Chocolate Covered S'mores

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S'mores!  These are a nice idea for an edible gift.  Who doesn't love receiving home made candy?  

Tempering chocolate is easy and necessary for achieving professional quality chocolate treats at home.  Tempering chocolate is when chocolate is melted to one temperature and then brought down to a specific temperature range.  Tempering chocolate will leave you with chocolate covered candies that are glossy and maintain firmness at room temperature.  Untempered chocolate must be stored in the fridge or it will melt and will be messy when handled.  To temper chocolate you will need a metal bowl you can set over a pot of hot water and a thermometer. 

Makes 24 squares.

Chocolate Covered S'mores

12 graham crackers, halved into squares

24 marshmallows, halved lengthwise

1 lb dark chocolate discs or small pieces

.75 oz tempered dark chocolate, like Hersheys, Mast or Dove

Stretch 2 marshmallow halves over each graham cracker.  Use a chefs torch to toast marshmallows to a toasty brown.  Repeat with all graham crackers.  Set aside on a piece of parchment paper or silpat.  

Any chocolate you purchase will already be tempered when it leaves the factory.  However, once it is melted for coating other items, like graham crackers, it will have lost its tempered properties.  To regain the correct tempered property:  

In a double boiler with barely simmering hot water, stir the 1 lb of chocolate with a wooden spoon.  Heat the chocolate to 120-125 F.  It helps to begin with small uniform pieces of chocolate. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and cool the melted chocolate to 86F.  Adding the .75 oz of tempered chocolate will help lower the temperature.  (This is also called seeding.)

Raise the temperature of the chocolate by setting the bowl back over the hot water for brief intervals of 10 to 15 seconds.  Keep an eye on the temperature.  Heat to a maximum of 90F. (Milk and white chocolate would be to a maximum of 88F.)

The chocolate is now tempered and can be used for dipping and coating but must remain at 86 to 90F.  Continue passing it over the hot water to maintain this range of temperature.  

Dip toasted marshmallow graham one by one into chocolate until all are done.  Let set on parchment paper.  Store in air tight container. 

**Chocolate tempering instructions and notes are from the Components Design NW Inc which I found to be the clearest instructions and wanted to share.  

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread aka Nutella

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I don't know about you but I can't be trusted around Nutella.  I took a trip to Paris a few years ago and I think the 6 or so pounds I gained on that trip is due to the fact that I was helpless to resist the street side windows of creperies and their Nutella and banana crepes.

 Nutella + Banana is possibly my favorite food combination.  

This recipe makes about 4 cups, so plan accordingly.   (Most of this batch is going to friends and co workers.)

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

10 oz hazelnuts, blanched + skinless

1/4 cup sugar

1 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 stick butter

1 cup cream

pinches of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast about 30 minutes until medium brown.  Turn pan once during roasting for evenness.  Remove from oven and let cool.  

Combine sugar and roasted hazelnuts in the smaller bowl of a food processor and process with the multi purpose blade for 12 minutes of so.  Mixture will have to consistency of melted, oily, creamy peanut butter.  

Meanwhile, set a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and melt chocolate.  Add butter, stirring to melt and combine with chocolate.  Stir in cream.  Stir in hazelnut/sugar mixture and salt.  While warm, pour into clean jars.  

Will keep at room temperature of 4 days or in the fridge for a month.  

Chocolate Truffles

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Truffles!  I don't really know what to say about these but they are easy to make and a nice looking gift.  Keep these little things in the fridge.  Roll them either in cocoa powder, crushed nuts, chopped dried cranberries, sprinkles, coconut or anything else.  

Chocolate Truffles

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons grand marnier

6 oz german sweet chocolate  

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

cocoa powder (or whatever you've chosen to roll the truffles in)

In a pan, boil cream until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons.  Add grand marnier and chocolate.  Lower the heat and melt chocolate.  Add butter, stir until melted and mixture is smooth.  Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.  

Scoop out with a spoon, shape and roll in toppings.  

Sugar + Gingerbread Cookies

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Cookies are a holiday tradition for my family.  My mom would make sugar cookies, an aunt would make gingerbread and another aunt would make chocolate sugar cookies.  Or maybe it was another way around but there would be a cookie decorating extravaganza.  And it was great.  

I have an intense love of frosted cookies and for these I just used the frosting recipe on the domino powdered sugar box but added a squeeze of lemon and a bunch of zest.  

The sugar cookies are great with a little citrus zest or vanilla bean added.  For chocolate cookies, add a bit of cocoa powder or sub out a tablespoon or two of butter for chocolate.

Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cups sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup milk

Gingerbread Cookies

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup water

3/4 cup molasses

For either recipe:

In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, except sugars.  Set aside. 

In another bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Then egg (for sugar cookies.) Then add remaining ingredients.  Form dough into a log and chill 2 hours to a couple days.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out to 1/4" thick on a floured surface.  Dough is sticky so be afraid to be generous with the flour.  Cut out cookies and transfer to a greased cookie sheet.  Re-roll scraps.  

Bake 8-10 minutes.  For soft cookies, take them out just before they turn golden and toasty on the edges.