Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chocolate Stout Truffles & GF White Chocolate Lavender Truffles


Chocolate and I..... we’re not the best of friends. It’s been a couple years since I’ve ventured much into the world of candy making (well, excluding my love of marshmallows and peeps and homemade candy corn). 



But Valentine’s Day is soon! Friday! I’ve been in such a cookie fog the past couple weeks.... Baking, decorating, packaging, shipping cookies to a few of my family members and the winner of the contest. So, instead of making more cookies, I decided to put aside my distain for working with chocolate and make truffles!  



I don’t mind the mess of bread dough, or cookie dough, or icing etc. But as soon as there’s melted chocolate in the mix, I tend to go a bit crazy. . Somehow, even though I try to keep things as clean and tidy as possible, chocolate making seems to be eternally messy.... Even the littlest bit of melted chocolate on my skin makes me instantly want to wash my hands... And don’t even get me started on tempering chocolate at home! My past attempts have been less than stellar.....  



But truffles are a little different....  They’re easy, yet still impressive! And they don’t require tempering chocolate!  yay!  Hot cream is poured over chocolate pieces and mixed to form a ganache--the ratio of cream to chocolate varies depending on whether white, milk, or dark chocolate is used. Once the ganache cools, it is portioned and rolled into bit-sized balls. After rolling, the truffle is usually coated in something (cocoa powder, nuts, coarse sugar, sprinkles etc.) and then it is ready to be served. Pretty simple, in the world of candy-making :) 


But you can customize them too, as I’ve done today.  I like to think of my two combinations as “His and Hers” truffles.  I’m not trying to actively give them gender roles... But I know my husband really enjoys my chocolate stout desserts, thus “his” is a chocolate stout truffle rolled in crushed pretzels--who doesn’t love a little salty with their sweet). “Hers” is the one created for me: gluten free white chocolate lavender truffles coated in sparkly sanding sugar. Due to some health issues, I’ve had to cross into the white chocolate camp, but I decided to make my white chocolate truffle a little more exciting by infusing it with one of my favorite scents/flavors: lavender.  

In addition to the essential ingredients of heavy cream and good quality chocolate--seriously, truffle-making is not the time to skimp on chocolate... buy the best quality you can find and/or afford)--I’ve added very small quantities of a couple additional items. Butter helps to enhance flavors, while keeping the truffle center smooth and firm with a good mouthfeel. Corn Syrup (or glucose would be even better, if you have access to it) binds with moisture particles, thus decreasing the water activity in the truffle and increasing the overall shelf life. It also reduces the risk of crystallization--a truffle should be creamy in the middle, not crunchy from sugar crystals. If you ever want to read more behind the science of chocolate, one of my favorite resources is Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner by Peter P Greweling. 


While I *technically* made these truffles for Valentine’s Day, don’t tell anyone if we start sampling them early. In addition to eating them outright, I intend to drop a couple into mugs of hot milk to make a somewhat “instant” hot cocoa :)  Even with the short amount of time before Valentine’s Day, you could still quickly whip up a batch of truffles for your loved ones :) 



Chocolate Stout Truffles
yields approximately 22 truffles 
inspired by  Edible Ireland & The Modern Cafe

1 c Stout, (I used Guinness Extra Stout) 
7 oz Milk Chocolate, finely chopped 
1/2 c Heavy Cream
1 Tbl Corn Syrup**

Pretzel sticks, for coating
  1.  In a small sauce pan, bring the stout to a boil over medium high heat--watch it carefully, just in case it boils over. Once it boils, turn the heat down to medium and allow the beer to simmer until it is reduced to 1/4th the original amount (approximately 1/4 c). For me, the process took between 15 and 20 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, chop the chocolate & place it into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Once the stout is reduced, heat the heavy cream in another small saucepan until it just barely simmers (some steam should be visible & there should be tiny bubbles around the edges of the pan). 
  4. Pour the heated cream over the chopped chocolate. Allow to sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until all the chocolate is melted.  Add the stout and the corn syrup & whisk until smooth. 
  5. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and chill until the mixture firms, but is still pliable enough to mold. Stir every 30 minutes during the refrigeration process.  Mine took several hours to come to a cookie-dough-like consistency.  If it gets too hard to scoop, allow to sit at room temperature for a bit. 
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the pretzel coating. Chop small pretzel sticks into small bits, using a very sharp chef knife. Alternately, a food processor may be used, but I find it pulverizes the pretzels a bit too much for my liking. Place the pretzel pieces into a small bowl. 
  7. Use a small cookie scoop to portion the truffles onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Refrigerate the whole pan for 20 minutes, if the truffles become too soft. Otherwise, after the truffles are scooped, roll them gently with clean hands to make them round & roll them in the chopped pretzels.  
  8. Store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Allow them to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to warm up (they’ll taste better that way) before serving. Know that the pretzels will begin to get soggy over time, so it is best to serve these as soon as possible.  
**The corn syrup helps to keep the truffle from crystalizing and also increases the shelf life.  Glucose is preferred to  corn syrup, but I don’t have any available to me where I live...  You can skip the syrup all together if it really bothers you to use it.

Gluten Free White Chocolate Lavender Truffles
Yields approximately 18 truffles 

46 g Heavy Cream, plus extra, as needed
1/2 tsp Lavender Buds
250 g White Chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt White Chocolate)   
10 g Butter
10 g Corn Syrup**
1 drop Essential Lavender Oil 

Sanding sugar
Additional Lavender for decoration, optional 
  1. Combine the heavy cream and lavender in a very small sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then cover & remove from the heat. Allow to steep, covered, for 20 minutes.  
  2. Chop the chocolate into small pieces & place into a medium sized heat-safe bowl (such as stainless steel, tempered glass or ceramic) that fits over a medium saucepan. Set the chocolate aside. Fill the saucepan with 2”-3” of water, and bring to a simmer on the stove. 
  3. After the cream has steeped, place the chocolate bowl onto the scale with a fine strainer in the bowl. Zero the scale with the strainer on it. Pour the liquid into the bowl, straining out any lavender buds. If the scale does not measure 46g of cream, add some additional fresh cream to make up the difference. Remove the strainer & discard the used lavender. 
  4. Place the chocolate/steeped cream over sauce pan with simmering water to form a double boiler. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted. The mixture may look a little grainy or separated, but that is ok.  Remove from the heat and add the butter and corn syrup.  Stir until well combined. If the mixture continues to look separated, return to the double boiler system & stir constantly until everything has emulsified (i.e. come together) into a ganache. 
  5. Remove the white chocolate ganache from the heat & taste a little bit of it.  If you prefer a stronger lavender flavor (which I did), add a drop of essential lavender oil. Only add a little bit--we don’t want it to taste like soap! Remember that when the chocolate is cold, the lavender flavor will not be as pronounced. 
  6. Transfer the ganache to a separate bowl & chill in the refrigerator until it firms slightly, but still is pliable enough to mold. Mine took about an hour to set up. 
  7. Use a 
  8. 1 tablespoon scoop to portion the truffles onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Refrigerate the whole pan for 30 minutes. 
  9. Once the truffles are chilled roll them gently with clean hands to make them round & cover each truffle in coarse sanding sugar. Press a single bud of lavender to the top of the truffle, if desired. 
  10. Store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Allow them to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to warm up (they’ll taste better that way) before serving.
**The corn syrup helps to keep the truffle from crystalizing and also increases the shelf life.  Glucose is preferred to  corn syrup, but I don’t have any available to me where I live...  You can skip the syrup all together if it really bothers you to use it.  

4 comments:

  1. Laura these are almost too pretty to eat - notice I said almost😉

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    1. Oh, thank you, Libby! But I'm sure you'd eat one ;)

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  2. Laura, I can totally relate! Chocolate and I are currently frenemies. This quarter I am in a Chocolates, Confections, and Centerpiece course. Don't get me wrong: I love it! But I literally work on making truffles 10 hours every week (along with other sweet candy delights). I might just have to bring these recipes into class to give them a try. I'm sure they would be a hit!
    Also I couldn't help but read the link for your past attempts at tempering chocolate... (You kinda got me curious with the "don't even get me started" and the "less than stellar" comments.) Anyway, it gave me a good laugh! I swear you just basically quoted a class day in my life. :)

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    1. It's nice to bond with fellow pastry people about shared interests (or non-interests). Non-pastry people just don't understand certain things :) I hope school is going well for you and that the chocolate quarter goes quickly! If I find myself in Chicago one of these days, I just may have to visit your school :)

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