Thursday, January 13, 2011

Truffle Challenge

In November, I randomly took a truffle-making class with my mom at Now We're Cookin', a cooking school in Evanston. I brought some of my creations over to Kargie's house to let him try my wares, and we decided then and there to try making a vegan version for our holiday dinner! We weren't sure how it would turn out since the three main ingredients of truffles--chocolate, butter, and cream-- were traditionally non-vegan. My mom, knowing my propensity for making vegan food despite not being vegan, even asked the teacher at the cooking class how to veganize their recipe; the answer we received was that they didn't know! Undaunted, Kargie & I set off on our quest to make some pretty awesome vegan truffles.

Our first task was to figure out whether to go with the recipe we used at the cooking class, or find another recipe that was already vegan. We decided that the truffles I'd made with my mom were too good not to try to make vegan; but barring complete failure of the vegan version of that recipe, we also decided to try out a version found in the book Vegan Table.

Once that was decided, our second dilemma was determining what flavors to try out. The cooking school gave us 5 choices during our class: vanilla, cinnamon, peppermint, sea salt, and citrus. We liked the idea of vanilla and peppermint. I had the brilliant idea of trying to make truffle-flavored truffles (using truffle salt instead of sea salt). We also decided on a red raspberry and a balsamic truffle.

With two recipes and five flavors to test, we just made one portion of each recipe, then split them to add the different flavorings. The Now We're Cooking recipe yielded fewer truffles, so we split it in two, dividing it between the peppermint and the truffle salt. We divided the Vegan Table recipe into thirds to flavor it with balsamic vinegar, Chambord (black raspberry liqueur), and vanilla.

Finally, after the truffles were made we coated them in various items, such as cocoa, powdered sugar, and sugar sprinkles. We found that the cocoa and powdered sugar coated the truffles fairly easily, but the sugar sprinkles didn't stick until we melted the truffles slightly in our hands.

All in all, the challenge turned out to be a success. All five flavors we tried turned out well, though a few people commented the the flavors of the balsamic and the black truffle salt could stand to be stronger. For the party, we decided to repeat those five flavors, as well as a plain sea salt one. We also wanted to experiment with coating the truffles with nuts rather than sugar crystals, as well as to try making while chocolate truffles.

In terms of the recipes, the Now We're Cooking truffle recipe veganized pretty easily with a few simple substitutions, but I'll save the details of that for a later blog post. It was fortunate that this recipe was so simple, since the Vegan Table recipe proved much harder to work with, and tasted more like chunks of frosting rather than truffles. They were such a great idea that we made extras to give out as gifts to friends.

Recipes for both types of truffles can be found below:
Decadent Chocolate Truffles from Vegan Table
Chocolate Truffles, from Now We're Cookin'

No comments: