Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sugar High Friday - Chocolate Truffles

When Johanna said that she was hosting Sugar High Friday and was choosing truffles as the theme, I was a bit apprehensive about playing along. I'd never made chocolate truffles before and more importantly, I don't go weak in the knees at the thought of being given a box of chocolates. Yes, I like chocolate but I don't LOVE it. I'm not the kind that orders anything as long as it's chocolate on a dessert menu. I do like some truffles but I am a picky bastard when it comes to the ones that The Boy is allowed to bribe me with. Salted Caramel Truffles from L'Artisan du Chocolat, English Creams (especially the violet ones- it makes me feel like a granny) from Rococo, any extra dark chocolate from La Maison du Chocolat - to name a few. The chocolate has to be dark and the filling has to be different.

But what the hell I thought, why not. I usually have a bar or two of dark chocolate stored away in the cupboard for a rainy day so I could use it up before my holiday. The next question was- how do I make chocolate truffles? One rather shitty afternoon earlier this week, I received what must've been a sign that I should do this. Whilst doing errands for work, I saw this month's cover of Bon Appetit- CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES. End of discussion. I was in.

I used the recipe from an article on Katrina Markoff of Vosges Haut Chocolat as the base. Once I made a few traditional bittersweet truffles and felt that it wasn't going to go pear shaped, I ventured out into unknown territory creating flavours like chili and lemon-thyme (my combinations and shortcuts follow the recipe).

The recipe uses American measurements; if you don't have U.S. measuring cups, just keep in mind that the chocolate and cream are nearly used in equal measure but there is a dash more cream.

Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles (from Bon Appetit Dec 06)

Makes about 30 truffles


Truffle Base:
1 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream (I used double cream)
9 ounces high quality bittersweet (dark) chocolate (70% cocoa, I used 72%), chopped, divided

Chocolate Coating:
8 ounces high quality bittersweet (dark) chocolate (70% cocoa, I used 72%), chopped

Unsweetened cocoa powder for rolling

For truffle base:

Bring cream to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir 7 ounces of chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Remove from heat. Add 2 ounces of chocolate; stir until smooth. Stir in cream. Chill truffle base until firm enough to roll, about 3 hours.

Line rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Roll 2 teaspoons truffle base between fingertips into ball. Transfer to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffle base. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

For chocolate coating:

Line another baking sheet with waxed paper. Stir chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water just until melted. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

Scoop some of warm (not hot) melted chocolate into palm of hand. Place 1 chilled truffle in hand and roll in palm to coat. Transfer to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining melted chocolate and truffles, rewarming chocolate if necessary.

Roll in cocoa powder if desired.

Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
I used that recipe as the base for my truffles but I deviated and experimented with methods and fillings. To start, I didn’t use two baking sheets I used one and then taped some parchment paper onto the countertop since my kitchen tends to be on the chilly side (a good excuse to bake things). I also used a melon baller to shape the truffles.

The Truffle article does give suggested variations on the truffles- balsamic truffles and mango curry truffles (not too sure on that one) – but the added flavourings need to infuse the cream before being mixed into the chocolate. There were only so many batches of truffle base I could make (which was two) so I rewarmed portions of the base and stirred in the extras. Be careful not to overheat the truffle base. Warm it just enough so that the additions can be mixed in then rechilled and make into balls.

My versions are listed below and all but the last two have had bits stirred into the already prepared base. The last two were made from scratch where the cream was infused with flavouring.

Version 1: Plain dark chocolate rolled in chocolate then coated with chopped salted almonds. (Picture right, middle truffle)

Version 2: Chocolate Raspberry- Two small teaspoons of raspberry jam was stirred into the base and coated with chocolate. (Picture right, far left truffle)

Version 3: Cranberry Kirsch- Two teaspoons of kirsch was stirred in as well as a handful of dried cranberries that I had blitzed into a pulp. The pulp wanted to clump together in the base so next time I would probably finely chop them instead. The balls were then coated chocolate and cocoa and marked with a small X on top. (Top picture)

Version 4: Chile- Half a dried Pasilla chile was finely chopped and stirred into the base. The final ball was coated in chocolate and one side was dipped in a mixture of cocoa and cinnamon. (Picture left, middle truffle)

Version 5: Lemon Thyme- The original recipe gave a recipe for Meyer Lemon and Thyme neither of which I had so I infused the cream with the leaves from a couple of sprigs of lemon thyme for 20 minutes. Afterwards, I squeezed a wedge of lemon and stirred the zest of half a lemon into the cream mix, which was then added to the chocolate. That was then coated in chocolate and sprinkled with some lemon zest on top. (Picture left, far left)

Version 6: Jasmin Fruits Concassees- Ginny sent me a pack of jasmine scented dried fruits and challenged me to experiment with it. The fruits look like a tea so I infused a couple of teaspoons on the cream for 10 minutes before straining it into the chocolate base. The truffles were rolled into chocolate with a couple bits of jasmine fruits on top. (Picture above, far right)

Although the prep and rolling of the truffles is time consuming, it isn’t a difficult item to make and I would make again for my Christmas goody bags. I can imagine that it would be a great rainy day messy activity for kids. For someone who isn’t a chocolate fanatic, I have shed loads of the stuff. I have eaten enough during the process that I’m not sure I want anymore so my mates at work (and The Boy’s work) will end up with chocolate filled bellies. I hope that when Johanna reads this she realises that some of these are going to magically appear in her fridge when I see her next week!


Clare said...

They look lovely Xoch. I'm sorry that I wasn't around to join in the fun. Another interesting variation is to make a ganache without cream - water based is rather tricky but can be amazing if flavoured with jasmine tea or similar.

Jeanne said...

You sum up my feelings exactly! Chocolate is great and all, but I can easily have a box of chocolates untouched in my house so long that the sell-by date comes and goes and I have to chuck them! So it's not surprising that I have never made truffles before!!

But I love your variations (and good grief, you were ambitious with the number of variations you tried!) - how did the chile ones turn out? Lovely pics too, btw.

thepassionatecook said...

Ah yes! that's how i like it! you can't bring enough of them, believe me! andyou will have to try some of mine as well, if there's any left then ;-)

Xochitl said...

Hey Clare,

It's a shame that you weren't able to come over- the expertise would've been great. I'm sure there'll be a round 2 and you WILL come over!

The water base must make truffles edible for lactose intolerants like you, right?


Xochitl said...

Hi Jeanne,

Give me a lemon tart or nougat ice cream over chocolate anyday. Saying that I figured that if I tried a few varieties that something would turn out alright (I'm an all or nothing kinda gal).

The chile ones don't have enough kick for me but you do get the odd smokey simmer when you bite into a piece of chile. Next time I think I would add some pasilla chile powder as well.


Brilynn said...

Wow! So many varieties, well done.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed by all of your variations. How did the lemon-thyme truffles turn out?

I'm sure you made may friends with your truffles!

Xochitl said...

Thanks Brilynn.

Hi Amy,

The Lemon Thymes ones are actually my favourite. They are more lemon than thyme but have a light herbiness that is tasty. I'd be curious to use plain ol' thyme and lemon next time to see if there's a more pronounced flavour.