Kahlua Balls

Kahlua Balls

Kahlua Balls

Scrolling through my massive list of recipes to try, the Kahlua Balls jumped out at me. Good way to use up some of that homemade Kahlua I tried last summer!

(Note: I never blogged about the homemade Kahlua, but here are a couple notes if you use the linked recipe: you can replace the chocolate liqueur with 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, and using coarsely ground coffee beans rather than dried espresso gave a richer flavor–I tried both methods.)

So think graham crackers spread with chocolate and doused with a bit of Kahlua, but imagine all that rolled up into a ball. Yep, that’s what these are like. As you bite into a dense ball of sweetness, that Kahlua flavor pops out at you.

Good news: these come together easily and require no baking. A small cookie scoop makes the process go much more quickly, by the way.

So if you need something to bring to a party or to grace your holiday cookie tray, give these little sparkling balls of flavor a try.

Kahlua Balls

Printer-Friendly Version

Yield: about 50 1-inch balls

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped semisweet chocolate (I used 4 oz. dark chocolate and 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua
  • 3 tbsp. brewed coffee or espresso
  • 3 tbsp. agave (or corn syrup)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar in which to roll balls

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl or food processor, mix crushed graham crackers, chopped chocolate, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. (I actually roughly chopped the dark chocolate bar first, then placed that and the semisweet chips in the food processor and pulsed until finely chopped, then I added the other dry ingredients and pulsed until combined).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the Kahlua, brewed coffee, agave, and vanilla extract. Add to the food processor bowl; pulse until the dough forms a ball.
  3. Shape into 1-inch balls (a small cookie scoop speeds up this process). Roll each ball in granulated sugar.
  4. Store in an airtight container, either in the refrigerator or on the counter.

SOURCE: adapted from Sugarcrafter

“8-Layer” Truffles

8-Layer Truffles

Traditional 7-layer cookies made into truffles (or add another ingredient to make 8 layers, like I did)

Seven-Layer Truffles. The title intrigued me. The concept of taking the seven-layer cookie bar and transforming it into a bite-sized truffle tantalized my mind.

To make the truffles, instead of layering the ingredients like you do for the cookies, you mix it all together, slightly underbake, then scoop into balls, chill, and finally dip in chocolate. And then you get to bite into a divine ball of rich, chocolately sweetness. And swoon.

I ran short on graham crackers when I made these, so I substituted with some Oreo cookie crumbs; hence, my truffles were very chocolatey. Not that I minded one bit, though!

My truffle, then, isn’t quite the 7-layer…more like 8 layers. Even more flavors to delight the palate!

“8-Layer” Truffles

Printer-Friendly Version

Yield: I got about 4 dozen truffles using my small Oxo cookie scoop

INGREDIENTS

Truffles

  • 1 stick butter (4 oz or 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I only had 1 cup, so I used 1 cup finely chopped Oreo cookie crumbs, too)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened, condensed milk

For Dipping

  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp. safflower oil
  • graham cracker crumbs and shredded coconut, for garnishing

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the butter and graham cracker crumbs.
  3. Add the chocolate chips, coconut, toffee bits, and pecans; stir until evenly distributed.
  4. Add the condensed milk; stir until completely combined.
  5. Transfer mixture to the 8×8 dish; distribute evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly browned.
  6. While dough is still warm, scoop about 1 1/2 tsp. into mounds on parchment-lined baking sheets, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes until firm. Dough will likely be very soft and won’t shape into balls initially, but after refrigerating, you can easily roll them between the palms of your hands to make balls.
  7. To prepare chocolate for dipping, place chopped chocolate in a double boiler (I place a glass bowl over a small saucepan filled with about an inch of simmering water), stirring frequently until chocolate melts.
  8. Remove pan from heat but keep bowl over hot water so chocolate will stay melted. Add oil and stir to combine.
  9. Dip truffles in chocolate and place on parchment paper. To garnish, sprinkle with shredded coconut or graham cracker crumbs while chocolate is still soft and melted. To dip truffles, I use a plastic fork from which I’ve removed the inner tines. This allows me to easily scoop the balls out of the melted chocolate. I lightly tap the fork on the edge of the bowl and allow excess chocolate to drip off before transferring dipped balls to the parchment-lined baking sheet. I also use a chopstick to push the dipped balls off the fork.
  10. Transfer coated truffles to the refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden the shells. After the shells harden, I usually trim excess chocolate from the bottom of the truffles. I simply use a small knife for the trimming.
  11. Truffles can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week.

SOURCE: Kitchn.com

Festive Fudge (White Chocolate Fudge with Cranberries and Pistachios)

White Fudge

Festive white fudge studded with cranberries and pistachio nuts

A baking frenzy took place in my kitchen yesterday. All day–from early morning until evening–I whisked, stirred, melted, rolled, filled, dipped, and baked an assortment of cookies and candies. I made ol’ favs: Walnut Pillows, Pecan Balls, Pecan Tarts, and Macadamia Nut Butter Cookies.

And I tried a few new recipes, such as this Festive Fudge: luscious white chocolate studded with green pistachios and red cranberries. Nutty and fruity. Tart and chewy. Perfect holiday fare.

Ever made fudge? It’s a hit or miss situation with me, kind of like my caramel experiences. But this one worked easily enough: dump a bunch of stuff into a pan, boil for 4 minutes, add to chips, mix in nuts and fruit, and voila–lovely, festive fudge!

Now on to today’s project: packing all these goodies to give away as well as freezing some for Christmas day.

Festive Fudge (White Chocolate Fudge with Cranberries and Pistachios)

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios (roasting optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. If you want to roast the pistachios, heat oven to 350 degrees F, spread nuts onto a pan, and roast for 5-8 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. Prepare pan by lining with parchment paper. Tip: spraying the pan with a bit of oil helps the parchment paper to stay in place. If you want 2-inch high fudge, use an 8 inch x 8 inch pan. If you want 1-inch high fudge, use a 9 inch x 13 inch pan (I like this option because the pieces feel more bite sized and you get a lot more fudge pieces).
  3. Place white chocolate chips in a large bowl and have electric mixer  or whisk ready. If using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment.
  4. This next step involves boiling, so use a large saucepan (I used my 6 quart Dutch oven): over medium heat, bring the sugar, butter, cream, and salt to a full, rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Once it begins to fully boil, set a timer for 4 minutes, continuously stirring at this point. If you use a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 230 degrees F.
  5. Pour the hot mixture over the white chocolate chips and whisk on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until chocolate is completely melted.
  6. Add cranberries, pistachios, and vanilla; stir until combined.
  7. Pour the fudge into your parchment-lined pan; use a spatula to evenly spread it. Allow to cool, which will take a couple of hours, then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator to cool for a couple more hours before cutting. When ready to cut, use a pizza cutter to make smooth, even, and straight cuts.
  8. The fudge can be stored in an airtight container, on the counter or in the refrigerator, for about a week or two. Or you can wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place in resealable bag, and freeze for a couple months.

SOURCE: adapted from Chocolate, Chocolate and More

Cookie Round Up 2012 (and a few other treats)

With Christmas right around the corner quickly followed by the end of the year, I thought I would showcase the handful of cookies I’ve posted this year just in case you need to make one or two more batches of some goodies. And for good measure, I’m adding a few other favored treats.

First, though, I want to highlight MY FAVORITE YUMMIES from both this year and last, the ones that just call out “Hello holidays!” and that I make repeatedly:

IMG_0090

↑ Pecan Balls…my all-time favorite cookie to eat and gift to others and to bring as hostess gifts…plus, loads of people ask for this recipe

BraidedSugarCookies

↑ Braided Sugar Cookies…a new discovery this year that I’ve mixed up three times already this season

walnutpillows

↑ Walnut Pillows…utterly and addictively divine pillows of sweet goodness

MacadamiaNutButterCookies

↑ Macadamia Butter Cookies…loads of ooohs and aaaahs as people take a bite of these

Now for THE 2012 COOKIE ROUND UP:

pecantassies2

↑ Pecan Tassies…mini pecan tarts…utterly butterly scrump-dilly-icious!

OreoCheesecakeBites

↑ Oreo Cheesecake Bites…cheesecake in very easy form yet comparable to actual cheesecake

MagicInMiddleCookies2

↑ Magic-in-the-Middle Cookies…peanut butter stuffed chocolate delights…sooooooo fun to make and devour

CarmelitaBars

↑ Carmelita Bars…shortbread, nuts, caramel, and chocolate layers…divinely decadent

ChocCookies

↑ Chocolate Drop Cookies…rich chocolate flavor

CocoaNibMeringues2

↑ Vanilla Bean Cocoa Nib Meringues…light and fluffy and flavorful with nibs of cocoa

ChocPeanutButterChipCookie

↑ Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies…the perfect combo of flavors

almondtoffee2

↑ Toffee…way easier to make than it looks and simply outrageously addictively delicious

PeppermintBark

↑ Peppermint Bark…can’t believe I’ve never tasted this until recently…boy, have I been missing out!

And  also check out  2011 COOKIE ROUND UP  in case you need to see some more goodies :  )

Peppermint Bark

PeppermintBark2

The other day at work, one of my vice-principals walked by the secretary and proffered a tin full of chocolate candy. He then passed me but without the same proffer. I, of course, had to say something…something along the lines of “You can’t pass by a woman with chocolate and not offer her some!” He laughed, and the tin came within arm’s reach.

Turns out it was full of William’s Sonoma Peppermint Bark. I regularly receive their catalogs in the mail and have seen the peppermint bark yet never given it a second glance. Not my cup of tea. Until now! WOW! That stuff tastes goooooooooooood! Layers of dark chocolate, white chocolate, and crushed candy canes to top it all off. Festive looking for sure. Screams holiday season. And the taste just toppled me.

I made it as soon as the weekend arrived. I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips although I would have preferred to test out some fancier chocolate. Another time…

Outcome? Scrumptious.

Compared to William’s Sonoma Peppermint Bark? Well, not quite in the same league but still darn goooooood. And a heck of a lot cheaper, so I’ll stick with homemade.

I used a very simple recipe for this. However, I’ve seen some slightly more complex methods that require tempering the chocolate, and I’ve also seen the use of peppermint oil (not extract). I’d like to try some of these methods for comparison purposes, but I’m running out of time before the holidays to play in the kitchen. Maybe next year…

PeppermintBark

Until then, below is the very simple and effective method I used:

Peppermint Bark

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces quality semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped (or use a mixture)
  • 8 ounces quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes, about 6 ounces
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil, divided

DIRECTIONS

  1. Crush candy canes into small pieces. You can use a food processor, but you will end up with a lot of fine powder which you can strain out and put back into the melted chocolate if desired. Or, you can place candy canes in a ziploc bag and smash with a mallet or rolling pin.
  2. Line an 11×17 inch pan with parchment paper.
  3. Place bittersweet/semisweet chocolate in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until glossy and smooth. When melted, add 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil, which is supposed to help chocolate keep a glossy sheen; mix well. At this point, you can also add the very fine powdery candy cane if you used a food processor to crush the canes. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave, heating in 15-30 second intervals until melted, mixing after each interval. Pour melted chocolate into prepared pan and spread with an offset spatula into an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from fridge and leave at room temperature while melting white chocolate.
  4. Place white chocolate in a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl over a sauce pan of gently simmering water (or use the microwave method). Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until glossy and smooth. Add 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil to melted chocolate, mixing well. Pour melted white chocolate over dark chocolate layer, carefully spreading with an offset spatula into an even layer. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes, and gently press candy canes into white chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator until completely set, about 1 hour.
  5. Carefully lift parchment paper and place bark on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares, or poke knife into bark until it begins to break into chunks.
  6. Pack in an airtight container with wax paper between layers. Store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

SOURCE: Tutti Dolci