Friday, December 19, 2008

Shopping, Liquor Store, Peppermint Truffles, Cataracts, Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I have been baking and making chocolates all week. It seems so strange to actually be in the house for a full week. I have been working like crazy to catch up on paperwork, emails and study. After a year of being in town only for 2 or 3 days per week, I am really tired and I didn't realize how tired I was until I have had this break!

All in all, it has been a wonderful year. Thousands of lives have been touched! Hundreds of surgeries have been performed. And many people can see to read for the first time in many years. Recently visiting the home of one of the cataract surgery recipients, the grandchildren were complaining because "grandma sees everything now." It is such a blessing to be able to help these old people which would be blind in a few short years.

This week, I wanted to make some peppermint truffles, but alas there was no peppermint flavoring available anywhere in Tegucigalpa. I scratched my head and tried to figure out what to do. So off to the liquor store I went, hiding my car behind the store, because the Honduran grapevine is SO VERY real and a missionary entering a liquor store is VERY taboo! I bought a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps and then on to the specialty store that carries imported candies. I bought a bag of peppermint candy and then off to the grocery store to buy what else I needed. The dark chocolate had been ordered two days before and was on it's way from San Pedro Sula, half way across the country and was to arrive late in the afternoon. My plan was that I would have everything ready so when the chocolate came, I could start dipping!

Nothing is easy when baking in Honduras. I must normally go to a minimum of 3 to 5 stores to buy what I need for a week of baking. Oh how I miss, Willams Sonoma, Dean and Deluca, Bakers Corner, HyVee and Internet shopping with a postal service that doesn't open every package and steal at least half and sometimes all of your order.

Finally I had the ingredients I needed to make or at least try to make Peppermint Truffles. Understand, there was no recipe, this was all "in my head". I have never made ganache, so I decided that today would NOT be the day to make ganache. I would use chocolate cake, buttercream icing, Peppermint Schnapps, a little sour cream and peppermint candy crushed and mixed into the truffles to give it more peppermint flavor. Then I would cover it with a layer of dark chocolate.

I started. I had made cake from scratch several days earlier, so it was just a matter of mixing and dipping, or so I thought. I rolled all the balls, had everything ready to go, but I was still waitng for the chocolate to arrive. Waiting, waiting, waiting and still no chocolate. I called the chocolate guy and the truck bringing the chocolate had wrecked between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa so now I had no chocolate for dipping and no prospects of getting any until at least tomorrow.

I have a saying! "The only thing that you can count on in Honduras is that everthing is subject to change at a moments notice."

I now had a decision to make, leave these "truffles" in the freezer for God only knows how long, or punt. I decided to punt. I pulled them out of the freezer, rolled them in red and white sprinkles and called it a day.

Peppermint Truffles

1 box of chocolate cake mix (homemade is better)

1 package of red and white stripped peppermint candies

1 bottle of Peppermint Schnapps (and no you do not use it all)

2 Teaspoons of Peppermint Flavoring

2 Tablespoons of sour cream

1/2 cup of homemade buttercream icing

50 small cupcake papers

Chocolate for dipping

  1. Before you start, crush the peppermint candies into small peices but not "crushed to dust". Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Mix together the chocolate cake, sour cream, buttercream icing and start adding Peppermint Schnapps until you can form a ball that holds together but is not gooey. If you have peppermint flavoring, now is the time to use it.
  3. Roll the balls in the peppermint candy until the candy is not sticking out on the sides of the ball, where you can get a clean post dipped finish.
  4. Place the balls in the freezer to harden up for later dipping.
  5. When the balls are hard set, dip in chocolate.
  6. Allow to dry.
  7. Decorate with a few swirls and some red and white sprinkles.
  8. Move to small cupcake paper cups.
  9. Make a pact with yourself NOT to eat more than 2.

Meanwhile I have the scalloped potatoes in the oven and they will be very tasty with the roast left over from a few days ago.


Prep Time: 30 min Total Time: 1 hr
Makes: 15 servings, 3/4 cup each


1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 cup chicken broth
3 lb. red potatoes, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Smoked Turkey, chopped
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 cup frozen peas


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and chicken broth in large bowl until well blended. Add potatoes, ham, 1-3/4 cups of the cheese and peas; stir gently to coat all ingredients. SPOON into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. BAKE 1 hour or until heated through and potatoes are tender.

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