My Dad’s birthday was recently and I decided to make him a special treat, something he loves, but almost never gets…Peanut Brittle! It also gave me a good excuse to test out my new candy thermometer. I decided to use Alton Brown’s recipe for peanut brittle, and it came out great! I left out the cayenne pepper, but the cinnamon gave the brittle a great flavor. Just make sure you do use a candy thermometer and be sure it gets to 350ºF (as stated in the video.) I tried to make it again without the thermometer, judging just by sight and I must have taken it off too soon because that time it did not come out right at all. Still, when it’s done right it’s a delicious treat. My Dad loved it and I am really excited to make more recipes using a candy thermometer…Toffee perhaps?
If someone had me write a list of my favorite desserts, Bird’s Nests would probably be in the top ten. I am not exactly sure what to call them, they’re not cookies…but I don’t know if candy really fits either. They are chocolate bundles of sweet and salty goodness. In my family they have somehow become a Christmas only dessert, like gingerbread cookies. However, this year I decided to change that. Since Monday was Valentines Day, as well as my Birthday, I decided to treat myself with this delicious treat.
The ingredients in this recipe are pretty straightforward, milk chocolate chips, semi sweet chips, peanuts…except for one, Chow Mein Noodles. For some reason when I tell people about this recipe that one ingredient always throws them. They add another layer of saltiness to the peanuts and they give the dessert another bird’s nest like quality, they act as the twigs.
Despite how easy this recipe is to make, the directions I have to make them are very vague. “small bag of chow mein noodles”, about 3/4- 1 cup peanuts, “barely coat.” I usually just keep adding the peanuts and noodles until it looks right, but that is a little difficult to explain through a blog post, so I’ll do my best! Despite this I think it would be very hard to mess this recipe up. If you don’t add enough peanuts and noddles each nest will just be more chocolately, and vice versa. Feel free to comment if you have any questions.
1/2 – 3/4 package (6-9 ounces) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 package (12 ounces) Milk Chocolate Chips
About 3/4 – 1 cup Peanuts
About 1/2 – 3/4 can Chow Mein Noodles
1 bag M&Ms, whichever flavor is your favorite
Line two cookie sheets with wax or parchment paper. In a pot on the stove melt chocolate chips over medium heat until melted. Add in peanuts and chow mein noodles, add more if needed, they should be barely coated in chocolate. Scoop small tablespoons of the mixture on the wax paper lined cookie sheets, quickly press in 2-4 (depending on preference and size of nests) M&Ms to be the “eggs.” Let sit for 1-2 hours, peel off wax paper and store in airtight container. Enjoy!
And lastly, an update on the Surfer Squares my friend and her husband loved them! He said they tasted just like his mother’s, though he wasn’t able to tell me how they got their name.
This past Saturday I decided jump into my first solo attempt at making bread. I have made bread in the past, but always with the help of a friend or my grandmother, both of which have much more experience at making yeasty type things than I do. Recently though, I have been trying to veer away the cookies, muffins, brownies, etc. I always make and try out new recipes with a slightly higher level of difficultly. It has been a lot of fun and I definitely feel like I am learning and improving my baking skills by trying out these new recipes.
I have been wanting to try out making bread for a long time, and I finally bought yeast to do so a couple weeks ago. On Saturday I somewhat impulsively decided that it was going to be bread making day. When I bought the yeast and decided I was going to make bread I had all the intentions of waking up early and getting everything together so it could rise as much as it needed to, and then be baked and out of the oven by a reasonable time in the afternoon. This is what my grandmother always does when she makes her bread, so I figured that would be the best way to go about it. Then Saturday happened…
We had gotten 12 inches of snow the night before and when I woke up in the morning everything outside was covered beautifully in white fluffy snow. Even though Christmas has come and gone I couldn’t help but hum “Winter Wonderland” because that’s exactly what it was. Naturally I wasn’t satisfied just sitting inside looking at the snow, so I grabbed my camera (after having to wait a half hour because I forgot to charge it the night before *oops*) and headed out the door.
I wandered around my neighborhood for a little while, snapping pictures and chatting with some of the neighbors about the large amount of snow we had gotten. I was just about to head inside when I decided that this would be the perfect time for a photo shoot with my golden retriever Cody. I wasn’t able to take many snowy pictures with him last winter because he was recovering from his second knee surgery and he wasn’t allowed to run around off leash.
You can probably tell where this story is heading, by the time I got inside, rested for a while, and ate lunch it was well past two o’clock in the afternoon. At that point I wasn’t even thinking about baking bread, until I opened my refrigerator and spied the yeast. When I saw it my mind immediately went to The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Bread recipe and I knew that the rest of the day was going to be spent making bread.
The actual making of the bread was a lot easier than I expected it to be. I used my mixer to knead the dough and once it all came together in the right consistency I tucked it in a canola oil coated bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and a tea towel and set it in a very warm place to rise. I have read a lot about yeast and the right environment it needs to rise, so I had already decided that I was going to knock up the heat a couple notches (it’s usually set at around 68ºF, I pushed it up to 70ºF) and put it in the smallest room of the house keeping the door closed to trap the heat in. This plan worked perfectly and two and a half hours later I rolled out the bread, covered it in cinnamon and sugar, rolled it up, then put it back in the same room so it could rise for another two hours.
Two hours and forty minutes of baking time later I pulled the bread out of the oven (it was nearly ten o’clock at night at this point so excuse the bad lighting) it came out perfectly! I was so excited to cut it but I decided to wait until morning and have my first piece (or two…or three…) for breakfast in the morning.
It is absolutely delicious! I have just been eating it plain, but it would probably taste great toasted with some butter, or just heated slightly to get a nice fresh out of the oven feeling. The only “bad” thing I would say about this recipe is that it only makes the one loaf, though I suppose doubling is always an option. One thing I know for sure, I will definitely be making this bread again and again.
I have been wanting to make truffles for a while now, I tried once a few years ago and it failed horribly. I let the chocolate sit in the refrigerator for too long before I tried to roll it into balls, so it hardened up way too much. Then I was impatient and didn’t let it sit out long enough before I tried to roll the chocolate again, and I ended up with something like shaved chocolate and not nice round truffles (it still tasted good though :P)
This time, it went much much better! I ended up with 12 delicious round truffles. I used the recipe that was on the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate, but I decided to half it. It said it would make about 30 truffles and I really didn’t need that many. So all the amounts in the pictures are half the normal amount, the full recipe will be at the bottom of the page.
Once firm roll the mixture into 1 inch balls and roll in a coating of your choice. I left half of mine plain and the other half I rolled in finely chopped walnuts. I prefer them plain, but my family likes the walnuts so by doing half and half everyone got what they liked.
Here is the finished product!
Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Truffles
Makes 30 Truffles
8 oz. (2 Bars) Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
1/3 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
6 Tbsp. of Unsalted Butter Cut into Small Pieces
1/3 Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa or 3/4 of finely chopped almonds or pecans (or whatever you want really)
Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan. Add butter and stir until melted. Add chocolate to saucepan, stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and pour chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl. Cool, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours. Roll mixture into 1″ balls. Roll each ball in coating.