Key Lime & Coconut

My adventures in the world of food & wine

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Gifts from the Baking Elf

As mentioned, I've been hard at work baking gift boxes of goodies for my friends here at law school. I believe that some of the best gifts are ones that disappear - whether they're tickets to a show, an IOU for a night on the town, or best of all, food.

In the gift boxes, I decided on two sweet things and one savory. You have to have a little balance, right? I ended up going with Dark Chocolate Candy-Cane Truffles, Caramel Nut
Shortbread, and Salami, Feta, & Gorgonzola Biscuits. Everything turned out great, but the truffles are the clear winner (in my opinion).

Pictures of the finished goods, with recipes/notes...

Dark Chocolate Candy-Cane Truffles

I stole the basic truffle recipe from the December Bon Appetit. It's a little time consuming, but actually very easy, and the results are very much worthwhile. You can roll the finished truffles in anything you want (nuts, sprinkles, coconut...) but I went with crushed-up candy canes in the spirit of the holidays. Here are some notes on truffle-making technique. The recipe makes about two dozen.
  • 1 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 7 oz + 2 oz + 7 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (total: four 16-oz bars, I used Ghirardelli)
  • 4 candy canes, crushed into small pieces
Bring cream to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir 7 ounces chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Remove from heat. Add 2 ounces chocolate; stir until smooth. Stir in cream. Chill truffle base until firm enough to roll, about 3 hours. Line rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Roll 2 teaspoons truffle base between fingertips into ball. Transfer to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffle base. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Line another rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Stir chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water just until melted. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Scoop some of warm (not hot) melted chocolate into palm of hand. Place 1 chilled truffle in hand and roll in palm to coat. Roll in crushed candy canes. Transfer to prepared sheet. Drizzle leftover chocolate on top if desired. Chill until outer coating is solid.

Caramel Nut Shortbread

I stole this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Weekly Dish. I'm not going to reproduce the recipe because you can find it right here. I will say that I don't have a food processor, and that made my shortbread crust less than perfect, but overall these taste pretty good. I think they're a bit too sweet, but I guess that's just how caramel is. Oh, also, I forgot to add the heavy cream to the caramel sauce, so even though it wasn't really a disaster, make sure you remember to do that if you try to make these!

Salami, Feta, & Gorgonzola Biscuits

Last but not least, my delightful, flaky little biscuits. Mm, mm good. I saw Giada de Laurentiis making these biscuits on her show Everyday Italian. I don't get cable at home, but I do love to watch Food Network while I'm working out (masochistic, I know...) and while I was on the treadmill I saw lovely Giada making these biscuits (originally just salami & gorgonzola) as part of gift baskets she was making for the holidays. That's actually what made me want to do gift boxes in the first place. These turned out so great! I'm not a huge fan of gorgonzola, so I cut the amount and added in some feta, which I think was probably a good idea. Your call, though. Also, like I mentioned, I don't have a food processor (don't worry, it's on my Christmas list) but I just mixed up the dough by hand with a fork with great success. The recipe makes about 40 little biscuits.
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. finely diced salami
  • 1 Tbsp. crumbled gorgonzola
  • 2 Tbsp. crumbled feta
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pulse 2 to 3 times until mixed. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the biscuit mixture to a medium bowl. Add the buttermilk, salami, gorgonzola, and feta. Stir until the mixture forms a ball. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface. Roll to 1/2-inch thick. Using a 1-inch diameter cookie cutter, cut out the biscuits and place them on 2 baking sheets. Bake until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.

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