Monday, January 17, 2011

Chocolate Truffles, Now We're Cookin'!

As I mentioned in the Truffle Challenge post, I got this recipe from a truffle-making class at Now We're Cookin' in Evanston. We veganized the recipe by simply using vegan versions of the ingredients and following the recipe as written. Can't get any easier than that! For our holiday dinner, the flavor combinations we went with were Vanilla coated in powdered sugar, Black Truffle Salt coated in cocoa powder, Black Raspberry liqueur coated in silver sugar sprinkles, Peppermint coated with crushed candy cane, Sea Salt coated in macadamia nuts, and Balsamic Vinegar coated in hazelnuts.

The only real major glitch we had with the recipe was in making Vegan White Chocolate truffles. We tried following the recipe using vegan white chocolate chips, but while they melted as promised, they did not re-solidify readily, even when frozen. Luckily the dark chocolate version worked so well, the white chocolate ones were not missed! (As a side note, remember when making vegan dark chocolate truffles, be sure that the ingredients list does not contain any milk or milk derivative!)

We also encountered a few other minor issues that weren't as fatal as the white chocolate fiasco. First, when coating truffles with any type of sugar-- in our case, the powdered sugar and candy cane bits-- it's important to realize that the truffles will absorb the sugar. Therefore, if you plan on storing them before serving (they will last a month in the freezer), allow for an extra generous coating, otherwise they become a sticky mess! It may also be worth it coat them again right before serving.

Another consideration if using hard candy is crushing them to the correct size. Crush it too small, and they become powdery and cause they truffle to become a sticky liquid if left too long before eaten. If the pieces are too large, they do not coat the truffle very well; this same issue also applies to using crushed nuts.

Anyways, without further delay, I present you with the recipe, with my notes on vegan subs and a few other minor corrections, below:

Chocolate Truffles
Yield 18 large or 24 medium

1 1/8 cups bittersweet chocolate; 7 oz by weight (check ingredients for milk)
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 stick butter (Earth Balance sticks)
1/3 cup heavy cream (unsweetened MimicCreme)
pinch salt (optional)
flavoring (options to follow)
2 Tbsp cocoa or powdered sugar

Chop chocolate and butter into small pieces. You may melt it slightly either in a double boiler or microwave, being careful not to overcook the chocolate; alternatively, you may simply let the hot cream melt the chocolate in the next step.

In a small nonreactive saucepan, heat cream to a boil. Remove from heat, strain, and pour over chocolate. Let sit about 2 minutes. Add flavoring, then begin stirring. Continue stirring until the mixture becomes a smooth shiny mass. If the mixture still has lumps of chocolate, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir until the lumps disappear.

Chill about 30 minutes until solidified enough to work. To form the truffles, pipe (with a pastry bag), scoop, or roll into balls by hand.

To finish, place the truffles in a ziplock back with cocoa or powdered sugar and shake to coat.

Flavor Options may include:
Sea Salt (1 Tsp)
Cinnamon (1/2 tsp)
peppermint extract (1/2 tsp)
vanilla (1 tsp)
citrus oil/extract (1/2 tsp)

Chef's Note:
-If using whole spices, tea, citrus zest, or other flavorings, you will need to infuse them into the cream. To do this, stir the spice/flavor into the heated cream before you add it to the chocolate. Remove the pan from heat to steep for 10-15 minutes (infuses the flavor). When enough flavor has developed, reheat the cream to boiling, then strain and add to the chocolate. Stir well before chilling.
-If using liquid flavorings, add after chocolate has melted. Stir well before chilling
-If using nuts, dried fruit, etc, stir in at the very end before chilling.

-When piping truffles, remove ganache from refrigeration slightly earlier than indicated since it is easier to pipe when still soft.
-When scooping truffles, allow ganache to harden completely. Dip scoop in hot water periodically to allow for easier forming.

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