Holiday Gifts-Part II

21Dec07

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When I use to work in the W kitchen, Danny (the other pantry cook) and I would secretly toss cocoa dusted truffles on to the back of one of the runners’ shirt. He would have little circles of cocoa powder all over his back until one of us deemed it necessary to tell him. Other times, when our hands were covered in chocolate after rolling truffles, we thought it was hilarious to give every one high fives. We got them every time.

I was never a huge fan of truffles or chocolate for that matter…until I had the perfect one.

After an amazing five course meal at the acclaimed Sona, the waiter gave us a complimentary truffle with our check. I bit into the hard outer shell and my teeth landed into the softest mound of chocolate ganache/mousse/cream/fluff. The best feeling in the world is when you eat something so incredible and mind blowing that it throws everything you’ve ever known about that ingredient/food out the window. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but you can’t go back. You’ve tasted the best or what you think is the best, and the rest becomes inedible. I know it might sound a bit like food snobbery, but it’s true. Why would you go back to something, if you know there’s better. Deep thoughts.

I found the recipe for these Caramel Dark Chocolate Truffles with Fleur de Sal on Epicurious.com. Sweet and salty is the best flavor combination. Think chocolate covered pretzels (or even better, potato chips!!). So you can imagine the smile on my face when I found this recipe. With a bit of chocolate experience up my sleeve, I was ready to turn my kitchen into a chocolate factory.

Whenever you’re making anything with few ingredients, you want to make sure those ingredients are the best quality; so I bought a pound of Callebaut Belgian Bittersweet Chocolate from Surfas for about $6.

Callabaut Bittersweet Chocolate

When working with chocolate, the difficulty arises when you temper it. Tempering is a method of heating and cooling chocolate to use for coating or dipping. If done properly, your chocolate will have a smooth and glossy finish. Otherwise you will notice a not so attractive grey sheen. Also, when it dries, it should make a crisp snap. When heating chocolate in a bain marie (a double boiler), make sure the chocolate is broken in to somewhat even pieces for even melting.

Chocolate pieces
This can be reached at a temperature of 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature rises higher, you will see that the chocolate will begin to “seize,” get chunky, scorch, ruined. Also, make sure there is no water anywhere near your chocolate. Water is chocolate’s worst enemy. It will instantly seize.

melted chocolate

Now the caramel. Whether making caramel with water or not, you do not want to stir the sugar during the boiling process. Stirring the sugar will promote the formation of sugar crystals, clumps that will ruin the smooth texture of caramel. Instead, swirl the pot to even the melting and when you see sugar crystals burning on the sides of the pan, use a wet brush to brush the sides. If you’re not using a thick bottomed pan, you might see some parts of your sugar burn faster than the rest. To avoid this problem you can either, change pots or add water to your sugar (wet process). By making a simply syrup, you can make for a more even melting process. This process takes longer as you have wait for excess liquid to evaporate before caramel will be made. Once the sugar turns into a golden brown/amber color, remove from heat.

boiling sugar water

After adding heavy cream and fleur de sal to the melted sugar, you now have the caramel sauce to add to your melted chocolate. MMMM.

Chill for a couple of hours and the ganache is firm enough to make into BALLS.

chocolate

After you form the truffles, roll them in dutch-processed cocoa powder. Don’t try to buy natural cocoa powder. It’s too bitter. Dutch Processed cocoa powder is treated with alkali, to balance out the cocoa’s acidity.

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After you roll them in cocoa powder, chill once more overnight before the final coating of bittersweet chocolate. Dip truffles in chocolate using a fork and let them dry out on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle each truffle with a pinch of fleur de sal. The salt pairs so well with the chocolate. So good that I had to sprinkle some more fleur de sal on the remaining bites.

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(Truffle wrappers purchased at Surfas and the boxes were purchased at a local paper store for $1 each.)

I drizzled the last few truffles with some left over caramel from the macarons.

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Neatly packaged into personal boxes, they were the perfect accompaniment to a holiday card. It may look like a lot of work, but how can you call playing with chocolate work!

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4 Responses to “Holiday Gifts-Part II”

  1. 1 Shanna

    Amy these look amazing, and so professional! I’ll be expecting my box in the mail.

  2. where can i buy these?
    i will slay a cat for a box of these

  3. 3 Simon

    I didn’t read it, but did take a good look at the pictures. Solid.

  4. 4 Simon

    wow… Simon says. That’s money.


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