Martha’s Chocolate-Champagne Truffles in Sparkling Sugar

I saw Martha Stewart’s recipe for chocolate-champagne truffles in sparkling sugar as I was looking about for new Oscar Party ideas and I thought they would be a perfect addition to the party – who doesn’t like truffles especially when they have champagne?!  Sounded like it would be a hit for the dessert table.

When I took a glance at the reviews, I saw that there was trouble in paradise.  Many folks complained that the truffles were soft and didn’t set properly.  The recipe does call for a substantial amount of liquid.  But I decided to dive right in anyway and give it a whirl.

Now, I did make modifications.  I didn’t really believe that yield of three dozen so I doubled the chocolate and the cream.  Taking into account the problems that other folks had with the softness of the truffles, I stuck to the recipe on the champagne and cognac.  That’s twice as much chocolate power to fight off all that extra liquid.

But it still wasn’t enough. Chocolate-Champagne Truffles in Gold Sanding Sugar

These truffles were soft and I needed to freeze them just to get them to set properly.  They were in the fridge until the last minute on party night.  I had covered them in gold sanding sugar, thank goodness because otherwise they would have been too sticky and soft to work with!

But the most telling sign is at the end of the night, I had plenty of these truffles left over and none of the other truffles I made from the Pioneer Woman’s recipe.  So my advice is to stick to Ree’s recipe!

–Martta

Lily’s Danish Almond Cookies

It is well known family lore that my Mother’s recipes can be somewhat difficult to follow.  There’s the classic at the bottom of the recipe, “oh and add ____” an ingredient which does not appear in the ingredient listing an is not mentioned until the very last step of the recipe, but it is KEY to a successful turnout.  There’s also the measurement standards she uses such a “one package of nuts” and one “cube of butter” and “add some extra flour”.   No mention of what size package of nuts or the fact that a cube of butter = 1 stick of butter or that “some” flour can be over half a cup….

But I gotta tell you, it makes for really fun recipe reading.  Where else do you get instructions like “Stir over heat until a full rolling boil.  You pretty much have to have a book to read since it needs constant stirring.  I also bring a chair over to rest one leg on it like in a saloon.”  Now, I’ve never made fudge in a saloon, but if I did, I would read a book while waiting for the sugar mixture to boil.

So this week when Heather wrote to try to decipher one of my Mom’s classics, I actually had to look up the recipe.  I figure I should put it on the blog so it will be easier for us to find in the future.  We had these Danish Almond Cookies every year when I was growing up and they are still a staple in my house at Christmas.
Lily's Danish Almond Cookies small

Ingredients:

  • 1 C Butter
  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 C Flour
  • 1 C Ground Almonds
  • 1/2 t Almond Extract

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Mix in remaining ingredients.  Separate into two sections and roll each into a log shape.  Wrap with waxed paper and refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 20 minutes.

Slice and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  These cookies don’t expand when you cook them so you can really cram a lot on one cookie sheet.  This recipe doubles well.  In fact, I almost always double it because they are so small and delicious, it’s easy to mainline about 10 before you realize what’s happened.

One year I had little helpers for the sprinkles and while distracted with some dinner prep, I turned around to find….

Sprinkle Cookies with Colored Sugar That there had been some very generous sprinkling.Whoops.  Too many sprinkles.

Generous sprinkling or the regular amount, they are delicious.

–Martta

Oreo Owl Cupcakes

I Pinned it, and made it! Yes, I love Pinterest, and have thousands of Pins, but how many have I actually made? Maybe 20-ish. The teeniest drop in the bucket, when compared to how many Pins I’ve saved! I don’t think I’m alone in this either. So no judging, just do it!

My Mom actually emailed me this Pin, but of course I had seen it all over Pinterest… cutest cupcakes!! And because I am not so talented in the confectionary creation department, I go for the easy decorations. Frosted cupcakes, Oreos, and Reese’s Pieces? Easy.

Here is the Pin I saw…

Here is the original post from One Charming Party…

http://onecharmingparty.com/2010/10/21/halloween-school-party-food-station/

And here is my version… boxed cake mix, with homemade frosting… Yum!

Of course my kids had free license when it came to decorating, but I did strongly encourage they have normal owl eyes this first round. My son added yellow cheeks and a brown piece of hair, and my daughter went with two tufts of blonde hair for her sweet owl. Mine, of course is the boring one on top. :)

I used this recipe for the frosting, but made a couple of small changes. A whole stick of butter instead of the 6 Tbsp, and heavy cream instead of sweetened condensed milk. I recommend doubling the recipe if you want to cover a whole batch of cupcakes.

Here are a couple more pics, just for fun…

Make these with your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or just neighbors and friends! They are so easy, and just plain fun!

Happy Fall Y’All, as they say here in the South. :)

-Heather

Sangria Slushies

As astounding as this sounds, sometimes I am faced with left over sangria.  What?! you say?  I know, perhaps my friends aren’t the lushes that they make themselves out to be…(impostors!)  Well I’m not about to pitch a perfectly good pitcher of sangria.

So what do you do when life hands you lemons?  That’s right, you make lemon drop martinis.  So when I have leftover sangria, it’s to the ice cream machine to make sangria slushies!

Start with your ordinary pitcher of left over sangria.  

Now I’ve tried freezing it just like this and you end up with some pretty chunky frozen pieces of fruit in your slushy.  Especially since the bottom of the sangria pitcher tends to be a bit heavy on the fruit.  So now I attack it with the mini chopper before throwing it into the ice cream maker.  The side benefit is the berries take on a staring role and what was once white passionfruit sangria (which is totally fab by the way, you should try it) now takes on the rich purple hue.

So there’s one obvious problem with just throwing all the fruit into the chopper – so yes, I go the extra mile and sort out the fruit that still had a rind attached – you know, those pesky oranges and lemons.  I let the green apples go, it makes for nice little flecks of bright green in the finished slushy. 

At one point in my life, I considered peeling all the rinds off of these tiny bits of fruit.

I peeled off three rinds and realized that was a really stupid idea and I switched to a much better plan.

The mega juicer.

All you need to do it make sure that you don’t have any escapees as you juice the fruit.

Now everyone into the blender – let’s go!  

So pretty.

And then just pour that loveliness into the ice cream maker and away we go! 

Then I dump the new sangria slushy either directly into my glass or into the freezer to enjoy later.

I can only hope that this post saves some sangria that might have been tragically leftover at your house too.

–Martta

Knock-Off Jason’s Deli Mediterranean Wrap

I was struggling to come up with something I could eat the on the Jason’t Deli menu the other day and then I found this little gem: The Mediterranean Wrap.  Yum!  And so easy, it really just begged to be knocked off at home.  So here’s my version:

Collect up your ingredients:

  • 2T Hummus (roasted red pepper or otherwise)
  • 4 Slices oven roasted turkey
  • 2 C Field greens or baby romaine
  • 1/4 C Sliced Red pepper
  • 1/4 C Diced cucumbers
  • 1 T Fine Diced red onion (or purple onion according to Jason’s)
  • 1T Sliced Kalamata olives
  • Optional: Tomatoes and feta

All wraps start with a good foundation – the glue that will hold them together.  In this case it’s the hummus so spread that out over the entire wrap.  Now lay your turkey over most (but not all!) of the hummus layer.  You want to leave a sneaky bit open on one side so your wrap will “stick” when you roll it up.  Cover the turkey with the field greens. Complete your toppings with the peppers, cucumbers, onions and olives.  Now it’s time to get your wrap on.  Start rolling on the opposite side of the sneaky open bit.  Continue rolling pressing firmly all the way across making sure that no one tries to make a break for it out of wrap jail.Now just slice and enjoy!

Then go get a breath mint, ’cause we put a lot of delicious onions on this wrap.

–Martta

(No Dairy!) Rice Krispie Treats

Man, every once and a while I just hanker for the dairy world (cheese!).  So I go about trying to concoct a non-dairy alternative to some favorites.  Traditional Rice Krispie Treats are loaded with butter.  So how to get all that marshmallow-y goodness without all the butter?  I’m so glad you asked.My non-dairy Rice Krispie Treats involve just a few key substitutes on the path to deliciousness.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 5 Cups Rice Krispies (or any other generic puffed rice cereal)
  • 4 Cups Mini Marshmallows (yes, this is less than one bag.  How else am I supposed to snack on marshmallows while making these if I don’t leave some in the bag?)
  • 2 T Canola Oil
  • 3/4 t Vanilla (Use the good stuff)
  • 1/4t Imitation Butter Extract (It’s like a dang movie theater in a bottle)

Open bag of marshmallows and begin eating them.  Prepare an 8×8 baking dish with either a bit of canola oil or just a shot of good ole Pam.

Place 4 C marshmallows and canola oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat.  While stirring, continue to eat marshmallows directly out of the bag as if your mother raised you in a cave.  When the marshmallows have nearly melted, add extracts and stir to combine.  Add Rice Krispies, remove from heat and stir.  Pour the entire blob of crunchy deliciousness into the prepared pan

 Now don’t spend hours trying to get that factory perfect square using your spatula.  Just grab a piece of waxed paper, cover the Krispies and press.  

Allow to cool while you polish off the remaining marshmallows in the bag…..you know, if you have any left.

Slice into squares, serve and enjoy!  Ahh the wonders of no dairy.

–Martta

Lemon Angel Food Cake with Berries in Balsamic Syrup

The summertime berries are all out and they call for a light but delicious favorite – lemon angel food cake with berries in balsamic syrup.

If I’m feeling extra ambitious, I will make Ina Garten’s lemon angel food cake but with a recipe that calls for 11 egg whites, you are practically forced to follow it up with two of Ina Garten’s frozen key lime pies to use up the left over yolks and pretty soon you find yourself surrounded with dessert.

So I take a shortcut Sandy Lee style and pick up a box angel food cake from the store (gasp!).  I know, I know, but it comes out perfect every time :)  Of course this is a lemon angel food cake so what I do to jus it up a bit is to add in the zest of one lemon to the dry cake mix. 

Angel Food cake mix requires that you add water to complete the batter.  So I’ll take that lemon I just zested and juice it into a measuring cup.  I’ll top up the juice to the correct amount of water for the mix and add to the dry mixture for an extra lemon kick.  Now bake off according to package directions and the whole house will smell like sugar lemons.

Mmmmm sugar lemons.

Pull that bad boy out of the oven and allow it to rest upside down.

When the cake has cooled, prepare the berries.  Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar. 

Heat until the mixture is reduced by half then add the berries. 

Go with whatever berries you have on hand.  In this case I had made sangria the day before and had a few strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries left over.  The fruit added up to about two cups.

Heat through until the berries are just beginning to break down.   Then finish with a bit of additional lemon zest and top a slice of your cake with the warm berry mixture.   Mmmmmm delicious!

–Martta