Thursday, 24 January 2013
Last weekend, I gave a friend a box of Baileys truffles for her birthday. I've made them a few times - I adapt my favourite Muscovado Truffles recipe by using 190g double cream with 75ml Baileys and light brown sugar. They're a tad softer than the usual ones and melt the moment you bite into them.
As I was rolling them between my cocoa-stained hands, I started thinking about other types of truffle I could make. I want to try some white chocolate and raspberry truffles using the freeze dried raspberries I bought recently.
But first - champagne truffles. The milk chocolate ones, cloaked in a crisp shell with a dusting of icing sugar. I'm particularly fond of them.
After some experimenting, I discovered that you need a champagne/cream ganache filling, rather than a champagne/water one. I thought that the cream might be obscuring the flavour of the champagne - and milk chocolate is already creamy - but it tasted weak without. Champagne truffles need to be rich and luxurious.
I don't drink much these days, so I use alcohol sparingly in desserts. The key is to use enough so you can recognise the flavour but not so much that the alcohol overpowers everything else. If you want a stronger punch you could try replacing some more of the cream with champagne or even add a touch of cognac or brandy.
I also tested the shell with tempered and untempered chocolate. The tempered ones did crackle beautifully when you bit into them but I don't think it's crucial. If you know how then go for it but I don't think it's worth learning just for this. The icing sugar coating means you're not looking for a shiny or streak-free finish anyway.
The truffles are at their best the day they're made. If the chocolate is tempered, they keep in a container at room temperature for about a week (though I've never managed to keep them that long...) and if not, they'll last in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
Finally, I know of two methods for dipping truffles.
You can use a fork to lower the truffle into the chocolate, push it around until it's covered, then tap the fork to remove excess. The fancy forks you can buy have fine prongs so the chocolate drips off easily. You can also improvise and bend a few spokes back on an old, cheap table fork or snap them off a plastic one. I find with truffles like these where the filling is quite soft the fork can dig in and ruin the shape.
In the second method, you smear a tablespoon or so of melted chocolate on both of your palms, then swirl the shaped truffle around until it's fully covered. You usually need to do this twice, as it can create a thin coating. But you get to smother your hands in melted chocolate. It's quite a feeling. Need I say more?
(created with the basic truffle ganache ratio in Paul A Young's Adventures with Chocolate)
For the ganache filling:
100g high quality milk chocolate (34-40%)
70g double cream
pinch of fine sea salt
2 tbsp (30 ml) champagne*
To coat and finish:
few tsps of unsweetened cocoa powder
100g high quality milk chocolate (34-40%)
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
Chop the chocolate for the ganache into very small chunks and place into a small bowl (if you're nervous about ganache or have some trouble, look at the ganache foundation post). Weigh the cream in a small saucepan and add the salt. Place over a medium heat and keep an eye on it until it starts steaming. Pour the cream over the chocolate and leave to sit for a minute. Stir until you have a thick, smooth ganache with no lumps of chocolate left. Add one tablespoon of champagne and stir it in as it fizzles, then repeat with the other tablespoon. Cover and chill in the fridge for three hours until set.
When it has set, tip the cocoa powder into a bowl and dust your palms. Take a heaped teaspoon of the ganache and toss it lightly in the cocoa to stop it sticking, then form it into a sphere with your palms (don't worry if it's not perfect). Place onto a plate. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. Place back in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes.
When you're ready to dip, place some baking parchment on a plate and sift the icing sugar into a shallow bowl. Roughly chop the chocolate and place in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until fully melted. Temper if desired. If not, let it cool anyway - if it's too hot, it'll melt the filling. When it's room temperature, dip the truffles one by one - either by the palm rolling method or with a dipping fork (if doing two coats, set onto the paper then dip again once set - in a cool kitchen they'll be ready by the time you've done the rest). When coated, drop into the icing sugar bowl and roll around until fully covered. Once the chocolate has set up a bit, transfer to the plate. Continue until you've coated all the truffles - if the chocolate starts to solidify, briefly warm it up over the pan of water. If the chocolate isn't tempered, chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to fully set. Eat at room temperature.
You will have a little bit of dipping chocolate left (as you need plenty to coat them) - scrape it onto a bit of baking parchment (if it's started to set, warm the chocolate up a bit first) and leave it to cool so you can use it for another recipe.
*I know it's a small amount to open a bottle for. I bought one of those mini bottles so I only had a little left to share. Or you could open a big one and have a party.
(Makes 16-20, depending on size)
A few related posts (the only three I can think of with alcohol in them):
Ginger Bourbon Pecan Pie
Cider Caramel, Sautéed Apples and Cinnamon Ice Cream
Whisky and Dark Chocolate 'The Beautiful and the Damned' Cake