|Operation Truffle as coined by Dina Honke|
But this post is not about me, or even you, it is about the tragic loss of a very special lady that with the help of her cohort Ivonne, a Canadian from Toronto, of Cream Puffs in Venice founded the trail- blazing group The Daring Bakers in 2006 after challenging each other to make bagels. Together they brought the group to national recognition even outside of the blogging community. The Daring Cooks was formed in 2009 and subsequently The Daring Kitchen brought it altogether. As a member of the group of thousands we were given a "top secret" challenge each month, baked our little hearts out in our home kitchens, and then we all posted our recipe on the same day inundating the blogosphere with our creativity. It was amazing to see how each Daring Baker added their own personal touch to the challenge.
It is with sadness that I read that Lis of La Mia Cucina, a founding member of the group, passed away this week. Our hearts go out to her family and friends and all that were lucky enough to have her in their life. My faith in the blogging community has been restored as hundreds of bloggers come today to pay tribute to one of our own. And she is one of our own. For the most part we have never met her in person, but our strong sense of community has us mourning her loss. Her big heart, incredible sense of humour, epic emails, and mad organization skills were legendary. Her encouraging comments and her non wavering dedication to our community will never be forgotten. #tributetolis #daringbakers
"Your pie is GORGEOUS! And hmm.. can't say as I feel sorry for your lemon dessert loving friends - after all you got to enjoy it all by yourself. Beautiful post! Ohhh and happy Blog Birthday! Hugs Val, xoxo"
"Mmmm Citron. :D You did another amazing job, sweets! And I heart the candied flowers! I want to try that! Beautiful! xoxoxox"
My name has not been on the blogroll at the Daring Bakers for many years, but, every time I see a crepe cake with candied hazelnuts I think of the ladies and gentlemen at the Daring Bakers and their influence on my life. I still contend I am not a baker, but, with each new challenge I learned a new technique and became more confident in the kitchen. As those who are passionate about food know, cooking in general is a life long learning experience.
Kelly from Sass and Veracity has called out to all the past and current Daring Bakers and Cooks to come together and celebrate Lis today. What can we do to carry on Lis' legacy? I say be fearless!!! The words "I can't" are not in your vocabulary. If it doesn't work out try again and if needed always ask for help and suggestions. Remember that you are part of a community of talented writers, photographers... and yes bakers who are more than willing to impart their wisdom and experience. And to retain that sense of community that seems to be lost , encourage your fellow bloggers and be kind to one another.
Goodbye beautiful Lis. xoxoxoxo
So today I am rising to a new challenge. Something that perhaps many of you have already conquered but is new to me. If you read these pages you will notice that even today baked goods are in short supply. It is not because I am a timid baker as over the years I have had many successes. The fact is I limit sweets in my life and for this my thighs thank me. In Lis' memory I will challenge myself once again, conquer my fear of tempering chocolate and take you on this journey with me... if you dare.
I have a deep love for chocolate that only a handful of truffles can cure; a hopeless craving that has been passed down to me through generations. I remember when I was newly married and my husbands brother, who is a chef, offered me a small, round chocolate truffle quite unlike the truffles of my childhood. I bit into it. The brittle shell split open with a satisfying crack, revealing a melty, smooth ganache filling. A wave of deep bittersweet chocolate washed over me, and in its wake came a gentle ripple of apricot. Truffles are, or should be, like that—the essence of chocolate, concentrated in one bite. Like an intense but fleeting romance, the memory of a terrific truffle can linger for years. At least it has for me.
I never fell as hard as I did for that first hand made truffle. I remember many years ago, before the Daring Bakers, I attempted making chocolate dipped truffles. I painstakingly rolled each one, tempered the chocolate, tipped a few into the melted chocolate where they disappeared altogether in the blink of an eye melting away as if dipped in acid. I remember adding the toasted nuts and spreading the chocolate on parchment paper to make candy bark instead. Waste not want not. Many, many years later I am ready to try again with the help of my friend and chocolate mentor Dina of Olive Oil and Lemons.
When the weather takes a frosty turn with gently falling snow and Christmas lights brighten the night sky, the sweep of holiday festivities begins to descend. Living in a cold climate, it just doesn't feel like the holidays until the ground is covered in a thick sheet of white. In days gone by each person that was special to me received homemade gifts whether it would be preserves, cookies or other homemade goodies. As Christmas Eve loomed I would be sorting out the matter of gift giving, often waiting to the last minute to get my baking affairs in order for maximum freshness. Homemade gifts would be strewn about my apartment in various levels of disarray and I wondered whether it would have been a better decision to purchase them instead. There were aways barks with candied orange peel, pistachios or cranberries, and/or chocolate coated nut clusters. Something chocolatey always made the cut. Today truffles are the chocolate of choice with their creamy ganache centres.
What some of you may not know is that chocolate truffles are aptly named “truffles” because of their resemblance to a real truffle. These delicious chunks of chocolate mimic the shape and size of a truffle in addition to having dusted cocoa powder on them to symbolizes the earth. Chocolate truffles are made of chocolate ganache which is a mixture of chocolate and cream that is melted together and rolled into balls. The most traditional type of chocolate truffle is then rolled in cocoa powder, but truffles can be covered with a layer of chocolate, rolled in nuts, shredded coconut or even dusted with confectioners’ sugar before serving. Nowadays chocolatiers let their creativity run rampant. The outer coating simply makes the ultra-creamy truffle easier to pick up, although the journey from hand to mouth is usually a short one where chocolate truffles are concerned!
The best part to this challenge (besides having luscious truffles to share) is that I have excited a passion for chocolate making I did not now existed and will be more than capable of recreating this sublime chocolate experience time and time again... and so can you. Truffles are made in two steps: first you make the chocolate ganache centers, and then you dip those centers into melted, tempered chocolate. Of course, you can add other flavours, but when I have my deepest chocolate craving, nothing beats a classic chocolate truffle.
If the thought of tempering chocolate keeps you up at night, you won’t lose sleep over these truffles. Working with chocolate can feel precarious at times, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By remembering a few rules about melted chocolate, and by following mine or any other recipe, you’ll soon find yourself turning out truffles like a pro.
Here is what I have learned today:
1. Start with a dry work surface. A few drops of water that accidentally splash into a bowl of melted chocolate can cause the chocolate to clump or seize up, and become unworkable. You don't want this to happen. To avoid this scenario, start with a super-dry work surface, be fastidious about using dry utensils, and have a towel handy for wiping when you temper chocolate on the stove top.
2. Start with top-quality chocolate. To make a sensational chocolate truffle, you have to start with sensational chocolate. How can you tell the difference? My favourite way is to just taste it, but if that’s not possible, check the label for the percentage of cocoa solids. More cocoa solids usually translates into more intense chocolate flavour and less sweetness. Use chocolate with at least 55-60 percent cocoa solids. Bernard Callebaut, Valrhona and Lindt come to mind. I am sure you have suggestions yourself.
4. The key to this soft, smooth ganache is to create an emulsion. Use a wooden spoon for denser, creamier ganache. A small stainless-steel bowl is ideal—a small bowl helps support the emulsion, and stainless steel is a good heat conductor. Begin stirring in a very tight circle in the center of the bowl. A thick, dark pool of melted chocolate will form in the center, surrounded by a ragged moat of cream. Keep stirring only in the center until the small pool of chocolate turns shiny and viscous. At that point, the emulsion is established, and you can gradually widen the circle, pulling in more cream a bit at a time. As soon as all the cream has been incorporated, stop stirring. Ganache does not benefit from extra air, and excessive agitation can actually break the emulsion. If the emulsion does break, you can salvage it by transferring one-third of the ganache to a separate bowl and whisking it vigorously while adding a few tablespoons of very hot cream. Once the emulsion returns, gradually ladle in the rest of the broken ganache, whisking all the while.
5. Add liqueur! Stir in the liqueur a bit at a time (this small amount of liquid won’t make the chocolate seize since it has already been mixed with the liquid cream). Add the liqueur around 90F.
6. Some use a pastry bag to pipe the ganache into truffle centers. If you don’t have one, use a strong freezer bag and snip one corner to get a 1/2-inch opening. After briefly chilling the centers in the fridge, you’ll roll the centers between your palms to round out the shape.You can store the piped and shaped ganache centers, covered in plastic, for up to a week in the refrigerator. Refrigerate the shaped truffles on the baking sheet for 1 hour, or until ready to dip. You can alternatively use a melon baller or even just a teaspoon rather than a pastry bag to measure out the ganache.
7. Set up an assembly line. It is best to have everything ready before you begin dipping. Place your bowl of chocolate at your clean workstation and set out your dipping tools or dinner forks. Cover a baking sheet with a clean piece of parchment or aluminum foil for placing the finished candies on. Keep your truffles or soft fillings in the refrigerator until right before you are ready to use them. Have your chops nuts, cocoa, and any other item you will roll your soft centres ready in shallow bowls. Use surgical latex gloves to roll your centres.
The process below is as outlined in Fine Cooking.
There are lots of ways to melt chocolate. Most pastry chefs these days use a microwave but for the purpose of this piece we experimented.
If you do not have a double boiler use a medium-size shallow bowl over a small saucepan. The bowl must be big enough to rest firmly on the saucepan so that no steam escapes, but it should also be small enough to maintain a well of chocolate for dipping. The water in the bottom saucepan should be hot but not simmering, so remember to take the pan off the heat before you set the bowl of chocolate on top. Also remember that steam is no friend of chocolate. Every time you lift the bowl off the saucepan, wipe the bottom dry.
Temper the chocolate. Tempered chocolate has a professional-looking sheen, snaps cleanly, and is less likely to wilt at room temperature (because it has a higher melting point). All you’ll need are an accurate chocolate thermometer and a calm disposition. Store-bought chocolate has been tempered during manufacturing. When you melt it, as you must do to dip the truffles, the chocolate loses its temper. To regain its temper, the chocolate must be heated, cooled, and then very gently warmed as described below.
Tempering chocolate is an intuitive science. Beginners will need to monitor the thermometer closely, first to get the chocolate in temper, and then to maintain it.
The tempering process is as follows: — Continue heating the chocolate over the pan of hot water, until the temperature reaches 115F for dark, 110F for both white and milk chocolate.
Cool the melted chocolate to 86°F. There are several ways to do this, but one of the simplest is to add very finely chopped pieces of tempered chocolate to the melted chocolate and stir them around. This process, known as seeding, floods the melted chocolate with tempered cocoa-butter crystals, which encourage more of those same crystals to form. It’s important that you use store-bought chocolate (which has already been tempered) for this step. Stop adding chocolate when the shavings are no longer melting and the temperature has dropped to 86°F or slightly lower.
Warm the chocolate—very carefully—to between 88° and 91°F. To raise the temperature only a few degrees, you will "flash" the bowl over the pan of hot water for ten seconds, wipe the bottom of the bowl dry, check the temperature, and flash again as necessary.
To test if the chocolate is in temper, spread a bit on a swatch of parchment and let cool for a few minutes. The chocolate is in temper if it sets quickly. If the chocolate has white streaks and is tacky to the touch, it is not in temper; start the tempering process again by heating the chocolate to 120°F (or just continue, knowing that the truffles may not be tempered).
Maintain the chocolate between 88° and 91°F. In this range, the chocolate is in temper and ready for dipping. Outside of this range, it’s at risk of losing its temper. Don’t worry about the chocolate that hardens on the sides of the bowl during dipping. It’s more important to maintain the pool of tempered chocolate in the centre. Temperature is 88F (dark chocolate), 86F (milk chocolate) and 84F (white chocolate). You may need to reheat and bring the chocolate back up to temperature.
9. What if, heaven forbid, your chocolate seizes? Here is the solution straight from the daring baker site.
10. The dipping is the most fun you are going to have today. But unless you want to end up like Lucille Ball in the famous runaway chocolate candies episode of I Love Lucy, it’s critical that you stay organized and work quickly. Slide the edge of your fork or dipping tool under the truffle or candy centre, and lift it up gently. Drop the truffle into the melted chocolate and push it just under the surface of the chocolate. Lift it out of the chocolate with the fork, and tap the fork several times against the side of the bowl. Slide the bottom of the fork over the lip of the bowl to remove excess chocolate from the bottom of the candy. Place the fork over the prepared baking sheet, and tilt the fork so the edge of the truffle touches the sheet. Smoothly slide the fork out from under the truffle. If you are adding decorations or garnishes to your candies, do it now, when the chocolate is still wet. Repeat the process with the remaining centres and chocolate.
Tap the fork on the sides of the bowl several times so the excess chocolate drips off and a thin chocolate shell forms around the truffle. You may have to tap 20-times or more. If the untempered chocolate thickens too much, or if the tempered chocolate falls to 89°F, flash the chocolate over hot water in 10-second increments to warm it.
11. If the temperature of your room is moderately cool (60 to 70 degrees) your candies can be left out to set, but if your room is warm, or you want to speed up the process, you can refrigerate them for approximately 30 minutes to set the chocolate. The exception is untempered chocolate, which should always be refrigerated after dipping.
12. If "feet" have formed on the truffle, it means you haven’t tapped off enough of the excess chocolate. Just snap off the feet when the chocolate has set. Wear gloves to avoid getting fingerprints on your candies, and place them on a flat surface. . Trimming the candies is purely an aesthetic decision, and you can certainly skip this step if desired. Store the candies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
13. Have patience and have fun.
For each of us there are many things we do well and there will always be things we feel are too complicated to attempt. Never let a recipe intimidate you. This is what I have learned. This will be my mantra from now on. Thank you Lis for your companionship over the years and your gentle nudges. Also thank you to Dina for calmly talking me through my fear of tempering chocolate. I wore an apron and somehow still had to put my clothes in the laundry when I arrived back home…wink…wink.
For the purpose of todays experimentation I have two recipes. The first is from Dina from her book The Art of Chocolate by Ewald Notter, a chocolatier and pastry chef from Florida. You will find all kinds of suggestions for perfecting the art.
If you are up to learning a new technique the second is a recipe that intrigued me from Belinda Leong who made many kinds of ganache during her time at the venerable Pierre Hermé pâtisserie in Paris. Here, she slow-roasts white chocolate, which adds an enticing caramel flavour to the super creamy ganache filling. In the original recipe she infuses the cream with coffee flavour by adding freshly ground coffee grinds to the cream and then running it through a sieve. I prefer to add a small amount of coffee liqueur to the ganache at the end so that the coffee flavouring does not overpower the caramel flavour. I also like what a small amount of butter does for the ganache so I added some as well. This is a very time consuming recipe since you first need to roast the chocolate in a slow oven for 3 hours and stir every 15 minutes, but the end result is worth every second spent.
No matter what you choose, never cut truffles out of your life altogether. Be fearless in the kitchen, try something new, and most importantly invite your friends to join you. I learned to be tenacious and to never say never when it comes to baking. I still have baking fails but knowledge is a powerful thing. And darn it someone still needs to eat the imperfect ones. Loosen your belt buckle and dive in.
from The Art of Chocolate by Ewald Notter
Our suggestion is to divide each ganache in half and add different liqueurs to each. For each preparation we weighed 8 oz of chocolate for each ganache (so cut each recipe below in half). This makes it easy to experiment with different flavourings, nuts, etc. You can also add toasted or candied chopped nuts to the ganache. Dina found some delicious wafers were reminiscent of florentines that we pulsed in the food processor. Use your imagination!!!
My favourite was eliminating the butter from the ganache recipe and instead adding an equal amount of caramel sauce (1-2 oz depending on the type of chocolate - see below) and a few sprinklings of Maldon sea salt for a salted caramel ganache. Am-a-a-a-zing!!!
Dark Chocolate Truffles
16 oz dark chocolate
8 oz cream
2 oz butter
1-2 oz liqueur
Milk Chocolate or White Chocolate Truffles:
16 oz milk chocolate or white chocolate
6 oz cream
1 oz butter
1 oz liqueur
8 oz milk, dark, bittersweet or white chocolate (per recipe)
Finely chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios or other nuts
Sprinkles, dragees, chocolate sprinkles, cookes, toffee buts (use your imagination)
Chop the chocolate into smaller pieces and partially melt in microwave.
Heat the cream to just below boil (do not boil).
Pour the milk over the chocolate to cover and let sit 1-2 minutes to cool slightly (90-110F).
Begin stirring with a spatula from the centre towards the edges, without incorporating air. (use a wooden spoon)
Liqueur can be added at 92F (otherwise alcohol evaporates).
Butter can be added at 92F.
Ganache should be smooth without any streaks of cream or butter. If the chocolate is not fully melted it can be heated a little just to melt the chocolate.
Chill at 20F until firm (I refrigerate).
Roll or pipe into balls.
Dip in tempered chocolate or in toppings of your choice.
Note: When making the ganache, divide it into 2-3 portions before it cools and flavour each one with a different flavouring.
For tempering the chocolate:
You can do the microwave method by heating the chocolate to partially melt it. This way the solid pieces will seed it and prevent it from getting out of temper. You just have to be careful not to overheat it. (This was our preferred method. Everyones microwave will be slightly different so start by melting 8 oz of chocolate in a glass bowl at 20 seconds on HIGH, stir, and then continue melting in 10 second increments. In microwave tempering it is important to heat it just to the point where there are still some lumps of unmelted chocolate. Once out of the microwave these will continue to melt and "seed" the chocolate. Temperature is not important in this case. It takes approximately 1 minute of melting the chocolate in increments to achieve the desired consistency. If you overdo it the chocolate will seize so be patient.
You can also temper it directly on top of the stove to 88-90F.(see more detail about tempering above).
You will "seed" it by heating to melt (115F for dark, 110F for white and milk chocolate) and then begin adding solid chocolate to generate crystals and cool it to 88F (dark), 86F (milk) and 84F (white).
|Roasted White Chocolate and Coffee Truffles (photo by Dina Honke)|
**Roasted White Chocolate and Coffee Truffles**
based on a recipe from Food and Wine by Belinda Leong of Pierre Hermé
Makes about 24 truffles
9 ounces Valrhona Ivoire white baking chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground coffee or add same amount of coffee liqueur to the final product
Sprinkling of salt
1 oz butter
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 225°. In a medium stainless steel bowl, roast the chopped white chocolate for 3 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden.
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over moderate heat. Remove from the heat, add the ground coffee and a pinch of salt and let steep for 2 minutes. Strain the cream through a fine sieve into the bowl with the roasted white chocolate and stir in concentric circles starting in the centre. The cream and chocolate will combine. Keep stirring until all of the cream is absorbed in the emulsion. Add 1 oz of butter and then add 1 oz of coffee liqueur (if you used coffee grinds as above eliminate this step). Scrape the ganache into a shallow baking dish and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, drop heaping teaspoons of the ganache onto the prepared baking sheet. Roll the ganache into balls. Refrigerate until very firm, about 1 hour.
Spoon the cocoa powder into a small bowl. In a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt 3/4 of the bittersweet chocolate over moderately low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes or until it reaches 115F. Remove from the heat and stir the chocolate slowly until glossy adding the rest of the chopped chocolate until it reaches 86F-88F. Alternatively you can use the microwave method as described in the first recipe.
Using a fork, dip each truffle in the melted chocolate, coat it in the cocoa powder, then return it to the baking sheet. Refrigerate the truffles to set the shells, about 15 minutes, before serving.
MAKE AHEAD: The coated truffles can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison