Chocolate Almond Truffles

photo (58)

So I’m definitely really into the chocolate and almond combo this year (as if you couldn’t tell already) and keep trying to find new ways to combine them. I always thought of truffles as such a decadent luxurious treat, and couldn’t believe how simple they were to make when I read this Food Network Magazine article on them last year. The article made truffles seem so feasible and simple I had to give it a try. I used a slightly different method to melt the chocolate than they suggested, but the truffles came out so great you’d think they were from a fancy chocolatier! Also, it’s such an easy recipe to switch up with different flavors, Food Network gives some great suggestions. I decided I had to share this with all of you and encourage you to try your own truffles! They make very impressive holiday gifts – if you can keep from eating them all yourself!

Chocolate Almond Truffles adapted from Food Network Magazine
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon butter
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup chopped almonds

1. Add the heavy cream, salt and butter to a saucepan on low heat.

2. Begin to slowly add your chocolate, about 2 ounces at a time, stirring constantly. This part takes a bit of patience but the end result is totally worth it!
photo (56)

3. When all the chocolate has melted stir in your almond extract.

4. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish and refrigerate for a few hours until firm.

photo (57)

5. Once the mixture is firm, scoop out small spoonfuls (I found an ice-cream scoop worked really well for this) and roll into balls. If the mixture gets too soft while you’re doing this you might need to pop it in the fridge again for 20-30 minutes and then finish.

6. Roll each ball in the chopped almonds, enjoy!

photo (59)

Bite-Size Lemon and Cranberry Sandwich Cookies

photo(30)

One thing I do love about being in the DC area is the way people react to snow.  Having grown up in Upstate New York, it took a pretty decent storm to get a snowday.  I’m used to people fearlessly driving on slushy roads and taking to their shovels without a second thought.  Down here, pretty much just the *chance* of snow is enough to close down most offices.  I’m delighted that today’s snow predication did come true.  Although it’s not too much, it’s just enough to beautifully coat the ground and warrant a work from home day.

I decided to take the extra time at home to work on some more holiday baking.  I quickly whipped up this cookie dough before a 9am meeting and finished baking and frosting them during lunch.  These cookies are inspired by this recipe that mom often makes.  There are always so many great baked goods around at the holidays it’s easy to go overboard.  So, I decided to make these little bite-size sandwich cookies (although since they’re sandwich cookies I guess 2 small ones kiiind of equals one big one, but we’ll just ignore that)!

Bite-Size Lemon and Cranberry Sandwich Cookies
Dough:
1 cup room temperature butter
1 cup 10x sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups 10x sugar
juice of 1 lemon

1. Begin by making your dough, combine the butter and the sugar and mix well with a hand mixer, whisk or stand mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well, the dough should feel slightly soft and buttery.

2. Let the dough chill for about 30 minutes. While it’s chilling make your frosting. First, add the butter and the lemon juice. Then add your sugar. Depending on how juicey your lemon is you might need to add more sugar. Continue adding sugar and mixing until you have a frosting like consistency.

photo(29)

3. Roll out your dough about 1/4 inch think and use a small cookie cutter to cut out the circles. Bake at 350 for about 6-8 minutes.

4. Let the cookies cool after baking them. When cooled, add a small amount of the frosting on the flat side of one cookie and top it with another, enjoy!

photo(28)

Butter Cookies

20131113-213435.jpg 20131113-213335.jpg 20131113-213255.jpg

Time for another holiday cookie! These simple little bites are one of my all time favorite treats. I would always get so excited when my mom would make these, but then again what’s not to love about butter, sugar and flour? I’m not usually a fan of eating unbaked cookie dough (weird, I know) but I always take a few spoonfuls of this dough for myself while I’m making these.

These cute delicate little cookies melt in your mouth. The texture that comes from pushing them through a pastry tip gives them a little something special and the literal “cherry on top” adds a touch more sweetness.

This recipe makes a LARGE batch of cookies, you can half it if you want, but I bet you’ll wish you had more once you start eating them!

Butter Cookies
4 cups flour
1 lb room temperature butter
1 cup 10x sugar
maraschino cherries

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. Cut maraschino cherries into quarters and drain them on a paper towel
3. Combine butter, sugar and flour in a large bowl and mix well.
4. Using small amounts at a time push the dough through a pastry tip
5. Top each cookie with a cherry 6. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, enjoy!

20131113-211343.jpg

Chocolate Almond Cookies

photo(7)
I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged about more about baking and sweets.  For a long time all I could do in a kitchen was bake cookies and cupcakes, I had no idea how to actually cook any “real” food. So due to my lack of sweet posts I’ve decided it’s time to get some holiday treats on here! Holiday baking is truly one of my favorite things. I have so many great memories of baking sugar cookies and watching my mom come up with lists of new recipes to try each holiday season, constantly increasing her list of family favorites that she needed to make every year.

I recently discovered a new ingredient that is definitely going to be making an appearance in a large amount of my holiday baking this year. A few weeks ago my husband and I took a cooking class at Sur la Table where we made a cake with this almond paste . It adds a slightly different flavor than almond extract. Of course you could always substitute almond extract if that’s what you have in the pantry.

Chocolate Almond Cookies
2 cups flourphoto(5)
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon almond paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed almonds

1. Combine flour, sugar, butter, almond paste and salt in a large bowl and mix until everything is smoothly combined.

2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies.

3. Bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes.

4. When the cookies have cooled, melt your chocolate in a double boiler. When the chocolate has melted carefully dip each cookie half of the way in. Then dip the cookie into the crushed almonds, enjoy!