Sunday, December 30, 2012
Here's something kind of fun that I made today - no reason, I just had nothing better to do and wanted to use up my peppermint extract from the previous post. They're pretty easy to make and look quite cute and impressive. Naturally, I didn't have any shortening in the house (duuuuh) so I substituted coconut oil, which seems to have done the trick. I also put a little corn syrup in the melted chocolate to make it nice n' shiny. I would make these again but next time I'd put in more peppermint extract, and not just because I'm trying to get rid of it - the peppermint flavor is not that strong. I might also try putting the peppermint extract in the chocolate. This is a yummy, simple, wintry treat, excellent for a cold day like today. You can find the recipe here.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Hanukkah is over – time for the real holidays to begin! (Worst Jew ever, right here.) Time to turn off the Maccabeats and whatever the hell this is and turn on Elf. Yes, it’s true, I love cultural Christmas, in no small part because of the food, and I love the food in no small part because of peppermint bark. Over the last couple of years it’s become a tradition of mine to make peppermint bark, which is beautiful, festive, delicious, and simple to make. Well, the making part is simple; it’s the cutting that’s tricky. Every year, the pieces splinter apart when I cut them, or the white chocolate separates from the dark. No good!
This year at the family Hanukkah party (I knew that holiday was good for something!), my Aunt Nancy gave my cousin a little tin of yummy homemade peppermint bark. I asked her how she was able to cut it into such neat squares, and she divulged two secrets. One, add some cream to the dark chocolate. Two, don’t wait until it’s completely hardened to cut it. Now they weren’t that secret, as far as secrets go. I had seen some recipes that included the cream, and common sense told me to cut the bark when it was still a bit soft. Nevertheless, every recipe I’ve seen specifically instructs the baker to wait until the chocolate is totally hardened before cutting it. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to go with Aunt Nancy’s method. And I was so pleased with the results! At first I was concerned about the dark chocolate, because when I added the cream it became very thick and ganache-like, and it’s true that it didn’t spread as much as it should have, but it firmed up okay, and provided a much firmer base for the bark than just pure chocolate. I put the bark in the fridge for about 20 minutes, cut it, and then put it back for further hardening, and it turned out great. I put the pieces in glass jars, tied ‘em up with pretty ribbons, and gave them to current and former coworkers as holiday gifts. (For Kaitlyn, last seen being a vegan on this blog here, I made vegan peppermint bark, which is literally just dark chocolate studded with pieces of candy cane. I did look for vegan white chocolate but it was impossible to find – there was one place that sold it 3.5 ounces for $17, but that seemed excessive. And it turns out Kaitlyn doesn’t even like white chocolate so I’m glad I didn’t waste my money.) Anyway, it was a big success. To thank Aunt Nancy for the awesome tips, you should check out her Web site, it's pretty cool!: http://www.mylifestylecareer.com/
Aunt Nancy’s Peppermint Bark
One pound of dark chocolate
One pound of white chocolate
Half a cup of cream
Candy canes or peppermint candies, in pieces (I put them in a bag and crushed them repeatedly with the bottom of the tea kettle. You may find a more elegant method, but probably not one as satisfying.)
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Melt dark chocolate and cream in a double boiler; mix until the chocolate thickens. Add peppermint extract to taste. Spread the dark chocolate mixture on the aluminum foil and refrigerate until mostly firm.
Melt white chocolate in a double boiler; add peppermint extract to taste. Pour on top of dark chocolate sheet and sprinkle on peppermint pieces. Refrigerate until mostly firm. Remove from fridge and cut into pieces, then return to fridge until completely firm.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
These world peace cookies, from Dorie Greenspan, were my favorite cookies that she made in her shop. It is awesome that they can be made at home and turn out just as well. The dough is a little crumbly, but if you can get past that, they are tender and deeply chocolatly with a hit of salt that puts them over the top. These are some of the best cookies I have ever made or eaten and I hope they bring the world one step closer to the peace it so desperately needs. You can find the recipe here.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Hanukkah is here! The holiday of all things fried in oil. You might expect some traditional jelly donuts or other fried treats, but sometimes after a huge meal with latkes (fried potato pancakes), you just want something not too heavy or sweet to cut all that oil.
When I got this month's Bon Appetit, and I saw that these cookies were on the cover, I thought they would be the perfect accompaniment to a Hanukkah meal. It was even better when I saw that they were Dorie Greenspan cookies, since Dorie's recipes have never failed me. Dorie calls these Speculoos Cookie Buttons, which is an adorable name for a delicious cookie. They are slightly crisp but tender, with a little crunch from the sugar (which I did blue and white for Hanukkah) and a sweet and spicy kick. Dorie puts a glaze on them, which I skipped because I ran out of time, but I am sure would be delicious.
You can find the recipe for the cookies here. I hope you add them to your Hanukkah recipe file or make them all year round. Happy Hanukkah! I hope you and your family have lots of light in this dark time of year.