Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall into Happy Janes

Autumn is probably my favorite season, and has been just about all my life. As a child in NJ, I recall the crisp mornings, the hearty foods and bursts of color every where I turned. When I lived in Florida, it was the time of year when we finally got a break from the heat. awwww, heck... I have reasons for every place I lived why Fall is my best season.

In the here and now, however... Autumn is more than a season of weather to me. It's back to school, it's birthdays and socials time, it's holidays, and most importantly.. it's GOOD FOOD.

I once joked with a friend that I only eat pumpkin from September through late January. While I know it's entirely silly to put stipulations of when I eat a particular food... 'saving' pumpkin for this time of year just means it's that more special to me.

Imagine my glee, then, when I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Truffles. pumpkin. chocolate. spices.

my tongue about fell out of my mouth.

At the heels of a bake sale, and eager to get back into the kitchen, I concocted a new flavor of Happy Janes inspired by the Pumpkin Truffle recipe and this SO-EASY recipe for home-made graham crackers.

I set out by making the graham cracker rounds, my signature shape for the Janes. As I said, this was much easier than I expected it to be. I think once you get used to working with cut-table cookie doughs, this falls right in line. (A word of warning, though.. if you choose to make graham crackers.. this recipe was far stickier than a regular sugar/butter cookie dough. I suspect it's from the abundance of honey.)

Then I made the pumpkin truffle filling. I followed the recipe, then made some changes. First.. I only used about HALF the amount of chocolate and heavy cream that was called for, and used about one and a half TIMES the amount of pumpkin required. I did this because I knew I wasn't making truffles as much as I was looking to create a pumpkin truffle FILLING. Also, since I knew the Jane would be COATED in chocolate.. I wanted a nice strong pumpkin flavor to emerge. (oh, and I used CLOVES.. not Gloves, as stated in the recipe.)
After the filling set and cooled... I piped some on the rounds.

Froze those bad boys and dipped in a bittersweet Belgian chocolate, then piped on an orange-colored candy drizzle for decoration.

I was very pleased with the flavor combination. it was like a chocolate covered piece of pumpkin pie. Yes.. I think I actually swooned a little after my first one. What a way to bring in Autumn!

Lessons Learned: I got two big things out of this project. The first is that those graham crackers are VERY POROUS. Within 24 hours, I noticed the cookie began to soften from absorbing the pumpkin's moisture, and by day three, they were a soft crumbly mess. The taste was still there, but texture means a lot to me.. and I was disappointed when they lost the cookie crunch. Some possible work-arounds are dipping the cookie in chocolate FIRST.. to form a protect barrier? maybe. we'll see.

The other lesson I learned is that my husband has very hot fingers. Every time he touched a Jane he ended up looking like a toddler playing with dark brown finger paints. Not so pretty. I may explore the addition of just a bit of paraffin to my chocolates to solidify that outer shell a bit more. This should prevent the messy fingers, as well as prevent the chocolate from absorbing oils of the fillings, and just being affected by things like humidity. Not that I want the Janes to have a shelf life of a twinkie.. just being able to hold their shape, color, and taste for more than 24 hours could open up a lot of doors for me in terms of sending Janes as gifts to friends around the country.

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