Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday trays: chocolate peppermint cupcakes

Another  treat on our holiday trays for the neighbors was a box of cupcakes—dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint chocolate ganache filling and peppermint buttercream frosting.  

The chocolate cupcakes were just box mix—I made them  using the soda method, then set them aside to cool for several hours.  I decided to core the cupcakes rather than use a bismark tip to fill them with the ganache.  There are little kits available to core cupcakes, but I just used the fat end of a large frosting tip. 

Just push that into the center of the cupcake, twist it back and forth, then pull it out of the cupcake.  Most of the time, you get a nice little cylinder of cake that can be replaced after the filling is added.  But really, who cares how nice it looks?  It will be covered with frosting eventually anyway, so even if they don’t look too great, they are definitely usable.  

I filled the cored area with peppermint chocolate ganache and drizzled some over the top of the cupcake (in the spirit of a simple syrup), then replaced the cake cylinder.  

Then I topped them with peppermint buttercream frosting and crushed bits of candy canes.  They were incredible…but very, very rich.  I am someone who eats frosting by the spoonful, but I could only eat one half of a cupcake before setting it aside.  Consider yourself warned.

Peppermint chocolate ganache
  •  4 oz. milk chocolate chips (I used ghiradhelli)
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream 
  • ¼ tsp peppermint extract
Place the chocolate chips in a glass dish.  Heat the whipping cream on the stove top until hot but not boiling, then pour over the chocolate chips.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for several minutes, add the peppermint extract, and stir until smooth.   
Peppermint buttercream frosting
  •  ½ cup salted butter
  •   ¼ tsp peppermint extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp water
Mix the butter and the peppermint extract until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and the water, mix well.  Humidity can really change how much water you need to add to the frosting, so if it seems too thick, add a bit more water.  If it seems like it isn’t thick enough, add a little bit of powdered sugar. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday trays: easy turtle candy

We made our holiday trays for neighbors last weekend, and I tried a couple of new recipes for the occasion.

First up:  homemade turtle candy.  These are simple and people love them, so they are a great addition to a dessert tray or to put in those little cello bags and tie with ribbon for a gift. 

  • Mini pretzels
  • Rolo candy
  • A topping of choice--I used cashews, pecans, and m&m's.
  • Chocolate (to drizzle over the top...this is optional)
Lay out the pretzels in a single layer on a cookie sheet and top each one with a Rolo.  I hate unwrapping all of those individual candies, but it's worth it in the end.

Heat the oven to 100 degrees, then shut it off.  Put the pretzel/Rolos in the oven for five to 10 minutes until they soften up.

Top each one with whatever toppings you choose.  This is sort of messy, so I cover the not so pretty parts with melted chocolate drizzle.