Saturday, February 13, 2010

Holiday Gifts

It is always a struggle to figure out what to give teachers and classmates for holiday celebrations (with budget an obvious concern).  There are a total of ten children in my daughter's daycare class (nine plus her) so I felt I could spend a little more on each child without spending too much total.  Since they are ages one to two, I didn't really want to get candy or sweets to put in their Valentine's bag, so I decided to go to the Dollar Store to buy stuffed animals (can be found cheap at Michael's, Target $1 spot, Dollar Store, etc).  I made personalized Valentines and had them printed as a 4x6 photo and put them in an envelope, then wrapped the cards around each of the stuffed animals' neck by punching holes in the envelope and tying ribbon through it.  They turned out very cute - the teachers raved about how much the kids would love them. 

Below is the Valentine I made, and at about 15 cents each, it's not that much more expensive than the generic ones you buy in the stores:

For the teachers, I made truffles and put them in a candy box (purchased a a package of 1/2 pound candy boxes at Michaels), which fit about six truffles.  I then put a personalized label on the front of each and tied it with a bow to jazz it up a bit.  

Below is the label I made:

Triple Truffle Tryout Results

It was a toss up on which recipe I liked the best.

Trial #1
  • 1/2 cup evaparoated milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
COMBINE evaporated milk and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

STIR in morsels. Stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in almond extract. Refrigerate for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in nuts, coconut, etc. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.

***This recipe formed very well but was not as rich tasting as Trial #2.


Trial #2
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) chopped semi-sweet chocolate
Heat cream, butter in medium saucepan over low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes; stir until chocolate is melted. Return to heat for a few seconds if necessary to melt chocolate. 

Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until firm enough to roll. 

Roll chocolate mixture into 1-inch balls and roll in nuts, coconut, etc. Store at room temperature in airtight container.

***This recipe did not form as well as Trial #1, but I only allowed it to chill for 1 hour, so I think the longer it could chill, the better.  This recipe was very rich and I thought it was the better tasting of the two.  

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Triple Truffle Tryout

Tonight I tried three different truffle recipes to determine the best 'base' for making truffles.

(1)  Heavy cream, butter, and chocolate;
(2)  Heavy cream and chocolate;
(3)  Evaporated milk, sugar, and chocolate.

I will post the best recipe so you can try it.  My guess is that the evaporated milk recipe will be the best as it seemed to have the best consistency before being chilled.  I will also post pictures.  The wonderful thing about truffles is that once you find a 'base' that works well for you, you can make it in mass and separate it into separate bowls before chilling, so you can add different fillers (coconut, chopped almonds, crushed cookies, etc.)