Naughty & Nice = Something for Everyone!

I can’t take all the credit for this post – the Naughty and Nice concept comes from a good friend of mine, Kate over at My Sweet Pancreas. And while we do share a number of similiarities, like The Vampire Diaries and shoes, when it comes to food choices we couldn’t be further apart. She’s a diabetic devoted to clean eating and yoga, and I am…not. I would put bacon on anything I could. Which brings me to the ‘Naughty’ portion of this post.

Peanut Butter-Bacon truffles

Behold, the Peanut Butter-Bacon truffle.

 

Now before any purists out there get all in a tizzy, I’m well aware that this isn’t technically a truffle. However, because it is a peanut butter ball filled with bacon-y goodness that happens to be shaped like a truffle and dipped in Callebaut milk chocolate, I’m calling it like I see it. The recipe comes from an old Crisco holiday baking booklet that came to me in a pack of my mother’s cookbooks that my sister brought on Thanksgiving. Not being a huge fan of Crisco – it has its place, just not in candy-making – I repurposed it and made the inclusion of my favourite ingredient, bacon. Because everything’s better with bacon!

 

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I’ve included a pic of the original recipe: I swapped out the Golden Crisco for unsalted butter and the chopped peanuts for crispy bacon pieces. Also, I tempered the chocolate and did away with the paraffin wax, not because it was easier but because we eat enough things that are fake and petroleum-based. And the ick factor was just too high…

 

 

 

 

 

 

In wanting to take advantage of the few days I had last week where I was virtually pain-free, I went on to create what I consider to be the exact opposite of this treat: raw ‘truffles’ using a blend of pureed dates and Cadbury’s Bourneville cocoa powder.

 

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I’ve been itching to try this for awhile now, figuring what with the trend toward healthy eating I should think about adding something that wasn’t loaded down with butter or bacon into my treat repertoire. I’m not sure what took me so long – it was dead easy to do!

Using this recipe as a starting point, I ended up using a blend of prunes and dates for added texture and sweetness and then, in a move that was clearly taken from someone else’s playbook, I decided to throw in some ground flax seed to upp the nutrient factor. Who am I?

Here’s the final recipe:

Cocoa Date Raw Truffles – yield 1 dozen

12-15 dates
2 tbsp hot water

Chop dates. In heatproof dish, pour hot water over dates and microwave on high for one minute. Stir until soft and well-blended.

Add
4 chopped prunes
1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Stir until smooth. Roll into one inch balls, then roll in more cocoa powder. Refrigerate until firm.

 

Whichever one you go with, whether you’re feeling naughty or nice, enjoy.

Treatzilla. The End of All Cravings as You Know Them

Some treat recipes are passed down generation by generation as a family tradition. Others come by way of a quick search online or a newspaper or magazine article. And then there are the ones that kind of just…appear, out of nowhere it would seem in your mind, leaving you wondering what the heck that’s all about. That’s the kind of treat Treatzilla is – the kind that gets inside your head and just refuses to leave you in peace until you finally give in and make it.

It started out simply enough from a popcorn ball cake recipe, but the original recipe used jujubes. Now, I know there are many people out there who’d be all over that – and it is a great recipe in its own right, so I will definitely be posting it as well – but I’m not that crazy about fruit candies like that. I was looking for something far more decadent. Something that would be sure to satisfy almost any craving it came across. And so with that in mind I just started digging through cupboards to see what I had on hand that could be considered snack-y, then take it from there. Turns out that I had quite a lot of options, almost enough for more than one treat, but then I thought – Why Choose? Why not just throw it all into one giant Mega-Treat?

And with that, Treatzilla was born.

For those people who can’t live without jelly beans or Gummie Bears, I threw some in on the side to make it complete. Believe me, if I could have figured out how to squeeze some bacon into this, I would have. But I think it’s probably more than enough to handle on its own. However, if bacon is something you can’t live without then feel free to make those necessary modifications. I completely understand

Treatzilla – a Seven Aprons Original Recipe 

(inspired by Popcorn Cake from Bruce County Women’s Institute cookbook – recipe below)

1 and a 1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

250g bag marshmallows, divided into three parts as follows: half bag, then half bag minus 1/4 cup reserved.

1 Tbsp butter (salted, unsalted-doesn’t really matter)

1 cup pretzels, crushed

4 cups popcorn

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup butterscotch chips

1. Melt peanut butter and corn syrup with half bag of marshmallows over medium heat till incorporated. Add butter and brown sugar, stir till fully blended. 

2. Add remaining ingredients in order and stir until all are covered by the peanut butter

3.  Lightly oil a tube or Bundt pan, then sprinkle 1/4 reserved marshmallows evenly along the bottom. Pour mixture into prepared bundt pan.

 4. Allow to cool and set before unmolding onto plate. Top with glaze and allow to cool before slicing.

5. Serve on a plate with a side of jelly beans, jujubes, red licorice or Gummie Bears  if desired. 

Glaze 

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/4 butterscotch chips

4 Tbsp whipping cream

2 Tbsp butter

1. In one small bowl, combine chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp butter and melt slowly in microwave at 50% power in 20 second increments until combined. Stir frequently.

2. Stir in 2 Tbsp whipping cream until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside.

3. In another small bowl, repeat Steps 1 and 2 with the butterscotch chips, remaining butter and cream. 

4. Alternating between the chocolate and butterscotch mixtures,  pour by spoonfuls over the cooled and inverted cake in whatever pattern (or non-pattern) is desired. 

 

Original recipe. As you can see, I made a few modifications…

The Power of Flowers: Violet-Chocolate Cupcakes

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For someone who claims to be such a chocoholic, I haven’t really been using that much of it in my baking of late. But when I do, oh mama…I don’t hold back. But rather than get completely carried away with the chocolate usage – trust me, there’s plenty of time for that – I decided to hold true to my word in my last cupcake post and pair chocolate with the sweet flavour of violet.

Was it a success? Well, I’m not sure. I’m not convinced either way. Perhaps I used too strong of a cocoa powder – I used up the very last bits of my prized Valrhona to make up about a third of the cocoa in this recipe, the remainder was good old reliable Fry’s. But maybe, as I learned the hard way with my first Red Velvet experience, you have to use a slightly more neutral cocoa powder or else it won’t work? In both cases the chocolate flavour turned out beautifully but just as the red wasn’t quite red enough in the Velvet, the violet wasn’t as prevalent as I would have liked it to be. But then, it could be as simple as I just used too much cocoa powder and not enough violet? Hmmm

I used the same recipe as I did for the Bleeding Heart Rose cupcakes with a few amendments, mainly swapping in cocoa for the 1/4 cup in the 1-1/4 cup sugar called for in the original recipe, and then 1 tsp violet syrup in place of the vanilla extract. The overall taste in the end was nice, especially with the addition of the violet buttercream – although I will have to use less violet in the icing next time because it refused to hold its shape, hence the slightly psychedelic appearance of the adorning ‘violets’.

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Also for next time, I may do away with the chocolate portion altogether in order to let the violet really shine – although it has a sweet sharpness to it on its own, the chocolate just tames the violet right down. And to add more of the violet flavouring, you run the risk of making the cake too perfumey in a sickly sweet sort of way. Perhaps I should keep it simple, as a white cake. Or maybe tint it with just a hint of purple to give it some edge, to really let it become The Violet Femme. Otherwise, I can already tell that this particular cake recipe is quickly becoming my ‘go-to’ when it comes to experimenting with new flavours and ideas. It’s incredibly adaptable.

Has anyone else tried baking with violet syrup? Any tricks or tips you wish to pass on would be great 🙂