Loaded Chocolate Bourbon Fudge

ingredients:

  • 20 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons bourbon
  • 10-12 caramel-filled chocolates/fudge, such as truffles of Ghiradelli squares, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chocolate toffee pieces, like Heath toffee chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, melted

directions:

Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick spray.

Add semi-sweet chocolate to a double boiler, and melt completely. One melted, remove from heat and slowly add in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract, stirring with a large spatula until mixed. The chocolate will be thick. Begin in stir in bourbon 1 tablespoon at a time - mixture is going to get super thick but slowly stir and just fold the chocolate mixture over until combined. Use the spatula or a large spoon to spread the chocolate in the pan. It will be thick! Don't worry about the top looking pretty because we are going to cover it up. Just spread it evenly. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.

Melt the milk chocolate and remove the pan from the fridge. Take a few small spoonfuls of the milk chocolate and using the back of a spoon, spread it evenly over the top of the fudge. Immediately cover it with the chopped caramel-filled candies, chocolate chips and chocolate toffee pieces. Take remaining milk chocolate and drizzle it over the top to set some of the loose candy. You can also use any additional sweetened condensed milk that may be left in the bottom of the can and drizzle it over top. Let set in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

When ready to cut, fill a large cup with hot water. Dip a sharp knife into the water, then blot on a towel. Use knife to cut fudge into your desired size of squares.

Note: the melting can also be done in the microwave. I suggest melting the chocolate first on medium power in 30 second increments, stirring after each time. Once melted, add in remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.


Gooey Chocolate Coconut Truffles

  • 3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2-2 cups milk chocolate chips, melted

In a large bowl, combined coconut and sugar and mix to combine. Add in milk and coconut oil, mix constantly until a gooey coconut filling results. I used my hands to mix too! Roll between the palm of your hands into teaspoon-sized (or a little larger) balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes, then remove from freeze and roll again between your palms to smooth any coconut edges. Freeze for 10-15 minutes more. While freezing, melt chocolate chips in a double boiled or microwave. Remove coconut balls from freezer and immediately dip.

Refrigerate until ready to serve – at least 15 minutes.


Chocolate Bourbon Fudge

ingredients:

  • 20 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons bourbon
  • 10-12 caramel-filled chocolates/fudge, such as truffles of Ghiradelli squares, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chocolate toffee pieces, like Heath toffee chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, melted

directions:

Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick spray.

Add semi-sweet chocolate to a double boiler, and melt completely. Once melted, remove from heat and slowly add in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract, stirring with a large spatula until mixed. The chocolate will be thick.

Stir in bourbon 1 tablespoon at a time - mixture is going to get super thick but slowly stir and just fold the chocolate mixture over until combined. Use the spatula or a large spoon to spread the chocolate in the pan. It will be thick! Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.

Melt the milk chocolate and remove the pan from the fridge. Take a few small spoonfuls of the milk chocolate and using the back of a spoon, spread it evenly over the top of the fudge. Immediately cover it with the chopped caramel-filled candies, chocolate chips and chocolate toffee pieces.

Take remaining milk chocolate and drizzle it over the top to set some of the loose candy.

You can also use any additional sweetened condensed milk that may be left in the bottom of the can and drizzle it over top.

Let set in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

 


Gooey Chocolate Coconut Truffles

makes about 24 teaspoon-sized truffles

  • 3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2-2 cups milk chocolate chips, melted

In a large bowl, combined coconut and sugar and mix to combine. Add in milk and coconut oil, mix constantly until a gooey coconut filling results. I used my hands to mix too! Roll between the palm of your hands into teaspoon-sized (or a little larger) balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes, then remove from freeze and roll again between your palms to smooth any coconut edges. Freeze for 10-15 minutes more. While freezing, melt chocolate chips in a double boiled or microwave. Remove coconut balls from freezer and immediately dip.

Refrigerate until ready to serve – at least 15 minutes.


Torrone al Cioccolato

Chocolate Torrone.  How could it be bad?  And La Cucina Italiana Magazine comes through, again, with the perfect recipe.

I don’t really remember the first time I had torrone.  I know I was young and I liked the inside, but I really didn’t care for the rice paper coating.   It just seemed weird.

It was quite a few years later that I tried it again and a while later that I began to actually appreciate the rice paper.

La Cucina states: A traditional Italian candy, torrone ranges in texture from soft to firm. This one is soft with a good chew. Edible wafer paper, which is flavorless, adds textural contrast and helps keep bars of candy from sticking to one another.

This recipe is a bit time-consuming, but if you follow it exactly, you should end up with a damned fine candy!

Torrone al Cioccolato

  • 4 (8-x-11-inch) sheets edible wafer paper or rice paper
  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup clover or other mild honey
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Special equipment: candy thermometer

Instructions

Heat oven to 275º. Line the bottom of a 9-x-13-inch baking dish with rice paper.

Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet; bake until roasted and skins come off easily, about 25 minutes. Wrap nuts in a clean dishtowel; rub to remove loose skins.

Combine water and ¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once sugar is dissolved, add chocolate and stir to melt; reduce heat to low to keep warm.

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat remaining 1 cup sugar and honey over medium-low heat until just beginning to bubble. Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, wash any sugar crystals down side of pot. Put candy thermometer into syrup and continue heating, stirring occasionally, until mixture registers 315º (upper end of hard crack stage).

When thermometer reaches 300°, place egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk; beat until whites just hold stiff peaks. Remove syrup from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.

With mixer at low speed, slowly add syrup to egg whites in a thin stream down side of bowl; increase speed to high and beat until mixture doubles in size. Turn mixer off, let mixture settle, then return speed to high, beating until mixture begins to stick to whisk, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate and nuts; beat on medium speed to combine. Increase speed to high and mix until well combined, about 5 to 7 minutes more.

Spoon torrone mixture into prepared baking dish; spread to an even layer. Cover top with rice paper and refrigerate uncovered, until firm, about 8 hours.

Run a knife around edges of pan. Invert torrone onto a cutting board. Leaving wafer paper on, trim ends, and cut torrone into 1½-x-3-inch bars. Wrap each bar in parchment paper.


Peanut Butter Eggs

 

  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk – maybe
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter and milk (if needed) until blended. Shape mixture into eggs. Freeze eggs for 1 hour.
  2. While the eggs are freezing, slowly melt chocolate with oil.   Dip it in melted chocolate to cover then drain on parchment paper. When chocolate has set, decorate!


Gianduja

Gianduja

I think this may be the surprise dish of the holiday season.  It's mid-December but the February issue of La Cucina Italiana magazine is already here.  And I am very glad it is!  A past issue had a recipe for Nutella Cookie Sandwiches that seemed perfect as one of our  Christmas cookies this year.   But since Nutella is not on my regular shopping list, I just keep forgetting to pick it up.   Had I not come across this recipe, the cookies would have probably fallen into the ever-growing "I thought about making" category.

And to make good things even better, I just found out that this recipe and the cookie recipe both come from Pastry Chef Karen DeMasco. I've been checking her out online and really like her style.  I see more of her ideas coming to town!

Gianduja is a sweet chocolate and hazelnut  invented in Turin 1852 by Caffarel Chocolate Company.  The better-known to us Nutella came into being in the 1940's in Italy.    Nutella is good.  This is nothing short of totally amazing.  And it literally took minutes to prepare.

I bought hazelnuts already hulled from Oh! Nuts in Brooklyn.  They are cheap at $8.99/lb!  Plus they arrived in just a couple of days!  The Demerara sugar came from Atlantic Spice.  I bought it a while back with no particular plan or recipe.  I just figured I'd use it, eventually...  Around here, nothing ever goes to waste.

One note...  since I bought hulled hazelnuts I didn't have to go through the toasting-and-rubbing, but I did put the nuts in the oven for a few minutes to warm them before making the spread.

Gianduja
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Demerara sugar gives DeMasco's Gianduja its signature "bit of crunch."  Though loose when first made, the spread can be enjoyed immediately as a dip or drizzle.  Once thickened (after 2 to 3 days at room temperature or a few hours chilled), it makes a fantastic cookie filling.  Scoop chilled spread into balls and roll in cocoa powder or dip in melted chocolate to make decadent truffles.

  • 5 ounces hazelnuts (1 cup)
  • 8 ounces good-quality milk chocolate
  • 1/4 cup Demerara sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil

Heat oven to 350°.

Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and golden, 10 to 15 minutes.  Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove loose skins (don't worry about skins that won't come off).

While nuts are warm, combine with chocolate, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth, adding oil in a slow steady stream.

Transfer to an airtight container.  Let stand at room temperature until thickened, about 2 days.  Spread keeps in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month or refrigerated for up to 3 months.  To loosen chilled spread, heat in microwave for about 5 seconds.

And now that the gianduja is done those cookies are going to be made in the next few days.


Torrone al Cioccolato

 

Chocolate Torrone.  How could it be bad?  And La Cucina Italiana Magazine comes through, again, with the perfect recipe.

I don't really remember the first time I had torrone.  I know I was young and I liked the inside, but I really didn't care for the rice paper coating.   It just seemed weird.

It was quite a few years later that I tried it again and a while later that I began to actually appreciate the rice paper.

La Cucina states: A traditional Italian candy, torrone ranges in texture from soft to firm. This one is soft with a good chew. Edible wafer paper, which is flavorless, adds textural contrast and helps keep bars of candy from sticking to one another.

This recipe is a bit time-consuming, but if you follow it exactly, you should end up with a damned fine candy!

Torrone al Cioccolato

  • 4 (8-x-11-inch) sheets edible wafer paper or rice paper
  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup clover or other mild honey
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Special equipment: candy thermometer

Instructions

Heat oven to 275º. Line the bottom of a 9-x-13-inch baking dish with rice paper.

Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet; bake until roasted and skins come off easily, about 25 minutes. Wrap nuts in a clean dishtowel; rub to remove loose skins.

Combine water and ¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once sugar is dissolved, add chocolate and stir to melt; reduce heat to low to keep warm.

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat remaining 1 cup sugar and honey over medium-low heat until just beginning to bubble. Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, wash any sugar crystals down side of pot. Put candy thermometer into syrup and continue heating, stirring occasionally, until mixture registers 315º (upper end of hard crack stage).

When thermometer reaches 300°, place egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk; beat until whites just hold stiff peaks. Remove syrup from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.

With mixer at low speed, slowly add syrup to egg whites in a thin stream down side of bowl; increase speed to high and beat until mixture doubles in size. Turn mixer off, let mixture settle, then return speed to high, beating until mixture begins to stick to whisk, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate and nuts; beat on medium speed to combine. Increase speed to high and mix until well combined, about 5 to 7 minutes more.

Spoon torrone mixture into prepared baking dish; spread to an even layer. Cover top with rice paper and refrigerate uncovered, until firm, about 8 hours.

Run a knife around edges of pan. Invert torrone onto a cutting board. Leaving wafer paper on, trim ends, and cut torrone into 1½-x-3-inch bars. Wrap each bar in parchment paper.


Nut Brittles

All of the years I screwed up candy-making seem to be behind me.  I think.

I have been having fabulous luck.  I'm almost afraid to say anything lest I jinx myself.

But I done good, today!

Candy-making is an unforgiving science - and I am not a scientist.  But having a really good recipe has gotten me on the right track.  And La Cucina Italiana Magazine came through with a couple of nut brittles that are really easy.

I followed the recipes exactly.

Almond Brittle

  • Peanut oil for greasing pan
  • 1 1/2  cups raw almonds
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Heat oven to 350º with rack in middle.

FOR ALMOND BRITTLE: Lightly grease a baking sheet and a 12- x 14-inch sheet of parchment paper with oil.

Spread nuts on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake, stirring nuts and rotating pan once halfway through, until fragrant and lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Gently whisk together mixture to ensure sugar is damp throughout, being careful not to get sugar on sides of pot. Cook mixture over medium-high heat, without stirring, until it turns a dark amber, 10 to 13 minutes - 320. Remove pot from heat, immediately stir in warm nuts, then transfer mixture to greased baking sheet and quickly spread with wooden spoon. Top with prepared parchment paper, oil-side down and, using a rolling pin, gently roll brittle to flatten. Remove parchment paper.

Let brittle cool slightly, then cut into small pieces. Let cool completely before serving.

And then there is the pistachio and pine nut brittle.

This one is a bit different.

Pistachio and Pine Nut Brittle

  • Peanut oil for greasing pan
  • 1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2  cup plus 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

FOR PISTACHIO AND PINE NUT BRITTLE: Lightly grease a baking sheet and a 12- x 14-inch sheet of parchment paper with oil (baking sheet and parchment paper from Almond Brittle can be reused).

Heat oven to 350º with rack in middle.

Spread nuts on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake, stirring nuts and rotating pan once halfway through, until fragrant and lightly golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Gently whisk together mixture to ensure sugar is damp throughout, being careful not to get sugar on sides of pot. Cook mixture over medium-high heat, without stirring, until it turns a dark amber, 10 to 13 minutes - 320. Remove pot from heat, immediately stir in warm nuts, then transfer mixture to greased baking sheet and quickly spread with wooden spoon. Top with prepared parchment paper, oil-side down and, using a rolling pin, gently roll brittle to flatten. Remove parchment paper.

Let brittle cool slightly, then cut into small pieces. Let cool completely before serving.


Torrone

The recipe comes from La Cucina Italiana Magazine and it was extremely straightforward and easy to follow.  The candy did exactly what it said it was going to do in the recipe at every step.  It was great.  The one caveat is this is  a sticky, sticky candy.  And I do mean sticky.  I broke a heavy-duty spatula stirring in the nuts.  It was old, granted, but it was my favorite.  Oh well.

The only change I made was to use edible rice paper instead of cornstarch and parchment paper.  I laid out the rice paper on a sheet pan, spread the torrone on it, topped it with rice paper, rolled it to the desired thickness, and then cut it after it had cooled and set.

Sticky.

Torrone

Ingredients

  • Cornstarch for dusting
  • 3 cups whole blanched almonds
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup clover honey
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large orange

Special equipment: parchment paper; a candy thermometer

Instructions

Heat oven to 350º.  Lightly dust a clean work surface with cornstarch. Line a 9- x 13- inch baking dish with parchment paper, letting excess paper hang over edges.

Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once halfway through, until fragrant and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack; let nuts cool completely.

Put egg whites and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk; set aside.

In a heavy 4-quart saucepan with candy thermometer attached, heat sugar and honey over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture begins to simmer and sugar is mostly dissolved, 12 to 14 minutes (mixture will be very thick, then begin to loosen and turn cloudy). Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 280º degrees. Continue to cook mixture, stirring once or twice, until temperature reaches 315º. It will take the mixture about 15 minutes more to reach that temperature (the mixture will begin to foam and darken in color as temperature increases).

Meanwhile, beat egg whites on medium speed until firm peaks form. Add confectioners sugar and continue to beat until fully incorporated, about 1 minute more. Turn off mixer, leaving bowl in place.

When sugar mixture reaches 315º, remove from heat; stir until temperature reduces to 300º, 1 to 2 minutes, then carefully remove candy thermometer. With mixer on medium speed, slowly pour sugar mixture down the side of the bowl (egg mixture will double in volume, then decrease); continue to beat until mixture is cooled to warm and begins to lighten in color, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and zest; beat for 1 minute more, then, using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, fold in nuts (mixture will be very sticky).

Turn out candy onto prepared work surface; dust hands with cornstarch. Knead for 5 to 6 turns, then transfer to prepared baking dish. Dust hands with more cornstarch, then press candy to flatten and fill pan. Put pan on wire rack and let candy cool completely, about 1 hour.

Using parchment paper overhang, lift out candy from pan; cut candy into pieces. Layer in a sealed container, between sheets of parchment paper and let stand overnight, with container sealed and at room temperature, to dry, at least 8 hours or overnight. Candy can be kept, layered between sheets of parchment paper, in a sealed container at room temperature, for up to 3 weeks.


Torrone

I did it!

My first real candy-making attempt in years.  I did it!

I have cooked and baked all my life, but candy-making has always juuuust slightly eluded me.

Candy-making is an unforgiving science - and I am not a scientist.    The old adage that cooking is an art and baking a science is definitely true.  But I've been baking long enough to know where I can change or substitute things and get my desired result.  Bread-baking is totally touch and feel.  Yes, the science is getting the right ratios of leavening, flour, and liquid, but it is the feel of the dough that lets you know when that balance has been achieved.

Not so with candy.

It is exacting step-by-step, exact temperatures, exact, exact, exact.  I am so not an exact person.

But I was today - and it came out great!

The only hassle I had was blanching the almonds.  And that wasn't difficult - just time-consuming.  There is a suburban conspiracy going on around me.  None of the local stores had whole blanched almonds.  So...  I blanched a pound of them, myself.  It's not difficult.  Pour boiling water over them, let them sit for 2 minutes, drain, rinse under cold water.  Drain, again, and slip off the skins.

There's a lot of almonds in a pound,.  It took me about 45 minutes to do them.

The recipe comes from La Cucina Italiana Magazine and it was extremely straightforward and easy to follow.  The candy did exactly what it said it was going to do in the recipe at every step.  It was great.  The one caveat is this is  a sticky, sticky candy.  And I do mean sticky.  I broke a heavy-duty spatula stirring in the nuts.  It was old, granted, but it was my favorite.  Oh well.

The only change I made was to use edible rice paper instead of cornstarch and parchment paper.  I laid out the rice paper on a sheet pan, spread the torrone on it, topped it with rice paper, rolled it to the desired thickness, and then cut it after it had cooled and set.

Sticky.

Torrone

Ingredients

  • Cornstarch for dusting
  • 3 cups whole blanched almonds
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup clover honey
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large orange

Special equipment: parchment paper; a candy thermometer

Instructions

Heat oven to 350º.  Lightly dust a clean work surface with cornstarch. Line a 9- x 13- inch baking dish with parchment paper, letting excess paper hang over edges.

Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once halfway through, until fragrant and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack; let nuts cool completely.

Put egg whites and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk; set aside.

In a heavy 4-quart saucepan with candy thermometer attached, heat sugar and honey over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture begins to simmer and sugar is mostly dissolved, 12 to 14 minutes (mixture will be very thick, then begin to loosen and turn cloudy). Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 280º degrees. Continue to cook mixture, stirring once or twice, until temperature reaches 315º. It will take the mixture about 15 minutes more to reach that temperature (the mixture will begin to foam and darken in color as temperature increases).

Meanwhile, beat egg whites on medium speed until firm peaks form. Add confectioners sugar and continue to beat until fully incorporated, about 1 minute more. Turn off mixer, leaving bowl in place.

When sugar mixture reaches 315º, remove from heat; stir until temperature reduces to 300º, 1 to 2 minutes, then carefully remove candy thermometer. With mixer on medium speed, slowly pour sugar mixture down the side of the bowl (egg mixture will double in volume, then decrease); continue to beat until mixture is cooled to warm and begins to lighten in color, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and zest; beat for 1 minute more, then, using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, fold in nuts (mixture will be very sticky).

Turn out candy onto prepared work surface; dust hands with cornstarch. Knead for 5 to 6 turns, then transfer to prepared baking dish. Dust hands with more cornstarch, then press candy to flatten and fill pan. Put pan on wire rack and let candy cool completely, about 1 hour.

Using parchment paper overhang, lift out candy from pan; cut candy into pieces. Layer in a sealed container, between sheets of parchment paper and let stand overnight, with container sealed and at room temperature, to dry, at least 8 hours or overnight. Candy can be kept, layered between sheets of parchment paper, in a sealed container at room temperature, for up to 3 weeks.

The recipe makes about 2 1/2 pounds of candy.

There's a recipe for Chocolate Torrone that I'm going to try next...  I just have to watch myself.   I tend to get a bit cocky after a success like this and not pay attention the second time around.

I really need to pay attention!