It's that time of year when many households are baking for dinner parties, gifts and just plain eating. I decided that this year I will mainly give edible and homemade goods as gifts. For some, knowing that there is something they really want, I added non-edible gifts. This year I am proud of myself for not just making the gifts, but importantly, packing and mailing the goods in early December. The packing and mailing part had been my downfall in past years. I would buy nice gifts but then have to go back to the store, which is quite unpleasant with the crowds this time of year, to get packing material. Once packed, I still have to somehow get to the post office in time and get on line to mail that package and those cards. Then days go by and January inches closer... The trials and tribulations of gift-giving but I truly enjoy giving gifts to my friends and family, especially when I know that there is something that can make their day.
I'll share some goodies that have received good reviews already. For example, these Chocolate Blocks got reviews of "yummy" and "can I have more?" from little ones. King Arthur Flour's recipes have been great. I'll write more about another one of their chocolate recipes that received rave reviews. First, I'll tell you about these Chocolate Straws that I made. The recipe is by Julia Moskin of the New York Times. This recipe is just perfect for this time of year when you've got so many tasks to complete. You can do this in a relatively short time and put them in pretty or plain long cellophane bags and finish with a pretty ribbon. At least that's what I did.
I used Trader Joe's puff pastry and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to thaw. They were pretty easy to work with the next evening. I rolled out puff pastry, then while they go back in the fridge, I started grating the chocolate. You can use a box grater or use a serrated knife to grate the chocolate. When Williams Sonoma had a sale, I could not resist and went into the store. I got one of my favorite tools, the microplane zester. This one, however, is different from the basic and original one I got years ago. This one can create slightly wider strips, more like ribbons. It looks like this and worked like wonders on the chocolate without creating a mess. See the shavings of chocolate?
I combined bittersweet chocolate with turbinado sugar for a deeper flavor. The turbinado sugar has a light, almost molasses flavor. Good puff pastry has lots and lots of butter but these Chocolate Straws really come out light, flaky and full of good chocolate goodness. I was going to sprinkle some sugar on these once they come out of the oven for a little sparkle but it was getting late so I didn't do it this time. They would make nice bites for a dinner party as well.
- Flour, for rolling
- 1 pound puff pastry, preferably made with butter
- 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely grated (use a Microplane or rotary cheese grater)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Heat oven to 375 degrees, or 350 degrees with convection. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Lightly flour a work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the pastry into a long rectangle, about 8 inches wide, turning over a few times to distribute the flour evenly. Patch any cracks with warm water and roll smooth.
- Combine chocolate and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
- Turn the pastry so the long side is facing you. Using a ruler or straight edge, trim off edges so the rectangle is smooth and straight. Cut the rectangle in half, top to bottom, into two smaller rectangles of equal size. Refrigerate for 20 minutes
- Brush both rectangles with melted butter. Sprinkle the chocolate-sugar mixture evenly over one rectangle and place the other on top, butter side down. Use the rolling pin to roll out and press the two layers together.
- Using a ruler (if desired), cut into strips about 8 inches long and 3/4- to 1-inch wide. Lift up a strip by the ends, gently twist it two or three times, and place on the prepared pan. Press the ends flat. Repeat, leaving about 1/2 inch of space between straws.
- Bake until light brown and crisp, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven after 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.
- About 1 dozen straws