Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Lollipops!

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dark chocolate lollipop with fruits and nuts

This was an easy fun recipe I saw while watching Ina Garten the other day on an episode of her show where she was visiting Paris and learned how to make these cute white chocolate lollipops.  I made mine with dark chocolate, Marcona almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried figs and cranberries!  You can do many variations with each lollipop and of course you can use whatever dried fruits and nuts you love.


Ingredients

  • 16 ounces very good chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried figs
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Macrona almonds
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Fleur de Sel (a pinch on top of each lollipop after the fruit and nuts)
  • Lollipop sticks (I cut some bamboo skewers into smaller pieces, but you have to watch for slivers!)

Directions


Place a sheet of non-stick silicone or parchment paper on a sheet pan.
Using the double boiler method:  Melt chocolate on very low heat, stirring with a whisk often until melted. Take off heat.


Using the microwave method:  Place 12 ounces of the chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl and put it in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. (Time it with your watch for accuracy.) Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula, return it to the microwave for another 30 seconds, then stir again. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. Immediately stir in the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. (If you need to heat it a little more, place it in the microwave for another 15 seconds.)
Using a tablespoon, pour the melted chocolate in rounds onto the silicone and place lollipop sticks in the middle of each chocolate round, giving the stick a little twist.  Sprinkle the tops of the lollipops evenly with the chopped fruit and nuts.  Put a pinch of the fleur de del on each if you like (totally optional).  Set aside to harden.  Wrap them up in a pretty package and VoilĂ !  There you go!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jam Success!

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jam in fridge

My Pear Cardamom Jam is ready to be distributed!  It tastes FANTASTIC!  Sweet and spicy with a nice bite from the cardamom.  At the very end of the recipe when you're adding the honey, I felt like adding a dash of ground cardamom because I wanted it a bit stronger.  I bet over time the flavor will concentrate even more though, so I will find out if that was a good idea or not in a few weeks when other people eat it, haha!  I had some for breakfast this morning, thinking it's just something you would never find in a regular market.  I'm so glad I found this recipe!

In conclusion, I might make it a bit more chunky next time because when I eyeballed a third of the batch to add to the rest,  I think I did over a third...so the ratio of smooth pear to chunky pears was a bit skewed.  But it seems like the type of recipe where you can alter it depending on personal preference.  Anyway, I highly recommend it!  It was easy peasy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pear Jam with Green Cardamom

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pears, lemons and Cardamom

I found this super easy tasty-sounding jam recipe in my Food & Wine magazine.  I'm ripening my pears as we speak so that in a few days I can try it out myself.  It's a 2 day recipe in that you have to soak the pears for one day, but there's no complicated canning process.  I promise to report how it turned out, but I just had to share before the holidays were over.  To vary this recipe, add a split vanilla bean or a cinnamon stick in place of the cardamom.  I'm definitely using the cardamom though...it sounds so flavorful!

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds ripe Bartlett pears - peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon honey

DIRECTIONS:


1.  In a large glass or ceramic bowl, toss the pears with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2.  Put a metal spoon in the freezer. Transfer the pears and their liquid to a wide, heavy pot and bring to a boil.  Put the crushed cardamom in a tea ball and add it to the pot.  Cook the pears over high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid starts to thicken and the pears become translucent, about 10 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat.
3.  Transfer one-third of the pears to a food processor or a food mill and puree until smooth.  Add the puree to the pot.  Boil over moderately high heat, stirring until the jam is very thick, about 5 minutes.  To test the jam, drop a small amount on the chilled spoon and freeze for about 30 seconds.  When you tilt the spoon, the jam should be thick and run down the spoon slowly.  If the jam is runny, cook it for a few minutes longer, then test again.  Remove the tea ball and stir in the honey.
4.  Ladle the jam into three clean, 1-pint jars and let cool completely.  Tightly close the jars and store the pear jam in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.  (I'm going to use little 12 ounce jars to give out this holiday!).


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