Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas Lessons in Chocolate

Happy New Year, anyone who might potentially still be around to read this! I hope everyone had a safe and eventful (or uneventful, if you prefer) holidays. I know mine certainly were, and mostly, it was my own fault.

A few days before Christmas, I took a look at the board I have on Pinterest specifically for candies. Truffles, barks, caramels, fudges, chocolates, gummies, anything that's small in size and large in batch, it's on there. Last year, I made three 3-ingredient candies for the family and neighbors: oreo truffles (oreos, cream cheese, chocolate), peppermint bark (white chocolate, regular chocolate, peppermints), and these things I don't have a name for, but it's a melted hershey kiss on top of a pretzel with an M&M squished on top and it's delicious. This year, I got a brilliant idea.

"I'm gonna make FIVE things for Christmas!"

What the HECK is wrong with me?

This year's menu included oreo truffles and peppermint bark. I've made the peppermint bark for the last...four, five years? The oreo truffles have been made annuaully for at least two years. The other three were all brand new and from Pinterest.

Andes Mint Fudge by Sally's Baking Addiction (pin)

Peanut Butter Buckeye Pretzel Bites by Sweet Pea's Kitchen (pin)

And, for the puppies in my family:

Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treats by The Comfort of Cooking (pin)

So, anyone wanna take a guess which one I messed up?

If you guessed the peppermint bark I've been making for the last half a decade, you'd be right! I wish I had taken pictures.

So here's what happened. The dog treats got slightly burnt in the first batch, and I had to roll out dough and use cookie cutters for the first time, but the dogs did not complain. After the dog treats, I mixed up the fudge in a double boiler. First layer went fine, although a little thick. The white chocolate layer didn't melt down quite as well, but after a few seconds in the microwave, it was fine. Chocolate layer was no problem. Into the fridge it went. The buckeyes and oreo truffles got made at the same time so I could use the same chocolate for dipping. When all was said and done, I was left with the perfect amount of white and milk chocolate chips for the peppermint bark. Melted the milk chocolate in the microwave (because it's just melt and pour, doesn't need to stay melted, so why use a double boiler?), poured it out, popped it in the fridge to set and got started on the white chocolate.

Let me tell you something about white chocolate. I usually use Hersheys white chocolate chips melted down, but when Hubby went to the grocery store, they were all sold out. He came home with Ghirardelli white chocolate chips. Awesome, it's good quality stuff, this is gonna be great! Into the bowl, into the microwave, and go. The chips start to melt. Take out, stir, 15 seconds, just like I've always done. Rinse, repeat until smooth. But this stuff, it never got smooth. How odd, there was still some in the center that was not melting. Okay, let's just nuke this mother. 30 seconds. And sti-

No stir. The white chocolate was nuclear and looked like butter. Or maybe ice cream. Whatever it was, it was NOT stirring, and it was not, to my knowledge, salvagable. What I thought was the stuff not melting was actually it getting thicker the hotter it got. The HECK did I do? Apparently, and I did not know this, but white chocolate has different melting directions depending on manufacturer. Hersheys melts great at 15 second intervals anywhere between 70% heat and full. Ghirardelli, according to the directions on the bag that I did not know were ever there, melts at 50% heat with time in between for the bowl to cool down. So I was left with a bowl of white chocolate that was firm enough to use as playdoh if it had been touchable. I think it was still molten after an hour, the kind of hot that you touch and it feels cold for a millisecond before your brain can realize "oh wait, that's not right". Luckily, I have an awesome hubby who made a "8PM on Dec 23rd" grocery store run for more white chocolate, and in the end, I had my usual awesome peppermint bark... and two bags worth of a lesson learned. Whoops. Merry Christmas.

For the record, aside from the fudge absolutely refusing to come out of its dish (and yes, I used PAM on it. The stuff was so thick it formed to the baking dish! It came out after having some time to warm up.), everything turned out amazing.