Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings: Buckeyes & Chocolate and Peppermint Candy Cane Filled Sandwich Cookies

I actually made this p-nut butter candy recipe when assigned, however, I struggled with this one in the dipping stage, made a mess, got frustrated, and put this write-up on hold.

Getting each part of the recipe ready was simple and everything moved along well.  My p-nut butter balls were waiting to be dipped, my chocolate was melted and smooth, my set-up pans were lined and waiting

Then the mess happened.   I put the p-nut butter balls into the chocolate and tried  covering all but their tops (thus the "Buckeye" appearance)  in the luscious chocolate coating.  I rolled them around with a fork...and then I tried with with a chocolate dipping tool... and then I tried with a skewer...well, that lovely chocolate  was just a globbed on mess, looked ugly, and my Buckeyes went from bad to worse as the chocolate cooled more.  I was embarrassed to serve them to my family, and did not want to admit I had made such ugly candies.

I tried reheating the chocolate a little, and it was quite thin, but obviously not thin enough to nicely coat the Buckeyes.  As soon as I tried to roll them, the balls again got messier as the chocolate seemed to be too thick.  Also, none of the excess chocolate dripped off when I held them above the dipping bowl.  When I tried scraping off any extra chocolate, the mess got bigger.

I decided to make a different dessert, waiting to see what my cyber friends had done before trying again.  I knew the p-nut butter balls would keep and the chocolate could be melted for a second use.

One huge plus about this "Baked" group with experienced  bakers who make beautiful foods is that I get ideas.  Maybe this time I will get a needed help.

We attended Frolicking Night Owl's and children's magnificent Christmas concert and afterwards we all returned home for food and treats.  I had wanted to have the p-nut butter balls, or Buckeyes, ready for our table, however, I decided to make Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Candy Cane Filling as our treat when the Buckeyes did not cooperate.

The sandwich cookies were  quick to prepare, baked up nicely, and were a hit with my family.  I doubled the recipe and made 48 cookies. (These could also be called Whoopie Pies, or Hubby calls them Moon Pies.  We had friends from Singapore and Hong Kong come for dinner the next night so I  assembled  more of these yummy desserts, and our guests also called them Moon Pies.)

These cake-like cookies are baked in a 375^ oven on two lined baking sheets for 10 minutes.

1 2/3 C flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium size bowl, whisk above together and set aside.

Then in a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment beat:
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar

When above is smooth and creamy add:

1 egg--room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat again until smooth and creamy

Then slowly beat in 1 cup milk and the flour mixture, in two additions.

Beat until combined, about 2 minutes.

Using a 1+ Tablespoon mini ice cream scoop, I portioned the batter onto the baking sheets, leaving enough space between each mound for the cakelets to grow while baking.  I put 24 per sheet and when 2 sheets of 24 are baked, this will make 24 sandwich cookies.

The cookies are done when they spring back when gently pressed.  Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.  Then place on a cooling rack.  Assemble when completely cool.

To make the filling, cream together until smooth and fluffy:
1 Cup (8 oz) cream cheese
1 Cup (2 sticks) butter

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Blend all of above again.

Then add 6 Cups confectioners sugar
Blend again until creamy.

Fill a piping bag with a large tip with the filling.

While the cookies are baking, crush candy canes to use as a garnish.

To assemble the cookies...and this was goes fast...match up cookies by size and shape to make a top and a bottom for each cookie, pipe filling on underside of one cookie and add its matching top, roll cookie sides in crushed candy canes to finish.  This assembly process takes only 5 minutes.

These cookies should be eaten soon after filling as they become moist from the filling and do not keep.  The baked cookies keep well for a day, so only make what will be used.  (I did have 5 or 6 filled cookies  leftover and they were OK the next day, but not as good.  It's better to assemble them as needed.)

Back to the Buckeyes...

When this assignment was ready for posting, I read through your reviews and saw your photos on the Baked Sunday Mornings site.  I then tried coating the Buckeyes again and was frustrated again.  Many of you were quite successful, so I knew this project could work.  I used a good quality chocolate, but maybe it was not a good dipping chocolate.

As I became more and more frustrated by the Buckeyes, I thought of all my friends who tell me they can't bake, and how, even when I carefully explain a recipe to them, their results are not good.  I have one neighbor who tries hard to bake sugar cookies, but fails every time, and another who works at baking the  pies that her husband craves, but they are all gross no matter what.  These friends get to the point that they hate baking, say they just can't do it, and they actually dread any recipe that combines butter, sugar, and flour.

With my failing buckeyes, which seemed to be easy for most of you, I was sharing my friend's feelings...I was feeling the frustration.

I got online and found where dipping chocolate often has some added fat such as oil to thin it out a little.  I did not want added butter, and especially not shortening, which seemed to be the most popular fat to add, or added oil of any kind  in my good chocolate.

But after reading Elaine's post where she told about making a similar recipe with her mom and they rolled the balls with a toothpick inserted to help the process, a light went on in my head, and I was able to complete the buckeyes...still a mess, but I was making progress.

I  had read the recipe over and over where it instructed, "...using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate.  Roll the ball around from side to side to cover almost the entire peanut butter center, leaving a small part uncovered.  Manipulate the buckeye so that the dripping chocolate covers the holes made by the fork..."

I wondered how the fork made holes in the peanut butter ball?  It was not written, "INSERT a fork or large skewer into each ball..."  And now that I think about it, if I had done this, my peanut butter balls would have crumbled...a couple did crumble when I used a skinny toothpick for the rolling-around-in-the-chocolate process.

After using a toothpick, I see that I should have rolled these Buckeyes in a different direction to cover the holds...but the recipe says to let the "dripping chocolate" cover the holes...and I still had no dripping chocolate.  (And I did add a small amount of butter to thin my 120^ melted chocolate...100^, as instructed by the recipe seemed to set up as soon as I added a peanut butter ball.

So, I still had ugly Buckeyes.  But they could be fixed with some creativity...
Chocolate drizzled over their tops and some holiday sprinkles did the trick.  No one knew that these should have looked like nuts called Buckeyes that grow on trees and are related to horse chessnuts.  

I need to find other chocolate dipping projects as I need to acquire better skills in this area.  I suppose that we don't do much chocolate dipping in AZ as it is usually too hot to dream about such things.  But this month is cool enough, so I'll plan to try again.

And my grandkiddies did enjoy my treats over the holidays.  Any dipping tips will be appreciated!

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