Friday, November 7, 2008

Sort of Professional

This week I got a tiny glimpse of what it might be like to be a professional realtor hired me to make truffles for a baby shower! Very exciting! And yet I remember why I decided to never make a wedding cake again after my sisters were married. If I'm making something for someone else who has expectations of high quality, then invariably twice as many things will go wrong as normal. And I normally have a lot of things go wrong to begin with! I'll blame it on the fact that I haven't had any formal training, and that I'm still learning. And the fact that I'm constantly adapting my own recipes doesn't really help. When I told Debbie that my raspberry truffles were very popular, I'd forgotten that I hadn't actually made plain raspberry truffles for over a year, that I hadn't written down the recipe that I came up with at that time, and that I've since discovered a new formula for ganache centers. More on the outcome of that later....

So Debbie requested raspberry truffles, vanilla bean truffles, and another of my choice. The vanilla bean ganache should have been an incident-free event, since I successfully made a batch last month. No tweaking of the recipe required. And yet this was the result:

A broken ganache--note the fat globules that separated out after I added the butter. I have no idea why it did this. None of the reasons given in my textbook apply...such as stirring it at the wrong temperature. It was the appropriate 95 degrees when I added the butter. In retrospect, I should have attempted to fix the ganache, which is something I've never done before. But I just poured it into a slab and hoped that it would taste better than it looked. And it did, but the texture was definitely not silky smooth. So I had to make a new recipe of vanilla bean ganache, and this time I opted for piping it into truffles instead of the slab method. Which is what I think I'll stick to in the future, for reasons that will soon become clear. Fortunately, the 2nd batch of vanilla turned out fine--very smooth and silky.
My second task was the raspberry truffle. I used the formula guidelines from my CIA textbook to come up with a recipe. The slab method of mixing the ganache is supposed to yield the smoothest results, so I went that route. Unfortunately, as meticulous as I try to be, without a guitar cutter, cutting the ganache with a regular knife just does not give very pretty results. This was one of the better looking end products:Kind of lumpy. I'm not sure that Debbie cares, but still...this is not something I would market. Would anybody like to buy me a $2,000 guitar cutter for Christmas? In the meantime, I think I'll stick with the plain old piped truffles. And more importantly, in this case, is the fact that the truffle texture was much more firm than I would have liked. It tastes good, but the recipe needs more cream. I'm not sure if this one will end up at the baby shower.

For the next batch, I decided on gingerbread. Everyone has really like this one in the past, and since I've made it several times, no tweaking of the recipe involved. Foolproof, right? Of course not! I ran out of spices, and rather than spend several hours making a trip to Penzey's, I decided to just grind my own cinnamon and grate the dried whole gingerroot. That seemed to be a good solution, until I stirred the spices into the ganache and it promptly turned very grainy. Hmm, maybe I should have sifted the spices to filter out the larger particles. I did not have high hopes for the finished product, but since the truffle is rolled in a rice krispy mixture after being dipped in white chocolate, I thought that maybe it wouldn't matter. But then I brilliantly left the rolled ganache centers on top of the microwave as I was using it, and the bottoms melted! Now I really thought the recipe was a goner, but I set them aside to firm up again, thinking that I would just finish them up and eat them all myself. But as it turned out, the truffle seemed to be just as good as previous batches, though rather too large. I think the photo might be nearly life-sized:

But I think it's a keeper, so I boxed 30 of them for Debbie.

Since on day one I already wasn't happy with the prospects of several of the truffles, I decided to make a few backups. First I made a raspberry/rose/milk chocolate, because I had extra raspberry puree. That was actually quite scrumptious...good flavor combo, I'll add that to the regular rotation! But it didn't quite yield 30 truffles, which is the number that Debbie wanted for each flavor.

I also made a plain dark chocolate truffle using Guittard's Hawaiian Kokoleka. How simple could a plain dark chocolate truffle be? You would think the CIA book would have such a recipe already...but no, so I adapted one myself. Naturally, it set up so firmly that I couldn't roll it into balls, so this was yet another one that I had to redo. Sigh. And at this point I was also out of glucose, the source of which is 30 minutes away. Fortunately, Karen, Aunt Janice & Molly wanted to come down from Tigard and participate in the chocolate dipping, so Aunt Janice kindly stopped at the Decorette Shop and picked me up some supplies. I let Karen dip the too-firm (but yet still tasty) Kokolekas and keep most of them for herself...they did look funky, but I didn't take a picture. I added more cream to the second batch, and they turned out quite nicely. I think I'll probably give these to Debbie.

Freshly Dipped!
With my replenished supply of glucose I made the second batch of vanilla bean truffles and dipped the good vanilla, bad vanilla, and raspberry rose in milk chocolate on Wednesday night. I was done by 1am. Whew. But I didn't want to wait any longer to dip the raspberry rose, since I had made the ganache on Tuesday. They are much more shelf-stable once they are dipped in chocolate. The "bad" vanilla batch actually turned out pretty good. I wouldn't make anyone pay for them, but I'll definitely not let them go to waste!

So that's it for truffles for now. I think I need a couple weeks in Hawaii to recuperate. And whaddya know....I have a plane ticket for departure on Monday! Fortuitous! I guess I'll be making more truffles around Christmas time, so I'll post more next month!


evil cake lady said...

SO JEALOUS that you're going to Hawaii tomorrow!! Do you need a cake baker to tag along? I could rearrange my schedule you know.

Your truffle trauma sounds like my cake trauma...I always have cake trauma. I'm glad you were happy with enough truffles to satisfy your friend's order...although if your friends are like my friends, they'll eat anything and love it, sub-professional or not.

Have fun on your trip!

Amanda said...

Oh, I could ALWAYS use a cake baker, no matter where I'm going! I'll just stash you in my second check-in bag! That wouldn't be much worse than flying coach, really. :) Only 22 hours until I'm on that plane, not that I'm counting!

Maybe when we have another 50 years experience under our belts, we'll have trauma-free baking. I'm looking forward to that. You're right...thank goodness for friends and family who are excited to get our dessert rejects! (I ate almost all of my vanilla bean rejects last night, which was a brilliant move right before I head to the beach. Oh well, what's another 5 pounds?)