Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tastes like Christmas

There are just some flavor profiles that instantly woosh you back to a moment in history.  For example, every time I smell nutmeg, I think of my grandmother's tortellini soup. Or whenever I taste melted cheddar cheese, I think back to after school snacks made by my little sister.  A few years ago, I found myself seeking out a little piece of Christmas and I couldn't shake this craving I was having for these little candies my grandmother used to make every Christmas.  They were what our family put out for Santa instead of cookies.

The funny thing is, I hated these chocolates growing up.  There were just too many conflicting flavors for my 11 year old palate.  But I decided to give it a go.  After a quick consultation with my cousin Sara to help jog my memory about what was exactly in these bad boys, I was ready to go.  And the result was a huge success!  I have now made these for Christmas and even Easter for the past few years and every time, they are met with oohs and ahhs.  So let's make them, shall we?

Start by melting 2 cups of semi-sweet morsels in a double boiler.  Or in my case, a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Typically, I use the microwave to melt chocolate.  But in this case, the quantity of chocolate and the size of the bowl dictates that I use the boiler method.  It also helps to temper the chocolate so that it is shiny and doesn't melt too easily.

While the chocolate morsels melt, chop up another cup of almond bark or dark chocolate bar or candy melts.  Basically you want something that has already been tempered since the morsels are designed to melt and you don't want these candies to melt that easily once they are done because they'd be a big mess.

Once the morsels are melted, remove the bowl from the heat, add the chopped bark and stir until all melted.  This will temper the chocolate to give it a good snap.

Meanwhile, measure out 1 cup of raisins and 1 cup of crushed walnuts.  No no, stay with me here.  I know a lot of people don't like raisins.  But you guys, they are so good in this mixture.  I have known several people who initially turned down a candy because they didn't like nuts or raisins and then finally decided to try one and went crazy over them.

Add the raisins and walnuts to the melted chocolate and stir to incorporate them fully.

Next measure out about a cup of mini marshmallows

Add them to the chocolate, walnut, raisin mix and fully coat with chocolate.  Don't worry about melting the marshmallows, the addition of the bark, raisins and walnuts should have brought the temperature of the chocolate down enough that it won't melt the marshmallows.

Working quickly, spoon out small clumpfulls of the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

I've tried putting these in a mold or making them like bark, but part of their charm is the organic pieces you get by just spooning them out.

Put them in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Pack them up in a cute tin and these make a great little holiday gift for coworkers or friends.

Ooops, I couldn't resist taking a sample.  Trust me, you won't be able to either.  All those yummy walnuts and raisins and marshmallows.  No bite is the same.

Now that these are done, I'm officially full of Christmas Spirit!

Shopping List for Melly's Christmas Chocolates - Makes about 30 chocolates

  • 2 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 Cup Chopped Almond Bark, Dark Chocolate Bar or Dark Chocolate Candy Melts
  • 1 Cup Crushed Walnuts
  • 1 Cup Raisins
  • 1 Cup Mini Marshmallows

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