Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Cookie Dough Truffles

Unlike the other recipes I’ve made and posted, I didn’t find this one; it found me, via my friend’s Facebook feed. It looked delicious, and really simple to make. I was right on both counts.

Cookie Dough Truffles
Picture from CakesCottage.com

Without further ado, here’s the recipe, via CakesCottage

Ingredients:

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 pound dark chocolate candy coating

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, combine butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated, beating well after each addition.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until firm enough to handle.
  5. Shape mixture into 1 inch balls by rolling a spoonful in the palm of your hand. Coat your hands in flour to prevent sticking.
  6. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or until firm again.
  7. In a bowl, melt dark chocolate candy coating.
  8. Dip the cookie dough balls into the chocolate and place on parchment paper.
  9. Let the truffles sit until hard, about 15 minutes.
  10. Once set, remelt remaining candy coating.
  11. Place in a small baggie and cut a small hole in one corner.
  12. Carefully drizzle chocolate over truffles.
  13. Store in the refrigerator and serve cold. These can also be frozen for longer storage.

Alterations:

I believe I have a bona fide inability to follow the recipe to the letter.

  • I had no idea whether the recipe called for light or dark brown sugar, so I just went with light (since the dark was unopened).
  • I used milk chocolate for the candy coating for two reasons:

    1. My mother dislikes the bitterness of dark chocolate.
    2. Target had a convenient pack of melting chocolate, but they only had milk and white. I went with milk.
  • For the drizzle, I used white chocolate, because I had some left over from lollipop making, and I like the color contrast. Also, my drizzle wasn’t as neat as the Cakes Cottage picture, due to the ziplock bag having extra creases, and my lack of dexterity.
Cookie Dough Truffles
The finished product
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LttP: Zero Escape Series

999
999
The main characters of 999
Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (which I’ll refer to from now on as 999) is an extremely dark visual novel/puzzle type game that was originally released in the US in 2010 for Nintendo DS. How did I miss this game, then? Two words: grad school. For some reason, between 2009 and 2013, I didn’t really play that many DS games. However, when I got my first 3DS in 2013, I asked around for game recommendations, and was told to go straight to Virtue’s Last Reward (the sequel to 999, which I’ll call VLR).

I liked it. A shorthand version is, what if Professor Layton were much, much darker? The basic premise of both games is this: Nine people are locked up someplace, and need to solve puzzles to escape… and survive. There are sudoku puzzles, math problems, logic puzzles, finding certain items and putting them together, the list goes on. I guess in a way, it’s also like Ace Attorney in that you have to search around in order to obtain items in order to solve the puzzles.

Since I liked Virtue’s Last Reward so much, I went backward and decided to play 999. (Zero Escape 3 is in development, and is due to be released next summer.)

They’re both great games, though to me, it’s obvious that Virtue’s Last Reward has some improvements that I definitely missed in 999.

For example, in both games, you need to run though the events of the game multiple times, in order to try multiple paths. Think of “Choose Your Own Adventure;” if you get to a page that says you’ve died, you start the book over and make different choices. This is basically what you have to do in order to get all the possible endings in Zero Escape games. Now, since you’re going back through stuff you’ve already done, there is a lot of repetition. In 999, there’s really no skipping. You can speed up the story dialogue somewhat if you’ve been through it before, but you have to go through almost all of the steps in order to complete the puzzles needed to escape the rooms. In VLR, you have to obtain keys in order to escape the rooms, and those keys are contained in safes. If you know the code to the safe from the first time around, you can bypass the data/item collecting phases, and just enter the code in order to get the keys and unlock the doors. They also sped up the dialogue skipping, which is great, because VLR has more endings than 999.

VLR is also available on PS Vita, which probably means improved graphics. (I played the 3DS version.)
I can’t really go too much more into the game without spoiling it for those who might be interested in playing it, so I’ll just say two more things:

1. You might not want to play this right before sleeping, or with young children. We’re talking about extremely gory content. There are unavoidable, and extremely bloody, deaths.

2. If you wish you could do an escape-the-room type experience without the risk of death, you’re in luck! Many cities actually have Escape the Room games, in which you and your friends have a certain time limit to solve the puzzles of the room. The Escape Room Directory has a list of worldwide locations.

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Recipe of the Week: One Pot Pasta (with meat sauce)

There are a bunch of one-pot pasta recipes out there. I’m not sure why I hadn’t heard of them until a few months ago, because it makes cleanup so much easier! No separate pots for pasta, sauce, and/or meat! You also don’t have to worry about draining the pasta after boiling, because it boils right in the sauce! Yum!

This week, I used a recipe posted on SheKnows, minus the peppers, and with a jar of spaghetti sauce instead of the canned pasta sauce (due to pantry supply issues). I’ve also done the Martha Stewart recipe with added mushrooms. Basically, whatever you’d add in your pasta sauce, add it, while giving enough time for the ingredients to cook to your liking. For example, if you use carrots, you might want to put them in right after the meat is cooked, and before adding onions/peppers, in order to get them to your desired softness.

One-pot spaghetti with meat sauce recipe

by Patricia Conte at SheKnows
Serves 4

Recipe inspired by Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced sweet peppers, seeds and membrane removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • Fresh basil as garnish (optional)
  • Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, shaved, as garnish (optional)

Directions:

  • Add the ground beef to a Dutch oven (or large pot) over medium heat. Cook until done, then drain, and return the ground beef to the pot.
  • Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, diced tomatoes in juice, tomato sauce and water. Mix to combine.
  • Increase the heat to high to bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Add the spaghetti and cook until it softens slightly (just a minute or so). Add the lid, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the spaghetti is tender and cooked to your liking.
    Serve in individual bowls garnished with the basil and shaved cheese.

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On Rachel Dolezal

Dolezal after and before

In case you are unaware, there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding Rachel Dolezal, Africana studies professor and head of a local NAACP chapter. You see, for years, Dolezal has been represented as an African-American woman. However, that was recently questioned when reporters found a Caucasian couple who claims to be her estranged birth parents. The investigation was launched when doubts were raised about hate crimes she had reported.

There are so many questions. Why would she lie about her ethnicity? Why would her parents out her as Caucasian? Why is she estranged from her parents? Should her race even matter? And, the most burning question for me personally – how did she get her hair to look so damned good?

Dolezal after and before
These pictures are both reportedly of the same person

The regional leader of the NAACP has stated that Ms. Dolezal’s race doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t. But what does matter is the dishonesty. If she truly is of two Caucasian parents with no discernible African ancestry, why the dishonesty? Can you really trust her to champion the cause of racial equality when she’s not true to her own race? But then again, does race really matter?

I can’t claim to have the answers to these questions. It would be ideal if we lived in a world where race, ethnicity, religion, gender, were extremely minor details that mattered very little.

No matter what her race, Rachel Dolezal appears to be a formidable ally of racial equality, who’s clearly personally invested, given that she’s the legal guardian of a young Black man (her adopted brother) and has another African-American (or perhaps biracial) son. And if she knows her stuff about Africana Stidues, then she should be able to teach to the subject. I’ve had French teachers of Italian descent, Spanish teachers from France, and I’ve never been taught English by a Briton. It’s a sad reality that if she had been perceived as Caucasian, she probably wouldn’t have been able to get as far as she has. It shouldn’t be that way.

If anything, she can always fall back on doing hair; if those are crochet braids she’s rocking, she does an impressive job!

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Recipes of the Week: Foolproof Pizza and Sauce

pizza

Okay, I’m cheating a bit. I’ve made Serious Eats’ Foolproof Pan Pizza in the past. Since I’m a New Yorker living in New England, I’m a real pizza snob, and I’ve decided that the best way to get a decent pizza around here is to make it my damned self.

The thing is, I’m usually lazy. Even though the dough is made from scratch, it’s a really low-maintenance dough. This is a good thing for me, because I’m cursed; any recipe involving flour usually turns into disaster. However, I think that measuring by weight instead of volume has helped me out a lot.

Another way I’ve been lazy is that I’ve been using prepared sauce, either Classico Traditional Pizza Sauce, or Hannaford’s pizza sauce from the refrigerated deli section (Hannaford is a New England supermarket chain).

But today, I’m stepping it up, since I haven’t done a new recipe this week. A pot of Serious Eats’ New York Style Pizza Sauce is simmering on the stove as I type. I did not make any alterations to the sauce recipe, and the pizzas will be pepperoni/mushroom, and “Hawaiian” pizza (pineapple and ham), which is really a Canadian invention. Eh?

Oh, and because it’s not mentioned in the sauce recipe: you’re supposed to take the onion halves out after the simmering is done.

Ingredients

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium cloves garlic, grated on microplane grater (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
2 six-inch sprigs fresh basil with leaves attached
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and split in half
1 teaspoon sugar
Procedures

1. Process tomatoes and their juice through food mill, pulse in food processor until pureed, or puree with hand blender. Puree should not be completely smooth, but should have no chunks larger than 1/16 of an inch. Set tomatoes aside.

2. Combine butter and oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and large pinch salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil sprigs, onion halves, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to lowest setting (bubbles should barely be breaking the surface), and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by 1/2, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool and store in covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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