Valentine’s Day .. a day of love, happiness and…. chocolate. Oh yeah, massive quantities of chocolate. Of just sugar in general. Simple deliciousness.
This year, I joined a dance company for college graduates called DanceWorks Boston. You might be asking why this is relevant to my Valentine’s Day but I have a point, I promise. After one of my best friends and fellow dancer got a job offer in Connecticut that she could not refuse, the director of the company was down a choreographer. Long story short, I now have my own contemporary piece and 20 talented dancers who spent Valentine’s night from 7-8pm with me sweating in a dance studio. Dying to make some delicious love-themed sweets, I decided to make small treat packages for each of the girls. Hence, the inspiration for this post (and some amazing desserts.)
I searched for days trying to figure out what to make. I just couldn’t decide… brownies, cupcakes, cookies, mini parfaits… the list of possibilities were endless. I went back and forth, debating between red velvet and dark chocolate, maybe a big chocolate chip cookie we could all share? I almost gave up completely.
Then, it hit me – dur, Marie, just make more than one thing and share the wealth. Tie with some pretty ribbon, attach a (cough, Disney Princess, cough) Valentine. Oreo Truffles, Red Velvet Cakeballs, White Chocolate-Peanut-Pretzel Bark … Perfection.
The recipes… well, I must give credit where credit is due. I found the Oreo Truffles and the Red Velvet Cakeballs courtesy of the lovely Bakerella herself. I may have tweaked the recipe to fit my needs, but hey… dancers don’t usually eat full-fat cream cheese. The bark recipe came straight from Ms. Paula Deen herself and despite the fact that I NEVER make her recipes, (do I even need to explain why?), I found that this combination was the perfect amount of sweet and salty together.
First, I made the Oreo Truffles. Pretty straight forward. I whipped out my 14-cup food processor and pulverized a whole package (minus 7 oreos) to nothing but fine crumbs (cream filling and all). I transferred it to a bowl and mixed it (more like mashed with the back of a large spoon) until it turned into a big ball of soft, oreo goodness. I rolled 1-inch nuggets, let them harden in the freezer and dipped them in melted light cocoa candy melts (that I made a special trip to Joanne Fabrics for.)
Once the chocolate hardened around the oreo mixture, it was like biting into a little piece of heaven. Out of all three things I made, I may be a little biased towards these.
Next up: White Chocolate-Peanut-Pretzel Bark. 3 steps: I melted some white chocolate chips and stirred in broken skinny pretzel pieces and lightly salted peanuts and voila! I spread it on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and stuck in the fridge for 20 minutes. The chocolate mixture hardened and I was able to break it up like a brittle. If you have a salty-sweet tooth like me, this is the easiest and most perfect snack with the exception of maybe dipping pretzels directly into melted chocolate.
Finally, I attempted the cakeballs. Funny enough to say, these balls are both simple, yet time consuming. Even though the foundation is a red velvet cake mix and cream cheese frosting, I ran into difficulty when I was supposed to roll them into 1-inch balls. The batter was simply too sticky. Instead, I took a cookie scoop and divided the batter onto cookie sheets. I then stuck the balls in the freezer to firm up.
Consequently, I ran into a second problem. When attempting to roll the cake balls in melted white chocolate, the balls were so gooey they were falling apart. I rectified the situation by spooning the melted white chocolate on top of each cakeball. They may not have looked as pretty as Bakerella’s, but they definitely tasted great. (The ones in the picture aren’t frosted but simply covered with a thin coating of sugar.)
When it came time to pack them up, I slid a truffle, a cakeball and a few broken pieces of bark into a cellophane baggie, tied it with a red ribbon and attached the Valentines. The girls in my rehearsal loved the treats. I think I may try more blog-worthy recipes out on them more often!
Aren’t my dance friends pretty?
Oh – but how could I forget my amazing boyfriend? This was our fourth Valentine’s Day together (!!!) He is the most incredible guy I could have ever asked for. And not to get all mushy on you, but it’s the real deal….
My gift to him: a L.L. Bean (his favorite store) rugby shirt, love dice (joke present) and a 6-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. I wrapped them with a big red bow and a very funny card. He loved it and the shirt fits him perfectly!
His present to me? Something I have been wanting for practically a year; something he has taunted me with for about that long (let’s just say my Christmas present was wrapped in one of these bags but no bracelet was to be found in it…)
An “oxydized silver” Pandora … I screamed when I saw it. He done good.
Recipe courtesy of Bakerella
1 package Oreos
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened (I used low-fat)
White or Cocoa Candy Melts (can be found at specialty craft stores/bake shops)
Pulverize all but 7 oreos in a food processor (cream part included.) Pour crumbs in large mixing bowl.
Add softened cream cheese and combine thoroughly. (I used the back of a big wooden spoon until it was mostly combined, then dove in with my hands.)
Roll into individual balls at desired size. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until hardened.
Melt candy melts in the microwave according to package directions. (Only melt a little at a time; the melted chocolate will thicken the longer it’s out.) Drop oreo balls one at a time into chocolate and cover completely using a spoon. Lift covered truffle out of chocolate, tap off excess against the side of the bowl and let dry completely on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Keep refrigerated or in a cool, dry place.