I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

December 23, 2010

Christmas Aliens

Sometimes it is rough writing this blog.....not so much for the lack of recipes or lack of cooking that I do, but more for the inspiration and funny or interesting stories that I use to deliver the recipes. Sometimes it takes me a few days to come up with something and other nights I am hit with my creative muse right in the middle of cooking and am able to write and cook simultaneously.

This week I KNEW I wanted to share with you a cooking adventure and recipe but was on the fence about how to deliver it until I got an email from a dear friend who was unfortunately accosted by aliens this last week and narrowly escaped if only by the grace of my cooking.

I was in possession of 6 whole days off from work this last week and used the first two to make confections galore. You might remember Toffee Claus from last year....she is well and alive and despite the crummy weather, made enough toffee for about 30 gift bags.

Also included were the very well received Almond Florentine Cookies from last year, which I didn't make nearly enough of this year (lesson learned), dark chocolate bark with dried fruits, hazelnuts and sea salt and my new favorite......Peppermint Patties and Dark Sunshine bites.

So without further adieu, the email read as follows:

Hi Jen,

Thank you so much for the holiday sweets. I have a little problem....You won't believe it!

I was on my way home from work last night with my bag of treats (yes, I had sampled). I made a quick stop at the grocery store and when I opened my door an alien was trying to abduct me! When I thought of all the things of value that I had with me, I offered up my most valuable prize which was my treats. He happily took the treats and left me alone! Whew, thanks to you, I am safe....but the real problem lies in the fact that the bag was addressed to "Mike and Heidi" and since Mike is out of town with the boys, until Thursday, he will miss out on the yummy treats! Possibly if you have some extras Mike can have his own bag of yummy treats sometime and we will guard them from the aliens :)

Lots of Love,

Heidi

Seriously???? Even if I was out of treats I would have made more....not only because these are a couple of my favorite people, but also....aliens????? How awesome is that????

So I fixed up a goodie bag for Mike and the kids and handed it off today.....I hope that his daughter saw it home safely because after 20 pounds of sugar, 7 pounds of powdered sugar, 12 pounds of butter, 10 pounds of chocolate, 8 pounds of nuts, 2 pounds of dried fruit, 20 hours of cooking, 10 hours of wrapping and packaging and another 2 days of delivering, Ms. Toffee Claus is done for the season.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I hope that your season is as blessed as mine with wonderful family, fabulous friends and always good food.

Peppermint Patties
From Gourmet Magazine, December 2007
With alternate option for Orange flavored, which I called Dark Sunshine bites


2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (less than 1 pound), divided
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
10 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate

Make filling:


Beat 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening, and a pinch of salt using an electric mixer (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) at medium speed until just combined. Knead on a work surface dusted with remaining 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until smooth. Roll out between sheets of parchment paper on a large baking sheet into a 7- to 8-inch round (less than 1/4 inch thick). Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle round with confectioners sugar. Replace top sheet, then flip round over and repeat sprinkling on other side.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with cutter, transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gather scraps, re-roll, and freeze, then cut out more rounds, freezing them.

Temper chocolate and coat filling:

Melt three fourths of chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove bowl from pan and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool until thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into chocolate registers 80°F.

Return water in pan to a boil and remove from heat. Set bowl with cooled chocolate over pan and reheat, stirring, until thermometer registers 88 to 91°F. Remove bowl from pan.

Balance 1 peppermint round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate, letting excess drip off and scraping back of fork against rim of bowl if necessary, then return patty to sheet (to make decorative ridges on patty, immediately set bottom of fork briefly on top of patty, then lift fork straight up). Coat remaining rounds, rewarming chocolate to 88 to 91°F as necessary. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.

A few notes/variations:

For the Dark Sunshine Bites I used the zest from 1 orange and substituted Orange Extract

Garnish for the Peppermint Patties for us was crushed Peppermint Sticks

Garnish for the Dark Sunshine bites was bits of Candied Orange Peel

Make sure the filling is well frozen before dipping in the chocolate!

Don't roll any thinner than 1/4 inch, otherwise they tend to droop when you are coating them with chocolate.

Feel free to use small cookie cutters for fun shapes, but avoid shapes that have skinny forms like candy canes or snowflakes as those tend to break easier. Rounds/ornaments were great, trees, bells, light bulbs and even the gingerbread men worked well.....we only lost a few angel wings in the process.

As you get towards the end of the filling, feel free to roll it in to little balls and dip those in chocolate, they are delicious no matter what shape they are in.




2 comments:

OneHeartsDesire said...

AWESOME Jen! I'm going to make the peppermint patties and sunshine bites! Thanks!!!

Jeni said...

You are so welcome, have fun making them!!