Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Gift of Chocolate

Truffles rolled in Cocoa
Valentine's Day is a chocolate lovers holiday. On February 14th dazzle your sweetheart with a box of handmade truffles!

Of course the most important ingredient in truffle making is chocolate. It is also the most temperamental and difficult to use. Most imported chocolate is of high quality. Although a foreign label does not guarantee quality, but it is a good bet. I use only Belgian Callebaut. Alternately the Swiss brands Lindt and Tobler and Ghirardelli from the United States are also excellent for truffle making. 

Humidity and heat are chocolates greatest enemies; both can cause ‘bloom’ to appear on the surface. Heat-induced bloom is the result of cacao butter crystals rising to the surface and recrystallizing. The flavor is unaffected, but the appearance is ruined. Humidity-induced bloom is more damaging. It is a result of sugar crystals being drawn to the surface, where they dissolve in the moist atmosphere and eventually recrystallize to form an unpleasant grey coating. Once the texture and taste of chocolate deteriorate, it is best to discard it. 
The ideal temperature for storage is 50˚ to 60˚F, slightly warmer than the refrigerator, and the humidity should be 60-70 percent. Chocolate absorbs surrounding odors easily and should be kept in an airtight container.
For sheer intensity and depth of flavor, richness and smoothness, nothing can compare to these divine morsels. From now on; for personal enjoyment, gift giving or entertaining, truffles can be yours for the making.

Chocolate Truffles        Yield: 40 truffles  
The ultimate chocolate indulgence! A truffle filling in its simplest form consists of chocolate and whipping cream... termed 'ganache'. This ganache is dense and easier for beginners to work with.   
1 cup whipping cream 
14 oz. top quality dark chocolate, very finely chopped 
2 Tbsp. liqueur (for alcohol free truffles use; coffee OR flavored syrups) 
1½ lb. dark, milk OR white top quality chocolate for dipping, coarsely chopped 
Garnish: crystallized edible flowers, chopped nuts, cocoa powder, threads or swirls of chocolate 

      In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, scald the cream. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the finely chopped chocolate until completely melted. (If you are using syrup, add it to the cream before scalding.) Cool 5 minutes stirring once or twice to be sure all the chocolate has melted to a smooth ganache then add the liqueur. Pour into a large glass bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

      Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Form the ganache into tablespoon sized balls, roll between your palms until round, place on the bake sheet, cover and refrigerate for an hour or until firm. If the ganache is too soft, spoon them out but do not form them, place them in the fridge and then form.
Tempered Chocolate
     Meanwhile, ‘temper’ the dipping chocolate (
see 'To Temper Chocolate'  http://www.gourmetbysallyrae.com/tips.html) and line a bake sheet with parchment or wax paper. Dip each ball into the tempered chocolate, tap to remove the excess chocolate and to prevent a ‘garden slug foot’. Invert the dipped chocolate onto the lined bake sheet. Allow the dipped truffles to set up or harden without touching or your fingerprints will blemish them.
      To garnish; drizzle threads or swirls of different colored chocolate for each variety if you are making multiple flavors so you can tell them apart. If using crystallized flowers or nuts they should be placed while the chocolate is still soft. For cocoa, allow the chocolate to cool completely then roll in cocoa. I use cotton gloves (available from Pharmacies) to handle the chocolates once they are set. Put each chocolate into a paper chocolate ‘cup’ and box to store. These truffles can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap the box in 2 layers of plastic wrap, then with tin foil. To defrost, remove to the fridge and defrost in the plastic and foil wrapping.  
Till next week... Bon Appetit!

Photos by i-Stock 

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