>> Thursday, December 24, 2009
Well, it is that time of year. The time when you can't get away from sugar anywhere you look. It's inevitable. No matter how hard you try, what diet you're on, what self-control methods you pretend to use, you have to try at least one of every yummy thing that comes your way. My husband and I are right in the middle of a pretty heavy exercise program called P90X (ever heard of it!), and so I thought to myself that I would have the willpower to resist all of the crazy treats and recipes that came my way, but it was ridiculous to think about. Here's a few things I've been making and baking up.
For our anniversary a few weeks ago, we went to Sausalito and took an amazing chocolate making class at Cavallo Point Lodge. It was a wonderful class at this gorgeous inn right by the bay.
We took a class with Michael from Recchiuti Confections in San Francisco and made the BEST chocolate I've ever had. Burnt Caramel Almonds, Honeycomb Malt Truffles, and Fleur de Sel Caramels, oh my! Plus we were able to taste chocolate from all over the world. Did I mention this doesn't fall into the P90X diet! :) We were able to watch him make them, and then got the recipes to take home and try ourselves. I used these as my goody bags to give away to friends and neighbors this year. Here's some of the yummy chocolate.
Chocolate from around the world
Fleur de Sel Caramels
Gingerbread cookies were next on the list. I always have so many activities and events to go to this time of year, as I'm sure you do too. You're always asked to bring a little something, and it gets overwhelming. So I made these to take, and stretched them out to about 3 activities. The recipe comes from Martha Stewart, and I made a common royal icing frosting. The dough was a little gooey even with the refrigeration and freezing, but they still turned out very yummy. I also substituted fresh grated ginger in replacement of the ground ginger powder.
Lastly, it's been Archie and my yearly tradition to host a dinner party for the band at church. It's our favorite thing to do at Christmas time, and we put a lot of thought and planning into it. Or should I say, I do! :) Not that he doesn't help, but cooking is generally my area. Creativity and anything artistic is his. I was really excited about trying out some new recipes this year, and the afternoon of blog searching did not disappoint! I found some great recipes to use, and can't wait to share them with you. Bakerella is one of my new favorite places to hang out, and her specialty, cake balls, are super easy and amazing and perfect for impressing! Her recipe calls for Red Velvet cake, but there must be a conspiracy in San Jose against Red Velvet since I checked four stores and no luck!! So I replaced with Fudge Butter Cake mix, and they turned out just as well.
1 box cake mix - your choice (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper, but I like to hand roll them.)
4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)
I also only melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot.
Hope these wonderful goodies keep you festive and bright, and you enjoy a wonderful and Merry Christmas!