Ting a Ling -- your mouth will sing!
Ever since we posted the recipe for our favorite Halloween confection, Chocolate Covered Tarantulas, I have been hearing from readers about a similar treat they enjoyed from their mother's kitchens.
The common thread to their stories has been that they were a traditional Christmas "cookie" their mom would make, containing chow mein noodles, and coated with a blend of melted chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. Most were also made with mixed salted and roasted nuts (Planter's). Chopped marshmallows and shredded coconut were often common ingredients. Many have continued to make these as gifts at Christmastime, one packs them into Chinese take-out boxes.
As soon as possible I googled "Ting-a-Lings" and sure enough, trillons of recipes popped up. Some as simple as just the noodles coated in melted butterscotch and chocolate chips, and then everything beyond.
The basic formula we use for "Ting-a-Lings" is 9 ounces (about 1-1/2 cups) of chocolate chips, melted, and poured over 4-1/2 cups of crunchy, salty "stuff". As with many of our recipes, we like to hit as many points on the taste palate as possible, in this recipe we cover sweet, salty, tangy, and (the recently identified sense of taste we experience) umami (or savory/ earthy).
So, plenty of flavor, a mouthful of texture and assembled in 1/2 hour -- Ting-a-Lings are a winner! After they are assembled, allow about a 1/2 hour for the chocolate to solidify.
Ting a Lings, Traditional
5 ounces chocolate chips, melted (Nestle's, or one of the chocolates listed below)
4 ounces butterscotch chips, melted (the chips can be melted together)
2 cups chow mein noodles
1-1/4 cup salted roasted almonds (we used we used Blue Diamond brand)
1-1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Ting a Lings, Splendid
2 cups chow mein noodles
1 cup salted, roasted almonds (we used Blue Diamond brand)
3/4 cup chopped butter caramels
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Prepare and measure dry ingredients and put them in a large, flat container with room for mixing. Stir ingredients together.
Here's how to "temper" (or melt) chocolate on the stove:
While the ting-a-lings people enjoyed growing up were made with Nestle's chips, we now have many more options when it comes to chocolate. We love Guittard chocolate from San Francisco, they have wafers which melt beautifully and are available in the baking section of many grocery stores.
We also LOVE the Belgium chocolate Callebaut for it's smooth, rich flavor. Callebaut can be found in large bars in some cooking stores, or in bulk at Whole Foods and other better grocery stores. Also, I am not sure, but I suspect, the large bars of Belgium chocolate at Trader Joe's are made of Callebaut -- either way, the bars from TJ's would be a wonderful choice as well.
It is very important that water or steam does not come in contact with the melting chocolate. Water will cause the chocolate to seize. If this happens, sadly, you just have to kiss it goodbye and start over. There is no road to recovery!! Do not worry, follow these easy steps, splendid ones, and this shall not happen to you!
Fill the bottom vessel of a bain marie (or double boiler) with water to a level where it won’t spill out when you put the top vessel in place. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce it to a low simmer. If not using chips or wafers, break the chocolate up into small pieces (or use a knife to create shavings if using a chunk of chocolate) and place it in the top vessel of the bain marie. Place the top vessel onto the lower vessel.
Do not put the lid on the pan – this may lead to condensation dripping into the chocolate and the dreaded seize!!
Watch the chocolate closely and stir it regularly until it is smooth and glossy. If water begins bubbling up between the 2 vessels reduce the heat a little.
Chocolate can also be melted in the microwave, it's hard to give directions since every microwave is different. Here's some general guidelines: Pour the chocolate in a microwave proof container. Turn on the oven, probably for about 20 seconds on high. After 20 seconds, stir the chocolate (because microwaves begin cooking the inside of the food first, the chocolate will look solid, even when the center is beginning to melt). Continue cooking and stirring at set intervals. Take it slowly, if it goes too long the chocolate will scorch.
Pour the luscious melted chocolate over the dry mixture.
Use a spatula to toss the mixture until it is thoroughly coated in the melted chocolate.
Use all 5 fingers to take large pinches of the chocolate covered mixture and place the “pinch” on silpats or waxed paper, shape the "pinch" into somewhat of a ball.
Allow the chocolate to solidify, this can take up to a half-hour at room temperature (faster if it is on a cold surface). To speed up the process put the trays in the refrigerator or outdoors.