Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Food Recipes

Spiced Black Tea (Masala Chai) Chocolate Truffles

Masala Chai Truffles

My latest chocolate-related invention: Masala Chai Chocolate Truffles!

How did I come up with this curious combination of chocolate and masala chai (Indian-style black tea)? I was planning my birthday party earlier this month, and I was trying to think of snacks and desserts that I could serve at the party. I wanted to be able to do most of the work in advance, preparing at least some of the foods days in advance, but I also didn’t want to compromise on their taste. Truffles, are of course a great choice given these criteria. So I decided to make some of my usual favourites: Cointreau truffles, mint butter-cream truffles and almond butter-cream truffles. But, I also wanted to be a bit adventurous and try something new and quirky. I’d made myself a cup of tea, and was sipping it, while I thought about what new flavours I could throw together, when the obvious occurred to me: tea-truffles. And then I thought, “Why not masala chai truffles, just to spice things up?”. They turned out surprisingly well, and were quite a hit.

If you’d like to give them a go, here’s how.

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food processor

2 medium-sized bowls

2 plates

Parchment sheet, baking sheet or foil

Little paper cups to put the truffles in.

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

2 pinches of salt

1 tea bag masala chai (available in most grocery stores)

A few tablespoons of cocoa powder

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt evenly when you pour in the hot cream. Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl.

How to make chocolate truffles/chocolate ganache

Next, get the half cup of cream to a gentle simmer and immediately turn off the heat. Add the tea bag to the cream, and let it steep for about 5 minutes.

Heat the cream again to a gentle simmer, and pour the hot cream through a strainer lined with a cheese cloth (as shown below), into the bowl with the chocolate.

How to make masala chai truffles

Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then add the salt, and delicately mix everything with a whisk.

Making Masala Chai Truffles

It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich.

Chocolate ganache

Once you have a smooth mixture (this is called chocolate ganache), place the bowl in the fridge for about half an hour, until it firms up. The length of time you will need to leave it in the fridge will depend on the temperature inside your fridge, so keep checking on it. You want the ganache to be just firmed up, but not hard.

In the meantime, take out the plates and place a sheet of parchment or foil on each of them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready, take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions on the parchment or foil (use an ice cream scoop if you have one). The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Making assorted chocolate truffles

Now, roll each scoop/portion of chocolate about in your hand until it is more or less spherical, then place it back on the parchment. I would recommend washing your hands periodically, while you do this, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands. The truth is, I have to wash my hands periodically anyway because I can’t resist licking some of the chocolate off every once in a while 😉

Masala chai/black-tea flavoured truffles

Masala Chai truffles

Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two in your hands, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Finally, place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done.

Masala Chai Truffles

I’ve heard it being said that this process can be messy and/or arduous; I didn’t think it was either; I did however end up smelling like chocolate all day 🙂

You can put the truffles in the fridge for two to three weeks, but take them out a few hours before you serve them, so that they’re at room temperature. They also make for a great present, just put them in a nice box and voilà! you have a handmade, personalized present!

Masala Chai Truffles
Categories
Baking Chocolate Food General Recipes

Delicious Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Fresh and Warm, Whenever You Want!

Warm cookies, fresh out of the oven, crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside, full of chocolate chunks- doesn’t that sound simply heavenly? So often, I think about baking cookies, and then decide that it’s not worth the trouble, considering how short-lived the joy is of eating them warm out of the oven. I’ve only ever liked fresh, warm cookies, you see. Once they’ve cooled, I lose interest in them. In fact, the only way I really enjoy cold cookies is by breaking them into chunks and dropping them into chocolate ice cream 🙂

But now, I have found a way to eat warm, fresh cookies everyday, whenever I want, and you can too! Just follow this recipe for cookie dough, then shape the dough into little balls, and freeze them raw. When you’re ready to eat a cookie, simply pop a dough-ball into the oven and 10 minutes later, enjoy!

Fresh, crisp, goey chocolate chunk cookies

If you’re having a party, and want to serve warm cookies at it, but can’t be bothered with baking them on the day of the party, then this freezing method works perfectly for that too. I did this for my birthday party, and everything went smoothly! I just popped the frozen dough-balls into the oven and then chatted with friends until 10 minutes later, they were ready 🙂

If you’d like to try the recipe I use, here it is! It’s from ‘Baking Illustrated’ published by the famous ‘Cook’s Illustrated’ magazine editors.

Here’s what you will need:

1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

¾ cup (5¼ ounces) dark brown sugar

½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 handfuls of dark chocolate chunks

In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Next, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and let it cool until it is luke-warm. Add the two types of sugar to the butter and beat until smooth. Then, add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and continue beating at medium to low-speed until the mixture is smooth. Next, at a low-speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Once they’re mixed in, add the chocolate chunks, and try to mix them in with a spatula or your hand, until they are somewhat evenly distributed. Your dough is now ready!

The final step involves shaping the dough into balls. It’s best to move to the dining table for this last step as it takes about 5-10 minutes, and you don’t really need access to things in the kitchen or the sink for this. Place a sheet of parchment-paper or wax-paper on a baking sheet. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out a little portion of the cookie dough on your palm and roll it into a ball. The size of this portion can very, depending on how large you want your cookies to be; I scooped out about a ping-pong ball sized amount. Roll the dough up into a ball, then tear it apart at the centre. Rotate the two halves so that the uneven, torn surface faces upwards, and re-attach the two bits together into a make-shift, but clearly imperfect sphere. (Apparently, this uneven surface makes the cookie look better once baked. (I am not entirely certain of this, to tell you the truth. One day, I shall be brave enough not to follow this instruction, and then I will let you know what happened.))

You’re almost done! Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours, until the dough is frozen. Then take the sheet out, place the balls in a freezer bag and pop them back into the freezer. Whenever you’re ready to eat a cookie (or three), pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees farenheit, place a dough-ball on a baking sheet covered with baking-paper and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown on top.

It’s best to let the cookie cool a bit on the tray and then on a cooling rack. But if you’re impatient, like I am, these cookies taste good minutes after they’re out the oven too, as you can see from the picture below, I could hardly wait to bite into my cookie 😛

Delicious chocolate chunk cookies in minutes

Mmmm…deliciousness!

You could also enjoy it, all warm and gooey, with a glass of cold milk!

Chocolate chunk cookies in minutes

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Cooking Food General Recipes

Dark Chocolate Truffles with Mint-Buttercream Centers

Last week I decided to invite some friends over to mine for drinks, desserts, cheese, and some cheese related hors d’ oeuvres. It was my birthday you see, and what better way is there to celebrate one’s birthday than by feeding one’s friends and drinking with them? 🙂

I tried several new recipes out for this party, including three new types of chocolate truffles! Here’s one of my favourite ones: truffles with mint centers!

Mint Chocolate Truffles

This was a modification of a basic truffle recipe that I came up with while fooling around with new flavours and textures; If you’d like to try it, read on!

Ingredients:

100 g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) (the better this chocolate is, the better your truffles will taste)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 pinches of salt

5-6 tablespoons of icing sugar

5 tablespoons butter

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mint essence

3-4 drops green artificial food colouring

5-6 squares of dark chocolate for coating the truffles

Equipment:

4 Bowls and several spoons

1 large plate

A hand-held or stand-alone egg-beater/mixer

1 sheet of foil or butter paper

Method:

I began by heating the cream in a little pan to a gentle simmer. In the meantime, I chopped the chocolate into bits (you can also use a food processor), and placed the chocolate bits in a bowl.

How to make chocolate truffles/chocolate ganache

Once the cream began to simmer, I poured it over the chocolate and let it sit until the chocolate melted.

Making a chocolate ganache for chocolate truffles

Once the chocolate was melted, I took a whisk and gently mixed the chocolate and cream into a smooth mixture adding a pinch of salt as I did this. This delicious ganache needed to cool and firm up, so I covered it up and placed it on the dining table. Once it reached room temperature, I transferred the bowl to the fridge.

Chocolate ganache

While the ganache cooled, I placed the butter in a bowl and began whipping it up with a hand-held mixer (egg-beater). When it was creamy and softened, I added a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of icing sugar, 1/4 tsp of mint essence, and a few drops of green food colouring. I whipped all this up into a  creamy smooth mix and then tasted it. I thought the mixture needed a little more sugar, so I added another 2 tablespoons. (You should also taste the mixture intermittently and see if it needs more sugar or mint essence; add as much as you think is appropriate.) Once it tasted just right, I covered up the bowl and placed it in the fridge.

Once both the ganache and mint-filling were firmed up in the fridge, I took them out and began working with them. I covered two baking trays with wax paper (you can also use baking paper or aluminum foil) and then began scooping large blobs of chocolate on one of the trays.

Making assorted chocolate truffles

Once all the chocolate was divided into ‘large blobs’ on the first tray, I began scooping smaller portions of the mint-buttercream into my hand, shaping them into rough spheres and then placing them on the other tray.

Making mint Chocolate Truffles

As soon as all the mint mixture was used up, I placed both trays in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Once the scoops and mint-spheres had hardened from the cold, I was ready to start shaping the truffles!

(When you’re trying this, make sure you have enough works-space on your kitchen counter. I like sitting down while I do this, because it takes some time, so I usually move over to the floor because I feel more comfortable sitting cross-legged. You could move over to the dining table if you prefer.)

Now I was ready for the fun part! I picked up one of the chocolate scoops and shaped it into a sphere in my hand. Then I flattened it out on my hand like a mini chapathi or tortilla.

Shaping chocolate cream cheese truffles Step 1 in shaping chocolate cream cheese truffles

Then, I took one of the mint flavoured balls and placed it at the centre of the ‘chocolate chapathi’:

Shaping chocolate cream cheese truffles Step 2 in shaping chocolate cream cheese truffles

and carefully rolled the chocolate layer over the mint centre, shaping the truffle into as perfect a sphere as possible. (I don’t have a photograph of the sphere-shaping bit because I needed both hands and by this time my other hand was covered in chocolate.)

Shaping chocolate cream cheese truffles Step 3 in shaping chocolate cream cheese truffles

I repeated this until all the chocolate was used up:

Shaping chocolate truffles

Next, I melted 5-6 dark chocolate squares in the microwave. (When you do this, be sure to do this on a low setting as you don’t want to burn the chocolate. Ideally, you should melt the chocolate in a double boiler to avoid this, but I find that if I am careful, I can do it in the microwave. After, I let the chocolate cool a bit (it’s important not to let it harden), I picked up one of the truffles, and dipped it into the chocolate, coating it completely, as shown in the photograph below:

Dipping truffles in chocolate

Then, I placed the truffle back on the wax paper to cool. I repeated this until all the truffles were coated. Finally, I let them all cool and then placed them in little green-coloured paper cups.

And Ta DA! They were ready to be devoured! Rich dark chocolate truffles with soft mint-flavoured butter-cream centers. 

And then, all that was left was one lonely half-truffle. If it looks half-eaten, that’s because it is 😛 I did it for you all, so you can see what the centers look like 😉

Mint Chocolate Truffle

Categories
Cooking Food General Recipes

A Deliciously Sweet Dinner

Normally, when I have a dinner party, I cook Indian food. The main reason for this is that most of my friends love Indian food, and they tell me it’s nice for them to get a chance to eat home-made Indian food. Second, I think I cook it better than I do any other kind of cuisine. After Indian food, Italian food is probably my favourite type of food, and most of my Italian recipes are heavy on the cheese :), like risotto, or gnocchi in a gorgonzola and walnut sauce.

Earlier this week however, I found myself in a bit of a quandary. One of my friends was coming over for dinner, and she’s not a fan of either spicy food or heavy, creamy, fatty food. The thing is, every Indian recipe I know, is one or the other, often both. And every Italian dish I’ve ever made was either smothered with cheese or drowning in butter, sometimes it was both. So I decided to make her something different, something, non-Indian.

“What could I cook?” I wondered frantically on my way home from school. It was a tough question; after all, what is delicious and neither spicy or fatty/buttery/cheesy? It seemed like a truly insurmountable, unsolvable problem.

And then it hit me, I should cook something sweet! So I settled on a sweet themed dinner: grilled salmon marinated in a brown-sugar and lemon sauce served with roz bi zaffaran (saffron rice). (I made the saffron rice based on a recipe from ‘The Book of Jewish Food’ by Claudia Roden.)

The meal turned out rather well; the rice and fish complimented each other well. Another surprising upside was: the whole meal was really easy and quick to make, and the kitchen-clean-up involved was minimal.

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If you’d like to try it, here’s what you will need:

For the Grilled Salmon:

1 pound salmon fillets

1.5 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4th cup of brown sugar

1 tbsp dry white wine or water

1/8 th cup olive oil

Saffron Rice:

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups water

1 tbsp butter

Salt to taste

2-3 pinches saffron threads

A handful of toasted flaked almonds

3 handfuls of golden raisins soaked in a cup of hot water

Method:

Mix all the ingredients for the salmon (except the salmon itself), stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Place the salmon fillets in a small baking dish and then pour the marinade over the fish. Cover with the dish with a lid or foil and let the fish marinate for a bit. Turn the oven on and pre-heat it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the meantime, grind the saffron threads with a mortar and pestle into a fine powder. Next, boil the water, oil and salt in a deep pot. When the water begins to boil, add the rice and saffron powder. Stir, lower the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let the rice cook. Check on it periodically, stirring.

While the rice is cooking, place the fish in the preheated oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. Every 5 minutes, bast the fish with the extra marinade in the baking dish.

The fish ought to be ready around the same time that the rice is cooked. Take the fish out of the oven when it’s slightly browned on top and flakey. Once the rice is cooked, fluff it, and mix in the raisins and almonds.

Serve the fish and rice up on a plate, with a few springs of fresh oregano and maybe a slice or two of bread. If you’re feeling like eating a healthier, more balanced meal, toss some spinach with some chopped strawberries and blackberries, and a lemon-honey vinaigrette (3 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp poppy seeds and salt and pepper to taste). Throw in some toasted almonds and walnuts for some extra deliciousness. The salad goes perfectly with the sweet-theme of this meal. You won’t even want dessert 🙂

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Categories
Chocolate Food General Recipes

A Cure for Dark Winter Afternoon Blues

I’ve been remiss again, and for this I apologize. The life of a grad student is often erratic, and various deadlines have kept me from writing about my food-related adventures. Happily, they haven’t entirely prevented me from having said adventures. So, now that I have some time again, I shall return to chronicling my chocolate and spice related capers.

Despite my happiness at having a bit more free time though, there is a cloud in my otherwise blue sky. A literal cloud, in fact, because winter has arrived, bringing with it cold, dark afternoons :(. Finally, I understand why people who live in Canada, the northern U.S and northern Europe are so obsessed with the weather. It’s actually depressing to not see or feel fuzzy, yellow sunshine for months on end. (I mentioned these places in particular, because these are the cold parts of the world that I’ve lived in. I realize of course that there are other cold places, I’ve just never lived there and so, have no idea if people there are obsessed with ‘The Weather’.)

And then suddenly, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a cure, a magical, instantaneous cure for winter blues, namely: hot chocolate. All you need is a few minutes in the kitchen to stir up a nice cup of hot, chocaltey richness, and you’re all set. You can curl up on your couch with a blanket and a good book, and a soft pair of socks on your feet (ideally a cat is also included in this scenario) and winter will actually seem bearable.

Don’t believe me? Just look at this:

photo-22

I’ve taken to making myself a cup every once in a while 🙂 I use homemade chocolate fudge ice-cream topping to make the hot chocolate, rather than cocoa or chocolate flakes. If you’d like to recreate this deliciousness, it’s fairly simply. Just warm up 2/3rds of a cup of milk. Then dissolve 2-3 tablespoons of homemade dark chocolate fudge into it. Here is a recipe for a velvety, homemade dark chocolate fudge that I strongly recommend; it’s super yummy and super-easy to make. (It is also delicious on ice-cream, which is what I originally made it for.)

Once you’ve dissolved the fudge, top off the hot chocolate with some whipped cream and stick a cinnamon stick into the cup:

photo-23

Finally, sprinkle some cocoa powder on the cream, and sip away! If you’ve got a cookie to go with it, more power to you. I think my next post will be about the dark-chocolate-chunk cookies that I am now about to go and bake 😛 Mmmm.

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