Sunday, December 20, 2009
I got destructed by going to holiday parties and wrapping gifts last week. Before I knew it, the weekend was here and already nearly over! It was these very same truffles that I was packaging that are now sitting at the post office, ready to be delivered to some of my friends and family.
After making Bubbly Pomegranate with Szechuan Buttons, I still had enough Szechuan buttons to play around with, this time, I was determined to use in foods. Marx Foods suggested frozen desserts like ice cream and sorbets or sprinkling on raw fish or sashimi, but making ice cream without ice cream maker is a lot of work, and my appetite for icy cold foods is a bit numbed right now unless if the heater is cranked up.
It’s the holiday season after all. Why not make something festive? Learning about chocolate making and visiting the Sôcôla sisters in the summer inspired me to make some chocolate truffles at home this fall. I made my first batch for my friend’s baby shower in October and they were big hit, although, I didn’t and still don’t have all the proper tools and equipment to make them look perfect like Sôcôla’s or Recciuti’s Chocolate.
Chocolate ganache is quite easy to make, but coating truffles with tempered chocolate is still very difficult for me. It’s messy and requires a lot of patience. Last time making them, I used the recipe from Chocolate Obsession by Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage – one of my favorite cookbooks. This time I referenced a few online recipes as well. The one in Chocolate Obsession is indeed a really good recipe as far as taste and texture, but it’s basically butter chocolate balls. I know that it’s just impossible to make healthy chocolate truffles, but the dietitian in me always reminds me to “try” making it healthier, even if just a bit. So I reduced the amount of butter and added a little bit of leftover pomegranate juice for a touch of flavor and antioxidants (though it’s probably not significant enough to give you any benefits).
I used almost all the rest of Szechuan buttons (7-8 of them) in the ganache, assuming that it was enough to give some buzz in every bite. Wrong! I couldn’t detect any buzz at all. I’m not sure exactly why, but here are my hypothetical reasons:
1) the buttons don’t stay on tongue long enough to react
2) the buttons lose potency as the time goes by after being shaved
3) creamy chocolate coats the tongue and blocks the buzz receptors
4) chocolate or high fat content cancels the buzz properties
5) just because chocolates are too creamy
(If any of you know why, please let me know. I’m still very new to this food ingredient and very curious to learn more about it.)
Thank goodness I saved one button for in case something like this to happen. I used the one last button to sprinkle on the top after dipping truffles into chocolate. But even so, it was hard to detect unless I put the button side down to touch my tongue first and let it sit for a few seconds. Who eats chocolate truffles like that! LOL. Perhaps I will have to use a lot more on the outside next time. Thanks to Marx Foods for providing me some samples. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday!
Continue for recipe...
Ingredients (2 dozen+):
1 c heavy cream
200 g milk chocolate, finely chopped
150 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp pomegranate juice
7-8 Szechuan buttons, shaved petals
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
1 lb dark chocolate for coating truffles (I used Madecasse 67% Dark chocolate)
Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour about half of the cream over the chocolate and slowly whisk until smooth and homogenous. Gradually add the remaining cream and mix until smooth and homogenous. While the mixture is still warm, add butter and whisk until it’s incorporated. Add pomegranate juice, mix and then add Szechuan button petals and again whisk until smooth and homogenous. The ganache should look silky, shiny, smooth and thick. Pour the ganache onto a plastic wrap-covered baking dish and spread evenly with a small offset spatula. Allow ganache to cool at room temperature for 2-4 hours. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to roll truffles.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Pour about 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder into a bowl. Cut the ganache into 1” squares. Dust your palms with cocoa powder and roll it between your palms. Then drop it in the bowl of cocoa powder, transfer it onto the lined pan. Repeat this procedure for rest of ganache squares. Keep the rolled truffles in the fridge until ready to use.
Chop chocolate finely and place them in a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl over water heated (not touching) to a simmer in a saucepan. Stir constantly until instant-read thermometer reads 115F. Remove the bowl from the pan. Continue to stir the chocolate until the temperature drops to about 90F.
Line the bottom of a sheet pan with parchment paper. Start dipping the truffles into tempered chocolate. Drain excess chocolate by tapping the fork on the edge of the bowl a few times and place it on the lined pan. (I don’t have a round chocolate dipper, so used a fork to dip these chocolate truffles.)
Repeat this procedure for rest of the truffles and let them cool at room temperature for at least couple of hours. Store in an area with a steady temperature of 60-70F; they will keep for up to 2 weeks.
When the tempered chocolate drops its temperature, warm it up by placing the bowl over the water heated pan and bring it back to 90-95F.)