It is already the 25th edition of Sugar High Friday and this is the very first time I am participating. And I get a prompt accusation of being an over-achiever! The very industrious Johanna over at the passionate cook is organizing this month’s theme of “chocolate truffles” (here is the round up, be ready for a massive chocolate overdosis and great new ideas!) and what better reason to play with a kilo of chocolate at your hearts content?
apple balsamico truffles
From the moment Johanna announced the theme, I knew I wanted to try three new flavors along with my long time staple, the chili truffle. After the chocolate and wine seminar I attended two weeks ago, I decided to experiment with combining sweet and acidic ingredients with high cacao percentage chocolates. After all, this was the main lesson I learned in that seminar: High cacao content chocolates have very little sweetness and sometimes a not to be ignored level of acidity. When drinking wine with such a chocolate, you should either try to top the sweetness or try to go along with, and balance, the acidity. This is why some not too dry reds, like a Blaufränkisch, or an acidic but full bodied Sauvignon Blanc go extremely well with chocolate.
barbera d’asti truffles
So I made truffles with a rather light Barbera d’Asti, a Sauternes vinegar, an apple balsamic vinegar and, as a twist on my usual chili truffles, some Turkish smoky red pepper truffles.
Sauternes vinegar truffles
They all turned out delicious! The smoky and deeply flavored red pepper flakes from my father’s hometown Gaziantep in the southeast of Turkey are not as hot as regular chilis or peperoncini but rather sweetly hot. Eating one of the truffles reminds me rather of eating something savory with a lot of depth, like eating mole, for which I am sure Johanna will have a great recipe (hint!).
The Barbera flavored centers make the truffles taste like a high-end mon cherí, these little pralines with a cherry and some kirsch in the middle. The sauternes vinegar comes out very delicate; eating one of these you suddenly have an unexplicable desire to drink some Sauternes because something reminds you of it, you can’t exactly put it why (if you don’t know what is in the truffle) but it definetely is delicious. The apple balsamic ones leave a fine sweet apple taste in your mouth.
One word of caution: I find making truffles not an easy task. I often have to hassle with the consistency of the truffle mass and tempering chocolate (to dip the centers in) is not easy either. The chocolate books out there are full of well-meant advice, but you and I rarely have the same conditions in our kitchens (controlled air temperature, big refrigerators where whole trays fit in, no ringing phones or doorbells when you are covered upto your elbows in chocolate etc…). So don’t think you can just whip up a batch of truffles after a hard day’s work. Plan to be involved (although not actively working all the time) for a whole day or two consecutive half days. Involve your partner in the process and assign him with banal duties like answering the phone, changing the cd on the stereo etc. After a day or two of this, you will reward him (or her) with heavenly truffles!
adapted from various resources
makes around 80 truffles
prep & cool: a day
70% chocolate, 600g (the best you can afford)
heavy cream, 300 ml
flavors to your liking; red or white wine, aged good vinegars like a real balsamico, etc.
70% chocolate, 400g, for dipping (the best you can afford)
unsweetened cacao, 200g, optional, for rolling the truffles in
Melt the chocolate in an absolutely dry and big bowl over, not touching, simmering water. Heat the cream, but do not boil. Remove the bowl, add the cream, stir until completely combined. Add the butter, stir again until all is mixed well. Divide the truffle mass into equal portions according to the number of different flavors you want to make (I wouldn’t advice more than 4 portions for this amount, but the recipe is easily scalable). To each portion add 2-3 tsp of wine or balsamic vinegar, taste as you go. If possible pour each truffle mass into shallow and wide containers, this will make the consistency more uniform and easier to work with later; but it is ok if you leave them in bowls. Put the containers in the fridge, covered with foil, for around 30 minutes.
You want to achieve a consistency that will lend itself to be scooped out but will hold its form when spooned onto a tray. I find that piping the mass causes too much “loss” and have never used this technique after my first try. Stir the mass every once in a while so that the butter and the liquid do not form a seperate layer on top. When you think you have reached the desired consistency, line a small tray or cutting board with parchment paper and using two teaspoons drop little mounds of the mass on the sheet. These are the truffle centers. Place the tray(s) in the fridge again until the truffle centers get real firm. You may even want to place them in the freezer, but keep an eye on them!
When the centers are really firm, roll them in the palms of your hands to nice and uniform-looking little balls. Place them back on the tray and once again, let them get firm.
Melt the chocolate for dipping over simmering water. If using, put the cacao in a deep plate. You want the chocolate to be melted but not too warm. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat. Using two forks with long and thin tines, drop the truffle centers into the chocolate one by one and remove them right away and place on the lined tray again. If you want to roll them in cacao do so directly after removing from the chocolate. Drop them into the cacao, wait a couple of seconds and then turn once over. Remove and place on the tray. Put the trays again into the fridge or in a cool place until the chocolate is completely hardened. Be patient.
Because they have cream and butter, the truffles won’t hold for very long, a week most. Keeping in the fridge helps. Keep them in an airtight container. You will need to eat the cacao covered ones sooner or they might get soggy.
protected in a bell-jar