What do almond-coated chocolate truffles, crunchy biscotti and salted caramel sauce have in common? They are all thoughtful, delicious holiday gifts.
Another great gift idea for chefs is a really terrific book. For the real chocolate lovers, pick up “Raising The Bar: The Future Of Fine Chocolate” by Pam Williams and Jim Eber. The book is a virtual storehouse of information on chocolate. After reading it, I vow to only use the highest quality chocolate for everything.
In the spirit of giving, I’ve gathered these recipes from various sources and my chocolate files. They all need to be made ahead.
Bon sweet appétit!
Almond Coated Truffles
(Makes 3 dozen)
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
Sea salt, to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Optional: About 1 cup unsweetened cocoa for rolling truffles
Bring cream to boil in a saucepan over moderate heat.
Place the chocolate in a heat-proof mixing bowl.
Remove cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate and let stand 2 to 3 minutes.
With a whisk, stir until the chocolate is smooth.
Slowly add liqueur and salt.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toast the almonds in a single layer in shallow baking sheet until light brown and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with sea salt, to taste.
Cool and finely chop the nuts.
Once the chocolate is cold, drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto a wax paper-lined tray.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove from refrigerator and with your hands, quickly shape the chocolate into balls.
Roll each ball in unsweetened cocoa or reserved almonds to coat.
Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Package into airtight plastic containers with waxed paper or plastic wrap between the layers and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
Holiday Lemon Cranberry Chocolate Pecan Biscotti
dapted from a recipe by pastry chef Karen Stiegler.
Makes 4 dozen cookies)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs divided
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ cups dried cranberries
1½ cups chopped roasted pecans
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips, coarsely chopped
Raw sugar for sprinkling
Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a mixing bowl.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add lemon zest.
Add two eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Mix in lemon juice and then flour mixture.
Stir in cranberries, pecans and chocolate chips.
On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into thirds.
With lightly floured hands, form each third into an 8-inch-long-by-2½-inch-wide log.
Seal the log on a long piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Line a heavy, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Unwrap the logs and leave on plastic wrap.
Meanwhile, whisk the remaining egg until frothy.
Dip a pastry brush into the egg and paint the logs with the egg glaze and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Lift logs from the wrap and transfer onto prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
Bake the logs until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees.
Carefully cut the logs into diagonal half-inch slices with a sharp serrated knife.
Arrange the baked biscotti on baking sheets and bake again, turning after 15 minutes, until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Cool completely and store in airtight containers.
Joanna’s Salted Caramel Sauce
dapted from the “Cast Iron Cookbook” by Joanna Pruess.
(Yields about 2 cups)
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt, finely crushed
Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a tall-sided medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.