Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caramel Shortbread

caramel shortbreads, aka millionaire shortbreadsCaramel shortbreads are also known as millionaire shortbreads because of their rich flavour. The first caramel shortbread I had was in a small suburb of Glasgow called Wishaw, where my wife’s family is from. We stopped in a very unassuming coffee shop on Main Street as it was a couple doors away from the apartment her great grandfather was born in. My wife immediately ordered the tea and shortbread special as it seemed fitting, but I noticed something called a caramel shortbread on the menu. My wife's shortbread came out quickly but the waitress said that mine would be a little longer as she was waiting for the chocolate to dry. I didn't even know it had chocolate in it! When it came, it was a delicious surprise that I accidently forgot to share with anyone else. Hence, I felt a little obligated to make a caramel shortbread of my own to share with my family. I changed things slightly by making a brown sugar shortbread with a homemade caramel sauce. The brown sugar added a little flavour and a bit of a crunch, but it can definitely be substituted with white sugar for a traditional shortbread.

The Ingredients: Caramel Shortbreads
Makes 1 dozen, prep time 40 minutes, baking time 30 minutes, cooling time 1 hour 30 minutes

1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1 1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of cornstarch
Pinch of finely ground sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 brown sugar
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of butter
1/4 cup of heavy cream
2 ounces of milk chocolate chopped

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

To make the shortbreads, start by blending the brown sugar for about 5 minutes on high speed in a food processor of coffee grinder.

Whip the butter with an electric blender until creamy and smooth.

Combine the salt, brown sugar, cornstarch, flour and sift in to the butter.

On a floured surface work the mix until it forms a dough this will take a little work and it may not seem like it will come together without more liquid, but keep working at it and it will be great!

Roll the dough into a layer about half an inch thick. The dough makes about 12 pieces 1 inch by 2 inches but feel free to make whatever shape you want.

Place in the oven on a cookie sheet (I suggest using clay or silpat to eliminate any premature browning on the bottoms). Bake for 30 minutes and let cool for about an hour before adding the toppings.

caramel drizzle on the shortbreadsTo make the caramel, combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar in a saucepan with high sides (when you add the cream it can boil up quite high). Melt it over low heat while stirring, this will take about 5 minutes.

Once all the sugar is dissolved remove it from the heat, add the cream and mix well.

Strain the caramel sauce through a sieve to remove any pieces that crystallized when added the cream.

Let the caramel cool for about 10-20 minutes and drizzle over the centre of each shortbread. With a butter knife, gently spread the caramel to the edges.

Place the shortbreads in the fridge.

In a small sauce pan, melt the chocolate over very low heat stirring consistently. Remove it from the heat just before it has all melted and continue stirring until it has entirely melted.

Remove the shortbreads form the fridge and drizzle with the melted chocolate. Again, use a butter knife to spread the chocolate to each corner. Place the cookies back in the fridge for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chocolate Truffles

white and milk chocolate tufflesTruffles are actually easier to make than you think, you just have to make sure that you have are starting with good products. Each year at Christmas we make some truffles for the season. This year we decided to get a little more creative and make milk chocolate, white chocolate, baileys, chocolate orange, mint chocolate and some variations on each (white shell on milk centre etc...). My favorite was the milk chocolate with white chocolate shell, although for someone who is not known to love orange chocolate, these were very nice. The mint chocolate were our least favorites as they were a little too herby tasting, if that makes sense. Infusing the flavour in the cream works really well so have some fun and experimenting and let me know how it goes.

The Ingredients: Chocolate Truffles

Makes 10-15 (although this all depends on how big you make them), start to finish these take about 1.5 hours with an hour of cooling time.

Basic truffle filling (you can adjust the amounts in the same ratio to make more):
3 ounces of chocolate (white or milk)
1 tbsp of sweet butter
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/8 tsp of finely ground sea salt

3 ounces of chocolate
1 tsp of shortening

Handful of mint leaves freshly chopped
1 tbsp of baileys (replaces 1 tbsp of heavy cream)
Peel (with any pulp) of an orange roughly chopped

chocolate truffle centre mixIf you are making orange or mint chocolate truffles start by bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, pour the cream over the orange or mint in a small bowl. Let the mixture steep while preparing the chocolate (approximately 5-7 minutes).

In a small saucepan, melt the butter chocolate for the filling over very low heat, whiling stirring consistently. It takes a little longer but you can hold the pot just over the heat, but not directly on the heat, to prevent it from burning.

Once completely melted stir in the heavy cream and mix well until smooth. If you are making a variation, strain the cream in through a fine metal seive and remove the mint or orange.

There is a chance that the mixture will break, if this happens continue stirring with a small whisk or a fork until the mixture come together again.

Place in mixture in the fridge for to 10-30 minutes, stirring every five minutes. When it is ready, the chocolate will be firm and a fork will not easily stir it. This sounds a little complicated until you try it, it is quite easy to tell when the chocolate is ready to roll into a ball and when it is just a gucky mess in your hands.

naked truffles ballsWhen it is ready, remove it from the fridge and roll small balls, approximately the diameter of a quarter, with your hands. Place the balls on cookie sheet cover with parchment paper and place back in the fridge.

Melt the remaining chocolate and shortening in a small saucepan.

Remove the truffle centres from the fridge and submerge them in the melting chocolate covering the entire ball. Use a small spoon to drizzle chocolate over the balls if needed (especially when you are getting to the end).

Place the truffles back on the cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and put it back in the fridge until the outside hardens, about 15 minutes.

You can add decorations on top with more drizzled chocolate or candied oranges if you want. Enjoy!

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