December 19, 2011
The Preparations are Ongoing
In late December is it hard not to be overwhelmed by the many recipes for holiday sweets. So far I have made the treats which went in the packages that I shipped to my family on Friday. I plan to make some cookies this week and maybe a cake for Christmas, but it will just be the two of us so I'm trying not to go overboard. For me, the preparations are one of the most enjoyable parts of the holidays. For many years I have helped my mom prepare for an almost yearly Christmas party which requires baking cookies, spicing walnuts, assembling lasagna, filling and decorating chocolate rolls (you may know them as buche de noel, but it's chocolate roll to us).
Aside from this one event, in my fthe rest of the preparations are ongoing. Since my siblings all have other families to celebrate with, Christmas often lasts for a week. This keeps the kitchen warm and full until the end of the year as we make a few more chocolate covered pretzels or the chocolate roll for our family dinner. I think of this time not as one that is busy and stressful, but as one that is cozy and full of time shared with loved ones in the kitchen, playing board games after dinner, or crowding around the television to watch a Christmas movie.
Obviously things have changed over the years and now my siblings are scattered far and wide. Still, Jess sent me a message the other day when she was making toffee and Natalie and I compare plans for holiday baking when we talk on the phone. It's harder when everyone has their own families and lives, but I hope there will be future holiday preparations together.
You may have your holiday baking planned out or you may be done with it. I'm adding other recipe to the long list of possibilities in case you have some time and some friends and family around. Chocolate and peppermint might be my favorite Christmas flavors, so here you have a simplified truffle of chocolate peppermint ganache covered by a layer of semi-sweet chocolate.
There's no need to have these ready for by Christmas day. I recommend making these on one of those cozy afternoons before or after the big day, perhaps with friends or siblings who enjoy spending time with you in the kitchen. That's what I would do.
P.S. To my family members: you don't have to make these. I'll leave it at that.
Chocolate Peppermint Bon Bons
I wasn't sure what to call these, but bon bons sound good. I used bittersweet chocolate for the center and semisweet for the outside. You could use milk chocolate or even white chocolate in place of either of these. I was hoping to find reusable chocolate molds, but I used small fluted paper cups that I found at my local kitchen store.
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces chocolate chips of your choice (I used bitter-sweet)
3 teaspoons peppermint extract
20 ounces chocolate chips of your choice (I used semi-sweet)
60-70 one inch fluted paper cups (or mold of your choice)
candy canes broken into bits, optional
Bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Place 8 ounces of the chocolate you are using for the center in a small bowl. Pour in the heated cream. Let sit for a minute. Stir to combine the cream with the melted chocolate. Add peppermint extract and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool, stirring every so often. When this ganache is ready it will be much stiffer, but still stir-able.
Place the 20 ounces of chocolate you are using for the outside of the bon bons in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a simmering pot of water. Stir the chocolate until it is melted.
On a baking sheet or plate, place the fluted paper cups. Fill each cup about 1/3 full with the plain melted chocolate. Let the chocolate cool for a minute or two. Next, add the ganache either scooping into the center of the chocolate layer by the teaspoonful, or piping in with a pastry bag. When each cup has a ganache center, fill the cup up with the plain chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes if you wish.
Let the chocolates cool completely and keep in an airtight container. Refrigerate if storing for several days. Makes 60-70 bon bons.