Monday, 31 December 2012

Truffle Brownie Bites & Other Treats

I love baking and working with fruit. I also love checking out new recipes on Pinterest so I combined these two pastimes to make a few old favorites and new treats as my contributions to the Christmas buffet at our home this year.

Truffle Brownie Cups

For a few years now, I have enjoyed making a Pampered Chef recipe called Truffle Brownie Cups. These are two-to-three POLITE bite chocolate delights (that comment is mainly for benefit of the teenaged son who is prone to eat in a way that I tease him is akin to an anaconda unhinging its jaw to devour its food!). 

Anyway, the Brownie Bites are very easy to make and I can top them with a variety of different goodies. They are not just for Christmas; I have gifted them to my children's school staff, made them for my birthday parties, or shared with fellow chocoholics any time of year.  The main part of TBBs is a dense brownie base baked in mini-muffin cups. These get an indent pressed into them after 10 minutes in the oven, sit a few minutes before being removed from the pan, cooled a bit, are then filled with some delicious chocolate ganache you made and cooled while the baking was going on, and adorned with anything you fancy. Some of my choices have included:

  • mini M&M candies
  • a toasted whole pecan
  • a toasted whole natural almond
  • a few toasted almond slices
  • a chocolate kiss or Golden Bud
  • a twist of orange rind
  • a dried cherry
  • Wilton's decorator sugar Sprinkles
  • chocolate-covered cocoa beans (dark, milk, and white chocolate)
  • white, red, and chocolate candy melts
  • plain chocolatey goodness...[drooling]
Here is my work station.
Some of the cups are filled and some are waiting patiently for their turn.
Behold the results!
The shot above is from this year and the two below are from bakings past. 
If your mouth is watering, click here for the recipe for Truffle Brownie Cups!


Confession: I think since teaching my first peanut-allergic student, I began craving foods with pecans, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and the like. I love desserts containing them and salads with a nice texture contrast with a nutty crunch. (I am really careful about what I take to school to eat and only indulge elsewhere, by the way.)  At Christmas, I go to town with nuts in my cooking. 


Peanut Blossoms

I missed making one of my faves last year.  This season I had time to bake Peanut Blossoms, a peanut butter cookie ball rolled in granulated sugar, baked (they flatten out on their own, actually a lot more than I expected!), and crowned with a chocolate kiss or Golden Bud while still warm so it melts onto it but the chocolate keeps its shape. 
You can see from the initial position of the cookie balls on the sheet how much they spread...a lot more than I was expecting!  The mini kisses are shown on the left batch and the Golden Buds are on the right.  I'll still to the GBs next year - more chocolate per cookie!
I also learned that one should be careful to bake these just until set; the education came from my sensitive teeth on the sugary outside and then biting through the firm , overbaked cookie!  The recipe I followed was from the Cookies cookbook from Company's Coming.  I think that was my very first cookbook!  Click this link to the free recipe. (Jean Pare and her kin are generous with some of my favorite recipes, I discovered!)

Ice Box/Refrigerator Cookies

Two of the new recipes I tried this year were for what are known as ice box or refrigerator cookies. As a child, I remember ogling pictures of these in my mom's cookbooks.  They were also so beautiful!  To create these round, edible works of art, you make the dough, form it into logs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 6 hours or overnight so it's firm. I let the dough warm up a bit before slicing and baking the rounds. Coincidentally, these cookies were from the new Christmas Cookies Company's Coming mini-cookbook I couldn't resist at the was just too pretty! The varieties I made this year were Cranberry Pistachio and Cherry Macadamia White Chocolate.
They were a bit too delicious, however, and I think only two whole cookies made it to the Christmas Day cookie tray!  I will make these again for certain and remember to.

Nutella Rice Krispie Balls

Continuing on the nutwagon, I also love Nutella. Boy, has that product been in the news for a variety of not-so-terrific reasons this year! Anyway, I enjoy it in moderation. Another Pinterest recipe find was for Nutella Rice Krispie Balls. They were a bit tougher to mix together than regular Rice Krispies' marshmallow goo, but any anomalies in the "batter" didn't matter since you roll it into balls before dipping them in chocolate.
The ingredients for the balls are Nutella, mini marshmallows, butter, vanilla, and Rice KrispiesTo the melted chocolate chip coating, I added a teaspoon of vegetable shortening to make the coating more shiny, a trick I learned when my own children were making chocolate-dipped strawberries for my birthday many years back.  The funky white fork -like tool above is a Wilton's product I bought.  (After a tough cake pop dunking session, I was seduced by the promise of an easier go of future coating experiences!)  As per the recipe from Erica's Sweet Tooth blog, I crumbled some Krispies for the top; some toasted, finely chopped hazelnuts would have been good, too.  Our Nutella Rice Krispie Balls were Goldilocks-worthy: not too sweet, not painfully crunchy as to shred one's upper pallet, not messy - just right! 

I did share a few healthy dishes this Christmas, but I shall give my accounts of them another day.  Who would have thought one Christmas would lead to three four postings? 

I hope you had a sweet New Year's Eve; I won't expect too many at my island tonight as I put this up on the worldwide web! 

Wishing you a 2013 filled with blessings of all kinds,


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