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Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Cooking Food General Recipes

Basic Dark Chocolate Truffles

So by now, I think it is fairly obvious that I love chocolate. However, truth be told, I’ve become sick of all the usual chocolate you can buy at the drug-store or supermarket- the likes of Lindt, Ghirardelli, Cadburys etc. I even, to be honest, am sort of over store-bought hazelnut butter- a.k.a. Nutella.

No hell has not frozen over, and no I have not been kidnapped by someone who is now pretending to be me on my blog so people don’t report me missing (if you are someone who is considering kidnapping me by the way, this tactic will never work, I talk to my parents and some close friends virtually everyday, so I would be reported missing if I didn’t answer my phone in 2 hours max.) “But Nutella is AWESOME” you exclaim or if you’re my mother or father, which you probably are if you’re reading this, you heave a sigh of relief, because until now you thought I was going to develop heart disease and diabetes and god knows what else at the very tender age of 29.

But don’t get too excited dear parents, I am NOT giving up chocolate. I am saying I am over this store-bought stuff because it’s too sweet and frankly not very good chocolate. If I could, I’d go eat pralines and truffles from Soma (this amazing chocolate store in the distillery district in Toronto) or Leonidas or Patchi or some other chocolate store that knows what they’re doing. BUT, the problem is, I couldn’t possibly afford to- considering how much chocolate I guzzle on a daily basis and considering I am but a poor doctoral candidate.

NOW I finally have the solution to this problem. Handmade, homemade truffles! And now that I’ve figured out how to make them, I simply cannot understand how I was ever able to eat that rubbish they call chocolate in supermarkets and drugstores.

In addition these truffles are the answer to my goldilocks-type problem with chocolate. My problem with most dark chocolate is that it’s not as creamy as milk chocolate; my problem with milk chocolate is that it isn’t chocolatey enough. Happily, one of the things that makes truffles magical is that they can be rich, creamy and smooth and ALSO have a strong chocolatey flavour.

If you’d like to discover true happiness as well, keep reading, because what follows, is a detailed narrative of how to make basic dark chocolate truffles.

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food proccessor

2 medium sized bowls

2 plates

Parchment 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)

A dollop of butter (at room temp)

2 pinches of salt

1 tsp vanilla essence

A few tbsp 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 when you pour in the hot cream.

Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl. Next, get the half cup of cream just to a boil and immediately turn off the heat and pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Let it sit for 2-3 minutes and then delicately fold the mixture. 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.

Add the dollop of butter, vanilla essence and salt and mix gently. Place the bowl in the fridge for about an hour, until it firms up. In the meantime take out the plates and place two sheets of parchment or foil on them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or foil. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Place the plates in the fridge again for about 15 mins. Take the truffles out when they’re firmed up again and roll them about in your hand until they’re more or less spherical, then place them back on the parchment. You can also try to shape them as tear drops- but good luck with that, it’ll take patience. This part of the process is so much fun! I love it because the chocolate looks and smells delicious. I would recommend washing your hands periodically in between, 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.

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, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Then place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done.

Mmmm they will taste delicious. You can put them in the fridge for two weeks or more, but take them out a few hours before you serve them- so that they’re at room temperature.

These basic truffles were so good, that I’ve tried quite a few variations too, such as, dark chocolate truffles with hazelnut butter-cream filling; truffles with a hazelnut centre that are coated with toasted, crushed hazelnuts; and dark chocolate truffles with a hint of orange. I will post pictures and recipes of these variations soon!

Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Recipes

Dark Chocolate Brazil Nut Butter (better than Nutella!)(seriously!!).

As much as I love chocolate, I love nutty flavours- not more, not less, just exactly the same amount. Now, while generally the hazelnut has been my nut of choice (although walnuts are lovely too and well peanuts are as unexotic as they are delicious) I think I have a new favourite- the brazil-nut.

In one sense my brazil-nut love-affair began a long time ago. The body shop has these rich, creamy body-butters and my favourite has always been their brazil-nut body butter. It’s absolutely delectable. Anyway, although I loved this body-butter, I’d never really eaten a brazil-nut before, or baked/cooked with these nuts. Then, one lovely summer weekend, my awesome father came to visit. It was wonderful to spend time with him and we walked and talked together, all over the city. As always, he wanted to get me something special as a parting present as it were, and we settled upon a food processor. This is now my favourite toy. It’s amazing and it makes life SO much easier. I shall rant about said toy in another post though, this post is about brazil-nuts.

Anyway, the first thing I decided to make with my processor was home-made nutella. And this project turned out quite well indeed. So well in fact, that the next day, I was out of butter. This time I decided to be adventurous. “This body-butter smells delicious”, I said to myself, “if I like these lotions and potions because they are inspired by food that I love, does it not follow that I would love the food that inspired my most treasured skin-concoction of all??!!”

So I went to the store and bought 100 g of Brazil-nuts. This is what they looked like:

I used only 100g because I wasn’t sure how the experiment would turn out. Here is an account of how things turned out:

Other ingredients I used:

About a cup of icing sugar (it’s important to use icing sugar and not any other kind because you don’t want discrete crystals of it in your butter. You want the butter to have a smooth texture)

1/2 to 3/4 tsp vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

1 tsp or so of peanut oil

About 100 g of good quality dark chocolate

Method:

I began by toasting the brazil-nuts in the oven at 375 farenheit (that’s 180 celsius) for about 10 minutes, tossing the nuts once during this time. I let them cool, and then placed them in a tea-towel and rubbed them against each other until their skins came off. (This process is a little boring and repetitive, so I recommend watching some television or chatting with a friend while you do this.)

Once their skins were mostly off, I put the nuts in the processor and then just let it run for a while. You don’t need to add any butter or oil at all at this stage. Just let the processor do it’s thing. If you’re wondering which blade you should use, check the processor manual- it should tell you what blade/setting works for nut-butters. The nuts will first be crushed, then they’ll be ground to a fine paste and finally you will find them turning to butter. While the nuts are being processed place the chocolate in a bowl and melt it in the microwave. 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. Once the nuts are smooth, creamy and buttery in texture, stop the processor.

Add the salt, peanut oil, vanilla essence, half the melted chocolate and a few tablespoons of sugar to the butter. Run the processor. Stop and taste-test. if you feel it needs more chocolate or sugar, add some more and process again. Repeat the taste-test and sugar-chocolate adjustments, if necessary. I think it’s best not to follow a recipe in this regard, but to just wing it. As I said in an earlier post about my “universal dark chocolate icing“, each of us has very particular preferences, so why not try and make something perfectly suited to one’s own palate?

Once you’ve played around with the sugar-chocolate balance and found the perfect equilibrium between the two, and made sure everything has been evenly and smoothly mixed together, stop the processor. The butter will look and smell and delicious as you pour it into a jar or tupperware. Here’s proof of how amazing it looks at least:

“I should have made more!”, I lamented to myself. I really should have. And so should you! Double the recipe!

The texture is slightly thin, so if you’d like it thicker so you can spread it on bread etc., put it in the fridge. (I eat nutella with a tablespoon, not bread, so I don’t understand the other half of the population that eat’s it WITH things (unless it’s ice cream they eat it with, THAT I understand).) It’ll look like this once you put it in the fridge.

Ok, not exactly like this. Quite obviously, I got to this with a tablespoon FIRST and THEN realized I should have photographed it. Anyway, you get the idea about the butter’s texture.

All in all, this was deliciousness itself. It tastes absolutely incredible, way better than any nut-butter I’ve tried before.

Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Recipes

Universal Dark Chocolate Icing Recipe

After making the Gianduja cake earlier today (see earlier post) I sat down to figure out what sort of icing would work with the cake. As I said in my earlier post, I used a recipe from Nigella lawson’s book, “How to be a Domestic Goddess” for the cake. However, I didn’t really like the sound of the dark chocolate ganache she recommended for the cake. It didn’t sound bad or anything, I mean how can “dark chocolate ganache” be bad, but it didn’t sound perfect to me (I have particular preferences. For instance, I always prefer buttercream frosting to cream-based frosting). Also, I didn’t have enough cream at home. So I decided to wing it, as it were. And this is what I came up with.

What you need:

Equipment:

Mortar and pestle (if you want to add toasted ground hazelnuts on top of the icing) 

Spatula or knife to spread icing

A double boiler or a small bowl and a microwave

A food processor or stand-alone mixer OR 1 large bowl and a hand-held mixer or whisk.

Ingredients:

100 g bar of good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

A few tablespoons of the heaviest cream you can find (in Canada you’ll have to settle for whipping cream which is about 38% I believe)

1/2 tsp vanilla essense

About a cup of icing sugar

1 1/3 stick of unsalted butter

Two handfuls of hazelnuts

There is a reason these measurements are so imprecise. I just sort of experimented. They say that cooking is an art-form because you can adjust ingredients and spices to taste, whereas baking is science. This is generally true I think, but frosting is a little more on the art side of the scale than baking a cake is. What I mean is you can have an adjustable frosting recipe. I find most frosting to be too sweet and creamy- I would prefer it to be more buttery and chocolately. I also like to put a lot of frosting on my cake 🙂 This is why I have listed approximate measures here.

Preparing the chocolate: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.

Preparing the hazelnuts: Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 375 farenheit (that’s 180 celsius) for about 10 minutes, tossing the nuts once during this time. Let them cool and then place them in a tea-towel and rub them against each other until they lose their skins. Then place them in a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind them. I suggested a mortar and pestle rather than a dry-grinder because this way you can make sure you break up all the nuts without reducing most of the nuts to a powder.

Method:

I began by putting about 3/4 cup of icing sugar into my food processor. I then processed it to get rid of any lumps. Next, I added the butter to this and processed it again, until it was a smooth, creamy mix. If you don’t have a processor just put the sugar and butter in a large bowl and use an egg-beater ( or whisk).

I tasted it at this point and felt it wasn’t sweet enough, so I added a little sugar and then a little more and a little more- until it was just right. I think each person’s desired level of sweetness differs, so this is a great way to make the icing just right for you! At this point, I added the vanilla essence and two tablespoons of heavy cream and gave the whole mixture a nice whirl in the processor. I made sure that the mixture was creamy and light at this point.

The next step was to add the chocolate. I spooned about 3/4 of the chocolate into the processor and processed it.

Upon tasting the icing it I found it needed more chocolate, so I added some more melted chocolate. I also added one more tablespoon of cream to the mix and gave the whole thing a few more whirls until everything was nicely mixed up and I had a smooth, creamy chocolatey frosting.

In the mean time, the Gianduja cake had been cooling on the dining table. I poured the icing at the centre of the cake and then spread it over the cake.

You can get angled spatulas that are great for spreading icing – since I didn’t have one, I used this:

Periodically, I rinsed off the extra icing on the knife in warm water and shook off the extra water. This made it easier to spread the icing.

I finally managed to spread the icing somewhat evenly over the cake. It didn’t matter that much if it wasn’t perfectly even because I was going to top it off with nuts. Finally, I sprinkled the toasted, crushed hazelnuts all over the cake.

And the end result was this:

Which my friends will be enjoying tomorrow when I have them over for tea! I already sneaked a piece though, and it was absolutely YUMMY! I recommend this recipe to anyone who likes chocolate and nuts and doesn’t like their desserts overly sweet.

I cannot stress this enough though, this icing tastes best when it’s warm. So reheat a cake slice in the microwave before you serve it.