My best friend Stephanie moved to Pittsburgh a few years ago. Even though I don’t see her as often as I used to, we make it a tradition to get together and make truffles every year (See: 2010, 2011). This was our third year, and we spent the weeks before deciding on flavors, shopping, and picking up packaging materials.
No matter how much you plan in advance though, there are always some snags. We had a few last minute shopping trips, a recipe mis-calculation, and a slight shortage of boxes, but everything turned out great. I chose to make a Dark Chocolate Crunchy Biscoff truffle and Stephanie chose a Deep Milk Chocolate Earl Grey and Lavender truffle. Both were delicious (I’m not biased at all).
This year we even remembered to print off some labels to put on the inside of the boxes so that recipients would know what they were eating. Extra truffles that didn’t fit in boxes were placed in bags. We also made just enough peppermint bark – some made in a cute rilakkuma chocolate mold, and some made in a brownie bite pan.
The base recipe for these truffles are from a truffle making class that Stephanie and I attended at ACKC in Washington, DC on 5/25/10. These truffle recipes have served us well for the past three years, and we’ll continue to use them in the future.
Even though I was making 4 types of Christmas cookies, my office wouldn’t get to try any of them, so I whipped these up on a weeknight after seeing them on my friend Olga’s blog. I decided to make the pistachio cookies more festive by adding some red dried cranberries and some zingy crystallized ginger. I thought I was pretty clever turning these into Christmas-colored cookies.
Sometimes I think that chocolate is often used as a crutch in baking. It takes a really good hand to be able to make something delicious without chocolate in it that everyone will enjoy. These cookies had a firm yet delicate crumb and were extremely flavorful. I like that each bite had a bit of something else in it, an element of surprise, but some people don’t like that.
While these cookies were baking, I realized I had some chopped pistachios, cranberries, and ginger left over. I combined these with some leftover chopped hazelnuts from my homemade nutella and thought they’d make a delicious topping for one of my favorite things to make – pumpkin bread (or muffins). I scooped the bread batter into these odd shaped Panibois Baking Molds and hoped for the best, checking them often since they held varying sizes of batter. I couldn’t taste them after they baked (obviously), but I wrapped them up in cute snowflake cello-wrap and tied them with twine. I gave some to my family and some to co-workers. I’d like to think this is a more tasty version of a fruitcake, but pumpkin!