Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fueling up Skiers with Chocolate for a Great Cause

Actually the title of this post should read, Fueling up my Husband with Chocolate for a Night Out on the Town.

Baking 100 Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
When I wrote my proposal for Decembers 24x24 on Foodbuzz, I had great intentions. I was going to participate in Meissner Nordic's Tour de Chocolate on New Years Eve. Meissner Nordic is a community nordic ski trail system run by volunteers and fueled by community donations in beautiful Bend, Oregon. The Tour de Chocolate is a fundraising event for Meissner Nordic where Bend residents are invited to come to Meissner and partake in a ski tour along the trails that involves chocolate tastings along the way. The chocolate tastings are donated by local bakeries and this year Kaitlyn Cooks planned on joining them. This event is for nordic skiers both local and visiting who want to support this community run and organized ski trail system. Over 100 people were expected to be at the event. Admission was set at $10 per person or $40 per vehicle. All donations go towards maintaining and grooming the trails for underprivileged children and families, local high school student and college teams to use. These groups cannot afford the expensive passes required to ski at privately owned ski resorts. Meissner Nordic wonderfully allows low income groups to access and be involved in snow sports.

This really was a great idea. I would get to bake hundreds of chocolately items to donate to a great cause and generate a little bit of publicity for both my blog and Foodbuzz. I wrote my proposal the day the Foodbuzz asked for submissions and I was ecstatic when my proposal was accepted.

Then the hurdles started popping up.

Midnight Baking Session - Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

The First Hurdle on December December 15th: Going away for Christmas. This was just a tiny little bump. I decided that the recipes I would make needed to be able to be made ahead of time and could be safely stored in the freezer. That way I could bake for the event days ahead of time and not try and bake 400 items the night before. I loved this idea! Make ahead desserts for the busy entertainer. Great blog post theme right?

The Second Hurdle on December 20th: I got a job and they wanted me to start full time the next day! This was great news. I'd been applying for jobs since late October and this was a great entry level position at a well respected firm. I started to panic a bit at this hurdle but after a long work-out I more calmly decided to start the baking NOW and work on a different recipe every evening until the 23rd.

The Third Hurdle on December 21st: The peanut butter cups I planned on making were a complete disaster. They stuck to the foil liners and fell apart; all of this after spending 2 hours Wednesday evening after work prepping them!!

The Fourth and Insurmountable Hurdle on December 30th!: NO SNOW!!!!! For as long as Bendites can remember we've had snow on the ski trails for Christmas/New Years. Not this year. A week of warm weather and uncommon rain meant that the Meissner Nordic Board postponed the event until a later date the day before it was set to take place! I was already committed. I had made 100 double chocolate cookies with blue and white chocolate mints and 100 dark chocolate (variously coated) truffles. I had also purchased the ingredients for the pounds upon pounds of peppermint fudge that I was going to make the night before and I had purchased all of the various little items I would need to cutely display my chocolates on my booth.

So what's a girl to do?

I've already spent the money and prepped the desserts and so I was committed to writing a post to be published on January 2nd for a 'party' that is supposed to take place the very next day; not at some later date yet to be determined!

I didn't have the time or the space to plan or hold a party at our place in less than 24 hours. Plus everyone already had plans that they booked weeks or months in advance! So what I'm showing/writing about today are the recipes for the desserts I planned to bring to the event and pictures of the finished product. The uneaten chocolate desserts I will  bring to work and/or save in the freezer for the next Tour de Chocolate. Which will  hopefully be soon as my husband (me too!) can't keep his hands off those truffles! :-)

All of these recipes are easy to make, use simple ingredients, can be made ahead, can be easily doubled or tripled, can be frozen until use, and look like they took a lot of time and effort to create.


Gorgeous Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Truffles

Truffles are always a holiday favourite. They can come in a variety of flavours and styles. I went for a basic semi sweet chocolate truffle and for ease I split the batch into quarters and rolled each group in a different topping, making one batch of truffles look like four different recipes! For the toppings I opted for classic cocoa powder, powdered sugar, sweetened coconut and graham cracker crumbs. My favourite was the coconut and Shawn preferred the cocoa powder. The truffles were his favourite dessert...he called them 'little balls of super rich chocolatelyness'.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of your favourite kind of chocolate chips/chopped chocolate. I use Ambrosia semi-sweet.
  • 1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp of your favourite extract; vanilla, peppermint, orange, almond
  • toppings to coat your truffles; cocoa powder, powdered sugar, shredded coconut, sprinkles

Directions:
  1. Place chocolate chips and condensed milk to either a microwave safe bowl or saucepan. If using a saucepan heat on low, stirring often until melted. If using the microwave, heat on high for 30 second intervals, stirring in between until melted.
  2. Stir in extract and chill for 15 to 30 minutes or until the mixture is firm enough to roll but soft enough to allow toppings to adhere. 
  3. These can be frozen and thawed either in the fridge or at room temperature. They are best served at room temperature. 

Peppermint Fudge
Peppermint Fudge

I already featured this on my blog and as it was such a hit with those who tried it I made it again. But only one batch as by the time I got around to making the fudge I already new the event was cancelled. Like I said before, I don't like fudge because it tends to get chalky. Not this recipe though! It's very creamy and melt in your mouth delicious. This is the recipe I'm most disappointed about not being able to share with the skiers. I think this fudge would have been a hit!

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz tub of chocolate frosting (go for the dark chocolate kind)
  • 16 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips (I use Ambrosia All Natural)
  • 1 tsp of peppermint extract
  • 6 candy canes crushed or a large handful of peppermint candies crushed

Directions:
  1. Grease an 8x8 square glass pan and sprinkle the crushed candy canes all over the bottom evenly.
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 30 second intervals mixing in between until smooth and glossy. Mix in the peppermint extract.
  3. Place the frosting in the microwave (foil removed) and heat for 30 second intervals until pourable. Approximately 1 to 1.5 minutes. 
  4. Pour the frosting into the melted chocolate and whisk together until well blended and smooth. It should resemble a thick brownie batter.
  5. Pour into the greased pan over top of the crushed candy canes. Use a spatula to spread it to an even thickness. Pick up the pan and shake it gently to get the fudge mixture to fill in gaps around the crushed candy at the bottom of the pan. Place in refrigerator to set. This takes about an hour.
  6. Once solid remove the pan from the fridge and using a blunt knife, like a butter knife, scrape down one of the edges of the pan, separating the fudge from the side of the pan. Once you do one side, air gets in and should loosen all the other sides. Invert onto a cutting board and slice the fudge into squares
  7. I store mine in the fridge but they do very well at room temperature. They don't get too soft/melty or messy.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Kaitlyn McFadden

I've been using this recipe for quite a few years now. It's dependable, delicious, and always gets rave reviews. When I bring these cookies to a party they are always the ones that are finished off first. During the holidays I add 2-3 tsp of peppermint extract to the dough for a festive flavour. The cookies pictured are topped with blue and white chocolate mints to match the blue and white theme of this blog.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 tsp vanilla/peppermint extract 
  • 1/4 tsp of instant coffee granules
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (plus an extra tbsp or two for high elevations)
  • 1 cup cocoa 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt *optional
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks 

Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (375F for higher altitudes). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs, extract and instant coffee. Gradually add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and beat until well blended. The dough is on the stiff side when I make it. If your dough is really soft then add a little extra flour. Stir in chocolate chips. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. 1 inch balls should allow for approximately 24 cookies.
  3. Bake cookies until edges begin to firm but center still appears soft, about 9-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.