Tag Archives: Chocolate

Hazelnut Praline Truffles

Happy Valentines Day to all of you who celebrate this Hallmark holiday. Guess I just revealed my bias. My husband and I are not even going to be in the same city together tomorrow. And if I were to make him treats, it would not be chocolate. Anything apple is the way to his heart.

Truthfully, I  just made these truffles to have something beautiful to shoot and put on my Instagram feed and blog. I have been delving deep into learning food photography and editing on Lightroom with Rachel Korinek. I have learned so much from her and feel very grateful she has decided to devote time to teaching. She is a natural educator and her passion is evident.

I am not what you would call a romantic person. But I do love beautiful things and these chocolates are stunning. I was inspired by Carla Hall on The Chew when I saw her make these truffles.

I decided to flavour mine with hazelnut praline. Toast some hazelnuts and set them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cook some sugar with a few tablespoons of water to a deep amber colour (360°F) and pour it over the hazelnuts. Let harden and then blitz it it to a powder.
Use good quality chocolate, for the best results. I bought a big bar of Trader Joe’s Belgian 72% Chocolate. 
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. While it is melting, get your candy molds ready. I used square and round silicone mini ice cube trays. I decided to make my truffles extra fancy by using a bit of edible gold leaf on top. I had a jar left over from another project. You need just a tiny bit to really make a statement. You will need to use tweezers to put the gold into the bottom of the molds, as the gold will just stick to your fingers.
Once the chocolate is melted, add some coconut oil, to make the truffle mixture extra creamy, the hazelnut praline and some salt. To make your life easy, transfer the truffle mixture into a disposable piping bag. Trying to pour or spoon it into the tiny molds will only end in a mess and cursing.
Chill for about an hour and then pop them out of the molds. Because the chocolate was not tempered, they need to be stored in the fridge. They will keep for several weeks.

Click here to print recipe for Hazelnut Praline Truffles

 

Malted Chocolate Brownies

stacked upmenorah 4 The first night of Chanukah is this week, on Tuesday night.  Flushed with the success of my Beehive challahs at Rosh Hashanah, I. wanted to create something special for Chanukah. A crazy thought floated into my head. What about building a menorah out of brownies? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wasn’t really sure how to go about creating it. I wasn’t one of those kids that played with building blocks, Leggo or puzzles. Barbie was more my thing.

I started with my favourite brownie recipe from Chef Michael Smith. I decided to switch out the cocoa powder with malted milk powder and added in some chopped malted milk balls for extra crunch. ingredientssiftingready to bakeI chilled the brownies until firm and then I cut out an oval for the base. Using a small round cookie cutter I cut out little circles for the candle holders. I did a slightly larger circle for the shamash (helper) candle. ready to assembleI finally got a chance to use my food stylist tweezers! I mixed up some blue royal icing and glued on some edible blue pearls.  using tweezers like a real food stylistmenorah baseTo hold the candles I glued each one to a malted milk ball. I figured out that I needed to trim the bottom and top of the balls flat before gluing with royal icing.candles-2Even if you decide not to make a menorah, these malted chocolate brownies would make a delicious addition to your Chanukah party.cutting browniesdusting with cocoa powder

 

Click here to print recipe for Malted Chocolate Brownies.

 

with milk

 

Healthy-ish Salted Almond Joy Bars

all dipped 2While these home-made almond joy bars aren’t exactly healthy, they are healthy-ish. It’s all a matter of degree. Consider the ingredients in a store bought Almond Joy:

Corn Syrup, Milk Chocolate (Milk Chocolate, Contains Sugar, Coca Butter, Chocolate, Milk, Lactose, Milk Fat, Nonfat Milk, Soy Lecithin, An Emulsifier), Coconut, Sugar, Almonds, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oils, Whey, Cocoa, Salt, Vanilla, Chocolate, Egg Whites, Soya Lecithin, and Sodium Metabisulfite, to Preserve Color.ingredientsThese simply contain unsweetened almond butter, unsweetened coconut, honey, coconut oil, vanilla bean paste and salt. They are finished with a thick coating of bittersweet chocolate and topped with whole toasted almonds and sea salt. This recipe is from the genius mind of Anna Jones. I am loving her new book, A Modern Way to Cookmix in a bowlspreading in panChill the mixture for about 45 minutes in the freezer before cutting into bars. Get your dipping station all set up. I was excited to use my chocolate dipping fork. I bought it over 30 years ago and it still thrills me every chance I get to use it. it makes me feel like a professional chocolatier. A regular fork works just as well for dipping. ready for dipping

 

all dippedThese satisfy your sugar craving without being cloyingly sweet. The hard shell of bittersweet chocolate yields to a chewy almond coconut filling.

Click here to print recipe for Healthy-ish Salted Almond Joy Bars.

on a bed of coconut

English Toffee

stack-of-toffee Sadly, I never met my father-in-law as he died before I met my husband, and my mother-in-law died shortly before we became engaged. But I lucked out with four brother-in-laws and and  one sister-in-law. My husband’s siblings welcomed me into the family with open arms and have always treated me as one of their own.

When I moved to Ottawa 25 years ago, I felt quite isolated after leaving all my family and friends behind in Toronto. My sister-in-law (who I am blessed to also call my friend), sent me regular care packages to ease my loneliness. The parcels almost always contained a box of Phipps Krunch, a delicious confection of crunchy caramel, roasted almonds and milk chocolate. Nothing like a heap of butter and sugar to fill the emotional void of sadness.

I was so excited to find a recipe for English Toffee in Bobbette and Belle’s new cookbook. It looked exactly like Phipps Krunch. I had to try my hand at making it.

Making toffee is not difficult. It just requires a candy thermometer and some patience. I love the chemistry of candy making. I feel like a magician when I turn simple ingredients like butter and sugar into something so glorious.

 

I was thrilled with the results. The buttery crunchy toffee is just on the edge of bitter, making it the perfect companion for  that blanket of dark chocolate. Nutty toasted almonds take this candy to the next level. Please do not forget to toast the nuts. Untoasted nuts are one of my biggest culinary pet peeves. They taste like sawdust. Toasting nuts is one of the simplest ways to improve the flavour profile of anything.

Just preheat oven to 350°F and place nuts on a baking sheet. Roast for 10-12 minutes until they become toasty brown and fragrant. Let them cool completely before using or storing. If you are not going to use them right away, store them in the freezer, as they can go rancid quickly.

wedges-on-a-plateThis makes a ton of toffee, so keep some for yourself and give the rest away as gifts. You will be quite beloved.

Click here to print recipe for English-Toffee.

Cookie Butter Rugelach

If the title of this post has left you shaking your head, wondering what the heck I am writing about, let me enlighten you.coffee and rugelach 625 sqI wrote about cookie butter last year. It is also known as Speculoos or Biscoff spread. Basically, we are talking about ground up spicy gingerbread cookies, mixed with additional sugar and oil, to create, a somewhat addictive spread, in the vein of peanut butter and Nutella.

Rugelach is a small Jewish pastry, of Eastern European origin. Traditionally they are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling. The origin of the name comes from the Polish word “Rog” which is the prefix for horn, (croissant shaped pastries kind of look like horns). “El” is used as a diminutive and the “Ach” ending indicates plural. So put together we have horn shaped little pastries –Rugelach.hazelnutsHow this little cookie came to be made in a crescent shape is an interesting story. I have read several versions, but this is my favourite. In the 16th Century, the Jews were living under the rule of the brutal Ottoman Empire. Life was not easy for them. A baker with a warped sense of humour, decided to create little pastries, shaped like the crescent that decorated the Ottoman war flags. With every bite of these delicious little noshes, the Jews imagined that they were “chewing out” their merciless oppressors.

Back in Europe, the dough for rugelach is light, airy and yeast raised. Somehow, when it arrived in North America, it transformed into a dense cream cheese based dough. This is the rugelach I grew up with and love. Rich and flaky, but not too sweet, the best rugelach let the dough be the star and the fillings play a supporting role.

Most often they are filled with jam, cinnamon-sugar, raisins and nuts. Often chocolate is thrown into the mix. Screwing with a 500 year old cookie could be a dangerous thing, but I like to live on the edge, so I played around with the traditional recipe and spread mine with Cookie Butter instead of jam.

The dough is simple to put together. I used the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for the dough, with the addition of some cinnamon and ground ginger to mimic the gingerbread flavour of the cookie butter. The butter and cream cheese must be very cold.dough ingredientsmaking dough 1Only process the dough until it resembles small curd cottage cheese. Don’t let the processor form the dough into a ball, or you will have tough rugelach. pulsed doughdivide dough into 48.5 inch circleI decided to make two varieties. The first, shaped in the traditional crescent, featured Cookie Butter and toasted chopped hazelnuts.spreading cookie butter on circlesprinkling hazelnutscutting into wedgesrolling crescentsbrushing with eggThese got treated to a shower of cinnamon sugar as soon as they came out of the oven. dust with cinnamon sugarFor the second variation I created little roulades. The dough was rolled into a rectangle, filled with cookie butter and chopped chocolate, and rolled and sliced, before baking. 11 x 7 inch rectanglespreading cookie butter on rectanglesprinkling chocolaterolling rouladeslicing roulades

brushing roulades with eggCB and chocolate roulades

Click here to print recipe for Cookie Butter and Hazelnut Rugelach.

3 rugelach

Click here to print recipe for Cookie Butter and Chocolate Rugelach Roulades.

Roulades