Boozy Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

I love living in a big city.

One reason is that I don’t have to worry about running into people I know at random times when I’m not expecting it.

However, on the rare occasion that I do run into someone, its usually at the grocery store when I’m buying popcorn, wine, and tampons.

Thats when things gets slightly awkward and I’m reminded of why I don’t like running into people.

I don’t love when I miss judge how early I should get to the airport during Christmas time.

Thanksgiving?  No one there.  Christmas?  That place was filled to the max.

Lines out the ying-yang.  One of the Christmas presents that I got my dad had to be thrown away.  Theeen, I had to run to my gate to get on my flight.

And all at the chipper time of 6:00 AM!

I also don’t love making decisions.  I’m really bad at it.  Truly, its one of my flaws.

I could have had my Christmas shopping done in one day but I just could not make up my mind.  So, five days and way too many trips to the mall later I was finally finished!

And I think I ended up buying everyone the same things I was thinking about getting them on the first day.

I need to work on that.   New Years resolution perhaps?  I do love chocolate.  And truffles are the ultimate chocolate treat.

Dense, rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  What more can a girl ask for?

Oh, salted caramel and irish cream?

Well alright, if you insist…These truffles are a great, last minute Christmas gift that will leave you with no decisions except which chocolate to buy.

Plus, they make people feel like they’re your favorite.  And lets face it, everyone loves being a favy.

Caramel can be intimidating to a lot of people, but its totally doable and worth the effort. The truffle part is truly easy, and then things get a little fun (and messy) when its time to roll truffle mixture in little balls.

With a little more work added you can cover the truffles in melted chocolate.  Or for a bit easier route roll them cocoa powder, nuts, or powdered sugar.  All tasty options!

Just makes these.  Everyones mouth will thank you and their tummies will give you a high five… I promise.

Boozy Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Very slightly adapted from Bakers Royale

Ingredients

Truffle:

  • 11 oz dark chocolate (I used Guittard 63% chips)
  • 8 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel (recipe to follow)
  • 2 tablespoons Irish Cream (you can omit this if you don’t want the booze)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups dark chocolate chips, melted

Instructions

  1. Place heavy cream in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering slightly.  Meanwhile, place chocolate in a heat proof bowl.
  2. Pour heated cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then stir cream and chocolate together until smooth.  If chocolate has not completely melted, place bowl of chocolate mixture over a saucepan with simmering water and continue to stir until the chocolate and cream smoothly melted together.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in salted caramel and then add in Irish cream, stirring until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour mixture into a flat casserole dish, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for about 3 hours, or until mixture is set.
  6. Remove chilled truffle mixture from the fridge.  Using a melon baller or small ice cream scoop, scoop out chocolate rounds.  Finish forming truffles by hand and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.
  7. If dipping truffles, place a truffle in the melted chocolate and roll around with a fork until completely covered.  Use fork to lift truffle from chocolate, shaking off any excess melted chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork against the edge of the bowl to remove excess chocolate and slide covered truffle off of fork and onto a clean, lined baking sheet.  Continue until all truffles have been covered.  Transfer covered truffles to fridge to let chocolate set.  Use any leftover caramel to decorate truffles, if desired.
  8. If rolling truffles, place cocoa powder on a small plate.  Take each truffle and roll in cocoa powder until covered.  Place covered truffle on a pretty plate or parchment paper.  Continue until all truffles have been covered.

*You can also cover the truffles in chopped nuts, such as almonds or pistachios, or roll them in powdered sugar.

Salted Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Place sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Stir until sugar has been dissolved and use a wet pastry brush to remove any crystals that form on the side of the pan.
  2. Once sugar has dissolved increase the heat to high.  Do not stir the mixture from now on, but occasionally swirl the pot using the handle to keep the mixture moving.
  3. After a few minutes the mixture will start to bubble.  Let mixture cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until caramel is a medium amber color.  Be careful to watch the mixture once it begins to caramelize because it will happen quickly and you don’t want it to burn.
  4. Add butter and cream and whisk vigorously.  The mixture will bubble like crazy at first so don’t freak out.. thats supposed to happen.
  5. Remove from heat and add salt, stir until combined.

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies

I realized today that its like half way through December already.  Say whaaaat?

I feel like the last few weeks have been a blur.  So much going on, so much to do.

I finished up school last week.  Cramming for finals and writing crazy long papers.  All I really wanted to do was be in the kitchen, but, alas, that was farthest thing from reality.

But, now that I’m finished for the term I am ready to get some holiday baking done!

Every year I have extravagant plans in my head to bake copious amounts of cookies and give them out to all my friends and loved ones.

Usually my plans are far fetched from what I can realistically get done without driving myself bonkers, so this year I’m scaling back.

I think we all put way too much pressure on ourselves to “get everything done” around the holidays and miss we out on a lot of the small jewels of happiness and joy that are available to us.

So, I’m trying not to stress this season.  I’ll bake what I can and shop when I have the time. I probably won’t decorate much (or at all) since I’ll be back home in New Mexico for Christmas, and also because I’m terrible at taking decorations down… I’d leave them up til like April.

But I will play Christmas music and enjoy other people’s lights.  And if you put up a Christmas tree or bake cookies I’ll give you a high five and tell you to take a break.

Cause you know what?  You deserve it!  Relax.  Enjoy the moment.  Give yourself a pat on the back and be okay with what you have and have not gotten done.

Thats what I did when I finished these cookies yesterday!

Chocolate and peppermint are the star attraction in these festive cookies.  Peppermint patties are wrapped in a chocolate cookie dough, drizzled with white chocolate, and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.  The chocolate cookie dough is similar to a shortbread and mellows out the sweetness of the peppermint patty nicely.

I was semi disappointed because the cookies aren’t really soft.  So, if you don’t like crunchy cookies these may not be your cup of tea.  However if you enjoy that sort of thing these are a great, festive cookie to enjoy yourself or give away!

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies

Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 egg
  • 24 miniature peppermint patties
  • 4 oz white chocolate (not chips), chopped

Directions

  1. Using an electric or handheld mixer, beat the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, salt, and baking soda on low speed.  Beat in butter, then the egg.  Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap.  From dough into a disk and place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper, a silpat, or cooking spray.
  3. Working with 1 Tbsp of dough at a time, use your fingers to evenly encase each peppermint patty with dough.  Place on baking sheet and continue until all peppermint patties are covered.
  4. Bake until just firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.  Remove oven and transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, in a double boiler or a small heat proof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the white chocolate until smooth.
  6. Drizzle* white chocolate over the cookies and sprinkle peppermint candy canes over the top.
  7. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

*The chocolate I was working with was not drizzling very well so I used a pastry bag to stripe the cookies.  If you do not have a pastry bag you can also use a small plastic sandwich bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the corners.

Cinnamon Oat Cashew Milk

The holidays are tough sometimes.  Mostly they get really tough on the waistline.

You know what I’m talking about.  Leftover halloween candy holds you over until Thanksgiving comes, and then you can stuff your face with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and (of course) pie!

Then, as if thats not enough, Christmas parties galore begin.  Cocktail parties, ugly sweater parties, parties to watch Christmas movies.  Its like every type of party you can imagine but Christmas-style.

And at each of these parties people start to whip out their best recipes and entice everyones taste buds with words like chocolate, candy, cheese, and bread.

Really?  All of this in a two month span?  No wonder everyone feels 10 lbs. heavier come January 1st.

Last year I did this crazy, fat shedding diet during the beginning of December.  For two weeks I ate tons of meat and cruciferous vegetables… thats about it.  No starchy carbs, no fats, no sugar.

Whaaat was I thinking?  I asked myself this question a million times during those two weeks.

It was ridiculously hard.  Especially during a time of never-ending feasting.  But, it was kind of nice not to have to think about whether or not I would indulge.  I had already decided that I wouldn’t.  I had a goal and I was sticking to it.

Was it worth?

Physically… not so much.  My goal was to lose fat, and I lost a little, but definitely not what I was anticipating.  It was however, very emotionally and spiritually beneficial because it challenged me to move beyond the immediate satisfaction of food and look to more fulfilling sources.

But, this year I don’t want to do any crazy diets during this season.  I want to enjoy the parties, enjoy the food, enjoy the community.

Its all about balance in the end.  Thats one thing I am learning and continuing to pursue.

But seriously, I don’t wanna gain 10 lbs. between October and January.  So here are a few tips I keep in mind during the holiday seasons that help me indulge and enjoy without going overboard and feeling guilty.

1.  If I’m going to a party I’ll eat dinner before I go.  One, that helps avoid getting too buzzed on alcoholic beverages (which inevitably leads me to justify more sweets), and two it helps me avoid over snacking on those tasty treats that everyone brings.

2. I do my workouts, which kick my butt and leave me with more of a desire to eat clean than if I didn’t do them.  Once I’ve worked out I don’t want to spoil it with terrible eating.

3. When I want to indulge, I let myself do it guilt free.  And I plan it ahead of time.  That way I can anticipate the indulgence and fully enjoy it when it comes.  Planning it out helps avoid guilt when suddenly someone springs a bag of chocolate on me.  I already know when my “splurge times” are so I can kindly decline.

I also like to make my everyday meals delicious and healthy.  Many times people think that “healthy” mean “no taste.”  I completely disagree.

This cashew milk is a great example.

Cashews are awesome.  They have the lowest fat content of all the nuts but the fat they do contain is unsaturated (read: good for you!).  They carry substantial amounts of copper and magnesium which are important for energy, bone health, and nerve functioning.  Plus, they’ve been proven to help with weight management!

The oats and cinnamon add great flavor to this milk, and the honey adds a touch of sweetness.  Oats are great for the heart and cinnamon is suggested to increase metabolism.  Who wouldn’t want to drink this stuff?

It’s also a great addition to coffee, smoothies, or hot chocolate.  But, of course, you can just drink straight out of the glass too.

Cinnamon Oat Cashew Milk

Very slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Makes just shy of 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 3 cups water for soaking
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, ground to a powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. Place raw cashews in a clean bowl and put 3 cups water over them.  Let soak for 8-12 hours or overnight.  Transfer cashews to a fine mesh strainer, running cool water over them until water runs clean.
  2. Grind oats in a food processor or blender until they are a fine powder.
  3. Combine cashews, oat powder, cinnamon, honey and filtered water in a blender. Blend on low speed, then increase to high speed, until smooth.
  4. Place a fine mesh strainer over a larger bowl.
  5. Pour half cashew mixture over fine mesh strainer and press with a spatula to work liquid through the strainer.  Continue to strain milk until it has all been processed through the strainer.  *Note: the hard you press the mixture the more bits of oat and cinnamon will end up in the milk.  They’re pretty tasty, but it’s your call if you want them in there or not!*
  6. Place cashew and oat meat mixture in a bowl and set aside.
  7. If you want your milk smoother feel free to run in through the sieve again.
  8. Transfer cashew milk to airtight container and keep in refrigerator.
  9. Don’t forget to shake it up before using!  Milk will last for about 4 days.