Tuesday, December 21, 2010

sweet treats!

i made a ton of treats over the weekend to send out to all my nieces and nephews for christmas.  i kept saying i was baking, but i suppose the more accurate description is "melting chocolate and dipping a bunch of stuff into it."  i'm not sure if you're aware of this, but most of the things in your cupboard taste better smothered in chocolate, and they make awesome gifts for sweet-lovers in your family.  i made chocolate covered pretzels with different flavors - plain, espresso, & spiced {cinnamon, nutmeg, & cloves}.  i also made peanut clusters and oreo truffles.  that's right, you heard me!  oreo truffles!  and if you're thinking to yourself right now, "why what's an oreo truffle and how do i make some of my own?"  well, you're in luck.  because i'm doing my first ever food recipe post.  cue the trumpets!

oreo truffles are super easy to make, ridiculously delicious, and not even slightly healthy for you.  in fact, they're pretty darn UNhealthy for you.  but if you're saying, "why kim, that's okay because i am exercising for 3 hours a day this week instead of 1," than i shall go on.

Ingredients & Tools
go to the store and buy the following:  a small package of oreos, a package of cream cheese {i used low fat cream cheese in an attempt to be healthier}, and semi-sweet baking chocolate {i used one of those giant milk chocolate bars from trader joe's}.  

for tools, you will need: wax paper, a large mixing bowl, rolling pin or food processor, and double broiler or two pots. 

Step 1
begin the daunting task of crushing all those cookies.  if you have a food processor, this will be easy breezy.  but if you're like me and don't have fancy kitchen gadgets, then you can use a rolling pin & potato masher to get the cookies smashed into fine crumbs.
{optional}: set aside a small portion of the crumbs to be used later. 

Step 2
once the cookies are crushed into fine, even crumbs, mix in some softened cream cheese.  i ended up using the entire 8 ounce package of cream cheese, but you may be able to get away with using less.  you basically just need enough cream cheese to help the crumbs clump together easily in moist balls.

Step 3
after the cream cheese has been evenly mixed into the crumbs, roll the mixture into 1 inch balls.

Step 4
in a double broiler slowly melt the chocolate over low heat.  {i don't have a double broiler so i made my own by filling a large pot with water and placing a small pot inside it.  if you do this, make sure the water does NOT splash into your chocolate in the small pot.}  keep a careful eye on your chocolate as it melts - chocolate burns very easily, so be sure to keep the heat low and stir faithfully.  it's best to melt only a little bit of chocolate at a time to lower the chances of it burning.

Step 5
roll the oreo balls in the chocolate until coated completely and place on the wax paper to cool.  it's really best to use two forks for the handling of the oreo balls so you don't get fingerprints all over the truffles {ew}.
{optional}: use the fine crumbs which you set aside in step one to sprinkle on the tops of the truffles.

Step 6
allow the truffles to harden at room temperature overnight, away from any heat source {like an air vent}.  do NOT put these in the fridge.  most recipes say to put your chocolate treats in the fridge, but i learned from a truffle master that the chocolate will get very melty after they've been in the fridge for any length of time, and will not remain hardened.  it's best to allow them to harden slowly at a comfortable temperature.  {of course if you make these in the summer with no air conditioning, like at our house, you'll have to use the fridge.}  

Step 7 
once the chocolate has hardened ~ enjoy!  but beware that you'll want to eat a lot of them at once, which is a pretty terrible idea.  i recommend giving them away or asking someone you live with to hide them from you, delivering you one a day until they are gone or you stop exercising, whichever comes first.

{um, yeah, i may or may not have eaten one right before i took this photo}

i also made ginger-cinnamon caramels over the weekend {my first time making them}.  they turned out "amazing" according to the mister {i don't like caramels so i didn't eat any}, but i got a very gruesome and painful burn on my arm while cooking.  i'm not sure how to explain what happened.  i'm not sure if i even know what happened.  but when i went to take the candy thermometer off the pot, springs sprung, large objects flew into the batter, 150 degree caramel flew up into the air and onto my arm.  i screamed, i swore, i grabbed the burn ointment out of our first aid kit.  now i have a pretty wicked battle wound which will hopefully heal quickly, but it still kills!  

the moral of the story - baking holiday candies is not for pansies!