You can hark to the herald angels, but that isn’t singing.
Homemade candy is a great holiday gift: People appreciate receiving something hand-made, it’s easy to make in large batches, and for relatively little money and effort you can turn out something that looks downright artisanal. Chocolate truffles and divinity are easy candies to master, and if you can give them names that will horrify elderly aunts, so much the better. I’ve even made spiffy downloadable labels for you.
These are chocolate-peppermint truffles since it stands to reason that, just as unicorn poop tastes of cotton candy, the poop of Santa’s reindeer would taste Christmasy. Duh.
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces
3 T unsalted butter
1/2 C heavy cream
1 T light corn syrup
1 tsp peppermint extract, or 1 T creme de menthe
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
Festive sprinkles (optional): I used these, but you could use these or these or any of the other zillion search results for “Christmas sprinkles.”
1/2 C Dutch process cocoa powder
Place the 10 oz of chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and melt together over a double boiler full of simmering water. I sometimes live dangerously and melt directly over very low heat, stirring constantly, but you have to be careful not to let it scorch. Set aside.
Place the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Pour over the chocolate mixture and let stand for 2 minutes. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir gently until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in the mint extract or creme de menthe. Pour into an 8″x8″ glass dish and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a tablespoon, melon baller, or cookie scoop to scoop the truffle mixture onto the parchment. (If the mixture is too stiff to scoop easily, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.) Return the sheet to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
If finishing with cocoa powder, put it into a bowl or pie pan.
If finishing with a chocolate coating, you’ll need to melt and temper the remaining 8 oz of chocolate.* Finely chop it and place two-thirds of it in the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely-simmering water. Place a candy thermometer in the chocolate and stir frequently as it melts. Be careful not to let the temperature exceed 120°F for dark chocolate or 105°F for milk or white chocolate.
As soon as the chocolate is fully melted, remove it from the heat and wipe the bottom of the bowl to remove any condensation (water will cause the chocolate to “seize,” so it’s important to not let any drip into the melted chocolate). Stir in the remaining third of the chocolate a little at a time, letting it melt before adding more.
Once the chocolate is at or below 82°F, place it back over simmering water. For dark chocolate, reheat to 88°F – 91°F. For milk and white chocolate, reheat to 85°F – 87°F.
Try to keep the chocolate at that temperature when working with it; if it begins to thicken too much but is still fairly liquid, it can be gently reheated; if it solidifies you’ll need to re-temper it.
There’s apparently an alternate method, which I haven’t tried, which involves putting a heating pad in a bowl, setting it to medium, and then putting a metal bowl holding the chocolate on top of that. Melt, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate reaches 88°F – 91°F (or 85°F – 87°F for milk/white). Adjust the setting of the heating pad to maintain that temperature.
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape them into balls by rolling them between your palms. The cooler your hands are, the better; using latex gloves helps with that a bit, plus it keeps your hands cleaner. Return the rolled truffles to the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm back up.
If finishing with cocoa powder, roll each truffle in the cocoa until coated. Return to the baking sheet.
If finishing with chocolate, dip each truffle into the chocolate using a fork. There’s a photo tutorial here that explains how to do that cleanly.
Place the dipped truffle back on the parchment paper. If decorating with sprinkles, sprinkle them over the chocolate before it hardens so they’ll stick.
Let the truffles sit in a cool, dry place for at least one hour. Store airtight in the refrigerator. The truffles taste best at room temperature.
For a different festive flavor, omit the mint extract in the recipe above and instead stir in 1 C chopped dried cranberries and 3 T thawed orange juice concentrate.
You could also vary the flavoring and decoration for these and pass them off as the droppings of other mythical animals. Instead of mint extract, try:
- Nightmare Poop: Add 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp cayenne. Decorate with Halloween sprinkles or little edible bones.
- Unicorn Poop: Add 2 T rose water and 1 T Amaretto. Instead of dipping in chocolate, finish them with a marbled rainbow coating. (Note: I know that I said up above that unicorn poop tastes of cotton candy, but the only cotton candy-flavored truffle recipe I could find are those misbegotten crushed-up-Oreo things and those can die in a fire. I’m sure you could argue convincingly that unicorn poop tastes of roses; if anybody challenges you, ask them exactly how they know.)
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