Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Treats! Truffles and Pecans and Cats - OH MY!

I have been off my post level since November - too much to do and not enough time to think deep thoughts, much less write proper sentences that weren't work-related.
Christmas is now 5 days away and I am at last making treats. Praline Pecans are one of my specialities, much-loved by people who get to eat them and easy enough for me to make while doing other things.
This receipe is based on a Southern Living 1997 Annual Recipes entry.

3 cups freshly-shelled pecan halves
4 tbl Heavy cream
1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
Confectioner's sugar
Ghiaradelli Chocolate Powder

Spray an 8.5 x 11" glass or metal baking pan lightly with cooking spray, pre-heat oven to 350.
Check pecan halves for shells, mix in a bowl with cream and brown sugar until all halves are covered.
Pour into pan, bake for 12 minutes; stir, and bake another eight. Ths is very important to watch carefully. Most ovens (unless regularly calibrated) have different heats and you do not want to burn something as expensive as pecans. You may have to add/subtract minutes or reduce temps for your own comfort. I usually bake mine at 325 for 25-28 minutes. When you stir them at twelve minutes you can see how much more time they really need. They are ready to take up when you see granulation on the pecans.
Pull them from the oven, cool for a minute or two while you get a cup of confectioner's sugar and a cup of chocolcate powder, a sieve and 2 pie plates ready.
Pour a tbl or so of confectioner's sugar into your sieve and then add about half of the pecan mix in, shake over the pie plate and add more sugar as you shake until the pecans are coated. Empty the pecans into the pie plate with the used sugar to cool.
Pour the other half of the pecans into the confectioner's sugar-coated sieve, shake, add chocolate powder a tbl at a time while shaking over the other pie plate until the pecans are coated. Pour pecans into pie plate to cool.
I use the same sieve without cleaning because the chocolate powder benefits from the confectioner's sugar reside.
Let this all cool for an hour or so, put in airtight storage and get ready to be assaulted for your delicious offerings:)

Now, about those truffles.....
They are far more tasty than attractive. My hands were too hot to roll the cubes into balls so I settled for just having rounded edges. The recipe produced a delicious and smooth ganache so I suggest you give Cooks Illustrated a look for the technique and make this in cooler climes.

The cats seem to know the holidays are here and that I need my $ for other things than their toys and treats and have been intent on reminding me of my priorities. Wink had an abcess that we caught pretty quickly but was small enough to burst before we got her to Doc. We took her in, he shaved and cleaned the area, gave her the vacinations for which she was due and some antibiotic and we were about $200 poorer. Then Pojorita stopped eating so we had to take her in. She had apparantly eaten something that clogged her innards and after a bit of barium she was fine. Since she was old enough we went ahead and had her spayed. Goodbye, $300.....My sweet basement cat Fang was next to require an investment. He has gotten old enough that his little bowlz make our feral male think he's competition so Tuxedo had apparantly gotten a good claw into his underside, producing another abcess.
So Fang went to see Doc to have the abcess drained and seen to and his little nards nipped. Another $350.00. Fang is feeling better, his black fur is shiny and healthy again; Wink has been ruling the house for some weeks now and Pojorita has resumed eating everything that smells interesting. Except for string, I hope.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Joyous Winter Solstice and general Good wishes to you all and thanks for reading:)