Friday, January 15, 2010

Chocolate Almond Bark and Chocolate Raspberry Bark!

This is one of my new favourites, not just for Christmas but for any time of year really.  A coworker brought these in one day and it was one of those things where you ate one peice, and it was good.  But then there was no stopping you after that first bite, you had to keep eating more and more!!  These have been called many different things,  but I decided to go with 'Bark' for the sake of this post.  I have also revised this recipe a bit to suit my own tastes - but its truly up to you, make changes as you go!

Chocolate Almond Bark

1 sleeve of graham crackers 
1 cup butter (preferably no substitutions)
1 cup brown sugar (you may want to use less of this if you aren't fond of how sweet these are)
2 cups milk chocolate chips
Crushed almonds to taste

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line a 10" x 15" lipped pan (or any size you can fit those crackers in flat) with heavy duty foil.  Take your crackers and line them in the pan in a single layer with the edges touching.  If you have some spaces at the edges of the pan, you can break some crackers to make more fit.

In a saucepan, combine the butter and sugar and bring to a boil.  Stir constantly with a wire whisk for 2 minutes.  The mixture should gradually thicken.  Be careful that it does not burn.  Now you can carefully pour the sauce over the graham crackers making sure you have spread it evenly.  Throw your crackers and sauce into the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the surface of the sauce begins to bubble.

Remove and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top.  You can return the pan to the oven for another minute so that the chips melt.  Remove the pan again and spread the chocolate with a knife or spatula.  Now you can pour your ground almond pieces over top.  Chill until chocolate and toffee has set and your ready to eat!!

Raspberry Chocolate Bark


1 sleeve of graham crackers
1 cup butter (preferably no substitutions)
1 cup brown sugar (you may want to use less of this if you aren't fond of how sweet these are)
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 small package of raspberries
Grated coconut to taste

This is the same recipe as above only you will be adding pureed raspberries at the same time as you add the chocolate chips (albeit just before).

The above picture is what your pureed raspberries should look like when you spread them on AFTER baking the toffee and crackers for 10-12 minutes.  Now for the chocolate.

At this point you can add some grated coconut over top and chill!

One small note for these is when you break them up for serving, they can be broken into random pieces or 'shards'.  Don't expect the individual crackers to come out nice and clean, because they won't!

Hope you enjoy this little recipe!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Candy Cane Cookies!

So, if you like a little bit of peppermint than you will like these cookies!  They are basically shortbread with a little mint extract or crushed candy canes.  But they are good!  Unfortunately these probably won't hit your plate until next Christmas season but either way I am putting them up for future reference.  You can really make these your own as well by adding whatever decorations you'd like to spruce them up - since they are so simple.

1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (you can also use real crushed candy canes)

red food coloring (gel works best)

Cream together sugar, butter and peppermint extract with a mixer until they are nice and fluffy.  Next add your cornstarch and flour and mix well.  Separate the dough into two equal parts and place each in a bowl.  Take one half and mix in enough food coloring to get the shade of red you desire.  Now you can wrap both in plastic wrap and chill until they are pliable, about 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 325F.  Now for the creative part!  You can do this several ways, but this is how we did it.  Take your tinted and untinted dough and using a melon baller or scooper, divide each dough into balls for rolling.  You can roll one of each color into a thin tube.  After one color of each is done, twist them together and shape into a candy cane.  This may seem easy at first, but you may need to give it a couple of tries to get it right.  If the dough gets too soft, put it back into the fridge for 10 minutes.

Once your done with all the dough, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.    Place the sheets in the oven for approx. 20 - 25 minutes.  Make sure that these do not burn, they should be checked on often.  You will know that they are done once they become firm but not 'browned'.

As I mentioned earlier, they may take some tries to get them to look right but once you get a technique going, you will be able to experiment with other decorations.  Enjoy!

Champagne Chocolate Truffles!

Hello!  I am back as promised with another one of the recipes I made for Christmas.  This particular one gave me MANY problems.  I suppose some things take several tries to get perfect, but in the end it worked out pretty well.  My main issue was getting the consistency right.  For some reason, it was always too soft to roll, so I kept having to add more and more chocolate.  Having said that, I was probably tired and stressed out at the time, so I may very well have fudged up some measurements without realizing.  Either way, I hope you try this out and perhaps you can give me your thoughts or comments on how it went for you.  Here goes!

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Champagne
1 tbsp Cognac or Brandy
cocoa or whatever you fancy for rolling

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.  As soon as the cream boils, place it over the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.  Stir until the chocolate has fully dissolved into the cream.

Stir in the Champagne and Cognac or Brandy.

Chill for about 2 hours or until thick and pliable.  It should be somewhat the consistency of a heavy dough.  If you can't picture yourself rolling it into a ball, it's either not thick enough or not chilled enough.  Using a melon baller or ice cream scooper, form little balls and place them on wax paper and chill for 15 minutes.

Place cocoa (or whatever you've decided to roll your truffles in) into a shallow bowl.  Now you can roll each ball into the cocoa until they are fully coated.  If they start to melt too much, you can put them back in the fridge for a couple minutes to harden up again.

Once your done, you can return them to your wax paper and chill them for another 30 minutes or until they are firm.  And your done!

I keep mine in the freezer so they last longer as, they are quite rich so you won't be able to get through them fast.  Let me know how these work for you!  If you find that you have the same problem as me and they come out to watery, try adding more chocolate until you get the right thickness.  See you next time!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cranberry Jelly Roll

Hi all!  Well as I am sure you've noticed, my idea of posting all my holiday baked goodies didn't work out as planned.  Life took over and I had no time to do anything with the blog.  BUT, now there seems to be a bit of a lull in my day where I can escape and get some of these recipes posted, yay! 

What better to start off with then the Cranberry Jelly Roll!  This one came from a magazine I got at the local supermarket which again happened to be Martha Stewart.  I never go looking for her books or magazines, but I always seem to end up buying them.  Anyway, this recipe is nice because it's relatively easy but will make you look like a pro!  Here's what you'll need :


1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sifted cake flour (non rising)
3 tbsp finely ground almonds (may be toasted)
1/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs and 2 yolks
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
8 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
cooking spray


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly coat a 12x17inch, rimmed pan, with cooking spray.  Next place parchment paper to line the pan and spray on top of it.

 Dust the parchment paper with flour and tap out any excess.  In a bowl mix together the flour, ground almonds and salt.  In a heat-proof bowl combine the eggs, yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Put the bowl into or above simmering water and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm.  Remove it from heat and using an electric mixer set to medium, whisk for 2 minutes.  Raise the speed to high and continue whisking for another 4 minutes.

Now add your flour mixture into your egg mixture making sure you don't make clumps.  When the two are almost incorporated, add the butter down the side of the bowl and fold in.  Your batter is done and is ready to bake.  Gently spread the batter into the prepared pan flattening it out with a spatula.  Tap the pan on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake 7-8 minutes or until golden brown and springy to the touch.   Let cool for 5 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the sides of the cake to free it from the parchment paper.  Take another pan or a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners sugar and invert the cake onto it.  Starting with the shorter (or thinner) side, roll the cake into a log (incorperating the towel) and let cool further, with the seam facing down.

In the meantime, you can start making the jam.  Cook your cranberries and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.

Continue to cook until the cranberries have broken down and the liquid has begun to evaporate, somewhere between 5-7 minutes.  Let this cool and then puree in a food processer until it's smooth.  Let cool completely.

With an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese and confectioners sugar until it is light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and continue beating for another 30 seconds.

Unroll the log, spead with jam making sure to leave 1/2inch border on all sides.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over the jam.

You can reroll the cake now (excluding the towel of course ;) and cover with a towel.  Chill for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.  Once cool you can trim the ends off.  Before serving, you may dust with confectioners sugar.


There you are!  I hope this one turns out good for you!  It may seem a little complicated at first but once you do it once, it's quite simple.  My one critique with this is that the cream cheese seemed a little to strong for my tastes.  I wonder if theres some way of mixing cream cheese with perhaps whipped cream or some other type of cream all together.  For some reason Martha Stewart seems to love her cream cheese a little too much.  haha

More recipes to come in the next couple days!