Dreaming of Summer

I can't take the snow anymore... over 60 inches in Boston so far this season - gross! Warmer weather can't come soon enough. While I'm dreaming of summer, I thought I'd post a recipe that I tried last summer but never got around to posting.

Peach Granita
6 ripe peaches, peeled
1 1/3c water
1/2c sugar

Slice the peaches in half and remove the pits. Cut into small chunks.
Cook peaches with 1c water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in sugar.
Let cool to room temperature.
Once cool, puree the mixture in a blender with the remaining 1/3c water until smooth.

Pour mixture into a dish and place in freezer for 1 hour. Check to see if it's freezing around the edges. Once freezing, stir the mixture with a fork, breaking up the frozen parts into smaller chunks and raking towards the center. Return to the freezer and check every 30 minutes, repeating the stirring process.


Pittsburgh's Going to the Super Bowl!

I've had a sugar cookie recipe that I've been wanting to try for a while, and since I've also been wanting to retry royal icing after my slightly failed attempt, I thought I'd make some Steelers cookies for the game this past weekend.

My royal icing skills still need some major work - I don't think my hand will ever be steady enough to make it work - but the cookie base this time was much better than the last. If I were to make these again, I'd fill the cookies entirely in white royal icing and then draw on the whole logo using edible markers. I'm thinking I might have to try that for the Super Bowl!

The number of cookies this recipe makes will vary based on the size of your cookie cutters. I used a large round cutter and got about 20 cookies. The dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months if you don't want to use it all at once.

Steelers Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

For the cookies:
3/4c softened butter
1c sugar
1t baking powder
1/4t salt
2 eggs
1t vanilla
2.5c flour

For the icing:
4T meringue powder
1/2c water, scant
2.5c confectioners sugar
1t light corn syrup

Divide dough in half. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.
Roll dough to about 1/4" thick. Cut out using cookie cutters or knife.

Let cookies cool completely before decorating.

Add corn syrup. Increase speed and beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 mins.
Using this icing, pipe the outline of the cookies, and the logo outline.
Add water to the icing, one tablespoon at a time, until it is the consistency of syrup.
Cover the icing with a damp towel and let sit for several minutes.
Run a rubber spatula through the icing gently to remove air bubbles.
Separate out a small portion of the icing into three bowls, leaving most of the icing in the main bowl.
Transfer the white icing to a squeeze bottle and use it to fill the white areas of the logo.
(Don't fill the whole way - fill in lines and use a toothpick to spread to the edges.)
Add gel food coloring to the other three bowls - yellow, red, and blue.
Repeat the process of filling the cookies using the colored icing.
Let sit overnight.
Using an edible food marker, write in the team name and outline the logo.


Peppermint Bark

Even though it's after Christmas, it's never a bad time for some peppermint bark.... the combo of chocolate and peppermints is just SO good.

For this recipe, I made both regular bark and broke it up into pieces, and shaped peppermint bark, using cookie cutters. The instructions below are to use cookie cutters and shape them, but this results in a thicker bark. If you prefer it thinner, just pour chocolate onto a parchment-lined pan rather than into cookie cutters.

Peppermint Bark
1lb white chocolate, chopped
1lb milk chocolate, chopped
1 package soft peppermint candies, crushed
1/2 tsp peppermint oil

Place cookie cutters into freezer. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt milk chocolate. Stir in 1/4tsp peppermint oil.
Place cookie cutters on parchment paper-lined sheet.
Pour chocolate into cookie cutters, making sure it fills all the edges. 
Place in freezer for 15 mins.
 Melt white chocolate. Stir in 1/4 tsp peppermint oil.
Remove milk chocolate cutters from freezer and top with white chocolate.
Sprinkle crushed peppermint candies over top.
Put back in freezer, letting sit for at least 1 hour, or until solid.
To remove from cookie cutters, gently push. If needed, use knife to release from edges.


Last of the Truffles

Finally! The last of the 7 kinds of truffles.... and I saved my favorite for last:

Peanut Butter Cup Truffles
3/4c heavy cream
1lb + 2oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
6T smooth peanut butter, natural

Simmer cream. Pour over chocolate. Allow to sit 5 minutes, covered, then stir with spatula until smooth.
Add peanut butter and stir until blended.
Pour into piping bags.

Follow instructions from this post to fill mold cavities, but use a peanut butter cup shaped mold.

Tops can be printed using chocolate transfer sheets - I used left over candy cane transfer sheets, as well as a flower print. Or top with crushed peanuts.


Dark Chocolate Truffles

For these, I used the exact same recipe as for Milk Chocolate Cut Out Truffles, except I substituted dark chocolate for the milk chocolate. Also, instead of coating these in tempered chocolate, I rolled them in cocoa powder.


Coconut Truffles

Sick of truffles yet?

To be honest, I never tried this truffle. This was the last one I made and after tasting all the others, I couldn't take any more. They looked pretty though! Hope they were good...

Coconut Truffles
1lb dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/3c heavy cream
5T coconut milk
1/2T vanilla extract
1lb milk chocolate, for tempering
3/4c toasted coconut

Place cream and coconut milk in saucepan. Add vanilla and simmer.
Sprinkle over chopped chocolate.
Let sit, covered, 5 mins, then stir with spatula until smooth.
Allow to sit overnight until hardened.
Roll into balls and place on parchment-lined sheet in refrigerator while tempering remaining chocolate.
Dip in tempered chocolate, tap off excess, then let cool on parchment-lined sheet.
Sprinkle toasted coconut on top.


Molded Truffles

To make truffles in molds, you can use a softer ganache. If you ever have a ganache that doesn't quite harden enough to make a rolled ball truffle, a molded truffle is the perfect option. Or if you plan for a molded truffle, add a little more cream to the ganache.

I made molded truffles filled with a Vanilla Rooibos tea (from Starbucks) ganache. To infuse truffles with a tea flavor, just steep the tea bags in the cream as it boils. I used 5 tea bags for this recipe. For my ganache, I used the same recipe as for Milk Chocolate Cut Out Truffles, but used 9oz of cream. Once the ganache was made, I poured it into piping bags since it will be very liquid.

To fill the mold, pour tempered chocolate into each cavity. Immediately turn upside down and let all excess chocolate drip out of the mold, but ensure all sides are covered. Let sit for several minutes until chocolate starts to firm. Scrape excess chocolate off mold so that only the cavities are filled, and there is no excess on the sides of the mold. Allow to sit until fully hardened. Fill 2/3 full with ganache. Pour tempered chocolate over each cavity to fill on top of ganache. Immediately scrape excess off mold. Allow to sit until completely firm. If chocolate was tempered properly, candies will easily pop out of mold. If you have difficulty, freeze for several minutes, then try again.


Champagne Truffles

These don't have a very strong champagne flavor, but it does make the texture a little bit more bubbly.

Champagne Truffles
1/2c heavy cream
1lb + 2oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3T champagne

Simmer cream over medium heat.
Pour over 8oz chocolate.
Cover and let sit 5 minutes.
Stir gently with spatula until smooth.
Stir in champagne.
Cool overnight, uncovered, or until firm enough to roll.
Roll into balls and place on parchment-lined sheet.
Refrigerate while tempering remaining chocolate (see my previous post).
Dip balls into tempered chocolate, and place on a parchment-lined sheet to cool.
Sprinkle with fine sugar.


Milk Chocolate Cut Out Truffles

Another one of the Christmas themed truffles I made was a milk chocolate truffle, cut into the shape of candy canes, with a candy cane print on top. I bought a lot of my supplies, including packaging, from Country Kitchen Sweet Art. They have a ton of fun baking and candy-making supplies, and a great customer service department. For tempering instructions, see my previous post.

Milk Chocolate (Candy Cane) Truffles
12oz milk chocolate
4.5oz heavy cream
Candy cane pattern chocolate transfer sheet, cut into appropriate sized pieces

Chop chocolate into fine pieces and place in heat safe bowl.
Bring the cream to a light boil, then pour over chocolate.
Cover bowl and let sit for 5 mins.
Using a spatula, stir until smooth.
Pour ganache onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet or pan, and spread to 1/4" thick.
Let sit overnight to set.
Temper chocolate.
Pour a thin layer over the hardened ganache and let sit 5 mins to harden.
Cut ganache into shapes using a small, cold cookie cutter.
Place the cut out chocolate side down on a dipping tool and dip in the tempered chocolate.
Put on a parchment-lined cookie sheet to cool.
While chocolate is still wet, place a transfer sheet on the truffle.
Once truffle is set, about 30-45 mins, slowly peel off transfer sheet.


Tons of Truffles

For Christmas this year, I made boxes of truffles for everyone. 

I took a truffles class with a friend a few months ago. They talked about different types of chocolate and gave us the basics of truffle making, then walked us through the process of making ganache. Since the ganache needs to sit overnight, they provided us with 3 different kinds of ganache that we rolled into balls and decorated. 

The class made it seem so easy to make the truffles that I thought it would be great to do for gifts. Even though it's pretty easy to make the ganache, the hard (and time-consuming) part is chopping the chocolate. Luckily I had some help in the kitchen. In the end, I made 7 different kinds of truffles. Any of the truffle recipes that will follow over the next few days can either be left uncoated or dipped in tempered chocolate (either milk or dark). They can also be cooled on a flat cookie sheet and cut into shapes before coating, or just rolled into balls. The recipes will include instructions for the ways I coated and decorated them, but use whichever methods you prefer. Also, be sure to use baking chocolate to make the truffles. I used the Trader Joe's pound plus bars for all my truffles.

Candy Cane Truffles
6oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/3c heavy cream
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
4 peppermint candy canes
1lb chocolate (for coating)

Finely chop the semi-sweet chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl.
Unwrap the candy canes and crush.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan until almost boiling and bubbling at the edges.
Pour cream over the chopped chocolate and cover bowl immediately.
Allow to sit approximately 5 minutes, then stir using spatula until smooth.
Add peppermint extract and most of crushed candy canes and stir.
Allow to sit, uncovered, overnight or until firm enough to work with.
Roll truffles into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Truffles can be served without further coating, or can be dipped in tempered chocolate.

To temper chocolate:
Cut chocolate into small pieces and place in bowl over a double boiler to melt. Bring to a temperature of about 110 degrees. Seed the chocolate as soon as this temperature is reached (add a large chunk of chocolate to your melted chocolate). Bring the temperature down to 85 degrees, then remove the seed. Bring the temperature back up to about 90 degrees. To maintain temperature, place on a heating pad set to low heat. A Google search will provide you with many videos and further instructions for tempering chocolate.

Once chocolate is tempered, use dipping tools to coat your truffle balls. Tap on edge of bowl to remove excess chocolate, then set on parchment-lined cookie sheet to set. Sprinkle pieces of candy canes on top.