Treat Week: Toasted Pecan Turtles

pecanturtles

We’re in the home stretch of #TreatWeek.  Under a week to go and houses in #EveryTownUSA smell of sweet things destined for sharing with friends and family alike.

Except for the old standbys of fudge and truffles, I usually shy away from making candy, but this year I got coaxed into making turtles, after seeing how ridiculously expensive they were to buy so few in the stores.  Admittedly, I cheated by not making my caramel from scratch, but if it all tastes good in the end, does it matter?  Considering the amount of time it saved me, I’m thinking nope!

Toasted Pecan Turtles

  • 12 oz Pecan Halves
  • 1 – 11 oz Bag Individually Wrapped Caramels (I used Kraft)
  • 2 TBLS Water
  • 1+1/2 – 12 oz Bags Milk Chocolate Chips (I prefer Ghirardelli, but had Nestle’ on hand and the candies tasted just as good)
  • 3 tsp Crisco Solid Shortening

In preheated 350°F oven, on an ungreased baking sheet, toast a pecans in a single layer for 8+1/2 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately move nuts to a bowl so they stay warm while you’re working with them.

In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips together with the shortening in 30 second intervals until you have a nice, not too thick consistency.

Line 3 baking sheets with waxed paper.  Using a fork, dip into the chocolate and make a 1 – 1+1/2″ thin circle on the waxed paper.  Fan out 3 or 4 pecans in a Y or X pattern.  You want the chocolate to hold the pecans in place and act as a landing spot for any caramel that may spill over in the next step.  Continue until your pans are full or you run out of big enough pieces of pecan to work with.

While the chocolate and pecans start to set up, unwrap all of the caramels and put them into a 1 qt saucepan with the water.  Heat over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted.

Using a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon, quickly spoon the caramel over the pecan clusters, making sure caramel is touching each of the pecans.

Rewarm chocolate to thin it again, then spoon a small amount on top of each layer of caramel. Put sheets into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or until hardened.  If space is an issue, use a cooling rack between sheets so you can stack them.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Treat Week: Easy Peanut Butter Truffles

My haste to catch up on my #TreatWeek blog posts has me doing #TwoADays, so here’s today’s bonus post: an easy to create peanut butter truffle that lets you bake a quick batch of cookies while the truffle filling is chilling in the refrigerator waiting to be coated.

peanutbuttertruffle

A couple of notes: even a few drops of water can ruin your coating chocolate.  If you are accustomed to using a double boiler to melt your chocolate, there are easier methods to avoid the chance of having water seize up your chocolate.  While I love, and have gotten more than 20 years’ use out of my Calphalon Professional Anodized Aluminum pots and pans, I have begun slowly replacing them with Le Creuset Cast Iron skillets and Dutch ovens.  When doing things like making candy and melting chocolate, as long as I pay attention, I no longer have to use a double boiler because the heat conduction is so much better!

Easy Peanut Butter Truffles

  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 5 oz Can Evaporated Milk
  • 2 Cups Mini Marshmallows
  • 3/4 Cup Creamy Natural (NOT with the oil on top) Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 – 12 oz Bag Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips ( I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • 2 tsp Crisco Solid Shortening

Butter the inside side of a heavy saucepan.  Add sugar, evaporated milk, and the rest of the stick of butter. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture is boiling. Reduce heat to medium; continue at a moderate boil for 12 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, peanut butter, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Chill for 30 to 45 minutes.

Scoop into 1-inch balls and place onto wax paper lined baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes.  In a medium saucepan, combine chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Dip balls, one at a time, into melted chocolate.  Set wire rack over the lined baking sheet. Place chocolate covered balls on rack to let chocolate setup. If you want to add crushed peanuts to outer coating, make sure to drop them into the coating while it’s still wet so they stick.  You can also use #CandyMelts to add decorative swirls either before or after the coating sets.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Treat Week: Truffle Tuesday

redwinetruffles

Due to the death of a close friend, this week’s postings got delayed, so, as you can see, Truffle Tuesday turned into Truffle Sunday

Day 2 of #TreatWeek is one of my favorites: #TruffleTuesday.  Or, as my family (& hairdresser) calls it, the day I start making make #BoozeBalls!

The first, and quickest to prepare are my soft centered Red Wine Truffles.  These truffles are only as good as the wine you use to make them, so I always use the last glass of whatever great blend I have open.  This year that meant that the truffles were made with #2013MountVeederReserve.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  This blend worked beautifully with the dark chocolate and made for a decadent treat!  A few important words of advice about these truffles:

  • Make sure you chill your truffle filling for AT LEAST 3 hours so it’s easy to scoop.
  • Freeze your scooped portions for at least 30 minutes & try to make them as close to balls as possible.  These can’t really be rolled.  Mine never look #CandyShopPretty, but they taste good. 😉
  • If your truffle filling is not holding it’s shape; i.e. it’s too thin, don’t worry, HERE IS THE FIX: Return your truffle filling to your pan. Warm it over low heat so that it is easy to stir but not completely liquified. Turn off burner and stir in unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 TBLS at a time, until your filling reaches desired consistency.  You don’t want it too thick, remember it will thicken when it chills in the refrigerator.
  • Melt your coating chocolate while your scoops are in the freezer so your coating has time to cool a bit.
  • If you intend to use the candy melts to decorate the outer/hard layer get it prepared in advance.
  • If you are sprinkling any type of decoration that will stick to the outer coating do it as soon as you coat the individual truffle.  The coating hardens very quickly on the cold truffles.
  • Because of their soft centers, these truffles must be kept refrigerated for best presentation and taste.

Red Wine Truffles

  • 2 – 12 oz bag dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 Cup heavy cream
  • 5 TBLS Good Red Wine – Anything with Malbec, Cab Franc, or that’s BIG and BOLD
  • 2 tsp solid Crisco shortening

Heat heavy cream in a saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from stove and add 1 bag of the chocolate chips and red wine. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir until everything is fully incorporated and smooth. Remove to a smaller bowl, cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

Once the truffle filling has chilled, using a cookie scoop or small spoon, scoop out chocolate and form into truffle balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes

While truffles are in the freezer, in a medium saucepan, combine chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Take 6 truffles out of the freezer at a time and pinch them slightly to make sure they form a “truffle like dome” for the top side.  If, when you start working with the chilled truffles, they aren’t holding their shape, or seem to be getting runny really fast, STOP! and see the note in RED above.  If all is well, continue to the next step.

Working quickly, coat bottom of truffles first and place on a plate lined with waxed paper, then, using a spoon, coat the top of each truffle and decorate with red & gold sprinkles if desired.

They dry/harden on top quickly.  Move on to the next 6 and then move the plate to the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat