Archive for the ‘Candies’ Category
I made a lot of Rice Krispy Treats as a kid. They were quick, easy and always satisfied my sweet tooth. I still make them once in a while these days, but I see a lot more potential in that basic cereal+marshmallow+butter recipe than I did when I was a kid. In other words, I now like to make my cereal treats a lot more exciting – and these Chocolate, Almond and Sea Salt Rice Krispy Treats are the perfect illustration of that.
These krispy treats are essentially easy to make chocolate candy bars that you can put together in less than 10 minutes at home. They start off with a basic Rice Krispy treat recipe, to which I added melted chocolate, toasted almonds and sea salt. The chocolate is easy to incorporate into the marshamallow mixture and gives the bars a rich chocolate flavor. The toasted almonds add some crunch – in addition to the crispiness of the cereal – and sea salt gives the bars the perfect balance of sweet and savory. They’re simple, addictive and well worth making, even if you thought that you outgrew Rice Krispy treatsa few years back.
I used semisweet chocolate chips to make these bars, but you can easily use any kind of chocolate you like. The chocolate should be melted along with the butter before the marshmallows are added to ensure that it melts completely. The recipe makes a fairly big batch, so you can easily serve a crowd or just enjoy the bars slowly on your own time. They keep very well when stored in an airtight container and will keep for over a week.
These Conversation Hearts Mendiants just might be the easiest and cutest treat you can make for Valentine’s Day. They’re simply rounds of dark chocolate that are topped off with conversation hearts, so they are not only sweet, but they deliver a sweet message to your Valentine!
I used Sweethearts – the original conversation hearts - in these treats and found that they actually pair very well with chocolate! They’re sugary, but they have distinct flavors to them (orange, strawberry, green apple, etc.) and those flavors were actually highlighted by the chocolate – which meant that these candies were much more delicious with a little dark chocolate than they were without it.
Before I started, I sorted through a big bag of Sweethearts to identify the hearts that had the cutest messages on them and that were the most clearly printed. I set these aside to be featured messages. When I encountered hearts with illegible messages, I simply put the message side down when I placed that heart. You can use regular hearts or jumbo sized conversation hearts for these – or mix it up between the two. You’ll definitely want to spend some time sorting the candies in advance, however, since it can be difficult to have to sort through them once you’re already working with the chocolate.
I used tempered chocolate to make these. Tempered chocolate is very glossy, has a firm finish and melts smoothly. It also sets up quickly when you’re working with it, which means that the process of making mendiants can be done very quickly. Untempered chocolate takes a very long time to set up (and often must be set in the fridge) and, because of that, it is likely to develop a whitish “bloom” on the surface instead of having a clean, shiny finish. You can find my instructions on how to temper chocolate here to walk you through the process, which is easier than you might think and well worth practicing if you, like me, love to work with chocolate!
Chocolate truffles are one of the easiest chocolate candies to make at home. They are incredibly decadent and are the perfect way to satisfy a chocolate craving – so it comes as a surprise to many truffle lovers that they only have a few ingredients. A very basic chocolate truffle recipe is made with just chocolate and cream or butter, or a combination of the two. The cream and butter contribute to the silky texture of the chocolate ganache that makes up the center of the truffle, while the chocolate gives the truffle its flavor.
These Dark Chocolate Truffles are a must-try for a dark chocolate fan. My favorite recipe is incredibly easy, with just two ingredients. They’re rich and creamy, with a tremendous amount of dark chocolate flavor. The chocolate is the most important part of the recipe, since that is where all of the flavor comes from, so it is crucial that you use high quality chocolate. High quality dark chocolate isn’t necessarily chocolate with the highest cacao percentage that you can find, but it should be a high quality brand that has a flavor that you really like. This might mean that the chocolate you start out with is a little on the expensive side, but you will really be able to taste the results, so it is well worth it. I also recommend choosing a dark chocolate that is from 60-65% cacao. I used a single-origin chocolate from Peru (this is a great recipe to try using single origin chocolates, by the way) from Callebaut that was 65% cacao.
Once the ganache is made and set, I divide the chocolate up into even pieces and roll them between my palms to shape them. This process can be a bit messy, because the heat of your hands is what helps to melt the ganache a bit, making the truffles easier to shape. I recommend portioning the ganache first and then starting the rolling process, so you don’t make too much of a mess in the kitchen!
Traditionally, chocolate truffles are finished by rolling them in cocoa powder to give them a rustic look that is similar to that of an actual truffle (mushroom) that was freshly plucked from the earth. If you prefer, you can roll your truffles in finely chopped nuts or even confectioners’ sugar to give them a nice finish. Truffles can be stored at room temperature, but should be stored in the fridge if you live in a warm climate to keep them from melting.
Fudge is a rich, easy to make candy that will always satisfy the sweet tooth of a chocoholic. I like to make it around the because it makes a good gift and is very easy to ship, since you don’t have to worry about anything going stale between the time you make it and the time that your recipient gets the package.
This is a plain dark chocolate fudge that uses sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk is very sweet and creamy, and it makes for a fudge that is quite smooth and has none of that grainy texture that you will find in some fudge recipes. It is also a neat ingredient because it allows you to streamline the process of making fudge and eliminates the need for using a candy thermometer. I add a little vanilla and a pinch of salt to the fudge to smooth out the darker notes of the dark chocolate. The finished fudge has a great dark chocolate flavor, a very rich texture and a hint of vanilla in the finish.
The easiest chocolates to use for making a fudge recipe like this one are semisweet chocolate chips, which are a type of dark chocolate. Since you really taste the chocolate flavor in the finished fudge, however, I recommend taking a little time to make sure you are using a dark chocolate that you really like the flavor of (I used Callebaut, but have also used Guittard chocolate for this). You will notice a difference in the finished fudge when you start with a higher quality chocolate at the beginning.
This fudge keeps very well when stored in an airtight container. I prefer to stack the pieces with sheets of parchment paper in between the squares to keep them from sticking together until they can all be eaten. I recommend cutting the fudge into small squares, as it is quite rich and large, brownie-sized pieces might be a little too much.
Peppermint bark is a type of chocolate bark where layers of white, dark and/or milk chocolate are topped off with a generous sprinkle of crushed peppermint candies. Many big chocolate brands, including Dove and Ghirardelli, release their own take on peppermint bark during the holidays, and even Haagen-Dazs has a limited edition peppermint bark ice cream flavor. But peppermint bark is easy to make at home if you have some chocolate and peppermint candies – or even candy canes – on hand and I always prefer it to store-bought.
My Peppermint and Cacao Nib Bark is topped with lots of crushed peppermint – like a traditional peppermint bark – and also with cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are small pieces of roasted, chopped cocoa beans and they add a nice additional chocolate flavor and quite a bit of crunch to the bark. The base of the bark is made with a layer of dark chocolate and a layer of white chocolate, as white chocolate always sets off peppermint well. Use a good quality chocolate that you like the flavor of (I used Callebaut) for the best results.
You can buy peppermint bits that are already crushed at many cake decorating stores, and those are a good and easy option for a recipe like this one. You can also make them, by crushing peppermints or candy canes yourself. If you do crush them yourself, sift them through a strainer to remove any of the peppermint dust and just keep the nice pieces.
I tempered the chocolate for my peppermint bark, which gives it a nice sheen and allows the chocolate to set up very quickly with no refrigeration required. Read my guide on How To Temper Chocolate at Home for tips and instructions. If you don’t want to temper your chocolate, you can still make the bark, but you may want to pop it in the refrigerator after you make it to help it set up. This bark is a great holiday treat and also makes a wonderful gift for friends and family. Feel free to double the recipe if you need a big batch, though it may be easier to simply make multiple batches if you really need a lot.