Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Treats

Ever since my daughter was a baby, Halloween is the one holiday that my family always comes to my home to celebrate. I love it. It's great to see my nieces get more into the spirit with each passing year. I'm hoping this year to have better weather than last year....

...This was what it was like at this time last year. We got hit by a huge storm. With most of the leaves still on the trees, the added weight of snow and ice took down trees everywhere, and power lines down with them! We ended up losing power for about two days. Power finally came back on around 4pm on Halloween day. Schools were closed. It was a mess! 

As of right now, the weather forecast shows temps between 41*-52* with a 40% chance of rain. Rain! Not snow! ;) Fingers crossed....

I've put together some treats that are really easy and quick to make. Also, you don't need electricity to make them, in case we get a repeat of last year! 

I saw these Witch's Broomsticks on Pinterest (my other love!). I couldn't resist them, they were so cute. Just unwrap a peanut butter cup, turn it upside down, and put a pretzel stick through the top. Super easy, super delicious, and super cute- triple win!

Next up, Witch's Hats. Just top an Oreo with a Hershey Kiss. Use some melted chocolate to "glue" it together. If you want to add a little color, you could also use any kind of frosting to attach the Kiss to the Oreo, and decorate as you wish. 

These are good treats to get the kids involved in putting together! So have fun, and enjoy!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oreo Truffles

Apparently I am sticking with the truffle theme for a bit longer. ;) This time though, Oreo Truffles! These are one of my husband's favorite treats. When I was putting the finishing touches on these babies earlier this evening, it sounded like a chorus going through the kitchen; my husband, my daughter, and my niece were all asking, "can I have one yet?!?" Giving them each a few spare chocolate chips didn't seem to hold them over too well, either. Help, I've created chocolate loving monster! Impatient ones! Finally, they each got their own truffle, and my kitchen was filled with the silence that a mouthful of truffle brings. Beautiful! ;) 

I've been making these for quite some time now. I don't even remember where I saw them first, but they are now on frequent rotation in my baking schedule of life. There are only a few ingredients, all of which are basically "staples" in my home, Oreos, cream cheese, and chocolate.

 First up, soften up a package of cream cheese. Either leave it out on the counter for a little bit or if you have the patience of, well, me, then you could stick it in the microwave for a few seconds. Just take it out of the package first! The inside wrapper looks aluminum-y (totally an official word!).

 Take out five or so cookies and set aside. Either eat them for energy first, or save them for later, if that's possible... I always use regular Oreos for this, never double-stuffed.

 Put the rest of the Oreos in a freezer bag. Try to squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. And make sure it is closed. Tightly!!

 Find a wooden spoon, or another weapon of choice, and take out your frustrations!

 I enlisted the help of my 2 year-old niece for this part. She had a blast!

 Pound away until all of the cookies are crushed. Doesn't have to be super-fine.

 Pour cookie crumbs into a bowl...

 ...and add the softened cream cheese.

 My assistant helped here, too. It helps to have a non-slip bowl!

 After the crumbs and cream cheese are mixed well, either use a small scoop or roll by hand into small balls. Or, if you are a little OCD like me, you could use a scoop, chill, and then hand roll, to form into balls.

 Once it has all been rolled, chill until set. I usually put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

 (Admiring our handiwork!)

 After they have completely chilled, dip them in melted chocolate.

 Put them on parchment paper until the chocolate sets.

 If you like, decorate with white chocolate. Or you could top with a bit of crushed Oreos, if any of the 5 that you took out at the beginning are left.

 Keep finished truffles refrigerated. They don't melt as quickly as traditional ganache based truffles, but since they have cream cheese in them, better to play it on the safer side.

Oreo Truffles:
(1) package of Oreos, minus 5
(1) 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
chocolate for dipping

Place Oreos in freezer bag and use wooden spoon to crush them. Add softened cream cheese to cookie crumbs and mix until combined. Form into small balls and chill completely. Dip in chocolate and decorate as desired.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

Earlier this week, I had a major baking fail. Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip-Bar disaster. They ended up somehow being overdone on top, while underdone in the middle. I was bummed. Perfectly good chocolate, butter, and oats gone to waste! I was just going to toss them directly in the trash can, but I was running a little late and I had to leave to pick up my daughter from school, so they just stayed in the pan on top of the stove to be dealt with later. When we got home a few hours later, they had set up a bit and before I could get to them my husband and daughter started attacking the pan, scooping out bites with their hands and raving about how good it tasted. I do have to admit, though they aren't much to look at, they did get better with age. Moral of the story, husbands and children don't really care how something looks, as long as it tastes good. And maybe I should try not to be such a perfectionist. Yea right...! 

I take great pride in the presentation of my work. I happen to think it's important in the world of food. I will go into a bakery or chocolate shop just to look around. I love to see all the pretty creations and how they are displayed. And of course tasting a bit doesn't hurt either! ;) One thing that always looks nice packaged up is a box of truffles. They are pretty simple to make, though it is somewhat of a long process. Totally worth it, though! Last night I decided to make up a batch of chocolate truffles, and just over 24 hours later, they are finally done. And the dishes are all clean! Bonus! :0)

 Here we have our ingredients for the heart of the truffle. Chocolate, butter, and heavy cream. Can't go wrong with that combination!

 Heat the butter and cream in a saucepan, just until it starts to simmer.

 Pour the heated cream mixture over some chocolate.

 Mix until smooth!

 Add a little flavoring. In this case, my favorite vanilla.

 Let the chocolate mix cool and set up. Overnight in the fridge is perfect.

 Prepare some chocolate for the coating.

 Roll out balls and cover with chocolate.

 Allow to set up on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
(Don't mind my old baking pan. Yes, I do have new, shiny ones. But this is my trusty candy chilling pan.)

 If you want to make it a little fancy, pipe some more chocolate on top to decorate.

 I put mine in liners to keep them nice and neat. Plus, I may have a slight obsession with liners.

All packaged up and ready to go!

Chocolate Truffles:

-Ganache base
*3/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
*6 Tablespoons butter
*12 oz. bag of chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Heat cream and butter over low heat in saucepan, stirring often. Heat just until it starts to simmer, NOT letting it come to a boil. In a separate bowl, pour bag of chocolate chips. Pour heated cream mixture over chocolate chips and let it sit for about a minute. Mix together until creamy and smooth. Let it come to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until set. After set and chilled completely, roll out into balls and cover with chocolate coating.

-Chocolate coating
*1 cup chocolate chips
*1 tablespoon shortening

Heat chocolate and shortening in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. May need to add more chocolate or shortening to get the amount or consistency you desire.