December 18, 2010

Failproof Candy

Candy making is fun, but sometimes frustrating. These two candy recipes don't require any special skill, so if you want something easy, but really yummy, try either or both of these: peppermint bark and buckeyes.

Peppermint Bark

12 oz. dark chocolate
12 oz. white chocolate
4 - 6 candy canes, crushed

Prepare pan by lining it in wax paper. I used 8x8 square pan, but the bark was on the thick side. Also try a cookie sheet, but don't spread the chocolate all the way to the edge. Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave (on high for 1 minute, stir, then short bursts of 10-20 seconds until melted. Stir after each burst). Spread the dark chocolate in the prepared pan. Let set. Repeat melting process with the white chocolate. Spread evenly over dark chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes, pressing the candy slightly into the chocolate. Let set. Remove the bark from the pan. Peel the paper away from the bark. Break or cut into pieces.

As many non-midwesterns may not know, buckeyes are a nut-like fruit that grows on trees. Candy buckeyes resemble the fruit. Ever wonder what the Ohio State Buckeyes are? Nuts (or fruits)!

Many buckeye recipes have a peanut butter center containing only peanut butter,powdered sugar, and butter. I tried this recipe with graham cracker crumbs and cream cheese in the center, and thought the consistency and taste were perfect.

I used a toothpick to dip the buckeyes in chocolate. After the buckeyes were set, I pushed the exposed peanut butter center around a little to get rid of the toothpick hole.

from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 14 graham crackers)
dash of salt
3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped

Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat for 10 seconds. Add the sugar and butter, and mix on the lowest speed until it stops floating off everywhere, then increase the speed until the ingredients are combined. Scrape down the whole bowl well, then mix again. The mixture will be quite sturdy and a little dry — perfect for shaping. Set it aside while you prepare the coating.

Make the coating: Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, stirring until it is completely smooth or in a microwave in 30 then 10 second increments, stirring before you start it again until it is completely smooth. Let it cool to tepid (about 100 degrees), while you shape the peanut butter centers.

Assemble the candies: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out slightly more than one tablespoon’s worth of filling, and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared sheet and repeat the process until all of the candies have been shaped. They can sit close to each other but make sure they are not touching.

Using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate and roll it about so that almost the entire candy is coating, leaving a small circle uncoated.

Chill the buckeyes until they are set, about 30 minutes.

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