Chocolate Cups, Many Ways
This week I've baked over fifteen different flavors of cookies and macarons for friends, family, and Joe's attendings. I'm pooped. And yet, I still have ideas for more.
This is my favorite, most magical time of year. Chilly days filled with warm drinks and minty things and sparkly lights. And for the first time, we've even put up a Xmas tree, donated by our friend who moved away earlier this year. It was my first time ever assembling and decorating a tree. I can now appreciate coming home to my sister's perfectly adorned tree every December much more. I'm already dreading having to take it down in a couple of months, but I do love the holiday cheer it's added to our apartment.
I must admit, I've impressed myself this week. Every day for the past ten days, I've been giving it my all in the kitchen. In between orders and gifts for friends, I've managed to make all the meals for both Joe and myself (mostly because I don't want Joe adding to my kitchen mess). I've also tried to utilize what's in my freezer and fridge instead of just buying more things.
You guys...I'm a hoarder. I keep everything and I can't help it. I keep small amounts of leftover cake, two bites of ice cream that I want to savor but ultimately it gets covered in freezer burn and tastes like nothing. I wish I could stop. I have a bad habit of when I really, really love something, I hoard, then I panic about what will happen when it's finished, so I barely touch it. Christmas time is the worst for my bad habit because I know all the peppermint chocolate things are fleeting. I'm like that squirrel with its cheeks stuffed with nuts.
I still have peppermint chocolate-flavored things from last Christmas that I didn't finish because I was afraid I'd want it in July and would run out. Le sigh. And now they just taste plain weird.
But not this year. This year, I'm trying to be more mindful of my wasteful ways. I went through my pantry and tossed out a lot of random food items that I had kept "just in case" but were ultimately way past their expiry date. It felt good to clear some space, but I still feel terribly guilty. Never again!
I finally used up the vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes I had frozen away several months ago. Luckily those are still great once thawed, so I made cake balls using my leftover macaron fillings. They turned out so tasty that I'll have to write a post on them soon, very soon.
And let's not even go there on my sentimental attachments to random crap in my apartment...
In a positive spin on hoarding, I also made a giant container of chocolate and vanilla nougat and stored them away in the freezer about a month ago, and I didn't forget about it!
I had intended to try to make candy bars but that was a series of fails. So instead, I made my trusty old chocolate cups, many different ways.
Now, the chocolate nougat is velvet-y and perfectly chocolatey, very reminiscent of the nougat in a 3 Musketeers bar (which is still a weakness of mine, from time to time). But, for some reason this nougat wouldn't hold up. It was too soft and creamy to work with and that made me sad. I tried to fill the cups with it but you had to eat it in one bite or the nougat would all come spilling out.
It was sad but at least I still had my vanilla nougat. This had the ideal consistency, similar to marshmallows but not as sweet. I torched some for these cupcakes.
I didn't want to make typical peanut butter cups which is what I've done many times before. They're a crowd favorite and the same recipe has been reposted so many times on the internet that I didn't feel I needed to add to that, especially when I barely make any changes to it.
I opted for peppermint nougat cups, because, you know...
XMAS = PEPPERMINT + CHOCOLATE EVERYTHING
These are so easy and fun to put together. Once you make the nougat, the possibilities are endless. I just added some crushed candy canes to each nougat cup before topping with more chocolate and some more candy cane bits.
I also made some peanut butter and nougat ones, and toyed with the idea of doing a cherry filling for my mom or a s'mores one...for myself.
I bought these little silicone cups on sale about two years ago and they were definitely a worthy purchase. They're easier to pop chocolate out of, although still a pain in the butt to clean.
On the upside, these take only a few minutes to assemble, especially in winter. The chocolate hardens in about a minute in the fridge and then they're ready to go.
There's nothing better than giving your friends homemade chocolate cups filled with their favorite flavors. Especially when you wrap them individually in some candy paper, oh so fancy.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
Makes about 12
6 ounces chocolate (I used 60% for peppermint and semi-sweet for peanut butter)
1 cup vanilla nougat
crushed candy canes
silicone candy molds
Soft Vanilla Nougat
Adapted from Homemade Candy Bars
Makes about 4 cups
3 egg whites
1 cup/200g sugar
1/2 cup/120 mL corn syrup
1/4 cup/60 mL water
vanilla bean extract
pinch of salt
Put the egg whites in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F, about 6 minutes.
Begin whipping the egg whites on low speed for about 1 minute, just until they are a little frothy.
Continue cooking the sugar syrup until it reaches 242 degrees F.
Slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites while whisking on medium-high, aiming for the space between the rim of the bowl and the whisk attachment.
Whisk until it reaches a full frothy foam, about 2 minutes.
Add the vanilla and salt and keep whipping until stiff peaks, about 3 minutes more.
Allow to cool in the bowl and use once it's at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container at room temp. for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months (thaw in the fridge for an hour before using).
*This makes a large batch and are great to store away for future candy bar recipes
Coat the insides of each mold with chocolate, using either a spoon or a brush.
Once it's all covered, place in the fridge for about a minute or two until it's set.
Fill with a dollop of nougat and crushed candy canes or any filling you desire.
Use a spoon to scoop some more chocolate on top and smooth it out with the back of your spoon.
Sprinkle more candy canes or other toppings, and keep back in the fridge for a minute or two, until set.
Wrap in candy paper or serve as is.
Store up to a week or two in an airtight container (if they manage to last that long).
OTHER IDEAS (with the nougat)
-Spread the nougat out and roast with a blow torch, stuff in the cups with some graham cracker pieces and make s'mores
-Put in some dried or soaked cherries
-Layer of salted caramel or bourbon caramel sauce
-Peanuts and caramel for a 'snickers' feel
-Peanut butter cups but with nougat in the middle, sea salt sprinkled on top
Got any ideas for crazy flavors?