Chocolate Truffle Mice
My mom used to make these chocolate truffle mice every Christmas. When other kids brought in cookies or bar desserts their moms made during our elementary school Christmas parties, I brought these mice. Santa may have even been left a few mice on more than one occasion. This recipe and the recipe below, candied orange peels, are in the notebook my mom passed onto me.
As an aside, this notebook is the first thing I will grab if there’s ever a fire. It’s full of clippings from magazines and newspapers my mom stuck in a huge spiral-bound notebook. There’s notes all throughout, “excellent”, “not great”, “Heather loves these” and lots of these recipes I remember my mom making growing up.
Chocolate Truffle Mice (Canadian Living Magazine)
4 ounces/squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs (or Oreo baking crumbs… But if you grind up the cookies yourself, about 30 cookies.)
1/3 cup more crumbs for later (or you can use icing sugar or sprinkles… But be warned, icing sugar will make your little mice disturbingly realistic)
Almond slivers or flakes
Licorice for tails
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, then remove it from the heat. Mix in sour cream, and then the cookie crumbs. Park it in the fridge to cool for about an hour.
Roll about a tablespoon’s worth of truffle into a ball, and then shape the ball to have a little point at the end for the mouse’s nose. Coat the truffle in more cookie crumbs.
You can then decorate with dragees (silver balls) for eyes, almond slivers for ears and licorice strings for tails. Do not be surprised if once everyone is done eating them, you are left with a plate of disembodied tails.
Candied Orange Peels
I’ve been making the candied orange peels on my own for the past three or four Christmases. Matt’s mom showed me a recipe in a magazine for candied orange slices, not peels. I thought this was really interesting and I am going to do both peels and slices during this run.
One interesting note is that the recipe for peels is done in two stages: first, you boil the peels in water for 15 minutes to remove the bitterness, then simmer them in sugar syrup until they are candied. For the slices, all the recipes I have found skip that first step. In addition, the peels use sugar and corn syrup, while the slices do not use corn syrup, but simply a 2:3 water to sugar ratio.
I’ve experimented with this recipe, and the only other citrus fruit that holds up well to the process is grapefruit, which still retains its distinct grapefruit flavour. Lemon and lime peels seem too thin and turn out crunchy and burnt-tasting.
The chocolate dipping is what I added to this recipe. Dark chocolate tastes really good, but semi-sweet chocolate chips are easier to eat out of the freezer when no one is looking.
This recipe is from Family Circle, December 1989.
2 to 3 lbs of navel oranges, or about 8 oranges.
3/4 cup of water
2 cups of sugar, with extra for rolling the peels in
2 tablespoons of corn syrup
Remove the peel from the oranges. I’ve found cutting them into quarters and scooping out the flesh works best, but if you intend on eating the leftovers later you will be left with a pile of mush. I always intend to eat the oranges, but never do. This is why I am excited about trying slices this time around, because there is less waste.
Boil the orange peels in a pot of water for about 15 minutes, drain.
Boil sugar, 3/4 cup of water and corn syrup, add the orange peels and simmer for about 35-55 minutes or until translucent. Do not burn it, or your pot will never be the same again. In addition if you burn the syrup, your peels will taste burnt and be crunchy even if they don’t look burnt.
After the peels are simmered, they are left to cool/dry before rolling them in sugar. They are supposed to be rolled in sugar when they’re just “tacky”, but I have found if you roll them when too dry the sugar won’t stick, but if you roll them just before the tacky stage the sugar is absorbed because of the moisture and the peels stay… Juicy.
I found the slices difficult to candy evenly, as they float. And, the more you push ’em back into their syrup, the more they fall apart. But if you cover them with enough chocolate it doesn’t really matter 🙂