Friday, October 31, 2008

"Shouldn't you be scarier?"

"Angel of Death?" "You're too cute to be the Angel of Death." "Shouldn't you be scarier?"

These are the responses I received from my co-workers this morning. Completely overlooking the fact that I was carrying homemade truffles. Which I had spent 2 days making for them. Honestly, no imagination. So on to my truffles. I decided to forgo the traditional bat shaped, pumpkin shaped, ghost shaped cut out cookies and instead made some amaretto truffles. Yum :) After looking through several recipes for truffles and deciding there just was not enough amaretto in any of them or chocolate for that matter. I decided to piece together my own recipe, although mine closely resembles one of my favorite truffle recipes from Joy of Baking. So here is my version. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!!!

Amaretto Truffles

8oz. of semi-sweet chocolate (or whatever is your favorite)
1 handful of white chocolate chips
1 & 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 Tbs. of butter
1 tsp. of vanilla
1 bag of milk chocolate chips (again, whatever is your favorite)
3-4 Tbs. of Amaretto (yes I did say 3-4 tablespoons)

- Cut up your blocks of semi-sweet chocolate. It melts easier when it's not in big chunks. Melt in a microwave safe glass bowl for a minute or two, stirring occasionally.

- In the meantime heat your heavy cream, butter, and vanilla in a small sauce pan. Once the butter has melted and the cream has started to boil, remove from the burner. Slowly whisk it into your bowl of almost melted chocolate. Whisk until you have a smooth bowl of chocolate goodness :)

- Let your bowl of chocolate sit out until has cooled off a bit. About 15-20 minutes. Now cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or over night.

- When you are ready to make the truffles, use either a spoon or a small cookie dough scoop. I prefer the scoop. I scoop out about 10 balls at a time. That way I can form more at a time between rinsing off my hands. Take the ball of chocolate and either form a ball with the tips of your fingers (works best for me) or roll it between your palms. Place completed pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet.

- When you have all of your truffles formed, place the tray in the freezer for about an hour to harden up. About 10 minutes before you take them out, melt your milk chocolate chips. With a spoon dip the truffles in the melted chocolate and coat completely. Set the coated truffle back on the tray and repeat with the rest of the truffles. I also decided to forgo the chocolate shell on half of my truffles and instead used black and orange sprinkles.

- Place the tray back in the freezer for about 20 minutes to let the shell harden. Once they have set-up you can decorate the outside of the truffle with orange tinted white chocolate. Simply fill a pastry bag with the white chocolate and attach the smallest frosting tip you have. Now pipe on ghost faces or write out 'Boo'. Make spider webs. Decorate until your heart is content. Place the finished truffles into small candy liners.

- Now feel free to consume your finished product. Or give away as Halloween treats.
Happy Halloween everyone! Stay tuned for my next baking adventure ;)
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza! Pizza! My First Daring Bakers Challenge

Seriously, who doesn't love pizza? Obviously by my excitement you have figured out that my first challenge as a Daring Baker was pizza. Such an exciting challenge! This month's host was Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums. Again, thank you Rosa for such an awesome pizza recipe. Several years ago I attempted making pizza, and let's just say it was not so great. So I was pretty excited to have another shot at it. And I even tossed it in the air!

The recipe makes six 9-10 inch pizzas. It's a two day process, and on the second day I made three pizzas. For my first pizza I went with baby bellas, red onions, and mozzarella. The second pizza was tomatoes, red onions, baby bellas, green peppers, and mozzarella. And my third pizza was a cinnamon sugar pizza with white chocolate cream cheese icing. Mmmm :) Now besides having to make the dough, I also had to come up with a sauce. I've never really liked pizza sauce out of a jar, so after browsing many sauce recipes I decided to just give it a go. Surprising things happen when you decide to make up your own recipe. I threw together some tomatoe paste & sauce, some wine, seasonings, garlic, and voila a delicious pizza sauce was made.

I hope everyone enjoys this recipe as much as I did. Happy pizza-ing :)

Basic Pizza Dough
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter)

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled

1 3/4 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Instant yeast

1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)

1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)

1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup

Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Stay tuned for my next baking adventure. Truffles for Halloween.
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