Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Midnight Truffles

So I have decided to call these midnight truffles because of their smooth dark chocolate insides. I had 60% cocoa bars on hand so that's what I used, but I am dying to make these again with 70% or 80% for a real sweet indulgence.

For those of you that aren't so into dark chocolate, feel free to sub it out for milk chocolate, but keep the semi-sweet as this helps to add a bit of something extra.

The best part of these truffles is the time and effort it takes to get to the finished product (read: minimal). In 3 simple steps, your ready to roll (see what I did there?!) and add your toppings. These are such a great treat to bring to a party, as your friends are sure to be impressed while you sit back and laugh at what a breeze they are to make.

8 oz cream cheese (Philadelphia is really good because its so creamy)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups 60% cocoa chocolate (or darker if you prefer)
Toppings: sprinkles, nonpareils, cocoa powder, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, you name it!

Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature and mix together with the confectioners' sugar until smooth.

Add your chocolate to a bowl resting over a simmering pot of water and melt the chocolate. Whisk every so often to make sure all the chunks are smooth and melted.

Pour the melted chocolate over the sweetened cream cheese and mix to fully combine. Place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

Using a cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), place evenly sized balls of chocolate onto a lined tray and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. By doing so, you will better be able to roll the balls into perfect spheres and shape them without the chocolate melting and sticking all over your hands.

Once they are firm, cover in the toppings of your choice, I went with the cocoa powder and nonpareils. Eat right away or keep refrigerated until it is time to serve. Let sit at room temperature for a bit before serving. Enjoy!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Week in Philly

So on Sunday night I took Amtrak down to Philadelphia for work for the week. Clearly I had one thing and one thing only on my mind from the second I arrived - track down the best Philly Cheesesteak! (But more on that to come later.) Aside from that, J & I roamed the streets and wondered the city taking in all it has to offer. Lucky for us, J's main squeeze back home hails from Philly, so we knew all the good eats that we had to check out. By the time you get to the end of the post, you will all know why I am not a lifestyle blogger! But I just had to share some of the fun we had.

As a reminder, this was a work trip (read: boring!) so other than dinner, we only had a few hours during the day to really explore. Seeing as I checked out the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall back when I was 10, I was on the hunt for some of Philly's hidden gems. This is what I found...

Our first night here we headed over to Monk's Cafe, who claims to serve up the best mussels in all of Philly. Considering this is what they delivered to the table..

...and this is what was left after roughly 7.5 minutes, you could say that we agree. The mussels were amazing and the juices were perfect for soaking up with your big loaf of sourdough bread.

Following our mussels app, I ordered the Stout Braised Lamb Shank. It was cooked perfectly, and served over a large pile of mashed potatoes and root veggies. It was massive and I did all I could to finish every last bit.

J went with the Grilled Atlantic Salmon with with white beer beurre blanc. She claims it was delicious and I sure do believe her.

The next day, we stopped over at the famous Reading Terminal Market, which is conveniently right across the street from our hotel. So you can bet we stopped over quite often during the week. This market is the quintessential farmer's market. Artisans from every craft are gathered in this large building serving up the best they have. Offerings range from homemade chocolate towers from Mueller's to America's best sandwich at DiNic's (I'm looking at you roast pork). As I am sure it will come to no one's surprise, my first stop was L.D. Bassets, otherwise known as America's oldest ice cream parlor. The market is bustling with energy and people gather here for lunch from tourists to businessmen and everywhere in between.

Yes, those are all deliciously fresh and homemade donuts. Clearly the smell in this place isn't doing anyone any favors, your taste buds kick into overdrive at every turn and corner.

That nice we headed over to El Vez for some Mexican flair. Naturally we started out with a huge bowl of fresh guac with homemade chips.

I opted for the carnitas tacos, and since J had trouble deciding, she got the sampler platter. The carnitas were to die for. The meat was so tender and flavorful and there was the perfect addition of toppings to keep it light but delicious. My compliments to the chef on this one!

Unable to back down just yet, we opted to share the churros with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. We got so excited when they came over we quickly ate up and I almost forgot to capture the picture.

So now keep in mind, it is only Wednesday and we have done a whole lot of eating on this trip! But today was the day I had been waiting for. We got out of work early and we headed straight over to Pat's King of Steaks, for Philly's original (and best) cheesesteak on offer. Keeping with the tradition of the week to try and eat on the light side, I ordered mine with a large side of cheese fries. I mean, is there any other way to do it? Check out that deliciousness.

We made it to Thursday, having suffered through hours of long, boring training modules, but it was our last night for dinner, so we headed over to Parc, a French restaurant in the Rittenhouse Square area of the city. On our walk over, the buildings became quainter, there were more trees, and the whole atmosphere sort of changed. J & I decided Rittenhouse Square is the equivalent of NYC's UES and it was lovely. We sat down in a huge dining room, packed with families celebrating birthday's and businessmen celebrating the end to another good week. We both started off with a whistling hot bowl of French onion soup and it had more cheese than I could ever have dreamed of.

For our main round, J went with the French classic, Beef Bourguignon. I decided to go for the Rabbit Pappardelle. The meat was really tender and the sauce was light and refreshing. It might have not taken home top prizes after the week I had, but it was definitely something I would go back for.

To top of the night, J & I split a creme brulee.

All in all, Philly surprised me every night. I did not put high regards on this city, but after spending a week here, it is definitely a place I would visit again. The city has many nooks and crannies that can still be explored. It's size, cleanliness and overall charm was a delight in comparison to the big, bad NYC. Until next time, thanks Philly!