Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Baking - Part 4

To round out my holiday baking, I made another batch of truffles (using a recipe different from the one posted in Holiday Baking - Part 3), Spiced Pecans and Toffee Bars (photo of toffee bars and other treats). I usually make the Spiced Pecans and the Toffee Bars on the same day (both recipes were given to me by former co-workers) because the nuts call for an egg white and the Toffee Bars call for an egg yolk. Recipes for each follow and a photo of the entire assortment will be linked in by no later than Boxing Day.

Spiced Pecans
  • Preheat oven to 300° C,
  • Beat together 1 egg white and 2 Tbsp water until frothy.
  • Add 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and 1/2 tsp cinnamon to egg white mix and blend well.
  • Add 2-1/2 C pecan halves last and stir to coat thoroughly with the egg white, spice mixture.
  • Spread on non-stick baking sheet and and bake for 45 min. Stir to separate during cooking (at the 15 min and 30 min mark). Cool completely and store in airtight container.
  • NOTE that the recipe as given to me suggests spreading the nuts out on a foil lined baking sheet but I've found that the nuts stick to the foil and it's a REAL mess to stir them during the baking.
Toffee Bars
  • Preheat oven to 350° C.
  • 1 C butter at room temperature
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C sifted flour
  • 6 oz milk chocolate (I use Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and use the other half of the 12 ounce bag for the truffle recipe that follows this one.)
  • 1 C chopped nuts (whatever kind you prefer)
Cream butter and sugar together until well blended. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix well. Add flour gradually, mixing well after each addition. Spread to uniform thickness in well buttered 10" X 15" X 1" (or 11" X 16" X 1") jelly roll pan and bake for 20 to 25 min (or more, if necessary). Dough will puff up in center and can be tamped down a bit and when finished cooking, won't be puffy anymore. Edges will be slightly brown. Remove from oven and spread chocolate on top immediately and spread around with spatula until melted. Add nuts. Cut bars into ~ 1" square pieces and remove from pan while still warm or they will be very hard to cut and will stick to the pan.

Delightful Chocolate Truffles (2nd option; adapted from Time-Life Family Favorites Made Easy)
  • 12 oz chocolate (I used 6 oz Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and 6 oz Hershey's Unsweetened Baking Chocolate)
  • 2/3 C heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or other flavoring)
  • Coatings: 2 Tbsp cocoa powder sifted together with 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar; granulated sugar; finely chopped nuts; coconut flakes
Put chocolate in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Mix until quite finely ground but take care not to get to paste stage. Combine cream and vanilla (or other flavoring) and heat until just beginning to boil. Remove from heat and pour into work bowl of processor immediately. Process until chocolate has completely melted and is smooth. (NOTE: it never got smooth for me but that didn't seem to make much difference to the end product.) Pour into 7-1/2" x 11" x 2" glass dish, cover and chill until mixture is firm. Put desired coatings into small bowls and use melon baller to scoop mixture into roughly 1" balls and roll by hand to smooth them before coating as desired. Use candy cups to store and refrigerate until about 1/2 hour before serving.

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