back in the saddle

I had mentioned last week that I've been a little lazy when it comes to cooking/baking anything new lately.  No excuses.  But I think that as of this weekend, I'm back in the saddle, again.  I am not even sure where to start. Or if this should be one  post, or two, or three.  It's now the end of the weekend and, with the exception of Friday night, I feel like I've spent a lot of the weekend in the kitchen and doing dishes.  Here's what we ended up with:
  • Nutter Butter Truffles
  • Cake Balls
  • Herb Chicken and Rice Bake
  • Osso Buco
Starting with dessert and moving backwards.  I've been trying to find the best way to make dipped things - i.e. truffles.  I've tried CandiQuick, chocolate chips, chocolate chips with a bit of shortening.  What has seemed to work best for me, though, is chocolate almond bark and I must give a special shout out to Holly for recommending it to me!  I'll get into the ingredients in a second, but first let's talk about the dipping process (there is a backwards theme here, today, apparently...)  I rolled the middles into balls and put them in the freezer.  To dip them, I found it was best to put a toothpick in each one (photo below), dip them in the melted chocolate, shake/wiggle them a bit to get the excess off, and then put them on parchment paper to harden (leaving the toothpicks in.)  Once they are hardened, twist the toothpick out; I found that if you take the toothpicks out right away, it leaves a bigger hole on top. It does leave a little hole the way I did it, but I was planning to drizzle something on top to pretty it up anyway, so that covers them pretty well. 

Now to the good stuff!  The Nutter Butter Truffles were similar to the Oreo Truffles I made a couple of weeks ago, except with Nutter Butter cookies.

Nutter Butter Truffles
1 package Nutter Butter cookies
1 package cream cheese (softened)

Crush the cookies; I understand from the recipe/reviews, that you can use a food processor for this. I do not have one, so I used a gallon-size bag and a rolling pin, which works just fine.  Combine the cookies and cream cheese until well mixed. Roll into small balls (around 1 inch or to your desired size) and place on parchment paper; freeze until hardened.  Then dip in melted chocolate almond bark heated in a small saucepan over the lowest heat setting.  Drizzle with melted white chocolate or colored candy melts.  I used green candy melts for this.  Store in the refrigerator.

The truffles were very good, but I preferred the ones that were made with Oreos, myself.  In addition to the truffles, I made cake balls for the first time - and I think a lot of people have never had them but they are pretty popular in some places.  A friend/colleague of mine in Maryland had a business making them for a while until it got to be too much because they were so popular. Side note: hers are much prettier than mine.  The simple way to make them is to make a cake with a cake mix and use frosting bought at the store.  I was trying to think of what flavor combo I wanted and was really considering red velvet and cream cheese frosting... but then went the homemade route because I was craving this almond cake that mom makes.  So I made the almond cake - called White Texas Sheet Cake - and used it's frosting to mix.  It went like this:

Cake Balls (almond/pecan)

 1 c. butter
1 c. water
1 tsp. almond extract
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 c. sour cream
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda

In a large saucepan, bring butter and water to a boil to melt butter.  Remove from heat and stir in flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, almond extract, salt, soda, until smooth.  I put the wet ingredients in first, mixed, and then sifted in the dry ingredients for this step.  Pour into greased 10x15 greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 20 - 22 minutes. (Mine only took 15, though - my pan might have been a bit bigger - keep a close eye).  Let the cake cool and then make the frosting (below). 

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. milk
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 c. chopped pecans (or can use walnuts) 

Once the cake is cool, crumble it into a large mixing bowl and mix in the frosting, a bit at a time, until it gets to a consistency that will roll into balls, well.  Put the mixture in the refrigerator to cool for a couple of hours.  Roll the mixture into little balls (about 1 inch or to your preferred size) and then place in the freezer to harden. Then dip in melted chocolate almond bark heated in a small saucepan over the lowest heat setting.  Drizzle with melted white chocolate or colored candy melts (sound familiar?)  I used red and green candy melts for the drizzle.  Store in the refrigerator.

They look pretty much like the truffles - just different insides.

So, the other thing I did with this was to use just the middle of the cake for the cake balls - and I used the leftover frosting to frost the outsides of the cake so I ended up with some regular cake, as well!  If you're making just the cake, though, the recipe says that you should make the frosting while the cake is in the oven and frost it when it's warm.  Obviously I couldn't do that here. :)

OK, I got to this point and I think I'm going to post the other things tomorrow.  This is getting to be a really long post and you're probably getting bored.  Check back in tomorrow for the chicken rice bake thing and the Osso Buco.

Before I sign off, though, I wanted to share another neat thing I learned through these processes.  The last time I tried to make the drizzle for the top of the truffles, I used white chocolate chips which work when used alone, but every time I tried to add food coloring it would get clumpy and weird.  I tried again with a different color (like that's going to make the difference) and the same thing happened.  It turns out that adding any water or water-based product (i.e. food coloring) to melted chocolate will cause the chocolate to seize and clump... the exact symptoms my failed attempts.

So what's the solution?  Apparently they make oil-based food coloring that you can use (whoever 'they' is).  OR or you can go the route I did and get colored candy melts (I found them at Party City) and they worked swimmingly! 

One of the things I like about doing things like this is that I get to learn things as I go - I've made more truffles (or similar) than I normally would this season because I want to figure out how to do this right.  I'm not 100% there, yet, but they taste pretty good and are starting to look better each time!

If you're my colleague and will be at work tomorrow I will be pawning these off on you.  You've been warned.


  1. Interesting post. Sounds like a lot of work but the end result looks great. We will expect a platter of these for Christmas Eve. Keep cooking rk

  2. I know what I am looking forward to on Friday night!!! bjg

  3. Mom - it is kind of a lot of work, so probably won't be doing it all the time now that I kind of know how. It's been fun to learn, though.

    B - I have LOTS so there will be plenty there. :)


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