Monday, December 23, 2013

make: chocolate cashew ginger candies (guten-free!)

Just a few ingredients pack a powerful tasty punch! This is a roundabout recipe, something I make without measuring. There was a variation of the recipe once form a book I no longer have that used graham crackers and macadamia nuts but darn if macadamia nuts aren't so expensive, so I made up this recipe instead...

Here's what I used...
*1 pack (8oz) of gluten free ginger snaps from Trader Joe's
*2 10oz bags bittersweet chocolate chips (guitard)
*2 10-12oz  bags milk chocolate chips (guitard is a fave)
*1 1/2 cups or so of lightly salted cashew pieces
*1/2-1 cup candied ginger chips
*flake sea salt
These chocolates are not labor intensive but do take a while to make as the chocolate needs to set between dippings. Make sure to clear space in your fridge or freezer for a cookie sheet to rest without toppling over. Fill a medium to large soup pot with water and place a heat proof bowl on top making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Dump both bags of bittersweet chips into the bowl and let them melt. Stir every now and then to distribute that heat. While the chocolate is melting, place cookies into a plastic bag and roll over with a rolling pin to crunch them up a bit. They will crumble a lot so don't roll until you have only crumbs, leave a few chunky bits in there. When chocolate is melted, remove from heat and add your cookie pieces, ginger chips and cashews. Stir until combined. The chocolate will be glossy and the mixture will be loose.
Use two spoons to drop very small blobs of the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper (they will not be pretty). You can go bigger but they are very difficult to bite through and enjoy when they are more than a mouthful (but cutting them half has its advantages). Think almond sized blobs. You can place the blobs fairly close together to use up as much space as possible on the cookie sheet. Place in your refrigerator or freezer for fifteen minutes or until set. I had to use three cookie sheets for this but only had room for one sheet at a time in the fridge. This part can be done a few days before the next round of dipping.
Once the chocolate is set it is time for round two of dipping. Pour one bag of milk chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. I use a four cup measuring cup. You want the container to be taller than wide so that the chocolate, once melted, is deep enough for dipping. Melt in 30 second increments and stir in between. Make sure your container is absolutely dry and that you check on your chocolate. Both water and over heating can seize it making it unusable. Once your chocolate is melted, use a fork and your fingers to coat each piece of candy, placing it back onto your covered cookie sheet. To make this easier, remove all of the to-be-dipped pieces and put them on a plate or in a bowl before you begin. When your cookie sheet is full add a pinch of sea salt to the top of each candy. Return to fridge to set. To use up as much chocolate as possible, use a spatula to scrape sides of container. I usually abandon my fork by the third piece and end up with one hand completely covered in chocolate. To finish of the remaining chocolates, add your second bag of chips to the container and return to the microwave for melting. By the time you finish dipping the last round your cookie sheet in the fridge should be set.
These are crazy good candies! I made these gluten-free as I was bringing them to a potluck where I knew someone was gluten-sensitive. Not all chocolate chips are gluten-free so do your research before you get to melting the whole shebang. The ginger chips from The Ginger People are gluten-free and super tasty. If you do not need gluten-free chocolates, go wild! Chop up a fancy candy bar and use nutter butter cookies or pie crust or oreos! I did up one batch last week and ran out of milk chocolate for dipping (I only used one bag) so I popped the candies that needed to be double dipped into a container and did them a few days later when I had more chocolate. I also had only used two-thirds of the crumbs so used made up another whole batch. By the end of all the dipping I was left with three candies un-double-dipped. They were pretty tasty too, not so pretty to look at but yummy all the same.
Pop a bunch of sweets into a wax bag, add a pretty tag and gift away!  Throw a candy making party where people bring different nuts and cookies, customize the candies for friends with allergies, add dried cranberries or chop up candied orange peels...soooo many ways to make these! Happy Holidays!

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