At the beginning of my path to being a serious cook, when I was a teenager, I used to make a Black Forest Cake, which seemed to me like the most sophisticated type of dessert. It was a chocolate layer cake with cherry filling and a rich frosting. I’d seen lots of pictures in which it was served on elegant cake stands with elaborate backgrounds. Very much the vogue in food magazines at the time. It was a complicated recipe and I felt like a true gourmand when I made it.
The combination of chocolate and cherries still seems very sophisticated to me, though I haven’t the time or the patience to reconstruct the complicated version. But this recipe creates that chic taste in a simple dish with as many layers of dimension as a layered cake.
The top is cakey, the center is soft and pudding-like, and the bottom has a syrupy cherry sauce. Serve it warm and you get all the gooey center, but the longer you let it cool, the more it firms up to a brownie-like texture. This has the deep, rich taste of dark chocolate without a cloying sweetness. The juicy cherries add a luscious contrast. You could serve this with a little whipped cream or ice cream, but I don’t find that necessary.
Chocolate covered cherry baked pudding
16 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries
7 ounces dark chocolate, 70 percent cocoa solids
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1. Pour the cherries in a colander and thaw completely. You don’t want the juice in the dish, but you can reserve it for another use (like a smoothie or another drink).
2. When the cherries are thawed, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the cherries in the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter together. You can do this by placing it in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water and stirring until melted, or microwaving it in 15-second bursts, stirring after each, until the mixture is smooth. Leave to cool.
4. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a small bowl. Beat the yolks and stir into the cooled chocolate. Stir in the vanilla.
5. Beat the egg whites in the mixer until frothy. Slowly drizzle in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir a big spoonful of whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it up, then gently fold in the remaining whites a bit at a time. Pull all the chocolate from the bottom of the bowl and make sure there are no streaks of white in the mixture. Spread the chocolate mixture over cherries in the baking dish, spreading it out to the edges, completely covering the cherries.
6. Bake the pudding for 25 minutes until the top is firm and does not jiggle. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10–15 minutes. Scoop into bowls and serve. This is equally delicious served warm, when it will be soft and saucy, or at room temperature when it will firm up a bit.
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I love lasagna. But since I am an empty nester now, finding times I can bake it and use it effectively has become more difficult.
But I remain undeterred, and have scaled the recipe back for enough to feed about two or three people, or four with smaller portions. It also makes it perfect for a romantic meal. There may be a little left over, but that is easily rewarmed for a lunch the next day. I don’t really like to freeze large quantities of lasagna because it just seems to dry out and lose quality.
Every time I make this it's just the right amount for my loaf pan, but if you have extra, you can just bake it in an extra pan, or perhaps some ramekins for mini-lasagnas (kids might enjoy that)!
Smaller lasagna for two
Yield: 2-3 servings
Time: 75-90 minutes
6 lasagna noodles, cooked according to your package directions
8 ounces lean ground beef
1/2 cup freshly minced onion
2-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
15 ounces marinara sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Cook noodles and drain.
3. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large skillet for a few minutes then add ground beef, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper and cook until beef is browned, breaking up any clumped meat. Stir in marinara sauce and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, making sure sauce doesn’t get too thick.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together a lightly beaten egg with ricotta and Parmesan.
5. In the bottom of a loaf pan, place about 1 cup meat sauce across the bottom. Top with two noodles, then top with half of the remaining meat sauce mixture. Top with another two noodles and the ricotta mixture. Top with the last two noodles and the remaining sauce. Layer mozzarella slices across the top.
6. Loosely tent pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake another ten minutes, allowing cheese to brown.
7. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes before you cut into it.
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I've been wanting to make crème brûlée ever since our friend, Lana, made these for us last winter. Before that, it had never occurred to me that one could make crème brûlée at home. In my mind, this decadently creamy dessert was reserved for French restaurants, alone.
But it turns out that it's not particularly hard – though you do need to plan ahead since there's both baking and cooling time required. And the result is, not surprisingly, completely delicious. Creamy, sweet, and silky with that delightfully crunchy, caramelized sugar crust you crack with your fork just before digging in to take a little taste of heaven. It's the perfect way to end a cold, snowy day.
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After consulting a few recipes, I adapted the one I found on my friend Jen's wonderful blog, Use Real Butter which comes via Elegantly Easy Creme Brulee & Other Custard Desserts by Debbie Puente. The only real changes I made to the original recipe were to add a pinch of salt and to top these beauties with maple sugar instead of turbinado or brown sugar thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Lynn.
I love all things maple and am always happy to give a little nod to my lovely corner of the world where the sugar maple sap is already flowing whenever the temperature gets above freezing. I've also added a bit more detail to the directions for any of you who are newbies like I was.
When I set out to make these, I discovered that I am woefully understocked in the ramekin department so I made a quick trip next door to raid my mom-in-law's cupboards. But you can use any small, oven-safe bowl or cup you like.
Although crème brûlée feels like winter comfort fare to me, I am also really looking forward to making it with some of the lavender that grows in our yard come summer.
Maple Crème Brûlée
Makes 6 servings
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup maple sugar (for the tops – you can also substitute turbinado or brown sugar if you don't want to go the maple route)
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and pinch of salt together in a medium bowl until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add the cream and vanilla and whisk until well-combined.
2. Divide the mixture evenly between 6 ramekins or custard cups (if you're using tiny ramekins you may get more than 6 out of this recipe, and fewer than 6 if you're using big cups). Place the ramekins in a large baking dish, making sure that they do not touch each other or the edges of the dish – I didn't have any single dish that was big enough to hold them all so I used two baking dishes – and then pour an inch or so of water into the dish, being careful not to get any water into the ramekins.
3. Bake until the custard is set around the edges, but still loose in the center (just give the dish a gentle shake with your pot-holdered hand to see if they still jiggle a little bit), between 40-60 minutes.
4. Once the custard is set, remove them from the oven and let them sit out in the water bath until fully cooled. Remove the cups from the water bath and chill, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
5. When you're ready to serve these treats, remove them from the fridge and use a paper towel or kitchen towel to dab any condensation off the tops. Spread a thin coating of maple sugar over each custard – enough to cover it evenly but it should not be thick. Set the oven to broil and put the ramekins on a baking sheet right underneath the broiler. Broil the sugar until caramelized and serve. Be very careful not to burn the sugar – it's all too easy to walk away and forget about them. If you're concerned about keeping the custards cool you can either refrigerate them again after you caramelize the sugar (leave yourself a good 35-40 minutes extra if you want to handle it this way) or you can place them in an ice water bath while you're caramelizing the sugar.
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As far as making potatoes for breakfast or as a dinner side, I am all about easy. And the main issue I have with most hash browns is that they are not easy, take longer than I want to spend time with them, and have a tendency to be soggy.
Another of my pet peeves with potatoes is that when I buy a bag at the market, there is precious short time to use them before they try to sprout. So once in awhile, I find myself baking a boatload of potatoes in the oven, and then finding ways to use them up. Now, I could just prep them as I make each recipe. But I have a little secret – once you bake them up, they cook up very quickly and easily without much trouble at all.
Such has been the case recently when I baked up about a dozen, and dispersed them for different uses. Next day, it is very easy work to peel and cube them for hash browns, and you will be amazed at how fast they cook up and how well they crisp.
I do hope you enjoy – this can be just the thing to spice up your breakfast, brunch, or home style dinner.
Southwest O'Brien Potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, minced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
3 medium russet potatoes, baked and chilled (leftover are fine), chopped
1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning or Southwest style seasoning salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
5 cloves garlic, chopped
Black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1. Sauté onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and cumin seed in olive oil until onions are translucent.
2. Stir in chopped potatoes, Adobo, garlic, chili powder, butter, and black pepper.
3. Cook, occasionally turning potatoes over with spatula, until golden brown and crispy.
4. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.
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New York is a feast every time we’re there. On arrival, it puts our senses on high alert and keeps them there, in a good way, until we leave. There is always something to see, hear, do… always.
Our recent four-day visit was no exception. As always, we arrived with an overly ambitious list of things to do. As always, some went undone, often replaced by new things we learned about on the fly. And as always, the longest part of the list was devoted to art.
And there was food, of course. Street hot dogs pragmatically (and happily) consumed as fuel. A generous pound of fresh cherries from another street vendor. (When he threw the sack on the scale and it registered close to a pound and a half, he just shrugged and said, “Eh, I give you a little extra.”) Serviceable slices from a pizza place right at our neighborhood subway stop. Continental breakfasts in the morning and refreshments in the afternoon at the always welcoming Franklin Hotel, a place we think of as home more with each visit.
Restaurant meals included delicious farm-to-table fare with an ironic wink and a nod at Alder. Our traditional lunch of fiery Korean chicken wings at KyoChon Chicken. A quiet, lingering dinner at the Peruvian/American restaurant Village Pisco. And my favorite meal of the trip, dinner at the always bustling French bistro Lucien, in the East Village. We try to get there every visit, and even though it’s usually only every year or so, we’re always treated like regulars. If we lived in New York, we would be.
Our first night back home, we got carryouts. It was just easier, with unpacking and laundry and everything else. But the next night, we wanted something cooked at home. Nothing too involved or requiring a trip to the grocery store, but something made in our kitchen and eaten from our dishes. So in the morning, before leaving for work, I moved a small lump of spicy Italian sausage from the freezer to the fridge to thaw, made sure we had an onion and some garlic and found a few more ingredients in the pantry. We were set.
Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts, Sausage and Olives
Serves 2 generously (see Kitchen Notes)
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces spicy Italian sausage (see Kitchen Notes)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 roughly chopped green olives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces uncooked dry spaghetti
1. Start a large pot of water to cook pasta. While water is coming to a boil, prep the other ingredients. As the water reaches boiling, heat olive oil in medium sauté pan over medium flame. Salt pasta water generously and start cooking pasta.
2. Add sausage to sauté pan and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes. Make a hole in the middle of the pan and add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Toss onion and sausage to combine, then make another hole and cook garlic until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Mix everything together, then make one last hole and add tomato paste. Cook paste for 1 or 2 minutes, pressing it into the pan to brown slightly.
3. Add a ladleful of pasta water to the pan (about 1/2 cup). Add artichoke hearts and olives and toss everything to combine. Reduce heat to low. Season lightly with salt and generously with black pepper.
When pasta is on the very al dente side of done, drain (reserving additional pasta water) and add to sauté pan. Toss to combine and let cook for a minute or so to let pasta absorb some of the sauce, adding more pasta water by tablespoonfuls as needed (I added about 3 tablespoons). There won’t be a sauce per se with this dish; it’s more a coloring and coating (and flavoring) of the pasta.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Divide between two shallow bowls and serve.
How many servings? As a meal, we got two servings with lunch-for-one leftovers.
Spice things up. You really do want a little heat from this dish. If you only have mild Italian sausage, add some crushed red pepper flakes, maybe a half teaspoon.
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Sweet and rich and decadent – and a wonderful treat in the midst of the dark winter months. These caramel frosted brown sugar bars are a favorite of mine. I tend toward caramel. I love chocolate, of course, but if given the choice I’d choose caramel. So these are a nice deviation from a traditional chocolate brownie, packed with sweet caramel flavor. Share these with friends if you want to earn some brownie points, but make sure you save one or two for yourself.
Double caramel bars
Makes 16 bars
For the brownies:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the brownies:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8 by 8-inch square pan with non-stick foil or parchment, or spray with cooking spray.
2. Beat the butter in an electric mixer until light. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the flour, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until well combined and smooth.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, just until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely.
For the frosting:
1. The brownies must be completely cool, or the frosting won’t set.
2. Cut the butter into cubes and place in a saucepan with the brown sugar, cream, and salt. After everything melts together, bring to a full, rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. When it reaches that boil, count to "60 Mississippi," then pull it off the heat. Leave the pan to cool for about 5 minutes, then vigorously beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.
3. Spread the glaze over the brownies. Leave the glaze to set, then slice and enjoy. Covered tightly, this cake will last a few days.
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We've had a surplus of fresh eggs around here lately thanks to my sister-in-law and Yancey's co-worker. God bless all those loving souls who build cozy chicken coops, buy chicken feed, and then give their hard-won eggs to us.
I never get tired of eggs in all their forms – softly scrambled, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, sunny side up or over easy. But mostly, as you may know by now, broiled.
Sometimes I don't eat breakfast with the kids in the morning. I'm too distracted making their lunches, remembering to drink a cup of coffee, asking them to brush their teeth and round up their homework. So I'll come home after dropping them off, scrounge around in the fridge for vegetables, and sit down to something like this. Heaven.
Veggie-loaded broiled eggs
1. Preheat broiler. Get out an oven safe small skillet – cast iron or carbon steel like the crepe pan pictured here. Pour a little olive oil into it and pile as many veggies as you can into it, adding more as they wilt down. Here, I've used finely chopped broccoli florets, a whole red pepper, and some roasted asparagus from the night before. (You could use raw.) Greens (spinach, cabbage, kale) are great for this, too.
2. Once everything has wilted down a bit, salt and pepper to taste, distribute it evenly across the pan, and crack two eggs over the top. Scatter some cheese over (sheep's milk feta here) and some fresh herbs or interesting dried ones (I've used Syrian Zaatar here). When eggs have begun to set (3 or 4 minutes) put the whole thing under the broiler till it bubbles and eggs are cooked to your liking. Put onto a trivet and eat straight from the pan.
If you're making it for two people, use four eggs. If you're making it a for a bunch of people, use more of everything and a big cast iron skillet.
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Sometimes my 5-year old has great ideas. Last Saturday, she requested homemade waffles for breakfast. We didn’t have any buttermilk so she had to settle for oatmeal. Instead of whining about her loss (a habit we are trying hard to break), she suggested that since we were going to the grocery store, we could pick up some buttermilk and enjoy waffles for dinner.
Eating decadent breakfast foods for dinner never ceases to excite me. A carb-centered, syrup-soaked meal in the evening feels like breaking a rule and getting away with it. So, we had a Saturday evening family date, giggling like four giddy kids as we enjoyed a weekend waffle dinner.
Though these Liege Sugar Waffles are hard to beat, they are more of a sweet treat on their own than a meal. I had yet to finalize a favorite buttermilk waffle recipe. When I made these pumpkin waffles, I had great results from separating the eggs, whipping the whites and folding them in at the end. So, I followed suit with this recipe. I started with this recipe and added some sugar and touch of vanilla, which further elevated the already heavenly scent!
We had a few extras that we froze for later. I usually microwave the frozen waffles for 15 seconds or to defrost them and then put them in the toaster oven to add a little crunch. The microwave defrost keeps them from getting overly cooked in the toaster. Though I have been enjoying a Belgian waffle maker because I like the thicker waffles, this recipe also works in a regular waffle maker.
Basic buttermilk waffles
Makes about 12 (3 batches of 4 square Belgian waffles)
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons white sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Begin heating your waffle iron.
2. Separate the eggs putting the whites and yolks in separate mixing bowls. Beat the egg yolks and add the buttermilk. In a third bowl, mix dry ingredients together and combine it with the egg mixture. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla until just combined. Beat egg whites until stiff and peaks form. Gently fold the whites into batter. Just a 10 or so folds – don’t over mix!
3. Bake waffles in your iron until golden brown. Serve immediately.
To Freeze Waffles: Cook until just light brown. Let the waffles cool. Lay them on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. Put them in a ziplock bag or air-tight container and return to the freezer. To eat frozen waffles, cook in toaster oven. I usually microwave them for 15 seconds or so first to thaw a bit before toasting.
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This Valentine's Day is the first that my husband and I will be celebrating as a married couple. I should be atwitter with newlywed excitement about this, but it's hard for me to work up enthusiasm for a holiday that falls dead in the middle of my least favorite time of year: winter.
Aside from the frigid temperatures, the dry indoor air, and dressing in layers (ugh), one thing the Florida native in me has always detested about this time of year in Massachusetts is the dearth of fresh fruits and vegetables. So this year, I guess as part of some ill-conceived coping strategy, my husband and I signed up for a local winter farm exchange. That means every other week through April, we get a heavy sack full of the only crops farms in this area can grow: root vegetables.
the weeks leading up to our first share, I was convinced that this was a terrible idea. Roots were never a common feature of my Florida cooking, and I was sure we’d end up eating parsnip soup over and over again for weeks on end. Instead, it’s been one of winter’s (few) pleasant surprises. The contents of the farm share so far have been endlessly useful, and the bi-weekly assortment of carrots, potatoes, and turnips keeps long enough that we can eat everything at a reasonable pace (take note, lettuce-heavy summer shares).
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The one crop that stumped me, so to speak: beets. We get a lot of them, and while they’re perfectly fine as part of a roasted medley or a salad, neither of us like them well enough to eat as a main feature of a meal (roasted and eaten whole, borscht, etc.). We’re not alone. Most Floridians don’t grow up eating fresh beets, and many find the intense color and the earthy sweetness just too weird to deal with. My solution came not in the discard pile, but in dessert.
While Googling “What to do with root vegetables” (I told you: beginner), I came across several recipes for red velvet cake that use roasted, pureed beets to give the cake its characteristic red coloring. For the beet-skeptical Southerner, it’s a perfect starter and an appropriate treat for our inaugural married Valentine’s Day: The beets give this Dixie staple a gorgeous magenta hue and a moist, savory dimension that, when baked in, offers a gentle suggestion of the root, similar to the carrot in carrot cake. The orange buttercream frosting in this cupcake recipe provides a sweet, zippy contrast to the cupcakes’ earthiness, as well as a little taste of the Sunshine State to send you daydreaming of warmer climes. You can make the roasted beet puree up to thee days ahead, or roast the beets while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Now if I can find a way to bake radishes into a pie, we’ll be all set.
Red velvet beet cupcakes
Adapted from “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes,” by Diane Morgan
Makes 12 full-sized cupcakes, 36 mini cupcakes
2-3 large beets (about 1 lb.), rinsed and scrubbed
2 cups cake or pastry flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup canola oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Orange buttercream frosting:
1-1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons of orange juice
Zest of 1 small orange
1. Beet puree: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Tightly wrap each beet in separate foil pouches and place on a baking sheet. Roast until soft, about 90 minutes, then remove and let rest.
2. When beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and ends (use disposable gloves if you don’t want to get the color on your hands). Chop into small pieces and puree in a blender until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Should make between 1 and 1-1/4 cups of puree. Set aside.
3. Cupcakes: Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, then set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, canola oil, beet puree, and vanilla
4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until just blended. Place cupcake liners into a cupcake tin and fill to just below the rim. Bake 20-25 minutes for full-sized cupcakes, 8-15 minutes for mini cupcakes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out cleanly. Cool 10 minutes in the cupcake tin, then at least an hour on a cooling rack before frosting.
5. Orange buttercream frosting: Using a standing or handheld electric mixer, beat the butter on low speed until smooth. Add the orange zest, vanilla, and cream. Add the powdered sugar in three sections and beat on low speed, Add orange juice to taste and beat on medium until fluffy. Heap generously onto the cupcakes using a knife or icing piper.
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I've started recording episodes of The Pioneer Woman to watch whenever I have time. I recently watched the chocolate episode where Ree makes up chocolate treats then Ladd and the kids deliver them to their friends in town. One of the treats she makes is these chocolate truffles.
This isn't red velvet, heart-shaped or pink or red but chocolate is a big component of Valentine's Day so I had to make these for Valentine week. This is the easy cheater's version because it just involves melting two kinds of chocolate with a can of sweetened condensed milk and adding vanilla. None of that boiling cream and pouring over chopped chocolate to make the traditional truffle filling. I also knew the sweetened condensed milk would make for a smooth truffle center. Sold.
The other advantage to this recipe is you can make the truffle mixture, chill it overnight then finish it off the next day. Which is what I did because I didn't have a weeknight where I had time to do everything from start to finish in the same night. I got home late from work the night I made the filling but it took only a few minutes to melt the chocolates with the sweetened condensed milk, beat in the vanilla, cover and place in the fridge to chill. These were meant to be dark chocolate truffles but the bittersweet chocolate I was using was pretty high end and I knew that would be really dark so I added a little over 4 ounces of milk chocolate as part of the semisweet chocolate portion to lighten it up a little.
After chilling overnight, the mixture was solid rock so I did have to let it sit out a bit. I cheated and microwaved it for 10 seconds to soften it enough for me to scoop out the truffles. I would recommend chilling these initially only until the mixture is firm enough to scoop and hold its shape so you don't have to do the microwave thing. Then you can chill them further once they're scooped out.
I was originally going to enrobe them all in the milk chocolate and leave them as is but I wasn't happy with how the plain ones looked (not as smooth) so I enrobed them in a thin coating then rolled them in chopped toasted almonds while the coating was still soft so the nuts adhered easily. They turned out much better this way and I enjoyed the texture contrast with the almonds plus it cut the richness of the filling. The truffle center was more like fudge than a truly creamy ganache truffle center but it was still pretty good. For the easy version of truffles, I recommend going with this one.
Homemade chocolate truffles
From The Pioneer Woman
8 ounces high quality semisweet chocolate (I used a mix of milk chocolate and semisweet)
8 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces milk chocolate candy melts
Sea salt for garnish or chopped toasted almonds, optional
1. Heat chocolates and sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler over medium low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla to combine.
2. Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours (I chilled mine overnight). Or, to make it easier, chill only for 15-20 minutes, just long enough for the mixture to become firm enough to hold its shape when scooped out. When they've been scooped, you can chill further if desired.
3. Once chilled and rolled into small balls, dip in melted milk chocolate coating, enrobing completely. Lay on wax paper and sprinkle with sea salt or roll in chopped toasted nuts while chocolate coating is still soft. Let cool until chocolate coating has set.
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