Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Homemade Chocolate Candy
Whether my family likes it or not most gifts from me these days consist of homemade goodies. I find as the years go on, it gets harder and harder to pick out gifts for adult family members. My poor dad has gotten a book from me for every Christmas, birthday and Father's Day for the past several years. This year I decided no more books. Who needs to read when you can eat treats instead?
My parents both have September birthdays and I made my Dad these Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies earlier in the month. My Mom's birthday was a couple of weeks later and I decided to make homemade chocolate candies to satisfy her sweet tooth.
I saw two chocolate candy recipes in Baked Explorations that I knew would be right up my mom's alley. Buckeyes (a.k.a Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls) and Marshmallow Chocolate Cups. (If any of my fellow Club: Baked bakers are reading this, yes, I'm cheating and posting recipes before the group makes them. Sorry! I will plan to post again when each of these recipes comes up on the baking schedule).
I normally use chocolate such as Lindt or Ghiradelli when I want to use "good" chocolate for a recipe. However there are even higher quality chocolates out there, such as Scharffen Berger, Guittard and Vahlrona. These are usually a bit out of my price range for everyday baking but I wanted to use a high quality chocolate for these candies. So I splurged on the good stuff! (You're worth it Mom!)
Both candies tasted great and were fairly easy to make. I had some execution issues with the Marshmallow Chocolate Cups and didn't quite get the chocolate to marshmallow ratio that I was looking for. But now that I have a run under my belt, next time will be a piece of cake! The airy homemade marshmallow was surrounded by a blend of dark and milk chocolate. Yum. And the chocolate peanut butter balls were amazing! The peanut butter filling is very similar to the filling in a Reese's peanut butter cup. (I think the secret is the graham cracker crumbs...never would have guessed that ingredient) Except this is a peanut butter cup elevated with a coating silky decadent dark chocolate. If the peanut butter ball went head to head in a taste off with the marshmallow cup, I would have to pick the peanut butter ball. Love the salty and sweet!
Happy birthday Mom!
Both recipes are going into my keeper file. These chocolate candies would be great to share at a holiday party or would make a nice gift. The authors recommend storing both candies in the refrigerator so be sure to take that into account if you plan to give them away.
Speaking of the holidays, the talented Jamie of My Baking Addiction and Katie of GoodLife Eats have organized a Holiday Recipe Exchange which begins the week of 10/3/2011 and goes for 12 weeks. Each week has a different theme hosted by a different sponsor. You can check out all the holiday recipes and have a chance to win some great prizes. Come join the fun at My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.
Buckeyes (a.k.a Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls)
from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Yields: 36 to 42 candies
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (I used Skippy)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 cups confectioners' sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
Make the filling:
Beat cream cheese and peanut butter until well combined in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Add the confectioners' sugar and melted butter and beat on low until combined and then gradually increase the speed to medium and beat until fully combined. The mixture will feel a bit dry. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate:
Fill a small pot with an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set over the simmering water (be sure water does not touch the bottom of the bowl). Stir regularly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate into a small, deep bowl and allow it to cool to tepid (about 100 degrees F). I poured the chocolate into a 2 cup glass measuring cup.
Assemble the candies:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form peanut butter mixture into just over a tablespoon sized ball. I used a small scoop with a release mechanism. Roll the dough in your hand to form a ball and set on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the balls have been formed.
Coat each ball in the melted chocolate one at a time. A traditional buckeye has a round spot on the top that is exposed peanut butter, however I dipped mine fully. Use a fork to toss the ball in the chocolate on all sides and the remove the ball with the fork, allowing excess chocolate to fall through the tines of the fork. Gently place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the sheet pan to allow the candies to fully set up before serving.
Store in the refrigerator. Candies are best eaten within 3 days.
Chocolate Marshmallow Cups
from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Yields 30 candies
60 miniature candy cup papers (about 1 inch in diameter)
16 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
8 ounces good quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 envelope (about 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water plus 1/4 cup of water separated
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Prepare candy cups and chocolate:
Double the candy cup liners to create a more stable cup and help the candy hold its shape. Arrange 30 double cups on a baking sheet.
Fill a small pot with an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place all the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set over the simmering water (be sure water does not touch the bottom of the bowl). Stir regularly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir to release some of the heat. Using a small spoon or a pastry bag fitted with a small round decorating tip (or a zip top bag with a small hole cut in the corner) fill each candy cup with just under 1/4 full. Using a small pastry brush, brush the chocolate from the bottom of the cup up the sides. (I recommend stopping at least 1/8 inch from the top of the cup making it easier to peel off the cups after the candy sets). Make sure the sides of the cup are completely covered in chocolate. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator while you make the marshmallow filling and set the remaining melted chocolate aside.
Make the marshmallow filling:
Prepare a pastry bag with a small round decorating tip (or take a large zip top bag and snip off a small bit on the corner) and set aside.
In the bowl of stand mixer sprinkle the gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Meanwhile, place a small saucepan over medium heat and stir together the sugar and 1/4 cup water until combined. Stop stirring and place a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Bring the sugar to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, still without stirring, until it reaches soft ball stage on the candy thermometer (235 degrees F).
Remove the pan from the heat and slowly stream it into the gelatin. Whisk quickly for 30 seconds to release excess heat and then place the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and salt and continue to mix for about 2 additional minutes. Do not mix until if forms soft peaks, you want it to be slightly looser than that. Pour the mixture into your pastry bag (or zip top bag) and set aside.
Assemble the marshmallow cups:
Remove candy cups from the refrigerator. Pipe the marshmallow mixture into the candy cups filling about 3/4 full or about 1/8 below the top of the chocolate. Using a small spoon, or your pastry bag, top marshmallow filling with reserved chocolate until just covered. (I recommend not making this layer too thick so you can retain a nice chocolate to marshmallow ratio.)
Store candy in airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve the cups directly from the refrigerator or take out a few minutes before serving. If candy is left at room temperature it will being to melt or bloom.