Well, it’s December 23. Can you believe it?! I feel like I just finished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, and we’re already 2 days out from Christmas. This year has absolutely flown by. Not only is 2013 nearly over, but next Wednesday will mark the halfway point in my pregnancy. Yikes! When did that happen? We could not be more thankful and excited for what 2014 has to offer us, but until that comes, we still have one (big) holiday to get through.
Every year for the past several years, I have made some kind of candy or cookie at Christmas time. Eggnog macarons, candy cane meringues, rum balls. And for the past 2 years, truffles and caramels have taken center stage.
These are the best gifts to give to people this time of year. I have a huge extended family, and making treats has always been the best way to make sure everyone gets some holiday love this time of year. Truffles are fantastic; so, so easy to make, and so easily customizable to whatever flavors you want. I did one basic truffle recipe with two different toppings: pistachios and cocoa powder. Truffles dipped in cocoa powder are my personal favorite; so rich and decadent, that I have a habit of eating about 12 before even realizing I’ve consumed that much chocolate. Whoops. 😉
These caramels are a take off of the Truffled Truffles I did on here awhile back. Rich, super buttery caramels with that little truffle oil finish, and the bite of the sea salt … these are the best caramels ever. The main trick that I’ve finally picked up on with caramels is to never stir the sugar; only swirl the pan. Stirring the sugar can create crystallization, which makes for gritty caramels, very unappealing. These little babies are smooth as can be, and melt in your mouth immediately. Before I got everything cut and wrapped, Shawn was surreptitiously taking slices of it off of the brick, he loves these caramels so much. Ahh, the rush of Christmas sugar.
I love Christmas. We will be eating fondue and crab Christmas Eve with my family, followed by a Christmas morning of stockings, gifts and a delicious brunch. This year is particularly poignant, as it is the last year for Shawn and me as a family of two. This time next year, we will have a little 6-7 month old, and will get to start all of our own traditions to carry on throughout the years. I can’t wait to see what the coming years have to bring us.
And to you, my lovely readers, I wish all who celebrate a very merry Christmas! THG
- 24 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
- 3 Tbsp. good brandy
- 2 Tbsp. coffee liqueur
- 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
- 1 cup green pistachios, finely chopped
- In a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together 16 oz. bittersweet chocolate and unsalted butter. Stir until just smooth and set aside.
- Heat heavy cream and corn syrup over medium heat until bubbles just begin to form along the sides of the pan. Quickly pour over melted chocolate and stir a few times to incorporate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and stir until mixture is smooth. Add brandy and coffee liqueur and stir to incorporate. Pour into glass baking dish and refrigerate 1 hour to set.
- Using a melonballer, scoop chocolate mixture and roll into 1 inch spheres. Place on a parchment sheet and refrigerate another 1 hour.
- Melt remaining 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water until smooth. Allow chocolate to cool to about 92-93F. Using two regular teaspoons, roll truffles in melted chocolate until fully covered. Tap on the edge of bowl to release any extra chocolate from around truffle. For cocoa powder truffles: add chocolate dipped truffle to bowl of cocoa powder and gently roll to coat. Tap to release excess powder and set on parchment paper lined baking sheet to set. For pistachio truffles: place chocolate dipped truffles on parchment paper lined baking sheet and quickly sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
- Let truffles set with chocolate at room temperature for another 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- 3 cups white sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tsp. truffle oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 tsp. pink sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Line a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly brush the parchment paper with vegetable oil and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, water and 1 tsp. truffle oil over medium-high heat. Do not stir the sugar mixture; just swirl as necessary. Allow sugar to bubble and darken in color to a deep golden brown (keep a close eye to make sure sugar doesn't burn.)
- While the sugar is caramelizing, bring heavy cream, butter, remaining 2 tsp. truffle oil and sea salt to a boil. Set aside.
- Once the sugar mixture has reached a deep golden brown, remove from heat and quickly whisk in heavy cream mixture. Be careful; it will quickly bubble up! Once heavy cream mixture is incorporated, whisk in vanilla and return to medium heat. Heat caramel to firm ball stage, about 250F. Immediately remove from heat and carefully pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until caramel has set, about 2-3 hours.
- Cut up several 3x3 inch squares of either parchment paper or wax paper. Lightly brush vegetable oil on a cutting board and large knife. Remove caramel from the pan and parchment paper and place on cutting board. Sprinkle generously with pink sea salt. Cut into 1 inch wide strips, and then into 1x1 inch pieces. Wrap in parchment paper or wax paper and set aside. Continue to brush knife with vegetable oil as needed. Refrigerate wrapped caramels until ready to serve.