recipes. If you live in Chicago or plan to visit, reading her Chicago dining reviews is a must!
12. Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker: Her family history in the culinary arts is inspiring, you will love her series of posts "Make your own Monday", I can't wait to try her cake donut recipe!
13. Momma Hen's Kitchen: Her Christmas baking ideas had me drooling all over my keyboard!
14. Fragrant Vanilla Cake: Amy has taken her love of baking and put a healthy spin on it, I love her creative substitutions in recipes.
15. Sinful Southern Sweets: Not only does she make some of the cutest desserts, but she creates gift tags for them, some of which you can download from her site!

Thank you to everyone!

Happy Baking!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chocolate topped Coconut Macaroons

Believe it or not I have never tried a coconut macaroon! I semi-like coconut so I was a little nervous to make a whole batch of these without ever trying them before. Then again, anything dipped in chocolate is good right?


Well I finally tried them and I love em! These cookies are so moist and sweet each one tastes like they just came out of the oven.

These cookies are often confused with the french macaron cookie. Similar in origin both cookies are meringue-like made with egg whites and ground nuts or coconuts. The french macaron is made with ground almond flour and egg whites. The american macaroon is made with coconut and is typically much denser. I have yet to make the french macaron cookie, I'm still too chicken! So for now, hope you enjoy!
 

Chocolate topped Coconut Macaroons

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
14 ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
4 ounces chocolate candy coating
sprinkles

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat. In a large bowl combine together the condensed milk, egg white, vanilla, and salt. Add in flaked coconut until thoroughly combined. Drop coconut mix by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet and form into tiny mountains using fingertips. Wet fingertips with water as needed to prevent sticking to the cookie dough. Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes or until slightly browned. Let cookies sit on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on wire rack. Once cookies have cooled, melt chocolate per package directions and dip macaroons halfway into chocolate. Immediately decorate with sprinkles or crushed candy.


This recipe was adapted from FoodNetwork.com. If you cannot find chocolate candy coating simply melt together 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips with 1 tbsp shortening. If you really want to get creative, you could mold the macaroon into Christmas shapes using cookie cutters as I did with the no-bake cookies a while back. I think they would be super cute so let me know if anyone tries that method!

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Biscotti

I love this time of year. I love having an excuse to be in the kitchen all day long baking christmas cookies to send to all our friends and family. Since my husband and I have family all across the US we always end up shipping presents everywhere and I love including some holiday cookies and treats to enjoy right away!



There are some favorites each year, but I like to mix it up by including some new flavors. This year that includes these banana chocolate chip biscotti. I don't drink coffee, but I will gladly make myself some hot chocolate to eat these guys up! Plus, as you all have read before, I hate wasting bananas so here is a perfect recipe to use those last two brown bananas.

For those that don't know what biscotti is, it is basically a twice baked cookie. The italian word biscotto literally means twice baked or cooked. This method of twice baking cookies creates a dry cookie that is commonly served with coffee or tea. Because the cookies are so dry they typically last a long time, hence why they are a great Christmas cookie to make in advance!

Banana Chocolate Chip Biscotti

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup ripe bananas, mashed (~2 medium)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside. In a large beat sugar and butter till creamy. Add in banana, vanilla, and eggs and mix till smooth. Slowly add in flour mixture till completely incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips just until combined. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 10x3 rectangle on the prepared cookie sheet. Dough will be sticky so use greased hands to shape each half into the rectangle. 

Bake biscotti loaves for 25-28 minutes or until toothpick entered in center comes out clean. Let cool on cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Move each loaf to cutting board and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Place each biscotti piece cut side down onto cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Flip each piece and bake other side for additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.


To grease my hands I lightly spray them with non-stick spray, this is not the most pleasant feeling but it works and its quick! To cut the biscotti make sure to use a serrated bread knife, this will prevent them from crumbling and give you nice even cuts. The biscotti alone have a great crunch, but to really get the banana taste I definitely recommend serving with a hot drink!

Look out for more Christmas cookies posts, including my favorite Chocolate Mint Delights.


Happy Baking!
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