Espresso Truffles

Espresso Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

Once you have decided on your chocolate, you then need to decide on your choice of alcohol to flavor your truffles and also the coating. The choice is yours but there are a few things to consider. For example, if you want a hazelnut flavored truffle it is a good idea to add Frangelico to the chocolate and cream mixture and then coat them in chopped hazelnuts. Or if you would like your truffles to have a coffee flavor stir about one tablespoon of espresso powder into the hot cream and then add Kahua or Tia Maria to the truffle mixture. For fruit flavored truffles use 2 tablespoons of fruit puree or jam (raspberry or blackberry) in place of the alcohol. Orange flavored truffles can be made by adding about 1 tablespoon of orange zest to the hot cream. Let the cream steep for about 10 – 15 minutes and then strain out the zest. Then add Grand Marnier to the truffle mixture. As you can see there are endless variations to the basic truffle so experiment and come up with your own recipes. Truffles store very well. They can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or frozen for several months. Truffles are best when served at room temperature.

Truffles:
8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons alcohol (Cognac, brandy, Grand Marnier, kirsch, rum, bourbon, or Kahlua to name a few) (optional)
Different Coatings for Truffles:
Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
Confectioners Sugar (Icing or Powdered)
Toasted and Chopped Nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts)
Toasted Coconut
Shaved Chocolate

For Truffles: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the truffle mixture is firm (this will take several hours or overnight).

Place your coatings for the truffles on a plate. Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. With your hands, or else a melon baller or small spoon form the chocolate into round or mis-shaped bite-sized balls. Immediately roll the truffle in the coating and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or tray. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 30 small truffles.

To Toast Nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and bake nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds) about 8 – 10 minutes or until brown and fragrant. For hazelnuts toast about 15 minutes or until the skins start to blister. Remove from oven and roll in a clean dish towel. Let the nuts ‘steam’ for about 5 minutes and then remove the skins. Once the nuts have cooled, chop coarsely.

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Filed under Chocolate, Truffles

Toffee Crunch Cheesecake

Aside from being gorgeous, this cheesecake is fabulous. I have made this cheesecake four or five times and it always turns out beautifully. The gingersnap crust is a lovely combination with the Heath bar topping. The caramel sauce takes a very watchful eye. You don’t want to take it too far (dark) because it will burn.I think the term ‘dark amber’ is a bit misleading. If I waited for it to turn dark amber, it would have burned and hardened, which I did the first time I made the cheesecake.  You will have left over caramel sauce. The recipe makes about twice the amount you need for the top of the cake. I have no problem with this because I usually decorate the plate with extra sauce.

Toffee Crunch Cheesecake

Toffee Crunch Caramel Cheesecake
Bon Appétit | January 2005

Zoom; Park City, UT
“Each year we receive hundreds of reader requests for recipes from restaurants around the world. And this past year there was a clear favorite — cheesecake. One of the best we tested is from Zoom in Park City, Utah. Here’s their delicious version. — The Editors

At the restaurant, this is served with roasted pears. The cake needs time to set up in the refrigerator overnight, so begin making it at least one day ahead.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

Gingersnap crust:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (about 7 1/4 ounces)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar

Cheesecake:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Caramel topping
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 1.4-ounce English toffee candy bars (such as Heath or Skor), chopped

For gingersnap crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 9-inch springform pan with 2 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Stir ground cookies, butter, and sugar in medium bowl until moist clumps form. Press cookie mixture firmly onto bottom of prepared pan. Wrap outside of pan with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Bake crust until firm and beginning to darken, about 14 minutes. Cool crust. Maintain oven temperature.

For cheesecake:
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in butter, then eggs, 1 at a time, until just blended. Beat in vanilla. Pour batter over crust in pan. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake cake uncovered until filling is puffed around edges and moves slightly in center when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove pan from water; remove foil. Place hot cheesecake uncovered in refrigerator overnight.

For caramel topping:
Stir sugar, water, and lemon juice in large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 9 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Chill until thickened but still pourable, about 15 minutes.

Spoon caramel over top of cake just to edges (do not allow caramel to drip down sides). Garnish top edges with chopped English toffee. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides.

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Filed under Bon Appetit, Caramel, Cheesecake, Desserts

Crème Brûlée Tart

Crème Brûlée Tart
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

Crème Brûlée Tart
Gourmet | October 2008
by Melissa Roberts

More than 30 years ago, Michael McCarty opened Michael’s, in Santa Monica, and quickly established himself as a pioneer of California cuisine. In one of his sunny interpretations of French classics, he served crème brûlée in a crust. The smooth custard in a flaky shell with a crackling burnt-sugar top was one of his most popular desserts.

Yield: Makes 8 servings
Active Time: 35 min
Total Time: 4 1/4 hr

For tart shell:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For custard filling:
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1 whole large egg
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt

Equipment:
a 9 1/2-inch round fluted tart pan (1 inch deep) with a removable bottom
pie weights or dried beans
a small blowtorch

Make tart shell:
Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size lumps of butter. Add 3 tablespoons water and stir into flour (or pulse) until incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, add water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) after each addition. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit dough into tart pan and fold overhang inward to reinforce side. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Lightly prick bottom of shell all over with a fork, then line with parchment or foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until edge is pale golden and side is set, 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove weights and parchment and bake shell until golden, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Remove tart shell from oven and reduce temperature to 300°F.

Make filling:
While shell bakes, split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into a heavy medium saucepan with tip of a paring knife. Add pod to saucepan with cream and milk. Heat over medium heat until hot, then let steep off heat 30 minutes. Whisk together yolks, whole egg, 6 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a quart measuring cup, then whisk into cream mixture until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve back into measuring cup.

Put tart shell (in pan) in a 4-sided sheet pan. Put in oven, then pour custard into shell. Bake until just set but still slightly wobbly in center, 30 to 35 minutes (custard will continue to set as it cools). Remove tart from sheet pan and cool on a rack 30 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour more.

Just before serving, sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar evenly over top of tart. Move blowtorch flame evenly back and forth just above top of tart, avoiding crust, until sugar is caramelized and slightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Make ahead:
Dough can be chilled 1 week.
Tart, without caramelized top, can be made 1 day ahead, then chilled (loosely covered once cool). Gently blot any moisture from surface before caramelizing.

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Buffalo Chicken Salad

I can’t believe this recipe hasn’t been on Kitchen Sherpa yet. It was one of the first recipes Jeni posted on Serendipitous Reflections back on April 5, 2005, and it is still one of our favorites. One note, recently we’ve used Texas Pete instead of Louisiana Hot Sauce, but they’re both good. Enjoy!

Once again, Rachael Ray has come through with another quick and delicious meal. This recipe is quickly becoming a household favorite. When I make this, I don’t change a thing. At first I thought about using bottled blue cheese dressing that I had in the fridge, but thank goodness I didn’t because the blue cheese crumbles are wonderful. This recipe is pretty healthy in comparison to actual buffalo wings. No skin, no deep frying, very little butter, and lots of veggies. For hot sauce I use Louisiana Hot Sauce. It has good flavor and just enough heat to really enjoy having all the cool veggies and blue cheese dressing.

Buffalo Chicken Salad
2 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots, available in pouches
2 ribs celery with greens, chopped
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 package, 3/4 to 1 pound, chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup hot sauce

Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat.

Combine lettuce, carrots and celery in a salad bowl. Combine ranch dressing and blue cheese crumbles in a small bowl.

Add oil and butter to hot pan with the chicken. Season with salt and pepper and sear for 2 or 3 minutes, then add hot sauce. Reduce heat a little and cook 5 minutes more.

Toss salad with dressing and season with salt and pepper. Top salad with Buffalo chicken and serve.

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Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms

This is another classic from Serendipitous Reflections, November 17, 2005. Jeni was making stuffed mushrooms last night and reminded me of this recipe.

I made these mushrooms about a month ago for Tish’s birthday dinner. They were a hit. I suggest doubling the recipe if you are having more that 8 people. They are super easy and super yummy. The recipe came from Southern Living (Dec 96, I believe).

Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms

1 1/2 lbs large fresh mushroom, button or baby portobellas
1/4 C finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbl olive oil
1/4 C dry white wine
1/4 – 1/2 C soft breadcrumbs
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

With a damp cloth, gently wipe the dirt off the mushrooms. (Rinsing them water will make them tough.) Remove stems, and chop; reserve mushroom caps.

Saute mushroom stems, onions, and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until onion is tender.

Add wine, and cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Stir in breadcrumbs. Remove from heat and let cool.

Combine onion mixture, artichoke, and next 5 ingredients. Spoon 1 teaspoonful into each cap. Place on a lightly greased rack in a roasting pan. *

Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.

*You can make these up ahead of time, just cover and refrigerate them uncooked, pull them out right before guest are to arrive and bake them.

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Filed under Appetizers, mushrooms

Peanut butter cookies and “Neiman Marcus” cookies

This was originally posted on Serendipitous Reflections on September 8, 2005.

(Oops — this is what happens when I try to help Jeni by transferring a few posts. The Chocolate chocolate chip cookies were already posted with a better picture.)


For the mid-week snack for Patient Appreciation week, I made 280 cookies, peanut butter and chocolate chocolate chip. The chocolate chip cookies come with a story. I have since found out it isn’t true, but I’ve been making the cookies for 10 years with the assumption it was true. Honestly it doesn’t matter because they are awesome! The peanut butter cookies are super simple and very tasty. The chocolate chip cookies are worth every minute in the kitchen.

sidenote: Thanks Tiff for putting on the stickers before we left for the beach.

The Neiman-Marcus Cookie Story
My daughter & I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because our family are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the “Neiman-Marcus Cookie”. It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and they said with a small frown, “I’m afraid not.” Well, I said, would you let me buy the recipe? With a cute smile, she said, “Yes.” I asked how much, and she responded, “Two fifty.” I said with approval, just add it to my tab.
Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, “Cookie Recipe – $250.00.” Boy, was I upset!! I called Neiman’s Accounting Dept. and told them the waitress said it was “two fifty,” and I did not realize she meant $250.00 for a cookie recipe. I asked them to take back the recipe and reduce my bill and they said they were sorry, but because all the recipes were this expensive so not just everyone could duplicate any of our bakery recipes….the bill would stand. I waited, thinking of how I could get even or even try and get any of my money back.
I just said, “Okay, you folks got my $250.00 and now I’m going to have $250.00 worth of fun.” I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover will have a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus for nothing. She replied, “I wish you wouldn’t do this.” I said, “I’m sorry but this is the only way I feel I could get even,” and I will.

So went to the Neiman Marcus website and this is what they had to say about it.

NM Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe***

An urban myth is a modern folk tale, its origins unknown, its believability enhanced simply by the frequency with which it is repeated. Our signature chocolate chip cookie is the subject of one such myth. If you haven’t heard the story, we won’t perpetuate it here. If you have, the recipe below should serve to refute it. Copy it, print it out, pass it along to friends and family. It’s a terrific recipe. And it’s absolutely free.

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, slightly crushed
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy.

Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.

Combine the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for a crispier cookie. Makes 12 to 15 large cookies.

***I personally have not this recipe.

OK, enough about the origin of the cookie recipe – here is the recipe I use. It is absolutely one of my favorite cookies, and my stepmother loves them also. I do recommend a heavy duty mixer to make these or mix them by hand in the later stages of the process.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
5 C old fashioned rolled oats
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 lb (4 sticks) butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 C light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
24 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper. (You have to use parchment paper!!)

In a food processor, grind oats into a fine powder. Coarsely chop chocolate and grind with oats. The finer the powder, the better the cookies.

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then gradually beat flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Use a HEAVY DUTY MIXER or hands– add oats mixture and beat it in. Use hands to work chocolate chips in the dough.

Make balls of dough about twice the size of golf balls – 12 per sheet (I use professional baking sheets and they are bigger than the average baking sheet. So use your judgment when putting these on the sheets because you don’t want them to touch when they start spreading out.)

Bake one sheet at a time. Bake 11-12 mins reversing the sheet half-way through baking. The cookies will not appear done, but take them out! (Surface will be covered with cracks.)

Let the cookies cool on the sheet rather than racks. If you transfer when hot, they will drip through the racks.

Store in plastic bags or air-tight container.

yields 48 huge cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 C butter
3/4 C light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

In another bowl, mix the egg and vanilla extract, then gradually beat into the butter mixture.

Stir in the peanut butter and blend thoroughly. Stir in the dry ingredients. Chill for at least 30 minutes, until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two baking sheets.

Spoon out rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough and roll into balls.

Place the balls the prepared baking sheets and press flat with a fork into circles about 2 1/2″ in diameter, making criss-cross pattern with a fork. (you may need to chill your fork or spray it with Pam)

Bake for 12 -14 minutes, until lightly colored. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Denny’s Favorite – Waldorf Salad

Going way back in the archives again for a favorite from my first recipes on Serendipitous Reflections. Looking back, I’m amazed how our pictures have improved. (But the food’s still good).

If you have every spent a weekend at my in-laws house, you have surely had Denny’s waldorf salad. It’s one of my favorite parts of going to their house. Denny will whip this up for breakfast with some bagels or sausage biscuits. Dean and I sort of got on kick for about two weeks where we were just craving this. It’s super easy and the amounts can be adjusted very easily. Dean and I have made this to our tasting…this isn’t Denny’s exact recipe because he makes it on the fly. Enjoy!

Waldorf Salad
2 large Granny Smith apples, coarsely chopped
juice from a half of lemon
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 C walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toast to release the oils*
1/2 to 3/4 C raisins
1/3 C Mayo, regular or low fat
1 tsp sugar
a pinch of salt

In a bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. Add celery, walnuts, and raisins to apples. In a separate bowl, combine mayo, sugar, and salt. Toss mayo mixture with apple mixture. Chill for 1 hour then serve. Waldorf salad can be served over greens if desired.

* To toast walnuts

Stove top method: for small batches
Toast walnuts before chopping. Over med-low heat, place walnuts in a skillet. Heat until you can smell the oils being released. This should take about 4 minutes. Stir or toss walnuts frequently while toasting. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Oven method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast walnuts BEFORE chopping them into smaller pieces.
Place nuts in a single layer in an ungreased shallow pan or RIMMED baking sheet such as a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. (DO NOT use a baking sheet without sides. You may have nuts all over the oven if you accidentally tip the sheet when removing it from the oven.)
Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until they are GOLDEN brown. A toasted walnut may look more GOLDEN than BROWN. They will continue to brown slightly after they’re removed from the oven. Stir once or twice or shake the pan during toasting to aid in even browning.
Remove from pan to cool.
NOTE: The first time you try toasting walnuts, it’s better to err on the side of under-toasting than over-toasting. As walnuts toast, you’ll notice a change in their fragrance as well as their color.

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Filed under Apples, Fruit, Raisins, Salad, Walnuts