Top | Kvell in the Kitchen
(post, Rachel Levine)
I often get asked if I blog about every recipe I make. The answer is no: if a dish comes out mediocre, I won't write about it, and then there's the obvious: if a recipe ends up being a disaster, and I can't even finish it. Sadly, I found myself in the second situation last night. In a miserably failed attempt to make Valentines Day themed strawberry French macarons, I found myself- and my kitchen- covered in head to toe pepto-bismol pink batter that refused to bake appropriately in the oven. Fine Laduree, you win....I'll wait in that endless line for my pretty little macarons like everyone else. But! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Precisely, inside the macaron. I had purchased ingredients to make chocolate ganache filling, the go-to chocolate concoction for all amazing desserts: you can use it to ice a cake, but its most common use is to fill truffles. And what is more appropriate for Valentines Day than truffles! Hence, these Chocolate Ganache Truffles were born. (Also appropriate: ganache means "idiot" in French, which is basically how I felt in my pink-battered hurricane of a kitchen last night.) Ganache is super easy to make: it only uses two ingredients, chocolate and cream, and the formation of its signature rich consistency is out of your hands: it emulsified by sitting for a few hours on its own. A few years ago Mark Bittman wrote an article entitled "At the Heart of Truffles, Adaptable Ganache", where he quipped: "If the word 'ganache' intimidates you, you are not alone. Maybe if the stuff were called 'basic, simple and entirely superior chocolate sauce,' more people would make it." The word "adaptable" defines this recipe. You can add flavored liquor to the chocolate, and roll your truffles in whatever coating you want: dutch chocolate, powdered sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts, sprinkles. The result is a beautiful mosaic of assorted textures and colors. Another fun (and easy) suggestion: to breakaway from the traditional truffle ball, set your ganache in parchment paper-lined ice cube trays to add some squares into the mix. If you do this though, make sure the two ends of the parchment strip are longer than the lining of the tray, so you can tug them up to pull the truffle out of its mold after its been refrigerated. Chocolate Ganache Truffles (courtesy of Serious Eats) Yield: 2 dozen truffles Special (optional) equipment: immersion blender, melon baller, ice cube trays Ingredients: 8 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (a cacao content of about 60% works best) ½ cup of cream (for chocolate with 70% cacao, increase the cream by about a tablespoon or two) 1 tablespoon butter (optional) 1 tablespoon rum, or other liquor (optional) I used orange flavored liquor 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder for coating the truffles (or use chopped nuts or melted and tempered chocolate), confectioners sugar, cinnamon, sprinkles, etc. Directions: 1. Chop the chocolate into fairly even, small pieces—a heavy serrated knife works well. 2. Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to boil. Remove from heat. Add the chopped chocolate to the cream. For an extra smooth truffle, add butter. Add any liquor here, too. Wait a minute or two until most of the chocolate and butter is melted. 3. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Once the chocolate is mostly melted, quickly but gently transfer the mixture to a bowl so that you can form your emulsion in a cooler environment. 4. Whisk the mixture vigorously until it’s thick and smooth, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl and incorporating all the cream and chocolate. If you have one, an immersion blender helps make sure the emulsion is stable. 5. If the ganache shows signs of breaking at this point (if it looks curdled or oily), you can add a few drops of cream to help re-emulsify it. A well-emulsified ganache should look like chocolate pudding: thick, smooth, and glossy. Leave it in a cool spot to firm up for at least four hours, ideally overnight. (If are using ice cube trays to form your truffles instead of scooping them into balls, pour the ganache directly into the trays after it has reached the appropriate “chocolate pudding” texture. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to manipulate the batter because it will begin to harden, so do this immediately.) 6. Once the ganache has set into a uniformly firm mass, scoop out small balls with a melon baller or spoon. Roll each one briefly in the palms of your very clean (or gloved) hands. It helps if you have cold hands or are in a cool room. 7. Chill the truffles briefly, for about 15 minutes, while you prepare whatever you’d like to roll or enrobe them in. If your ganache isn’t firm enough to scoop into balls, you can chill it in the fridge to harden. Or, whip it very briefly until the color just begins to lighten—about 30 seconds on medium-low with a hand mixer. Let it set again and it will firm up. 8. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, etc. shaking off any excess cocoa. You can also roll them in chopped nuts or enrobe them in melted and tempered chocolate. 9. Store them at room temperature for up to a week, in the fridge for two to three weeks, or in the freezer for two months. They taste best eaten at room temperature.