December 20, 2009

Easy, Last-Minute Homemade Treats

Well, S#$%. It’s the last few days before Christmas, and you’re at a loss for a) what to bring to a party; b) what to give the coworker who you don’t really like but who gave you a present; c) how to deal with the imminent onslaught of family members congregating from far and wide; or d) all of the above.

Fear not, for there are quick, easy solutions for problems
A-D, so long as you are armed with plenty of chocolate. Allow me to elaborate with a couple of my own ideas.

1) Homemade (vegan!) Peppermint Patties

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Check out Love Veggies & Yoga for my step-by-step guest post on how to mix up a batch of these bad boys. I dare say they’re even healthy!

2) Chocolate-Dipped Crystallized Ginger

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I almost feel lame in posting this idea—it’s that easy. No recipe involved. Just buy a package of candied ginger, melt some chocolate chips, dip and refrigerate on wax paper until solidified. Looks fancy, but short of harvesting my own cacao, I couldn’t have done much more to Martha-Stewart-ify this idea.

3) Chocolate Peppermint Bark

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Again, simply a matter of melting chocolate chips and bending them to your will, but in the interest of making myself less of a candy-making fraud, I will actually detail the “process” that I used to make this happen.

You’re going to want either some candy canes or some of them “Starlight Mints” from CVS or whatever. I used about 20 of the latter and pulsed them in my food processor to break them up coarsely. I imagine you could also put them in a sturdy plastic bag and pound them with a heavy pan or other blunt object (I considered using the boyf but decided that would likely get me on Santa’s naughty list).

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Set your minty crumbles aside and melt the chocolate. You will need a 12-oz bag of white chocolate chips/chunks and half (6 oz) of a 12-oz bag of semisweet chocolate chips/chunks. You can do this in a double boiler or, for minimum effort, in the microwave.

If microwaving, pour half of the white chocolate into a microwavable bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between zaps, until it can be stirred fairly smooth (about 90 seconds total). Pour the remaining half of white chocolate in, along with 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, and stir until all is melted. This tempers the chocolate so that it doesn’t get moldy-looking after refrigeration (I learned that trick from this recipe for white chocolate bark).

Do the same for the 6 oz of semisweet chocolate (no peppermint extract this time), in a separate bowl.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and spread the melted white chocolate out so that it gets fairly thin. It should cover the majority of your cookie sheet, with several inches to spare at the top and bottom. Then drizzle the dark chocolate up and down the length of the white chocolate.

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Try to get it more even and less blobular than I did.

Then take a fork and drag it back and forth across the cookie sheet in a motion perpendicular to the direction you drizzled the dark chocolate.

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Sprinkle the crushed candies on top, as desired, and put the cookie sheet in the fridge to set.

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The cooling process shouldn’t take especially long, but give it maybe 30 minutes, to be safe. Check on it earlier if you want—I didn’t time it. The sheet of chocolate will need to be entirely hardened in order to become “bark,” however, so wait until it is thoroughly set through to separate the chocolate from the wax paper and break into bite-size pieces.

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I happen to think this particular candy is exceptionally good-looking, considering the lack of effort it takes to produce. No need to share that information with its recipient, though.

There you have it—three perfectly fine options for contributing some holiday cheer to whatever predicament you might have on your hands this week. :)

Now, what happens if, say, you think it might be a good idea to add hemp milk to a bowl of melted chocolate in order to thin it out?

What happens is this: you are wrong! You are wrong, and you have a bowl of very dough-like chocolate on your hands. This is all hypothetical, of course, but to help you deal with such a situation, I have a couple of white-knight ideas to resurrect your chocolate from the depths of failure.

For example, maybe you were thinking of making flower-shaped chocolate-peanut-butter truffles, but now the chocolate won’t spread? Roll them into balls! They’ll still taste the same, after all. Balls are truly a confectioner’s savior.

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But maybe you won’t actually give these to anyone as a gift…I mean, you, not I. YOU won’t actually give these to anyone as a gift.

Perhaps more attractive would be to roll the leftover chocolate in coconut?

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Why I haven’t yet gotten a call from Godiva, I don’t know.

I’m not quite done with my holiday (un)baking, but the above is what I was able to do in just an hour or two. Of course, if you’re doing just one of the above projects, you’ll invest considerably less time! No need to ever feel empty-handed—chocolate is always there for you. Especially at the holidays and during PMS.

12 comments:

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

Holy moley woman, you have outdone yourself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First, thanks for the recipe you so graciously hooked up for your Guest Post on my blog (and thanks for making mention of it here!)...and then the peppermint bark. You're the 2nd blog I've seen in about a half hour that has done p-mint bark. But she didnt use the white/dark swirl motif. Nice goin'! Looks amazing!

As does the choc ginger.

As do the balls.

Goodness gracious. I'd love to come over and help you eat it!!!!!

Thanks again :)
xoxo

VeggieGirl said...

All perfect for THIS chocoholic! :)

lesley lifting life said...

Thanks for these last minute treat ideas! And, yes, I love that they're all so chocolaty!

Shannon said...

nice save with the hemp milk ;) lovely treats, as well. i will be trying out those peppermint goodies, for sure!!

caronae said...

Wow,those all look awesome! I might try some of them, since it's finals week and I really want to bake but have hardly any free time! Thanks for the ideas :)

Gena said...

I second Averie's comment! This is above and beyond my best chocoholic dreams!!

Wow. I always used to dream of being the sort of person who could, in an organized and elegant fashion, make perfect homemade treats for all family and friends. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't. But YOU are an inspiration! Thanks D.

Lindsey @ Eat, Read, Run said...

I may try your peppermint bark - my husband loves it and this looks soo simple. Great post - thanks!

glidingcalm said...

OH wow! TOO MUCH goodness in this post! i may have to get some peppermint bark right now. YES, because I doubt i could make it. well, maybe i could tryyyyyy


loved seeing you on Averie's blog too!!

HAPPY MONDAY !

muddy footsteps said...

Uh oh, these desserts look way too good! That means I'm definitely going to be stopping at the grocery store tomorrow to pick up some ingredients. Thanks for the inspiration!

http://nicolejanaye.blogspot.com/

Katie said...

Oh Diana, you've REALLY outdone yourself this time.

elise said...

i wanted to make homemade carob dipped pretz today...this post may make me recamp that idea. mmmmm.

Elina said...

Awesome treats! I want every single one... especially that peppermint bark. Yum!