Bite size

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** Peppermint Chocolate Truffles are seen in this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007 photo. With dried cranberries inside and crushed candy canes outside these truffles couldn't be more perfect. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

A truffling matter

Few treats are as divine as chocolate truffles. Studded with dried cranberries and rolled in crushed candy canes, these are especially so.

Peppermint Chocolate Truffles

Makes 30 truffles

-- 14 ounces dark chocolate bits

-- 3/4 cup heavy cream

-- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins or other small dried fruit

-- 12 candy canes

Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the chocolate and cream. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the dried fruit, then refrigerate until set, about 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, place the candy canes in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely and uniformly crushed. Transfer to a shallow bowl.

Use a melon baller or measuring spoon to scoop about 1 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture. Roll it into a ball between your palms. (This is messy. Chocolate will melt all over your hands.)

Roll the ball in the bowl of crushed candy canes until well- coated. Place the finished truffle on a plate and repeat the process with remaining ingredients. Chill chocolate mixture in refrigerator again if it becomes too warm to work with.

Keep truffles refrigerated until ready to serve.

-- Associated Press

Get a grip

Q: Can you tell me the proper way to use panko breadcrumbs.

When I make chicken cutlets, I dip the cutlets in egg, then in panko breadcrumbs (dressed with seasonings). I try to pat them on the chicken but, alas, a lot of the breadcrumbs fall off.

A: Panko crumbs are lighter, flakier and bigger than regular breadcrumbs, but they essentially can be treated the same way.

What might be happening to your cutlets, though, might not be related to the panko.

Before you dredge your cutlets in egg, you should give them a quick (and light) dusting with flour so that the egg has something to grip on to and doesn't slide off.

That should help your breadcrumbs stick.

-- Food Network Kitchens

Chiles and chilis

Ancho chile powder differs from regular chili powder.

Ancho chiles are sweet dried chiles; when they're fresh, they're called poblano chiles. Ancho chile powder is made only from anchos; it's got a full, fruity flavor that's easy on the heat.

Chili powder is a blend of powdered chiles and other spices, usually heavy on cayenne, cumin and garlic powder. Chili powder is intended to be more of an all-purpose seasoning; you use powdered chiles when you want a precise flavor.

-- Food Network Kitchens