Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pecan Delights

This is by far my favorite Chocolate so far that we've made this Christmas season.  It's got homemade dulce de leche, pecans picked by my brother and then unshelled by my parents, and yummy dark and milk chocolate wrapped warmly around them. The result?  Pure delight.  Ahh family, it really brings it all together during the holidays.  











Pecan Delights



Ingredients:


  • 1 cup prepared dulce de leche, firm
  • 2 cups large pecan halves
  • 1/2 lb chocolate candy coating
  • 1/2 lb dark chocolate candy coating


Directions:


  • First, prepare the dulce de leche a day in advance.  You can find my recipe here so be sure to make this a day before you prepare these.  Or you can use the store bought duce de leche. The choice is up to you. 
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, and place the pecan halves on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted, about 8-10 minutes, stirring several times during the process to avoid burning the nuts. Allow the nuts to cool completely before moving on to the next step.
  • Use a small spoon to scoop up a bit of dulce de leche, and place it on a pecan half. Top the dulce de leche with another pecan half, pressing gently to create a sandwich. Place this on a baking sheet lined with foil, and repeat with remaining pecans and dulce de leche. Refrigerate the sandwiches while you prepare the chocolate.






  • Melt the chocolate candy coating in the microwave. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval to prevent overheating. Stir the chocolate coating until it is completely smooth.
  • Place a pecan sandwich in the melted chocolate and spoon chocolate over the top until it is completely covered. Remove it from the chocolate using a fork or dipping tools, and tap the fork against the bowl several times so excess chocolate drops off. Drag the bottom along the lip of the bowl to remove additional chocolate, then place the dipped pecan sandwich back on the foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pecans and chocolate until you have used up both dark and regular chocolates.
  • Refrigerate the tray until the chocolate is set, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or store the Pecan Delights in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.





Adapted from a recipe found on About.com



Linked up on Foodie Friends Friday 12/21/2012

Savory French Onion Soup

I found this recipe on the Pioneer Woman.  I had been using another recipe for French onion soup and probably will use it when I don't have the time to lovingly make it, but for all other times, I'm using this recipe.  It is oh so good and I love love love it to pieces.  I also got to use my Dutch Oven! Woooohoo!! I've never found a recipe that needed it so this was a blast. I love my dutch oven <3




I will say one thing.  I never knew what Gruyere Cheese cheese was but thought I'd give it a shot.  I know a lot of foodies will probably gasp in dismay, but I honestly hated the smell and flavor of Gruyere.  I tried to like it but just couldn't.  I guess deep down my palate just couldn't take the earthy flavors.  I prefer mozzarella hands down.  But honestly, this soup doesn't even need cheese.  It can stand on its own two feet without it.  


Savory French Onion Soup

Ingredients:



  • 1 stick Butter
  • 4 Large (or 6 Medium) Yellow Onions, Halved Root To Tip, And Sliced Thin
  • 4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 4 cups Beef Broth
  • 2 cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • Several Thick Slices Of French Bread Or Baguette
  • Mozzarella Cheese, Grated (optional)



    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    • Melt butter in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Place soup pot into the oven with the lid slightly ajar to ensure the onions will brown. Allow onions to cook in the oven for 1 hour, stirring at least once during the cooking process so onions won’t stick and burn.
    • Remove pot from oven and place back on stove top over medium heat. Stir, scraping off all the brown, flavorful bits.  Add broths, Worcestershire sauce and minced garlic and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
    • When soup is ready, ladle into bowl, and then sprinkle generously with grated cheese.



    Adapted from  the Original recipe found at Pioneer Woman

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    Dulce De Leche

    This is an easy way to make Dulce De Leche at home.  There are many delicious uses for dulce de leche, but the ones I use it for are:  in coffees to flavor, to top ice creams, or to use in baking. The possibilities are really endless.







    Dulce De Leche


    Ingredients You'll Need:

    • 1 (14 oz) Can Condensed Milk
    • 3 1/2 pint jars
    • 1 Crock Pot



    Instructions:

    • Put condensed milk in the 3 1/2 pint jars. Put on metal rings.  
    • Place in Crock Pot and fill with hot water 1 inch above lids.  
    • Put crock pot on low for 10 hours.  
    • After 10 hours take the jars out and sit on a towel to cool to room temperature.  
    • Once cool take the rings off the jars. They store in your refrigerator for up to 2 months.


    Enjoy!

    Source:  Recipe seen on YummyLife

    Pecan Patties

    I had a blast making these and they taste much better than the ones you find at the grocery stores.  I mean, these only last a week or so in an airtight container, and the grocery store pecan logs last what...months? Years?  It really makes a gal wonder what they put in those things.  Maybe I don't want to know...Anyway! These Pecan Patties were fun to make and pretty messy lol but that's what Holiday baking is meant to be right?!  Enjoy!







    Pecan Patties

    Ingredients You'll Need:



    • 2 (7 ounce) Jars marshmallow cream
    • 3.5 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 pound soft caramels
    • 2 tsp heavy whipping cream
    • 2 cups pecans, finely chopped

    Directions:

    • In a large bowl, combine the marshmallow cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir with a spoon until it becomes too difficult, then knead with your hands until all of the sugar is incorporated and you have a smooth, putty-textured ball.
    • Divide the candy into equal parts, rolling them into round balls about 1” in diameter. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with foil or waxed paper, and freeze them until very firm, at least 1 hour.
    • Once the balls are ready, place the unwrapped caramels in a large microwave-safe bowl with the cream. Microwave for one minute, then stir the caramels. If they have not all melted, or if it is still very stiff, microwave for an additional brief period. Stir until the caramel is smooth.
    • Place the chopped pecans in a shallow bowl or pie tin.
    • Remove the balls from the freezer. Using a fork or dipping tools, dip one in the melted caramel until it is completely submerged. Remove it from the caramel, then place it on the chopped pecans, and roll it in the nuts until every surface is covered with nuts. Replace the ball on the baking sheet and quickly repeat with remaining balls. If the caramel gets too thick, microwave it again briefly until it is smooth and liquid.
    • Once all of the pecan balls have been coated in caramel and nuts, return them to the freezer for 30 minutes. Pecan Patties can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Be aware that if it gets too warm, the caramel will soften and may not hold its shape.

    I had trouble with the balls holding form so they turned into patties.  It probably had to do with how humid it was when I was making them, so don't feel bad if they don't turn out perfect.  They'll still taste heavenly.
    Source:  About.com

    Creamy Pizza Dip

    This dip is so creamy and delicious.  You can use bread to dip with it or tortilla chips.  And with pepperoni on it it tastes just like pizza.  Happy sigh.  I'll have to make this again!





    Creamy Pizza Dip



    Ingredients You'll Need:

    • 2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, soft
    • 1 cup of mayonnaise
    • 1 cup of mozzarella cheese + 1.5 cups for topping dip
    • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
    • 1 cup of pizza sauce 
    • Optional toppings:  pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, bell pepper, bacon, really anything you want.  Just think of it like a pizza and you choose your favorite toppings!

    Directions:


    Preheat oven to 350.




    • In a mixing bowl, combine soft cream cheese, mayonnaise, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and the Parmesan cheese.  Stir well.
    • Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of a baking dish.  Just keep in mind a smaller dish will make the sauce thicker which will make the cooking time longer. 
    • Spread the pizza sauce next. Then, the cheese over the sauce.
    • Decide on your toppings and put those on top of the cheese.  I know, choices choices! 
    • Bake your dip for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
    • Serve with chunks of french bread.
    • This dip is very hot when it comes out of the oven. Please be careful.  The cheese makes it stringy, gooey, and ohhh so good.

    Source:  Adapted from a recipe on Simply Gourmet

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

    Banana Split Truffles

    Wow these were such a labor of love.  My sister and I made these for my families gift baskets this year.  I've never made truffles before but have eaten quite a few from chocolate stores =) So, we set upon a great adventure yesterday.  I love weekends.  So much potential to get things squared away before the week starts anew.  We spent off and on all day doing these, and in the end decided to wait until this morning to finish them because the ganache just did not want to set up.  We were happy with the firmness of them this morning and finished it off.  And they are so cute.  I couldn't be happier.  They look just like a scoop of ice cream with chocolate  sprinkles, and a cherry on top!  





    Banana Split Truffles



    Ingredients:


    • 2 cups white chocolate chips
    • ½ large banana, very ripe
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp banana extract or flavoring (optional)
    • 12 oz white candy coating
    • 4 oz chocolate candy coating
    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • Sprinkles
    • Red candies like M&Ms, jelly beans, or red hots(I used cordial cherry M&M's)

    Directions:

    • Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat it until it simmers and small bubbles form all along the edges of the pan, but do not allow it to come to a full boil.
    • While the cream is heating, prepare the white chocolate and banana mixture.  Place the half banana in the food processor and mix until the banana has liquefied.
    • Add the white chocolate chips to the banana and process until the white chocolate is in small pieces. The mixture will clump together, so stop the processor several times to scrape it down. Once the cream is simmering, carefully pour the hot cream in a small stream down into the bowl of the processor and let it run until the white chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth and free of lumps.
    • When everything is smooth, transfer the ganache into a bowl and whisk in the banana extract. Cover the ganache with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to scoop and roll, between 2-4 hours.
    • Once the ganache is firm, coat your hands with powdered sugar and roll the ganache into small balls, dusting your hands with more powdered sugar to prevent sticking if necessary.  
    • Keep the balls chilling in the refrigerator while you melt the white candy coating. Once melted, use a fork or dipping tools to dip the truffles into the coating, then set them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the tray to set the white chocolate for 10 minutes.
    • After all the truffles are dipped, it’s time to decorate them! For the chocolate “sauce,” melt the chocolate candy coating in a small bowl. Using a spoon, place a small spoonful of dark chocolate on top of a truffle, and use the tip of the spoon to nudge it off the sides in a thin stream. 
    • What we did, because our chocolate was firming up so fast was spoon a little bit of chocolate on top, then splash the sprinkles and top with the cherry M&M. But, if the chocolate is really wet feel free to top all of them with chocolate then go back and sprinkle and top with your 'cherry'.
    • Refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate coating. Store truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. 






    We had a lot of fun with this.  I hope you do too!

    Adapted from recipe found on : About.com

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