March 27, 2011


Buckeyes are a favorite candy from Ohio, named after the horse-chestnut tree, or buckeye. These candies are made from balls of a peanut butter center dipped close to the top to resemble the buckeye nut. The trick to these is getting just the right consistency to the peanut butter center. If too little is used, the centers won't be firm enough and won't hold shape. If too much is used, the centers will be too crumbly. This was the first time I had made them and they were definitely a hit on the Christmas plate of goodies. The recipe below comes from my "Chocolates and Confections" book by Peter Greweling and makes approximately 5 dozen. Enjoy!

1 cup Peanut Butter, smooth
8 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, soft
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 cups Confection Sugar, sifted
1 lb Dark Chocolate, melted, tempered

1. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. Cream together the peanut butter, butter and vanilla extract in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed.

3. Add the confectioner’s sugar slowly until the mixture forms a workable dough. Add up to ½ cup more sugar if necessary.

4. Remove the mixture from the machine.

5. Using a teaspoon, scoop out balls of the buckeye mixture and place the portions on the sheet pans.

6. Using your hands, roll the portions into round balls 1 ¼ inches in diameter, then return to the sheet pan.
7. Chill the formed buckeyes for approximately 20 minutes.
8. Impale each buckeye lightly with a toothpick to use as a handle for dipping chocolate.
9. Holding a buckeye by the toothpick, dip it in the tempered chocolate, leaving a ½ inch circle of the center uncoated on top.

10. Place on a prepared sheet pan.

11. Remove the toothpick and smooth the small hold on top of the candy.
12. Allow the chocolate to set completely.
13. Store at room temperature, tightly sealed.

March 21, 2011

Citrus Confit

A "Confit" is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat by salting and cooking and then storing it in its own fat which acts as a preservative. That method is followed using fruit and sugar in this recipe which comes from my "Chocolates and Confections" book by Peter Greweling. I grew up loving these treats and used to get them from time to time from Boehms Candy shop in Issaquah, WA. I tried making them once before but the recipe didn't work so thankfully this one did and they came out just as I had remembered them; slightly chewy, strong citrus flavor, sweet and nicely balanced with the chocolate covering. I took the recipe below and julienned the quarters which yielded over 100 pieces, and then dipped them in tempered chocolate. My one mistake was mixing lemon and orange quarters together in the syrup mixture. The lemons took on the orange color so in the future I'll do either oranges or lemons in a batch. Enjoy!

5 Oranges, Lemons or Grapefruits
3 Cups Sugar
2 Cups light Corn Syrup
2 Cups Water

1. Quarter the fruits and peel the skins off the interior. Reserve the interiors for another use.

2. Put the skins in a 4 quart saucepan and cover them with cold water.
3. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and drain. Repeat this step two more times, using fresh water each time.

4. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in the now empty 4 quart saucepan and bring to a simmer.
5. Add the blanched citrus peels, cover and return to a simmer.

6. Simmer the skins gently for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature in the syrup.
8. Store refrigerated in the syrup in a sealed container for up to 4 weeks.

March 17, 2011

Chocolate Malt Brownies

I first saw this recipe in a Paula Deen cookbook and then found another version online. I made a few slight modifications while baking these some time ago for Jeni's grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary celebration. These brownies are thick and chewy with just the right touch of malt flavoring. The frosting was creamy and rich and the malt balls on the top added the perfect crunch. The recipe below yields 24 pieces though you'll see in the pictures that I doubled the recipe. Enjoy!

3/4 cup butter
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup malted milk powder, chocolate
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped malted milk balls, plus more for garnish

Creamy Chocolate Frosting
6 Tbs butter
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

3. In a small saucepan, combine butter and chocolate.

4. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
5. Set aside to cool.
6. In a large bowl, beat sugars, malted milk powder, and eggs at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy.

7. In a small bowl, combine flour and salt.
8. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating until combined.

9. Add melted butter mixture, beating until combined, being careful not to over beat.
10. Stir in malted milk balls.

11. Spoon batter into prepared pan, and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brownies are set in center.
12. Let cool completely.

13. Spread Creamy Chocolate Frosting over cooled brownies.

14. Garnish with chopped malted milk balls, if desired.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting
1. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and chocolate.
2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
3. Remove from heat, and whisk in sugar until combined.

4. Gradually whisk in milk until frosting is able to be spread.

March 12, 2011

Mango Cheesecake with Basil Lemon Syrup

I've made a few cheesecakes and so far I like this one from the best, probably because the combination of the ricotta and cream cheese made it so light and fluffy. When I make this again I will add a little more mango to give it just a bit more flavor. The most unique part of this dessert is by far the syrup. Who would have thought to add basil to a simple lemon syrup, yet I couldn't eat the cheesecake without it. Very interesting, very refined, very craveable. The recipe below serves probably 16. Enjoy!

Mango Cheesecake
8 ounces biscotti
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
2 cups mango puree
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

Basil Lemon Syrup
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves

Mango Cheesecake
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 2 layers of heavy duty foil.
3. Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor.
4. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan.

5. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes.
6. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.
7. Blend the cream cheese and ricotta in a food processor.
8. Add the mango puree, eggs, and sugar and pulse until the mixture is smooth.

9. Pour the mango mixture over the crust in the pan.

10. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
11. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

12. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack to cool for 30 minutes.
13. Place in the refrigerator and cool completely, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.

Basil Lemon Syrup
1. Place the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Cool the syrup completely.

3. In a food processor combine the basil and the cooled syrup. Pulse until the herbs are finely chopped.

4. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.

March 7, 2011

Orange Peel Truffles

These confections are named after the fungus of the same name which is one of the rarest and most expensive foods in the world. Truffles are round and somewhat misshapen and since they come from in the earth, they are initially covered in dirt. A traditional chocolate truffle is coated in cocoa powder to resemble that look. This chocolate truffle recipe combines the wonderful flavors of semi-sweet chocolate ganache with orange peel infused cream, surrounded by a dark chocolate shell and topped with a candied orange peel. The recipe below yielded almost 4 dozen bite-size truffles. Enjoy!

1. I like using a non-stick bakeware liner for these and many other recipes. Super versatile, they're also easy to clean. Silpat is a great brand but there are also other less expensive brands out there.
2. Good candy dipping tools are preferred but not essential. If you don't have any you can use a fork.

2 Oranges
¾ cup heavy cream
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
Dark couveture chocolate, for dipping
Candied orange peel for garnish, optional

1. Line baking sheet with wax paper.
2. Using a peeler or citrus stripper, remove the rind of one of the oranges.

3. Zest the other orange using a microplaner then set aside.

4. Place orange rind and cream in medium saucepan over medium heat until it just before scalding, then remove from the heat and cover for 30 minutes.

5. Place the chocolate chips in a metal bowl.
6. Place the cream back on the stove for a few minutes to heat, then carefully remove the orange rind.
7. Pour cream into the metal bowl and let sit without stirring for a few minutes.
8. Starting in the middle, gently stir in a circular motion until the cream and chocolate are incorporated.

9. Stir in the orange zest.
10. Cover bowl and place in fridge to firm for 2 hours.
11. When firm enough to shape, spoon ½ tsp of ganache into your hand then roll into a ball and place on your nonstick liner.

12. Repeat for the remainder of the ganache, then place tray in freezer for 2 hours.
13. Melt dark couveture (candy dipping) chocolate over a double broiler, then remove from heat

14. Carefully drop the truffles into the dark chocolate and roll to coat, then gently place back on the liner.
15. Before the dark chocolate hardens, place a small piece of candied orange peel on the wet chocolate.

16. Repeat for remaining truffles then place back in the fridge for one hour.

March 6, 2011

Smooth White Grape Gazpacho

I saw this recipe some time ago being made by Claire Robinson on Food Network and thought it looked too good to not try. Gazpacho is a cold, summertime soup hailing from the Andalusia region in southern spain. The soup is uncooked and traditionally uses vegetables with garlic, olive oil, vinegar and sometimes lemon juice. This recipe used fruit and I loved it. Slightly sweet yet very refreshing. Maybe it will bring summertime here sooner. The recipe below yields 8 good-sized portions. Enjoy!

2 1/2 cups seedless white grapes, plus more finely chopped or sliced, for garnish
1 cup regular soy milk, chilled
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, plus more thinly sliced, for garnish
1 lime, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1. Put the soy milk and almonds in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.

2. With the motor running, slowly add the grapes, scallions and lime juice.

3. Season with salt and pepper and puree until well blended.

4. Chill in the refrigerator until very cold, then stir well before serving.
5. To serve, pour into a small bowls and garnish with chopped or sliced grapes and sliced scallions.