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

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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

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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

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

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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

Toffee

In need of yet another holiday dessert or treat? Perhaps a stocking stuffer? Try this toffee. Surprisingly, it’s quite easy to make. The hardest part is simply waiting for the toffee part of the candy to get to the right color. By the way, I love the little trick I learned from the blogger who posted the recipe: the toffee mixture is ready when it is the same color as the almonds! No candy thermometer needed–use the almond coloring as your guide instead.

I highly recommend checking out The Yummy Life blog for this recipe because the blogger posts step-by-step photos. And she shares some cute packaging ideas for gift-giving.

I’ve made this with a variety of nuts, usually whatever ones we have on hand. I do enjoy the almonds in the brittle best of all, though. Once I used chopped and salted cashews sprinkled on the top; I liked the salty factor balanced with the heavy sweetness of the toffee and chocolate. I’ve even mixed two kinds of chocolate for the top layer. Whatever suits your fancy.

Toffee

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup unblanched (skin on) whole almonds
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 (12 oz.) package milk chocolate chips (2 cups)…or use semisweet or dark chips
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toast almonds by spreading them in a single layer on a baking sheet and toasting them in a 350 degree F oven for 7-10 minutes.
  2. Line a 9×13-inch baking sheet with foil, bringing foil up and over the sides. Spread toasted almonds on foil. By the way, no need to grease the foil; the hardened toffee will peel off easily without greasing it.
  3. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine butter (cut it into chunks), sugar, vanilla, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a clean, dry wooden spoon until the butter is melted. It will begin to get foamy.
  4. Continue cooking and stirring more frequently for approximately 7-10 minutes (it took me longer…probably closer to 20 minutes) until the candy starts to brown. Keep cooking until it is the color of the brown skin of the almonds; it will start smoking slightly. When the toffee is the color of the almond skin, that is your cue that it is ready.
  5. Immediately pour candy, without scraping pan, over almonds, covering all nuts. Work quickly because it will continue to cook and can start burning. Use your wooden spoon to spread the toffee to cover all of the almonds. Again, work quickly because it hardens quickly.
  6. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the hot toffee. Wait one minute, then spread the melted chocolate until it is smooth.
  7. Sprinkle with finely chopped pecans.
  8. Let cool until toffee hardens, up to two hours. If you want to speed up the process, place pan in refrigerator or freezer. When cooled, break into pieces. Store in a tightly covered container in a cool place or in the refrigerator. (I even kept my pan, covered with foil, in the freezer for a week and it was fine.)

SOURCE: The Yummy Life