Thursday, February 11, 2010

Truffles and Lollipops for Valentine's Day

I was caught without a car to go to the store and with weather that was windy, rainy and blustery. So to make something special for Bob as a Valentine’s Day surprise, I had to make do with whatever I had on hand.

I’d come across this recipe from the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade site some time ago and thought I’d put it to good use. Normally truffles are made with good quality chocolate. But there’s nothing wrong with using a chocolate, like Hershey’s, to improvise.

Bob gave it a thumb’s up so they must be good. I can’t always tell with just my own opinion.

The lollipops are also another improvisation. I tried making these at Christmas but found that working with sugar is certainly a difficult thing to do unless you’ve been doing it for a while. In other words, I was just too slow and the candy mixture set too quickly for me to anything with.

This time I had everything ready and actually timed myself to make it happen. Lollipops are so easy and yet so difficult unless you have quick hands and prepare everything in advance, mise en place.

The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t need any flavoring oils or coloring gels to make the pops. You use regular old Jell-O. Can you imagine the possibilities? I think I’ll make green (lime) shamrock lollipops for Saint Patty’s Day.

Hershey’s Kiss Truffles

(Inspired by Sandra Lee)

28 dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kahlua
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons whipping cream
10 pieces of chocolate candy (I used Rollos, caramel filled Kisses and M & M’s)
Red and white sprinkles
Cocoa powder

1. Remove wrappers from dark chocolates. Place the chocolates, cinnamon, Kahlua and whipping cream in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50% power) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolates are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Cover; refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or until firm.

2. Remove wrappers from other chocolates. Using about 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate mixture for each truffle, shape chocolate around each separate chocolate piece; roll in hand to make ball. (Be sure to cover each chocolate piece completely.) Roll in sprinkles or cocoa powder; refrigerate until ready to serve. For best chocolate flavor, allow truffles to soften at room temperature about 5 minutes before eating.

Red Cherry Lollipops

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 (3-ounce) box cherry gelatin dessert mix
Nonstick cooking spray

Special Equipment:

20 (4-inch) lollipop sticks
Metal tablespoon-size measuring spoon
Candy thermometer


Butter 2 large baking sheets. Arrange 10 lollipop sticks on each baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Stir sugar, corn syrup, and butter in small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue cooking for 7 minutes, or until candy thermometer registers 275 degrees F. Stir in gelatin until smooth. Using a metal tablespoon and working quickly, spoon syrup over 1 end of each lollipop stick. (I used heart shaped lollipop molds) Cool completely. Wrap each lollipop in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chocolate Chili and Beer Bread

With the crazy weather in El Paso lately, we’ll been sticking to soups and chili for a while. We have El Paso days with 60 degrees and above weather and we have unseemly cold days with snow, sleet and rain – not El Paso weather at all. With the chill in the air once the sun goes down, all you want to do is warm up. Now’s not really the time for anything served cold.

This recipe, Weeknight Chili with Chocolate, will be included in the new (print) Mi Chita’s Chocolate Recipes book that will come out this year, courtesy of of Copper Canyon Cookbooks (Gloria Chadwick). I’ve made it before but for some reason never got around to posting about it.

As time goes by, I will inform you more about the publishing of the new cookbook. For now, you can still purchase the Mi Chita’s ebook version  via the link on this blog.

Weeknight Chili (with Chocolate)

2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can (8 ounce) tomato paste
2 cups water
1 small can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
1 12 ounce can of beer
1 to 2 tablespoons masa flour for thickening (optional)
2 cups cooked pinto beans (optional)
Grated Cheddar cheese, minced onions and sour cream as garnish, if desred

Brown ground beef and drain. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add remaining ingredients except for masa and beans. Cook mixture for at least 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Add beans and masa for thickening if desired. Serve hot.

What better way to serve this body-warming chili than with Beer Bread. I won’t lie to you. The bread pictured here actually came from one of those giant “Beer Bread” bottles they sell at gourmet stores. I bought one and stuck it in Bob’s Christmas stocking. It was actually quite tasty. You pour the mix from the bottle into a bowl and add a 12 ounce bottle of beer. Bake it for 45 minutes and it’s done. But I couldn’t give you a picture of the bottle and let it go at that so I found a recipe that might be just as good.

Beer Bread Recipe

There are a few recipes for Beer Bread out there, but none as simple (and tasty!) as this one. You can even mix it in the baking pan for easy clean up. This is sensational when served with soups or just as a snack, but don't expect it to be around very long when your family gets a taste of it!
by Gerald Norman

3 cups flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) can beer
1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients and beer.
Pour into a greased loaf pan.
Pour melted butter over mixture.
Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

I hope you all are staying warm.  Weather patters are a jumble right now and it's only the middle of winter.

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