Homemade Biscotti And Truffles Make Gifts From The Kitchen A Treat

Making gifts from the kitchen is a tasty way to give a bit of yourself during the holidays.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Great gift ideas from the kitchen (Published Thursday, Dec 15, 2011)

    Making homemade gifts from the kitchen is a personal way to give a bit of yourself during the holidays.  I have shared a number of recipes from my mom, my family and my Facebook friends in the past and here are links to two previous segments:

    Holiday Gifts From The Kitchen, September 2010

    Homemade Gifts From The Kitche, December 2010

    This week I’m adding two new recipes to the mix, Sweet Potato Biscotti and Irish Cream Truffles.  The first is my recipe, inspired by my love of my mom’s sweet potato pie recipe.  The second is from a new friend, Jennifer Monti, who shared the idea for these truffles just a few days ago.

    Sweet Potato Biscotti with White Chocolate Orange Drizzle

    Ingredients

    1 sm Sweet Potato (about 5oz), peeled and diced
    1 tbl Granulated Sugar
    2 cu All-Purpose Flour
    1 tsp Baking Powder
    1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    1/4 tsp Salt
    1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
    1 tsp Nutmeg
    1/2 tsp Cinnamon
    1 tsp Orange Zest
    1/2 cu unsalted butter, softened
    1 cu Light Brown Sugar
    1 tsp Vanilla Extract
    2 lg Eggs
    1/2 cu Slivered Almonds
    8 oz White Chocolate
    1/2 cu Powdered Sugar
    2 tbl Orange Juice

    Method

    Place diced potato in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and stir to combine.  Bring to a bowl and then reduced the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Drain potatoes and set aside to cool.

    In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and orange zest.  Set aside.

    In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time. and then add vanilla extract.  Mix in cooled sweet potato.  Add almonds followed by the flour mixture, in small portions, until all ingredients are full combined.  Refrigerate mixture for one hour.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place mixture on a heavily floured board and roll until it's not too sticky to work.  Divid mixture into two portions.  Flour your hands and shape each into a 2" x 10" log and place them on a parchment or baking pad lined baking sheet, about 3" apart.   Slightly taper the ends of each log and then slightly flatten the log across the top.

    Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool for about 15 minutes.  Place each cookie on a cutting board and cut about 12 slices on an extreme diagonal.  Turn each biscotti on its side and place it back on the cookie sheet.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown, being careful not to let them burn.  Remove from oven and turn the biscotti over and bake for an additional 10 minutes (this is an optional step - if you like the texture after baking one side, you can eliminate the second side baking).  Remove from the oven and place biscotti on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. 

    Meanwhile, melt white chocolate in either a double boiler or in the microwave. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in powdered sugar and orange juice.  Mixture should be the consistency of a thick syrup.  If not smooth enough, add additional orange juice, in small amounts, until it reaches that consistency.  Place wire rack of cooled biscotti over the baking sheet and drizzle icing over the biscotti using a back and forth motion that goes across many biscotti each time.  Let icing dry fully before storing in an airtight container.

    Irish Cream Truffles
    courtesy of Jennifer Monti

    Ingredients

    Chocolate Ganache
    12 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped into small pieces
    1 cup Bailey's Irish Cream

    Chocolate For Tempering And Coating
    8 oz Bittersweet Chocolate

    Method

    Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat Irish cream in a small saucepan until it just begins to boil.  Immediately remove from the heat and pour into chocolate.  Stir until chocolate is fully melted.  Allow mixture to cool until it has the consistency of cookie dough, refrigerate if necessary but don't keep it in the refrigerator too long or it will overly harden. Using a 1 tablespoon mini ice cream scoop (or just measure 1 tablespoon of mixture), scoop the mixture into a ball on a parchment lined sheet.  Roll into a smooth ball and repeat with the rest of mixture.

    Temper the remaining chocolate.  Here's a link to a simple tempering method (http://www.ghirardelli.com/bake/chocolate_tempering.aspx).  Once the chocolate is tempered, dip the truffles into it and set the coated truffle on a parchment lined sheet to harden.

    Variation

    I actually had a little mishap when tempering my chocolate and the the chocolate streaked and lost its sheen.  As a way of disguising my mistake, I rolled the truffle a second time in the chocolate and then just before it set I rolled it in powdered cocoa.

    Thanks to Jennifer Monti for sharing this idea.  Even without the properly tempered chocolate, the truffles are quite tasty.

    There are many ways to package these treats, from a nice holiday plate and tin containers, to decorative boxes and patterned plastic wrap with twist ties.  Houseware and packaging stores carry a variety of options from which to choose.  You should have no problem finding the appropriate packaging for your homemade treats.

    If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on facebook.