It’s Sugar High Friday time again! Yes, I know it’s not Friday yet… but when I saw that the theme was truffles, hosted this month by The Passionate Cook, I decided that if I was going go, I’d go big. It’s just no fun to only have one flavor of truffle, so I made five. That’s right, five different flavors, a whole weeks worth. So, in celebration of Sugar High Friday, I’m dedicating the entire week to truffles!
I also have a bit of a confession. I’ve never made truffles before. Or, candy even. Nothing that requires that scary step of tempering chocolate. It’s the kind of thing that is a bit too fussy for me as it actually requires measuring temperature and some fairly precise timing. I spent several hours reading through various cookbooks making sure I understood the steps… in the end relying most heavily on The Sweet Life, both for the tempering process and the steps to making the ganache and dipping the chocolate. This is a stunningly beautiful cookbook that I just picked up, and there are already far to many treats that I want to make in it.
“The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle” (Kate Zuckerman)
For the first batch, I knew I’d be making something with these gorgeous Pink Variegated Lemons that I recently shot for Rising C Ranches. They are particularly sweet for lemons with a beautiful fragrance.
The Sweet Life had a recipe for a white chocolate and grapefruit truffle rolled in hazelnuts that I modified quite a bit to suit the flavors and batch size that I was going for. To start with, the original recipe made 54 truffles. Given my plan to make 5 different flavors, I reduced the batch size considerably, down to about 8 truffles. No, there was no easy math to do that, so most of the measurements were all guess work. The other big changes were leaving out the hazelnuts and using dark instead of white chocolate. These are both significant changes as well as not adding the hazelnuts changes the texture of the truffle and dark chocolate has different tempering properties than white chocolate (it melts at a higher temperature).
The ganache came together beautifully. Smooth and shiny, it cooled well and was fairly easy to ball. This was my first batch, and I wasn’t particularly proficient with my melon balling technique yet, so the truffles are very, well, organic looking would be a nice way to put it. Then, came the tempering. I carefully heated the chocolate in a make-shift double boiler, stirring with a rubber spatula. When it was all melted, I added a touch more rough cut chocolate and removed it from all heat, and stirred, carefully watching the temperature. It was then that I realized that my thermometer, the one I use for my espresso, just wasn’t quick enough for candy. So, I ended up having to go with the “touch test” in which you touch a small amount of the melted chocolate to your lip and it shouldn’t feel hot or cold. Guessing when it was at the right temperature, I proceeded to dip the chocolate ganache balls, and then give them a quick roll in some cocoa. The balls grabbed more cocoa than I would have liked, most likely due to all the little nooks and crannies in the irregularly formed ganache. But, they did, basically look like truffles.
Finally, I had a bite. Think dark velvet with just the right lemony tang. Truffle #1, a definite success. Four more to go!
Dark Chocolate & Lemon
(adapted from The Sweet Life by Kate Zukerman)
Makes 8 to 10 truffles
2oz dark chocolate (~70% cacao)
1/8 cup heavy cream
1 t lemon zest
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t butter (at room temperature)
cocoa powder for dusting (options)
You’ll start by making the ganache. In a heavy bottom pan, heat the cream and lemon zest on medium heat, adding the lemon juice slowly and stirring the whole time. Remove from heat just before it boils. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Strain into a small cup to remove any zest. Set aside.
Heat water to about 150F and place in a metal bowl, about 1/2 way up. Place another, smaller, metal bowl on top to act as a double boiler. Check the temperature… you should be able to touch the bottom of the top metal bowl. If it’s too hot to touch, add some cold water to the bottom bowl. You want the top bowl to be about 120F when you add the chocolate.
Coursely chop the chocolate. Add 1oz to the top metal bowl. Set the other chocolate aside for the coating. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula until it’s completely melted. Remove it from the heat, and slowly pour in the cream mixture, and whisk until it’s smooth and you can see the whisk lines in the chocolate. Don’t over stir! Whisk in the butter, then spoon into a small cup, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
When the ganache is cooled, remove it from the fridge. Have a plate ready as well as a bowl of hot water and a melon baller. Dip the melon baller in the hot water, then quickly dry with a dish towel, and press it into the ganache. Turn the baller 360 degrees to form a ball, then tap the baller to force the ganache ball out. I found that hitting it against the side of the bowl worked best. Then, very carefully, move the ball to the plate. Repeat with the rest of the ganache. Cover the balls, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To make the chocolate coating, heat the double boiler as you did with the ganache (make sure you wash it out and dry it very well first!). Add 2/3rds of the remaining chocolate and stir with the spatula until it’s well melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1/3 of chocolate, and stir until it has melted. This should start quickly dropping the temperature of the chocolate, and give it a “seed” to help it temper properly. It will probably take about 15 minutes for the chocolate to cooled to the right temperature to proceed. According to the books I’ve ready, you want it to be about 87F, although I’m not exactly sure what temperature mine was when I started dipping. Again, I went by the touch method. Make sure your room isn’t too hot… ideally it will be 72F or less.
Once the chocolate has cooled, you can start the dipping. Remove the ganache balls from the fridge. Put some cocoa powder in a shallow bowl, if you are going to dust them. Pick up a ganache ball, and roll it in the melted chocolate, and then drop it gently into the cocoa. Use the other hand to roll it, and place it onto a plate. Then proceed with the remaining ganache balls. They should firm up almost immediately and be ready to eat.