Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas Truffles

Last year, I posted about this UH-MAZING truffle recipe.  Did you try it?  And how far did it knock off your socks?  Across town?  I thought so.  This year, I had to take it one step further.  So, Natural Sugar is celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, truffle-style.  Sorry, we won’t be stuffing ‘lords-a-leaping’ or ‘swans-a-swimming’ into these truffles.  But they will be packed with some mouth-watering, unusual, surprising and incredible flavors.  Come back each day through Christmas Eve for a new, delicious and approachable holiday truffle.  

Without further ado…

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

A Traditional, Cocoa-Covered Truffle
A luscious and creamy chocolate ball, dusted with cocoa powder.  
You can never go wrong with a classic!

On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A White Chocolate Drizzled Truffle
A milk chocolate center, encased in a semi-sweet shell, 
drizzled in smooth White Chocolate.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A Cereal & Sugar Truffle
A milk chocolate center, playfully tossed in cereal and powdered sugar.

On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A White Chocolate Peppermint
A milk chocolate and peppermint center, wrapped in white chocolate and candy canes.

On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A Peanut Butter Buckeye

I can't ignore the ubiquitous Buckeyes of Ohio State University, so this is my rendition of the peanut butter and chocolate sensation!

On the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A Smoked Paprika Truffle
A chocolate ball, infused with smoked paprika and drizzled in white chocolate. 

On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

An Orange Zest Truffle
Chocolate.  Orange Zest.  Amazing.

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A Lemon Raspberry Truffle
A raspberry and milk chocolate center, generously dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled ever so lightly with lemon zest.  

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A Sriracha Truffle
A spicy chili chocolate ball, wrapped in a semi-sweet chocolate shell.  
Unique and delicious!

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

An Amaretto Truffle
A milk chocolate center, infused with Disaronno with a 
semi-sweet chocolate shell and topped with slivered almonds.

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

An Espresso Truffle

A deep and dark espresso chocolate inside.  Semi-sweet shell outside.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A Chai Truffle
A chai spice flavored milk chocolate center, encased in 
semi-sweet chocolate and golden sprinkles.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  
Wishing you a prosperous new year!

Basic Truffle Recipe

7 oz. of your favorite milk chocolate
6 oz. heavy cream (3/4 C.)
Pinch of salt
Your favorite candies, nuts, and other holiday ingredients to dress up your truffles

Set up a double boiler.  Bring a sauce pan filled with water to a boil.  Set a metal or glass bowl on top of the pot, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the surface of the water.  In the bowl, heat the milk chocolate and cream, stirring until smooth and incorporated.  Add the salt and stir to combine.  Allow to cool to room temperature and place the mixture in the refrigerator to set overnight (or at least 3 hours). 

Take the refrigerated mixture and scoop out small spoonfuls, rolling them into balls with your hands.  Place them on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer.  You will need to work quickly because they will begin to melt.  If the mixture becomes too soft to work with, place it in the refrigerator for several minutes.  Once you have made all of the balls, set the cookie sheet in the freezer so they firm up. 

Now comes the fun part!  You can dress these truffles up or down, with whatever ingredients you like.  Melted chocolate, candy, nuts, fruit, extracts, liqueurs, anything!  What are you favorite truffle flavors and combinations?  Please share them and comment below!

Click here to see the 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pasta Bianca

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I just really need some comfort food.  And when I crave comfort food, I throw caution to the wind.  Calories are shoved out the door (as they should be) and then I’m alone and able to curl up next to a big bowl of something yummy.  Today, it’s creamy, cheesy pasta.  Pasta Bianca, that is.  C’mon, it still has to have a fancy name – we’re not animals! 

Pasta Bianca is Campanelle pasta, (which is my new favorite kind of pasta that looks like a flower or cornucopia) tossed in a sinful and rich sauce made from bacon, onion and cream.  Campanelle is perfect for this dish because its shape protects and envelops all that delicious sauce.  This Pasta Bianca is the perfect comfort dish on a cold winter’s night.  Serve it with golden thyme biscuits and your evening just got a whole lot more comfortable.  

Campanelle Pasta - try it!  You'll love it.

This is what you'll need:  pasta, bacon, onion, cream, Parmesan & thyme.

½ lb. Campanelle Pasta
4 Slices bacon, cut into chunks
1 Medium onion
¾ C. cream (if I don’t have cream, I just use whole milk)
½ C. grated Parmesan
15 Sprigs of thyme (or 1 t. dried thyme)
Salt & Pepper

In a large pot, bring salted water to a bowl and throw in the pasta.  Cook until al dente, about 12-15 minutes.  Drain, but do not rinse. 

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat.  You want the bacon to be browned, but not too crunchy.  For this dish, chewy is better.  Remove the bacon from the skillet and set it on a paper towel to drain.  Leave the bacon grease in the skillet and add the onion.  Cook until the onion earns just a bit of color.  You don’t want them caramelized.  When you have reached that perfect stage just after translucence, add the cream and Parmesan.  Stir until its has formed a thick and luscious sauce.  Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper.  If it tastes grainy from the Parmesan, cook it a few minutes more. 

If there is enough room in your skillet, add the pasta right to it.  Toss to combine.  If not, just pour all that scrumptious sauce right into your pasta pot.  Garnish with more thyme and bacon and serve with thyme biscuits. 

*If you want even saucier pasta, splash some milk over the coated pasta and toss until it’s smooth.  

Try this new twist on biscuits.  Open a can of flaky biscuits and sprinkle them with fresh thyme.  Bake until they're golden brown.  The thyme gives them subtle flavor and rustic charm.