Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Boxes

My awesome mom got some orders for me for Easter so I made a few Easter / Spring boxes. 

I've been fairly busy lately, so I didn't have a whole lot of time yet to post recipes for all of these, but a random smattering of these was in all the boxes.

Bailey’s Milk Chocolate Truffles
Guittard milk chocolate blended with organic cream and Bailey’s Irish Cream liquor. Covered in a milk chocolate shell.

Peanut Butter Meltaways
Guittard milk chocolate with organic peanut butter and coconut oil that melts luxuriously in your mouth.  Covered in a Guittard 64% dark chocolate shell.

Milk Chocolate Almond Caramels
Vanilla bean caramels topped with a toasted almond and then dipped in Guittard milk chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Pecan Caramels
Vanilla bean caramels topped with a toasted pecan and then dipped in Guittard dark chocolate.

Dark / Milk Salted Caramels
Vanilla bean caramels dipped in Guittard milk and dark chocolate, topped with a pinch of Australian Pink Flake salt.

Blueberry Creams - 3 variations of Guittard white chocolate ganache with blueberries
* rolled in delicate chocolate flake
* rolled in Guittard cacao nibs, chocolate flake, and organic turbinado sugar
* dipped in Guittard 64% dark chocolate, sitting on a bed of toasted almonds (pictured)

Toasted Pecan Clusters
toasted pecans, candied with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg, dipped in Guittard dark chocolate

Mexican-Inspired Cinnamon Truffles
Guittard dark chocolate cinnamon truffles rolled in turbinado sugar and cacao nibs and then coated in more dark chocolate. Sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easter Miniatures

I know, I haven't been posting very much.  Come on, at least pretend that you've noticed.  Thanks, I appreciate it.  :)  Anywho, it's because of the new office and some big candy orders.  It's harder logistically for me to bring treats in, and I've been working on a few candy orders in my spare time.  But, I did have some time a little while ago to make some more miniatures. 

Somehow animals look cuter when they've been reduced to blob-like facsimiles with only a few distinguishing features.  Here, I'll show you.

Pink bunny blob

Blue bunny blob

And I thought I'd do a Martha Stewart style egg basket (you know, since HER chickens make different colored eggs - I've also seen these on her show... they are crazy) although I figured I'd take a little more poetic license, since I'm painting my eggs and not retrieving them from my little free range clay chickens.

All together now.  Bunnies, look at the eggs... no, no no! With more longing! Perfect... 
Hmm, I just realized I forgot a size reference in my pictures.  Well, the pink bunny is about 1" tall.  Hope that helps.

Have a lovely Easter everyone!  Or a happy non-religious fourth Sunday in April!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mexican-Inspired Cinnamon Truffles

I am in love with Mexican hot chocolate and solid chocolate.  It's spicy and wonderful.  I bought some recently when I found it and I had to find out what the magical ingredients were that made it so delicious.  To my surprise, it was just sugar and cinnamon.  I was a tad disappointed.  I tried to make spiced truffles once, and I put all sorts of spices in them.  Chili, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves... It was too spicy for some of my co-workers.  I thought it was okay, but definitely not as exciting to me as Mexican chocolate.  So, now with the goal of doing something a bit more simple in terms of flavor, I decided to try an ode to Mexican chocolate, truffle-style.

Stacey's Mexican-Inspired Cinnamon Truffle Ingredients:
20 oz Guittard 64% dark chocolate couverture
4 oz Guittard 38% milk chocolate couverture
12 oz heavy cream, organic
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbs cinnamon
1.5 oz butter, salted, organic
3 oz glucose

Cacao nibs
Turbinado Sugar, organic
Chocolate Flake
Additional Guittard chocolate for enrobing

Pyrex measuring bowl
Immersion blender with whisk attachment
1-1/8" scooper
Spiral Dipping Utensil from the Ateco Dipping Tool Set

As always I tempered the chocolate first. 
Another trick that I realize that I do, is that I put some chocolate off to the side from the measured amount (see pic above), then heat the remaining chocolate up to 100-110F and then I add in the off to the side chocolate in to cool it to the 90F temperature.
Works pretty well.  

Then I heated the cream and glucose in the microwave until it was about 100F. 
I took a little of the warm cream mixture and added it to the cinnamon, to make sure that the cinnamon would be incorporated and not clump up.
Then I added this cinnamon mixture back to the cream, and added the vanilla.
In the meantime, I heated the butter slightly until it was soft. You don't want it to be melted because that makes the truffles too heavy feeling (or so I've heard - I've always done it this way, so I don't actually know. I'm a good girl that follows best practices. ;D ). 
Once the cream had cooled to about 90F, I poured it in on top of the tempered chocolate. 
I stirred until it was nice and smooth before plopping in the butter. 
I used my immersion blender with whisk attachment to blend this in (to save my arm) until it was all smooth.
I covered it in plastic wrap and then let it sit overnight before rolling.
Once it was set, I used my 1-1/8" scooper to scoop out truffle balls.
I rolled some of these in a mixture of cacao nibs, turbinado sugar, and chocolate flake.
I noticed because the cacao nibs are so much larger than the turbinado sugar and chocolate flake, they tend to take over.  I had to roll them again in turbinado sugar so that the sugar could fill in the cracks.  They came out like this:
And as an added bonus, I have video for you of me rolling truffles!  How exciting!  Well, I guess it's exciting if you don't know what I mean by rolling truffles... Now you can see! :) You can also see how I rolled it additionally in the turbinado sugar again afterward. 
Some I packaged just like this, for my mom to give to some of her friends, in a cute little 2-piece package.
The rest of the truffles, I decided to go all the way, and dip them after rolling them in the cacao nib / sugar mixture, like I did to the Guinness Truffles.  I'm pretty much running out of ways to finish truffles, so I hope you don't get bored of the same ol' things... I used a 5:1 mix of the dark:milk Guittard chocolate to dip these.
This week you get spoiled by not just one but TWO videos.  In this second video, I show you how I dip the truffles in chocolate with the spiral dipping utensil. 
I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon on some of these, for decoration.
All lined up in their cute little cups...
And lastly, a cut version.  You can see that one of the cacao nibs made a divot down the center of the truffle as the knife pushed down on it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Creme de Menthe Brownies

My boyfriend's sisters invited us over for dinner last week, so I wanted to bring a yummy dessert over.  Usually I make a 9x13" tray of brownies to bring to work, but this was a much smaller audience so I opted for the 8x8" and scaled back my usual brownie recipes.  I've been working on brownie recipes for a long time, and I still haven't quite found one that I'm in love with.  This one was decent, but I think I would have liked to cook it a bit longer for next time.

Stacey's Mint Brownie Ingredients:

1 stick butter, organic, salted
3 oz 99% unsweetened Guittard chocolate
1c dark brown sugar, organic
1c white sugar, organic
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2c whole wheat flour, organic
2 tbs Scharffen Berger cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs cornstarch
1/3c Guittard semisweet chocolate chips

Stacey's Creme de Menthe Frosting Ingredients
3 tbs heavy cream, organic
2 tsp Creme de Menthe liqueur
1.5c powdered sugar
1 tbs butter, organic, salted - melted

Guittard mint chips
Nestle mini chocolate chips

8x8" cake pan

First, I wanted to preheat the oven to 350F. However, I forgot and had to do it later and wait. If you're going to follow this recipe, you should be more mindful than me and preheat the oven. :)  I lined an 8x8" cake pan with foil. Then I heated the butter, and using a silicone pastry brush, I coated it with butter.

Then I added the 99% unsweetened chocolate to the butter and microwaved it until everything was liquid.

You don't want it to get too hot, or it will cook the eggs.  I use my temp gun and usually it's around 110F.
Then I added the sugar, vanilla, and eggs.
And finally all the other dry ingredients, including the chocolate chips.  It is about this time that I realized I forgot to preheat the oven.  Muttering curses (or more like shouting them in the kitchen), I preheated the oven while I spread the brownie mixture into the prepared cake pan.

I popped it in the oven for 16 minutes once the oven was hot enough, rotating the pan once at the halfway point.  It came out like this.  The middle sprung back when I pressed it with my finger so I figured it was done.

Once it was cool, I mixed all the frosting ingredients together in a bowl.
It was still slightly warm, which helped with the spreading.  I frosted the top and then sprinkled the mint and mini chocolate chips over the top.

Here is a cut piece - had to take it with a different camera because I forgot mine. 

Everyone enjoyed the brownies, especially one of my boyfriend's sisters because she likes them to taste more raw.  These were definitely moist if you like it that way, but I think I would have preferred to bake it for another 5 minutes or so.  Oh well, next time. :)  And of course, I'll let you know how that goes.