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    Entries in chocolate (24)

    Friday
    Dec212012

    Chocolate Perfection

    As you probably know by now, laziness plays a fairly big role in my decision making process.  Because of this, I’ve never really bothered to temper my chocolate before using it for dipping.  Tempering is a process of heating and cooling chocolate in a specific way so that the cocoa butter crystals will… ok, getting too technical.  Basically, it makes it so that chocolate will be like it is when you buy it from the store.  It’s firm, doesn’t melt quickly when you touch it, and it has a nice snap.  Well, this week, I had to make lots of chocolates for hubby to take to work.  That meant not only would they be being sampled by lots of people but needed to be able to be at room temperature, and be handled, and still have a crisp snap when bitten. 

    So I went on the internet machine and did some research on the specifics of chocolate tempering.  Then, because all the methods I found involved the use of a thermometer and being ridiculously finicky, that I would follow the same idea, but do it my way.  As little fuss as possible, and no thermometer other than my fingers and/or eyes.  I guess even when I’m not being lazy, I’m lazy.  To be honest, I’m not really sure why I even own a thermometer.  Ok, so here is my method for tempering chocolate. 

    Chop your chocolate into small pieces.  Shaving it finely I actually found to work best, but didn’t get any pictures of it that way.  Set aside about 40% of the total. 

    Using a double boiler to melt the chocolate will give you the most control.  Basically that just means placing a bowl over a pan that has an inch or so of simmering water in it. 

    If you prefer, you can heat the chocolate in a microwave.  Either way, just be sure to stir frequently.  It’ll be a lumpy mess at first. 

    But eventually it will become nice and smooth.  You want it to become fairly thin, but be careful not to let it get too hot.  Using the ol’ finger thermometer, (no that’s not some sort of euphemism, or if it is, I’m unaware of it.) it should never be uncomfortably warm.  Think hot tub temperature.

    When it gets to that point, remove it from the heat.  Set the bowl on a towel to absorb the water from the outside.  Just one drop of water can ruin your whole batch of chocolate, so be careful not to get any in there.  Add ¾ of your reserved chocolate and gently stir it in. 

    It should slowly melt into the warm chocolate.  When it has, test for temperature again.  The goal is for it to become cool enough that you can’t really feel a temperature difference when your finger touches it.  If it still feels even slightly warm, add more chocolate.  At this point, finely shaved is really the best option.  Continue to stir in chocolate until you have reached the proper temperature and then it’s time for a test.  Drizzle a little of the chocolate onto a piece of parchment. 

    Within 3-5 minutes, it should set.  You should be able to touch it without leaving a noticeable fingerprint and it should break cleanly.  It won’t be all that snappy yet, but as it sits it will become increasingly firm.  When you’ve reached this stage, you’re ready to start dipping. 

    So is it worth it?  Well, it does take a fair bit of extra time to get the chocolate ready, but yes, it’s worth it… even for me, laziness and all.  I will never dip anything without tempering again.     

    What’s your favorite thing to dip in chocolate?

        

    Friday
    Nov302012

    Chocolate Almond Truffles

    For me, Christmastime has always been the season for candy making.  My mom, my sister, and I would get together every year and make a variety of treats.  Some of them would turn out beautifully, but I think we had at least one failure every year.  If we were attempting divinity, that was guaranteed to be it.  But no matter, because for us, with failure comes laughter.  Well, this year I don’t have my usual candy making companions, but I’ll be making a few things, nevertheless.  Failure on your own isn’t nearly as entertaining, so I decided to start with the always foolproof, ever versatile, and always amazingly delicious, truffle.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 2 cups chocolate
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract*
    • And for rolling you’ll need cocoa, more chocolate, and nuts

    I used a combination of milk and dark chocolate.  You can use whatever kind of chocolate you like, just get something good quality. 

    Chop the chocolate into fairly small pieces. 

    Put that into a bowl and set it aside.  Pour your cream into a pan over medium low heat and stir it until it just starts to simmer around the edges.

    Remove it from the stove and immediately pour it over the chocolate. 

    If you have little bits poking up, just push them down into the hot cream. 

    Cover the bowl and just let it sit for 3 minutes. 

    After 3 minutes, add a teaspoon each of vanilla and almond extract.  Now, the reason I put a * next to the almond extract is because you can really add any flavor you like.  If you have good booze on hand like Disaronno, Baileys, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier, any of them would be fabulous.  As would some good espresso.  You’ll want to use more than a teaspoon of any of those, though.  Maybe a Tablespoon or two?  

    Whatever you decide, add it and carefully start whisking.  Slowly it will turn from this,

    To this.  See how beautifully smooth and shiny it is?  Cover it and put it into the fridge for at least an hour.

    While I was working on that, there was a group of men outside building us a fence!  Otto will be so happy, especially when the warm weather returns and he can spend all day out there in the sun without having to be attached to anything.  I’ll love it when he decides to stand out there sniffing randomly forever in 30 degree weather and I don’t have to be out there with him.   

    When your truffle mixture is nice and stiff, go ahead and pull it out.  Now you have some decisions to make.   Traditionally, chocolate truffles are meant to resemble the truffles that come out of the ground. 

    For that, they’re just rolled in cocoa powder.  Sift some into a bowl.  (you don’t want lumps stuck to you truffles)

    Scoop out a small amount of the truffle mixture.  I used a teaspoon, which worked well. 

    Roll it into a roundish shape and drop it into the cocoa. 

    Roll it around until it is completely coated and then shake off the excess and move it to a parchment lined pan. 

    If that’s how you want them, your work is done.  They will be fabulous, just like that.  I, however, decided to make a few different options.  For those, you’ll need some melted chocolate.  So, chop some more and set it aside. 

    Before melting the chocolate, you’ll want to prepare your nuts. 

    Chop them finely.  I did the first batch by hand, but the second one I threw into the blender on low speed.  I prefer the texture of the nuts I did by hand, but the blender method was much easier. 

    Set those aside and back to the chocolate.  Into the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring thoroughly after each session.  Eventually it should become melty, chocolaty goodness. 

    Throw one of your balls into the chocolate. 

    Using a fork, gently turn it until it’s completely coated. 

    Allow the excess to run off then drop each of your chocolate coated balls into your nuts.  (I think I might be getting a little dirtay there.)

    Roll the balls around until they’re coated in nuts and move them to a parchment lined sheet pan. 

    Here you can see my assortment of truffles.  I have the ones rolled in cocoa, some that are dipped just in chocolate, and then some rolled in almonds and some 2 in pistachios. 

    I guarantee these are better than the Lindor or Roche truffles you can buy in the store, and who wouldn’t be proud to put these out?

    But when you take a bite, the salty crunch of the almonds followed by the creamy, rich center, you might not want to share. 

    What’s your favorite flavor of truffle?