Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daring Bakers': Candylicious

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

For this challenge we couldn't make just any candies.  We were challenged to use at least one recipe that included tempered chocolate (explanation below).  I chose to make a Pop Rocks Chocolate Bar (inspired by my favorite type of Israeli candy bar which I have yet to find in the U.S.) and Hazelnut Praline Truffles.

Tempering Chocolate by the Seeding Method:

Dark: 113°F-122°F; 80.6°F; 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F; 80.6°F; 86°F
White: 113°F; 80.6°F; 84.2°F

Chocolate is melted and heated until it reaches 113°F. Tempered un-melted chocolate is then stirred and melted in until it brings the temperature down to 80.6°F. It is then put back over heat and brought up to its working temperature of 89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re using. It is now ready for using in molds, dipping and coating.


Finely chop chocolate if in bar/slab form (about the size of almonds)
• Place about ⅔ of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl
• Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water)
Tip: Make sure that your bowl fits snuggly into the saucepan so that there’s no chance of steam forming droplets that may fall into your chocolate. If water gets into your chocolate it will seize!
• Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate so that it melts evenly
• Once it’s melted, keep an eye on the thermometer, as soon as it reaches 113°F remove from heat (between 113°F-122°F for dark chocolate)
• Add small amounts of the remaining ⅓ un-melted chocolate (seeds) and stir in to melt
• Continue to add small additions of chocolate until you’ve brought the chocolate down to 80.6°F (You can bring the dark chocolate down to between 80°F and 82°F)
• Put it back on the double boiler and bring the temperature back up until it reaches its working temperature of the chocolate (milk, dark or white) as seen in the above chart (89.6°F for dark, 86°F for milk and 84.2°F for white)
• If you still have a few un-melted bits of chocolate, put the bowl back over the simmering water, stirring gently and watching the thermometer constantly
• It’s now tempered and ready to use
IMPORTANT: You really need to keep an eye on the temperature so that it doesn’t go over its working temperature

Pop Rocks Chocolate


Milk/Dark/White Chocolate, tempered (any amount, from 7 oz. to 14 oz.)
1-2 packets Pop Rocks Candy


Line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Temper your chocolate.  Once tempered, spread the chocolate over the parchment paper.  Sprinkle the Pop Rocks over the chocolate.  Leave to set.  Either break or cut into pieces.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Hazelnut Praline Truffles

Praline Ingredients

½ cup hazelnuts, shelled & skinned
½ cup white sugar
2 Tbsp water


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place whole hazelnuts on a non-stick baking tray and dry roast for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicon mat.  Place the skinned hazelnuts onto the prepared tray.  Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat up and bring to a boil (do not stir), brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.  Boil until the mixture turns amber, 320°F- 340°F on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat immediately and pour the syrup over the hazelnuts.  Allow to cool completely.  Break into small pieces.  Transfer pieces to a food processor and process until desired texture, either fine or rough.  Set aside.

Ganache Ingredients

1¾ cup milk chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy Cream
½ - 1 cup crushed or ground roasted hazelnuts for coating


Finely chop the milk chocolate.  Place into a heatproof medium sized bowl.  Heat cream in a saucepan until just about to boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth and melted.  Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the praline.  Leave to cool and set overnight or for a few hours in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature to use.

Forming the truffles

Using teaspoons or a melon baller, scoop round balls of ganache.  Roll them between the palms of your hands to round them off.  Tip: Handle them as little as possible to avoid melting.  Finish off by rolling the truffles in the crushed roasted hazelnuts.  Tip: You can also roll them in hazelnut praline.  Place on parchment paper and leave to set.  Store in the fridge.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

S'mores Cookies

I hope you haven't forgotten about me!  To make up for my lack of posts this past month I am bringing you a super fabulous and fun recipe just in time for the end of summer.

I have once again found a recipe which will give you the perfect S'mores bite without the mess.  (see my S'mores Whoopie Pies for the other perfect bite.)  These cookies are light and soft, but also crunchy and smooth.  And they really do taste like S'mores.  I hope you enjoy!

And because summer is ending why don't you tell me about either the best dessert you've had or best recipe you've made this summer!  I'm looking forward to your responses.

S'mores Cookies
adapted from Hot Polka Dot
(5 PointsPlus per serving)


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup graham crackers, chopped
1 cup mini marshmallows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugars.  Add the vanilla and eggs, then blend it in.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt then mix it into the wet ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate chips, chopped graham crackers, and mini marshmallows.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets then press them down lightly with your fingers.  Bake them for 8-12 minutes or until slightly golden brown and the marshmallows look a bit melted.  Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy!  Makes about 30 cookies.  (1 cookie = 1 serving, 5 PointsPlus per serving)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cookies on Canvas

A few weeks ago I received an offer from Easy Canvas Prints to see if I would be interested in having one of the photographs from my blog made into an 8X10 inch canvas print.  In exchange for an honest review I said OF COURSE I was interested!

I had a bit of trouble fitting my photograph into the dimensions on the Easy Canvas Prints website, but due to their excellent customer service everything came together just perfect.  My canvas arrived just as I returned from vacation and it was a great welcome home present!

Here is the original photo:

Here is my canvas print in its temporary home, my kitchen:

Pretty great, right?!  Thanks Easy Canvas Prints for a great photo on canvas!