glazed pecans

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One of the hardest parts of making a full Thanksgiving dinner for two is dealing with the ridiculous amounts of food. Probably I could have made a course or two less than what people make for a huge group, right? But that would be too easy. I have to go the other direction and make every single course I would make for a crowd.

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If family and friends were coming over, I would want casual snacks set out to munch on while people sip their wine and wait for the appetizers to cool. With only the two of us, these little pecans were supposed to hold us over between breakfast and the big eating part of the day, but instead they became irresistible little nibbles whenever the pecan bowl was in sight.

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I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed these, because pecans aren’t one of my favorite nuts. I think of them as bitter, but once they were coated in a sweet herby glaze, the nut itself seemed almost meaty. Now I know that sharing them with a crowd is actually a bad idea – because I want them all for myself.

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Two years ago: Cranberry Orange Scones
Three years ago: Chickpea and Butternut Squash Salad

Printer Friendly Recipe
Rosemary and Thyme Candied Pecans (adapted from Seven Spoons)

Makes 8 servings

I bought demerara sugar just for this recipe and have found other uses for it, but if you don’t want to buy it, I’m sure brown sugar would work just fine.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
¾ teaspoon finely minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Scant ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 pound pecan halves

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the maple syrup and the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs, spices, and salt. Add the pecans to the butter mixture; stir to coat. Spread the nuts in a single layer on the prepared pan.

3. Bake, turning occasionally, until the nuts are glazed, shiny, and deep golden, around 15 minutes.
Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

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chocolate friands

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These are hard to describe. They resemble brownies, but are so far on the fudgy end of the brownie spectrum that they’re almost candy. They’re served in candy cups if you can find them, but the alternative option is mini muffin cups, which makes the friands resemble cake. These don’t fall neatly into any category.

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They’re made similarly to brownies too, with a few interesting variations. One is that, instead of melting the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water like most brownie recipes, hot melted butter was poured over chopped chocolate, and the residual heat of the butter melted the chocolate. It provides the same effect as a double boiler, but it’s simpler.

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The other difference I noted is that the eggs are stirred in last. Usually flour is the last thing added to batters and doughs, because the more flour is worked (stirred or kneaded), the chewier and less tender the resultant baked good becomes. Plus, eggs are mostly water and they don’t easily mix into the fatty mixture of butter and chocolate, so seeing that worrisome “do not overmix” warning right after the eggs are added at the end was extra stressful.

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And lastly, and I believe most importantly, there is no leavener – no baking powder or soda, no whipped eggs. This is what makes the confections so rich that they’re almost more candy than brownie. And that is what makes them so hard to figure out.

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Apparently they’re hard to pronounce too, as I had multiple coworkers come by my office to thank me for the ‘chocolate friends’ that I brought in to share. It’s an appropriate name for a treat I chose to make for Josie’s virtual baby shower. Josie is in the no-dessert-is-too-rich club, like me, so I definitely consider her a chocolate friend. Congratulations Josie! I wish you and your family the best.

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One year ago: Banana Peanut Butter Muffins
Two years ago: Vegetable Curry
Three years ago: Country Egg Scramble

Printer Friendly Recipe
Chocolate Friands (from Tartine)

Batter:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter
1½ cups + 1 tablespoon (11 ounces) sugar
¾ cups (3.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs

Ganache:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
⅔ cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line up 48 1½-by-½ inch candy cups on 2 baking sheets, or butter and flour 24 mini-muffin-tin wells, knocking out the excess flour.

2. To make the batter, place the chocolate in a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until very hot. Pour the butter over the chocolate and whisk or stir until smooth. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix well. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in 3 batches, whisking well after each addition. Add 2 of the eggs and whisk until combined, and then add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk just until incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the batter.

3. Transfer the batter to a liquid measuring cup for pouring, and fill the cups three-fourths full. Bake until the cakes just start to crack on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, and then unmold them if you have baked them in the muffin tins and let cool completely. If you have baked them in the paper cups, just let them cool in the cups.

3. To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to just under a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a minute or two. Stir gently with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

4. Make sure the friands are cool before dipping them into the ganache. Holding each friand by its sides, dip the top into the ganache and then shake gently to let the excess run off the side. Return the friand to the rack and let the ganache set up in a cool place for about 1 hour.

5. Don’t put the friands in the refrigerator to set up if your kitchen is hot because condensation will form on the tops when you take them out, ruining the smooth look of the ganache. The only way to avoid the condensation is to place them in an airtight container before putting them in the refrigerator adn then to leave them in the refrigerator and then leave them in the container when you remove them from the refrigerator until they come to room temperature, or to serve them right away.

6. Serve the friands within a day of making, or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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chocolate oatmeal almost-candy bars

The worst part of not loving the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe for the week is having to tell everyone about it. Not only do I feel like a Negative Nellie, but the flood of “sorry you didn’t like it!” comments starts, and, honestly, it isn’t such a big deal. There are many worse things in life than not getting excited about a dessert.

Plus, I’m not really involved with TWD to eat desserts; I’m in it for the learning experience of baking the desserts. I find out about different baking tricks, and I get to compare my results with everyone else, and I get an excuse to bake every week, and I get to make things I might not ordinarily choose for myself, and I get to interact with other bloggers.

Plus, when you’re making the entire book of recipes, of course there will be a few that aren’t your favorites. I had a feeling about this one from the beginning – I don’t really crave candy bars, so the “almost candy bars” title didn’t bode well.

Plus, it’s all relative. It isn’t like I had to spit it out because it was so bad or anything; it’s just that I found myself eating around the chocolate filling to get to the cookie parts. Mm, cookies.

Besides, everyone else liked it. And I had fun baking it, and I didn’t hate it or anything, and I liked the cookie portion quite a bit. It’s really just an oatmeal cookie base with a chocolate-sweetened condensed milk feeling; if that sounds better to you than it did to me, Lillian has posted the recipe.

One year ago: Berry Surprise Cake

vanilla bean caramels

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This was the caramel recipe that accompanied last month’s Daring Baker cake. I had no intention of making it, especially since I just barely got the cake made by the posting date. But then it seemed like everyone who made the caramels was raving about them, and I had never actually made caramels before, so I added them to my list of candy to make.

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None of the candy recipes I made last week were particularly difficult or time-consuming, including this one, but on the other hand, the brittle is the only one that I would actually call easy. For the caramels, sugar and corn syrup are mixed and heated, then cream is added and the mixture is cooked some more.

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One problem I had is that it took far longer than I expected for the caramel to reach the desired temperature after the cream was added. This wasn’t detrimental to the outcome, but it certainly would have been nice to have some guidelines in the recipe.

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My other issue was that the caramels are chewier than I’d like. I took the mixture off the heat at 263F. The recipe recommends 260F for soft caramels, but I’m not sure even that’s as soft as I want – I’m thinking something between 250-260F might give me the texture I’m looking for, but it’s hard to say since this is my first time making caramels.

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My absolute least favorite part of the recipe was this seemingly innocent step: “Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.” Oh so tedious.

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But worth it in the end. The caramels tasted very good. Rich but not cloyingly sweet. Of all the candy I sent to my family for Christmas, this is the only one I’m confident that everyone will like.

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Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels (adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert)

Makes 80 1-inch caramels

Ingredients
1 cup light syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1½ teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

1. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the light corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

2. When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260F for soft, chewy caramels or 265F for firmer chewy caramels.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

4. Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

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pumpkin seed brittle

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This recipe almost didn’t get made. It was the last one I got to on my day of candy making, and I tried to talk myself out of it. I was tired and there was already plenty of candy around. But I’m not good at changing my plans once they’re set, plus I didn’t know what else to do with all the pumpkin seeds.

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And you know what, I’m glad I made it. This was definitely the easiest of the recipes I made last week. A few ingredients are mixed and then cooked, some other ingredients are added, and then you’re basically done – just pour the mixture out, flatten it, and break off pieces.

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There are a couple of points where my OCDness needed some more instructions. One is the wide range of salt – between 2 and 4.5 teaspoons? And that just depends on whether you use salted or unsalted butter? I have a hard time believing that 1 stick of salted butter has 2.5 teaspoons of salt. I think I used 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) salt with unsalted butter, and the brittle is on the salty side, but in a good way. I think it’s perfect.

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The other issue was how long to cook it. Deb blithely claims that no candy thermometer is necessary – just cook it until it’s medium golden! Um. Yeah. I need to know a temperature. Fortunately, one of her commenters mentioned cooking it to 290 degrees or a little above that, and that worked out perfectly for me.

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The brittle was very good – sweet, salty, crackly but easy to bite through. All that for just a few minutes of effort. I wish all the candy I made last week had been so easy.

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Pepita Brittle (from Smitten Kitchen, who has all sorts of other sources for it)

Vegetable-oil spray or 1 teaspoon butter, for lining the tray
2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted or unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons to 1½ tablespoons coarse or flaky sea salt (use less if you’re using salted butter)
1½ cups of raw, unroasted pepitas (they toast in the syrup) or 12 ounces (¾ pound) roasted, salted nuts, not chopped

1. Line a 12 x 16 x ½-inch sheet baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat it with vegetable spray or butter.

2. Put the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons water to a large saucepan, and stir together until all the sugar is wet. Cook over high medium-high, but watch it carefully as it will foam up quite a bit and you might need to dial back the heat to medium until it begins to thicken.

3. Once the mixture turns a medium golden (takes at least 10 minutes) immediately remove from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda followed by the salt (taking care, as the caramel will rise in the pan and bubble some more). Switch to a wooden or metal spoon, and fold in the pepitas or nuts.

4. Quickly pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon before it starts to harden. Alternately, you can slide the parchment paper out of the baking pan and onto a counter, cover it with another sheet, and use a rolling pin, pressing down hard, to roll it out as flat and thin as you would like.

5. At this point you can either let it cool completely (pulling off the top sheet of parchment, if you use the rolling pin technique) and break it into bite-size pieces with the back of a knife or other blunt object or, while it is still fairly hot and pliable, cut it into a shape of your choice and let the pieces cool, separated on parchment paper. The brittle can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to two weeks.

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white chocolate lemon truffles

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A few years ago, I spent a couple of weeks working in Davis, California. I loved Davis. I stayed in a bed and breakfast near the university, right near Davis’ cute little downtown. There were all kinds of great restaurants nearby, including Ciocolat, a dessert café. I made a point to stop by there almost every day. And with minimal guilt, because I spent several hours every day walking around UC-Davis’s beautiful arboretum.

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Ciocolat seems to specialize in truffles, which aren’t really my thing. I’d much rather eat chocolate once it’s mixed with eggs and butter and some flour and then baked. But I did love their lemon truffles. Smooth, creamy, not too sweet, and intensely lemony, I’ve been wanting to re-create them since, but I haven’t been able to find a recipe that seemed similar.

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The only recipes I’ve found for lemon truffles include white chocolate, which I don’t remember the Ciocolat’s lemon truffle having. It recently occurred to me to look at their menu online, where I saw that it did include white chocolate. Perhaps a white chocolate lemon truffle recipe was exactly what I needed then.

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The one I tried wasn’t difficult or too time-consuming. The only challenge is working with the white chocolate. I always seem to have problems with it, even when I follow the basic white chocolate rules of using a good brand (Callebaut in this case) and not overheating it. I took the white chocolate off of the heat when it was about half melted and stirred until the rest melted, and it still showed signs of breaking.

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It seemed to work out in the end though. The only problem is that they’re not near as lemony as I’d like. The dominant flavor is definitely white chocolate. I’m not sure how to get more lemon flavor in them. Steep the zest in the cream longer? Use more zest? I considered adding more lemon juice, but I’m worried that would affect the texture too much. Substitute butter for some of the white chocolate? I’m thinking there might be some relevant tricks in Dorie Greenspan’s Lemon Cream Tart recipe, but I don’t have any specific ideas.

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One year ago: Risotto with Peas

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles (adapted from Global Gourmet)

Makes 2-3 dozen

⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
grated zest of 1 lemon
9 ounces best-quality white chocolate, very finely chopped
pinch salt
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar

1. In a small, heavy, nonaluminum saucepan, combine heavy cream and lemon zest. Heat on medium heat until cream comes to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cover tightly and allow to stand 20 minutes at room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, combine white chocolate, salt, and butter in a medium heatproof bowl. When cream has stood 20 minutes, remove cover. Reheat the cream mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a simmer again. Strain cream through a fine-meshed strainer into the white chocolate mixture. Press down on the lemon zest left in the strainer to extract all of the liquid from it.

3. Melt the chocolate mixture in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring frequently, until just it’s just over half melted. Remove it from the heat and the hot water. Continue stirring until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. (Note: White chocolate, even of excellent quality, can be stubborn about melting. If there are small lumps of white chocolate in your truffle base, transfer the truffle base to a food processor fitted with a steel blade; process at high speed just until smooth.) Stir in lemon juice. Chill at least 4 hours.

4. Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, form balls of about 1 inch diameter from the cold truffle base. Roll in granulated sugar until well-coated. Continue until all base is used.

5. Store truffles airtight in refrigerator for up to one week; freeze for longer storage. To serve, remove from refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes prior to serving time.

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buckeyes

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To thank our wedding party, Dave and I gave them gift bags of foods from various places where we’d lived. Among other treats, there was wine from the Finger Lakes region, where we were living at the time and where we got married, salsa from New Mexico, where I grew up, and there was supposed to be buckeyes, representing Ohio, where Dave is from. I made the buckeyes a week or so before the wedding, packaged them into treat boxes, and painstakingly wrapped each box with a ribbon. But I stored them incorrectly, and when Dave and I were getting ready for the rehearsal dinner, where we gave the gifts, we found that they were…unfit to eat. Ugh, that sucked.

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The buckeyes were a pain in the first place, because there was apparently a typo in the recipe I used. Buckeyes are simply peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla, mixed together, rolled into balls, then dipped in chocolate. Unfortunately, the recipe I used calls for twice as much powdered sugar as it should. As a result, I had to scramble and add more peanut butter and butter, and I had twice as many buckeyes as I had intended.

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This time went more smoothly, because I knew how much powdered sugar to add. Actually, it was surprisingly easy and only a little bit tedious. The recipe still makes a good amount of buckeyes, 4 or 5 dozen, depending on how big you roll them.

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These are certainly the most decadent of the candy recipes I made this week. I’ve always been a fan of the peanut butter and chocolate combination, so I find them a little difficult to resist. Hopefully everybody else does too, so I don’t eat them all myself!

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Buckeyes

Makes 4 to 5 dozen

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 (16-ounce) jar creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups (12 ounces) powdered sugar
16 ounces seimisweet chocolate, chopped

1. In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-low speed until creamy. Add peanut butter and continue mixing until fully blended. Blend in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar. Mix on medium-low speed until fully blended. It should have the texture of very thick cookie dough.

2. Roll the peanut butter mixture into 1-inch balls, and place the balls on a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Push a toothpick into each ball. Put the peanut butter balls in the freezer and chill until hard, at least 4 hours.

3. Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Using the toothpick as a handle, dip each peanut butter ball in chocolate, leaving a section of peanut butter uncoated. Place chocolate covered balls on parchment or wax paper and remove the toothpick. Once the peanut butter has softened, you can use a finger to smooth over the hole from the toothpick.  Buckeyes can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for at least a week.

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candied orange peel

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I don’t usually do much baking around the holidays. I bake so much anyway, what would I possibly do with more treats? So I’m not sure what possessed me to make five types of candy (in one day!) this year. I’m blaming Jen and all of her flawless confections.

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This candied orange peel is her recipe. I’ve made candied orange peel once before. It didn’t knock my socks off, and I kicked myself for not using Jen’s recipe.

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Candied orange peel, like most of the candy recipes I made yesterday, seems easy in theory but ends up involving a significant investment of time. (Or maybe it just seems that way when you wait until the last minute and have to make all of your candy recipes in one day.) Boiling the orange peel three times is no big deal, and simmering them in sugar syrup doesn’t take any effort. But juicing, cleaning, and slicing the oranges took more time and made a bigger mess than I had counted on.

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I dipped about half of my orange peels in chocolate. The others I packaged into gift bags with some granulated sugar to (hopefully) keep them from sticking together.

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I liked the peels far more than I was expecting. In fact, I thought at first that I was making them just for fun. I tried not to let it bother me than no one might actually eat them. But they might be my favorite of the candy recipes I made. I’m especially happy with the chocolate dipped ones. The bittersweet chocolate counters the sweetened peel so nicely. I think I’m going to go grab just one more…

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Candied Orange (Citrus) Peel (slightly reworded from Use Real Butter)

4 oranges, peel of (or any thick skinned orange)
3 cups (21 ounces) sugar
1 cup water

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar for rolling
or
8 ounces chocolate for dipping

1. Cut the oranges in half across their equators and juice them. Cut each half in half again and take a spoon to scrape the pulp out, living a clean pith. You can remove some of the pith if you want, but it isn’t necessary because the candying process with remove (or at least overpower) the bitterness. Cut the peels into ⅛ to ¼ inch strips.

2. Place peels in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat on high until water comes to a boil. Drain. Repeat heating and draining twice more.

3. Combine sugar and water in the saucepan and boil over high heat until temperature reaches 230F. Add the peels and reduce the heat to a simmer, about medium-low. Simmer until peels are translucent (30 minutes or longer).

4. Remove peels from syrup and roll in sugar if desired, and set on rack to dry for several hours. Once the peel is dry, you can dip in dark chocolate – shake off excess, and place on foil, wax paper, or baking sheet to dry. Store in a tupperware, or if not chocolate dipped, store in sugar.

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chocolate truffles

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You know how at the end of every month, you think to yourself some variation of “December already?! What happened to November?!” I have a trick for making the days of the month crawl by: make a commitment to write a blog entry every day for a month. Instead, you’ll be thinking “only a third of the way done? There’s still 20 more blog entries to write!” and “yes, only four more days!”

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In all honesty though, this was a valuable experience. My primary goal of cleaning out my “To Blog” folder was achieved. But, not because everything got put into the blog. On the contrary, a lot of recipes were moved into the “Probably Not” folder. If I couldn’t find anything to say about a recipe after considering it every day for a month, it’s time to admit that it isn’t worth writing about.

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I started the month with a recipe that’s languished on my hard drive for several months before I finally blogged about it, and I’ll end it the same way. I first made Robert Linxe’s truffles in February. They were good, but what really caught my eye about the recipe was his insistence that it be made with Valrhona chocolate. I’m all about using the best ingredients that are available and affordable, but generally I think the choice of ingredients should be left up to the baker. Insisting on a certain expensive hard-to-find brand of chocolate seems unnecessarily snobby.

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So I set out to determine how big a factor chocolate quality really is. My plan was to get four chocolates of widely different quality and compare truffles made with each. I was thinking of using Baker’s Chocolate, Ghirardelli, Scharffen Berger, and Valrhona, or possibly using Hershey’s or Nestlé instead of the Sharffenberger. That plan did not work out. I needed to keep the bitterness of each chocolate approximately the same to make sure we were comparing chocolate brand instead of level of sweetness. That limited my options, and I ended up with the following brands – El Rey, Ghirardelli, Nestlé, Scharffen Berger. I was too lazy to make the extra trip to Williams-Sonoma for Valrhona.

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What I found was that the favorite brand was largely a matter of personal preference. I had seven people tasting the truffles, and we discussed the differences between each as we tasted. I also found that it’s much easier to detect small differences in flavor when you’re focused completely on the food. As soon as my family decided we were done tasting and ready to just eat, I stopped paying attention to the subtle flavors of the chocolates.

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Scharffen Berger had a fruity taste and was the favorite of my mom and brother. Ghirardelli was a little metallic at first and was more bitter than Scharffen Berger. The Nestle was similar to Ghirardelli but with a hint of fruit and a little waxiness. It was the favorite of my dad and sister. El Rey was a bit grainy and was more bitter than the others. It was Dave’s favorite, but my brother didn’t like it much. (I didn’t record my favorite or my brother-in-law’s, and this was months ago so I don’t remember. D’oh!)

Really, I think you could use any chocolate that you like. If Valrhona is your favorite, go for it, but you’ll make some delicious truffles with good ol’ Ghirardelli, or even a fancy bar of Nestlé.

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Robert Linxe’s Chocolate Truffles (from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen)

Makes about 60 truffles (Linxe says not to double the recipe)

I have not found that this makes anywhere near 60 truffles. I tend to make the truffles small, about ¾-inch diameter, and I only get about 30 with this recipe. I noticed some of the reviewers on epicurious had a similar result.

I skipped the 3 ounces of chocolate for the pre-cocoa coating, because I didn’t want to mix the chocolates, and I was only making ¼ of each recipe, and that would have meant I needed melt ¾ ounces of chocolate, and that sounded like a hassle.

11 ounces Valrhona chocolate (56% cacao)
⅔ cup heavy cream
Valrhona cocoa powder for dusting

Finely chop 8 ounces of the chocolate and put in a bowl.

Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Make sure your pan is small, so you’ll lose the least amount of cream to evaporation, and heavy, which will keep the cream from scorching. Linxe boils his cream three times – he believes that makes the ganache last longer. If you do this, compensate for the extra evaporation by starting with a little more cream.

Pour the cream over the chocolate, mashing any big pieces with a wooden spoon.

Then stir with a whisk in concentric circles (don’t beat or you’ll incorporate air), starting in the center and working your way to the edge, until the ganache is smooth.

Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to hold a shape, about 1 hour, then, using a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch opening or tip, pipe into mounds (about ¾ inch high and 1 inch wide) on parchment-lined baking sheets. When piping, finish off each mound with a flick of the wrist to soften and angle the point tip. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 3 more ounces of the same Valrhona and smear some on a gloved hand. Gently rub each chilled truffle to coat lightly with chocolate. The secret to a delicate coating of chocolate is to roll each truffle in a smear of melted chocolate in your hand. Linxe always uses gloves.

Toss the truffles in unsweetened Valrhona cocoa powder so they look like their namesakes, freshly dug from the earth. A fork is the best tool for tossing truffles in cacao. Shake truffles in a sieve to eliminate excess cacao.

Store truffles in the refrigerator.