Friday, December 7, 2012

Creepmas Confections

What’s yummier than brains? Peppermint bark covered chocolate truffle brains!

So I’ll tell you how to make them, but first a little story about instant holiday horror…in a box.

While I was grocery shopping, I spied a Jell-O No Bake Candy Cane desert mix. My love for boxed desert mixes is right there with the love I have for rabid sock monkeys. But it reminded me of when I made a Jell-O No-Bake cheesecake when I was a kid. It was quick and easy, I had fun making it and I realized I’ve been depriving my children of making their own artificially flavored concoctions.

On the back of the package is the alternative recipe, with a layer of chocolate on top. This recipe included melting frozen cool whip and chocolate together. Umm, ick? But I figured putting a layer of real ganache over the top would make it more palatable. So whats a girl to do with the left over ganache? Make truffles. And don't I have a brain mold I haven't tried out yet? And that's just how it flows when Creepmas is in the air.

In case you were wondering how the No Bake turned out, my son made it when he got home from school. We had a lot of fun working on it together and his little sister now thinks he’s amazing because he made this incredible desert. Incredible meaning it’s edible with the chocolate on top. I think after one piece I’m good, forever. The mint flavoring is a little weird. The little candy cane pieces aren’t really pieces of candy cane, because that would be crazy. They are little wafer disks swirled red and white with a fainter version of the odd mint flavoring. But the kids think it’s great, and I’m not about to tell them otherwise. 

So back to brains!

When it comes to truffles using quality ingredients is key, but I also need convenience. 

My chocolate of choice is Lindt. It’s readily available and has a good flavor and texture. For this recipe I used their Sweet Dark. 

When it comes to white chocolate, which isn’t really chocolate, I actually like the flavor of Baker’s over the more expensive brands. Even though it’s in the lower price range it’s still made with real cocoa butter.

I highly recommend getting just plain pasteurized whipping cream if you can find it. Most grocery stores carry the ultra-pasteurized because it has a longer expiration date, but you’ll find ingredients in it other than cream and it doesn’t taste as good.

When it comes to butter and vanilla always use the real stuff.

Here is my standard ganache recipe for the truffle filling:

4 oz. chocolate (broken or cut into small pieces)
¼ cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla

Mix chocolate, cream and butter in a small glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and let stand for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. It will look really grainy at first and then it starts to smooth out. If it's still lumpy, microwave in 15 second increments. Once it’s smooth stir in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until firm, this can take a few hours. Makes 14 tablespoon size truffles. 

To see the original recipe and gain more truffle wisdom go to

Peppermint Bark Coating:

2 oz white chocolate
2 teaspoons finely crushed candy canes 

Microwave white chocolate in a small glass dish for 30 seconds until soft.  Stir until smooth. Microwave in 10-15 second increments if it is still not melted.Then stir in the crushed peppermint.

Note: This recipe is enough to coat one tray of candy molds. So you’ll be doing this more than once. It’s just a 1:1 ratio of 1oz chocolate to 1 teaspoon candy cane, so you can make as much or as little as you need, but I like to work in small batches.

Extra Note: One Bob’s candy cane yields about 4 teaspoons crushed candy.
Extra Extra Note: Always taste test your candy canes. I made another batch using the Spangler brand, very nasty flavor. I also tried Brach's peppermint candies, very nice flavor, although it seemed more mild than the candy canes.

I used the Wilton Brain and Eye Cookie Candy mold which has 6 cavities and the Wilton Skulls and Scrolls Cookie Candy mold with 8 cavities. 

According to the Wilton website the brain and eye mold has been discontinued and the skulls and scrolls isn’t even listed, but they are still available online other places. Or if you wanted to make them with <shudder> happy snowman and cheerful snowflakes, you can get those just about everywhere right now.

Step 1. Make the truffle filling, refrigerate until firm.

Step 2. Make 1 batch of peppermint bark, evenly distribute between the cavities in one mold. It doesn’t flow well because of the peppermint pieces, so you’ll have to push it around with a spoon to get the sides coated. Refrigerate.

Step 3. Once the truffle filling is firm, scoop into tablespoon sized balls. I use a small cookie scoop for this. One tablespoon is perfect for the small molds, but the large brain molds are better if you use 1.5 scoops.

Step 4. Gently press the truffle filling into your molds and pop them back in the refrigerator.

Step 5. Make another batch of peppermint bark for each mold. Gently spread the mixture around until it coats the back and fills in the sides and put it back in the refrigerator until it completely hardens.

Alternatively you can fill them in with just plain chocolate. White, dark or even two thinner layers of both, just chill between layers.

Step 6. Once harden you can pop them out of the molds. If you need to stock up on tasty brains, they freeze well also.

Step 7. Eat brains! They are best if you bring them to room temperature before consuming.

I didn’t really care for the eyes, unless you go through the trouble of painting the molds with colored candy melts, they just don’t look right. I just used a little chocolate to cover the iris and for some reason every time I look at them I want to cover them with pasties. 

I liked the slightly smaller size of the skulls and spiders, but the brains are so cute. I might try my hand at bite size brains next year.

Mmmmm brains. 


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