Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Great holiday gifts

What are you making your co-workers? Visiting teachers? Kids babysitters?

This time of year, there's plenty of people that you probably *should* give gifts to. But if we all did that, we'd all be broke.

Here's an easy, inexpensive gift that works for just about anyone - Peppermint Fudge Cake in a cute little jar!

Put butter and chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl and heat in the microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth. Set aside to let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
Using a wooden spoon (don't use an electric mixer) stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined.

Stir in the eggs one and a time, beating with your spoon until combined after each addition, and then beat in the vanilla.
Gently fold in the flour mixture just until no traces of flour remain; do not overmix.
Place the mason jars on a cookie sheet. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8-10 jars (no need for greasing the jars). Only fill them halfway! Do not fill them more, or you won't have room for the other stuff - I didn't! Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Remove and let cool until room temperature.

For the ganache, heat the cream in a microwave-safe bowl until the edges start to bubble (about 60 seconds). As soon as it comes out of the microwave, pour it into another bowl containing the chocolate chips, and cover that bowl with plastic wrap immediately. After five minutes, stir in the peppermint extract. Allow it to cool while it thickens.

Use a paring knife to core out the center of the mason jars. Spoon the ganache into the hole and top off as much as you can. Leave room for frosting, if desired. Tilt the jars around to spread the ganache evenly.

If you want, you can then pipe frosting on each jar, being careful to leave room for the lid. I did not do this because a) I was out of room and b) the recipe looked complicated and I was tired. I did, however, top off with crushed candycanes and it looked pretty.

Original recipe from Our Best Bites.

Ingredients for fudge jars:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz chocolate, chopped. (or abt 1/2 C chips) Use bittersweet, dark, or semi-sweet.
1/2 C + 3 Tbs real butter, cut into pieces
3/4 C plus 2 Tbs sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 8oz wide mouth mason jars (the short squatty kind)

Ingredients for peppermint ganache:
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)
1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Ingredients for frosting:
3 T Flour
1/2 C milk (whole milk is best)
1/2 C real butter
1/2 C sugar (that's granulated sugar, not powdered sugar)
1 t vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. Place the mixture in a mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through. Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely. It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You'll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes.

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