I had mentioned earlier that I was looking forward to making an Italian nougat called torrone, a traditional Christmas candy. All of the ingredients were set out and ready to go. It was all going so well, that is, until at the crucial time period of watching the temperature on the candy thermometer, my girls walked into the kitchen and started chatting. I was stirring, but forgot to watch the temperature as we continued our conversation. When it occurred to me to check on it, it was too late. The temperature had gone way too high. So what to do? It still smelled wonderful with all those beautiful almonds and hazelnuts, so I scraped the mixture out and let it sit. Lo and behold, it became a beautiful torrone brittle! I decided to sprinkle it with a little coarse salt, and transformed it into a salted caramel hazelnut and almond brittle. Just remember, if you mess up recipes, make them into something else. If you make a cake wrong, crumble it up and make a trifle. Almost anything can be saved somehow.
After the brittle, I still wanted to make something that turned out as it was supposed to so I wouldn’t feel bad about messing up the torrone. I found a recipe for no-bake chocolate balls that contained port wine. I had all the ingredients… except for the port. A few minutes later, my husband walked in with a late Christmas gift from his sister. Port wine. I couldn’t believe it. She also sent along some brie to serve with it, but thought it would be fine to borrow a little of the wine for the chocolate balls. They turned out beautiful. Here is the recipe in case you would like to make them for a New Year’s party.
Zinfandel Port Chocolate Balls
1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafers
1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup Zinfandel Port
1/2 cup powdered sugar, or as needed
In large bowl of food processor, combine vanilla wafers, cocoa, and almonds. Whirl until fine crumbs form. Add corn syrup and port; mix until blended and mixture forms a ball. Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll each in powdered sugar. Refrigerate before serving. Makes about 48 balls.