Saturday, September 27, 2008

Switzerland Truffles, Day 2

Day 2 was actually 2 days ago. All 4 truffle batches turned out quite well, though not without a few problems, of course. Thanks to a good tip from one of the professionals over at the Pastry Chef Forum, most of my truffles do not have feet (little puddles of chocolate at the bottom of the truffles)! The key is: during the dipping process, hold about a quarter of the truffle in the chocolate while surface tension pulls off the excess, and then wipe the bottom of the fork on the side of the bowl before putting the truffle on the tray. works!

Before dipping, however, I precoated all the truffles by rolling them in chocolate between my hands, to give them a light coat. Fun!
Unfortunately, it turns out that I should have done this twice for the passionfruit truffles--dark chocolate center covered in white chocolate. You can see the dark chocolate beneath the white, and also the precoat was a little thin sometimes and the ganache peeks through the bottom of the truffle. This shortens the shelf life, so sadly I will have to eat all of those right away. It's a tough job, but I'm a trooper and I'll get it done! Lesson: 3 coats of white chocolate if covering dark ganache.The gingerbread truffles are scrumptious, though I might go for a tad less of the spices next time. The nice thing about the crisped rice coating is that it covers any flaws!

I accidentally used the wrong dark chocolate for the lemon truffles. I was going to use the strong and acidic Valrhona Manjari, but accidentally tempered the more mild El Rey Mijao instead. Not to worry, they're still tasty! Tastier than I thought they would before before I dipped them, in fact.

What was supposed to be Banana Caramel Crunch turned into just plain Banana Caramel. The crunch disappeared overnight, which may be because the ganache didn't set up too well. Possibly because I agitated the ganache too much before letting it cool down. The hot cream/banana mixture did not adequately melt the chocolate, so first I put it over a steam bath, and when it was still lumpy after being heated I whizzed it up with an immersion blender. I should have followed the directions and heated the banana and the cream separately...I think the cream may have curdled and contributed to the problem. So I had a sticky ganache to work with, and I'm worried that it may not be stable enough for a long shelf life. Hopefully the truffles will last a few more days til they arrive in Switzerland. Lesson: Don't heat fruit puree and cream together.I also made a few milk chocolate covered dried strawberries. I was inspired by the tasty but outrageously expensive confections at Godiva, so I ordered 3# of dried strawberries. Unfortunately, I neglected to look at the ingredients first, and didn't discover until they arrived that they were sweetened. They do taste good, but I think they might be better if they were unsweetened. But maybe Godiva uses sweetened strawberries too. I'll have to buy another package and analyze them.

All in all a good effort, and I'm already anticipating trying a new ganache technique with my milk chocolate vanilla truffles! Maybe next week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Switzerland truffles, Day 1

I'll begin my foray into blogging with the truffles that are bound for Switzerland next week with mom. They will be an early Christmas present / consolation present for a 9 months pregnant sister! I am making:

1) Banana Caramel Crunch (Emily's favorite)
2) Gingerbread (Pat's favorite)
3) Passionfruit (My favorite)
4) Lemon (Experimental Truffle of the Day)

It was hard to narrow down the flavors to many new ones I want to try. But Pumpkin Caramel and Vanilla Milk Chocolate will have to wait for another day (sigh).

Sometimes I develop my own flavors, but all of today's truffles are from other chocolatiers' recipes, with some modifications. I get flavor ideas from Andrew Schotts' Making Artisan Chocolates and Dede Wilson's Truffles, but I am adapting the recipes to the techniques of Peter Greweling's Chocolates & Confections, the textbook of the Culinary Institute of America. My chocolates have improved tremendously since I discovered this book.

Today I made the ganache. This is the easier task for me, but it always ends up taking much longer than expected...this was pretty much an all day event for 4 ganaches.

For the Gingerbread I used El Rey Mijao, a 61% Venezuelan chocolate. It's got a mild, warm, earthy flavor (my palate is not sophisticated enough to pick up the "notes of apricot and plum" that a reviewer detected). It goes well with the pumpkin pie spices. Gingerbread is dipped in white chocolate, and when taking a chocolate inventory of my cupboard, I of course discovered that I do not have enough white chocolate. This necessitated an order from Chocosphere, which I'll pick it up in Tualatin in the morning. I like Callebaut white, but it only comes in callets (which do not work well in my tempering machine) and 11# blocks (I do not use that much white chocolate). So I ordered Santander white, a Columbian variety that I haven't tried yet. I like their milk chocolate, so I'm hopeful that the white will be good.

The lemon truffles use a white chocolate ganache, and I added lemon oil instead of infusing the cream with lemon peel (easier). They turned out all right, but not exactly what I was hoping for. Very lemony, but I guess I was expecting a little more tang. Maybe next time I'll add some citric acid.

Banana Caramel Crunch is the most labor needs a banana puree and a hard caramel that is pulsed into a coarse powder. I managed to only burn one batch of caramel in the process (yay), and I am saving that for another occasion. Maybe some sort of salt caramel truffle. Today's recipe calls for rum, but I left it out because I did not sufficiently plan ahead and am too lazy to go to the liquor store today. The ganache is very tasty nonetheless!

And for the passionfruit ganache I used Valrhona Manjari, an intense acidic and fruity dark chocolate that is one of my favorites (great for hot chocolate--thanks to Sahagun for that idea). The ganache is very strong and tangy, so I like to dip it in white chocolate to sweeten it up.

Probably about 20 pounds of chocolate in my cupboard

Before adding the cream

Blanca is not excited about truffle-making

Caramel powder and banana puree (with red bananas...why did Fred Meyer only have red bananas, plantains, and organic bananas for $50 per pound? Where were the cheap insecticide-laden banans? I have no idea.)

Cooling the ganache

My piped ganache is pretty lumpy looking--I haven't figured out how to make them nice and pretty like the textbook. Oh well, they need to be rolled out after they set anyway.

Tomorrow we'll see if my dipping skills have improved any from the last batch!