Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stuffed Hazelnut Cookies & Luscious Chocolate Truffles - Recipe Review

I received a copy of the Betty Crocker Big Red Cookbook from the good people at General Mills Canada a little while ago and I was asked if I would do a recipe review. I sat down with a cup of hot chocolate the night I got the book and read it cover to cover. Not only does it have 1500 recipes ranging from appetizers, to breakfast, to soups and desserts, but there are tons of handy information sheets. Things like how to cut up a whole chicken and how to can your own fruits and vegetables as well as measurement conversions and what to substitute for brown sugar if you're all out and in a pinch. The cookbook is broken down into 23 sections and includes a tab entitled "Do It Yourself" and another for meals that take "20 Minutes or Less". I'm a visual learner and I eat with my eyes so I really love that there are pictures for every recipe.

 Since I'm a baker at heart I quickly decided to make something from the Cookies, Bars and Candies section of this huge cookbook and began to drool over all the recipes. The holidays are quickly approaching so I picked two recipes that work great with my other favourite holiday treats. Everyone loves truffles and these super easy, dark chocolate balls of yumminess taste like the expensive specialty shop kind but cost only a fraction of what you'd pay in a store. And the Hazelnut Stuffed Cookies *cough*nutella*cough* are rich and chewy and perfect with a cup of hot cocoa or a minty mocha.

If you're looking for the perfect gift to give the at-home chef this year, or you want a new cookbook for yourself, I highly recommend the Betty Crocker Big Red Cookbook. Trust me, your tummy with thank me for it!

 Stuffed Hazelnut Cookies

1/2 cup hazelnut spread with cocoa
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (filberts)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup hazelnut spread with cocoa
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tsp shortening
6 tsp finely chopped hazelnuts (filberts), if desired

1. Heat over to 375˚F. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup hazelnut spread, powdered sugar and chopped hazelnuts . Shape into 24 (1-inch) balls.
2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, hazelnut spread, butter and egg with an electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon, until well blended. Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. Divide dough into 24 (1-inch) balls. Flatten each ball into 21/2 inch round circles. Shape cookie dough rounds around 1 hazelnut ball, covering completely. Repeat with remaining dough and hazelnut balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place filled dough rounds about 3 inches apart.
4. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until edges are set. Cool for 5minutes on the cookie sheet and  then transfer to cooling racks.
5. In a small microwaveable bowl, beat chocolate chips and shortening in microwave on High for 30 seconds; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies; sprinkle each with 1/4 tsp finely chopped hazelnuts. Let cookies stand until glaze sets.


Luscious Chocolate Truffles

1 bag (12oz) semisweet dark or milk chocolate chips (2 cups) *I used dark
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp liqueur (almond, cherry, coffee, hazelnut, Irish Cream, orange, raspberry or any other flavour) *I used Kahlua
1 tbsp shortening
finely chopped nuts, white chocolate, sprinkles or anything else you'd like to decorate them with


1. In a 2-quart saucepan, melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in butter. Stir in whipping cream and liqueur. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, just until thick enough to hold a shape.
2. Line cookie sheet with foil. On the cookie sheet, drop mixture by teaspoonfuls; shape into balls. (If mixture is too sticky refrigerate until firm enough to shape.) Freeze 30 minutes.
3. In 1-quart saucepan, heat shortening and remaining 1 cup chocllate chips over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; remove from heat. Using a fork, dip truffles, one at a time, into the chocolate. Return to foil covered cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle some of the truffles with nuts or sprinkles. Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until coating is set.

Amanda's Tip: Before dipping the truffles into chocolate, melt peanut butter chips with a bit of butter and dip some of the truffles in. Let set in the refrigerator and then dip into the chocolate and freeze for 10 minutes for Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles!

Disclosure: I received a free cookbook as part of this post. But my endorsements can't be bought. If I like something, I like it; If I don't, I'd tell you! Please see my Disclosure page to read more about my relationship with General Mills Canada.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

There's something about the holidays and chocolate bark. They just seem to go together... like chocolate and ... peanut butter! I like bark because you can break off a small little nibble, or a big'ol hunk depending on how sweet your tooth is in the moment (who am I kidding, I eat it all in one sitting, oh the shame!).

The most common bark is chocolate almond (delicious), and peppermint bark is very popular at Christmas, but I have a chocolate/peanut butter obsession that can not be ignored. Peanut butter chips, fudge chips, salted peanuts and mini peanut butter cups... think about it... for about 3 seconds, and then go to your kitchen and make it. You can thank me later ;)

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

1 bag PC Fudge baking chips (regular semi-sweet chocolate chips will work too)
1 bag peanut butter chips
2 tsp shortening
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup mini peanut butter cups


1. Melt the penut butter chips and the fudge chips seperately, each with 1 tsp of shortening, either in a double boiler or in the microwave.
2. Mix the peanuts in with the peanut butter chips.
3. On a cookie sheet that's been lined with tinfoil, poor and swirl the melted peanut butter chips/peanuts and the fudge chips.
4. Drop the mini peanut butter cups over the mixture and place the cookie sheet in the fridge to set.
5. When the bark is solid break apart.

Makes a great gift for friends, family and neighbours!

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