December 16, 2010

Christmas in a basket Teil II

I'm here to reveal the final two treats in my treat basket for the gift exchange: truffles! While some cookies are dubbed with the names Christmas cookies, it is the truffles that usually flood your supermarkets during this season. Last Christmas it took us a whole month to gobble down 3 delicious boxes of fine Belgium chocolates.

Earl Grey Truffle
(adapted from Epicurious)

(Excuse my bad photo quality, I didn't prepare to take the photo)

2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
3 Earl Grey tea bags
6 oz fine-quality chocolate, chopped (I used a combination of milk chocolate and Scharffen Berger dark 99% cocoa)
1 cup melted dark chocolate (I love using Scharffen Berger chocolate)
Some chopped nuts

  1. Bring cream and butter to a boil in a small heavy saucepan and put in tea bags. Remove from heat and let steep 5 minutes. Lightly press on the tea bags to get the flavors out.
  2. Meanwhile, finely grind chocolate in a food processor and transfer to a bowl. Pour cream through a fine-mesh sieve onto chocolate, discard the tea bags, then whisk until smooth. Chill ganache, covered, until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Scoop out the ganache and roll into a ball. (You can use cocoa powder to help if it's too sticky)
  4.  Roll each ganach ball in the melted chocolate to cover. (Make sure to move fast before the chocolate cools)
  5. Spread a little chopped almond or macadamia nuts for decoration.

Lemon Cream Truffle
(adapted from Sing For Your Supper) 

1 batch of sugar cookie dough (I just used some homebaked shortbread cookies)
zest and juice of 1 large lemon and 1 large lime
1 1/2 blocks cream cheese (12 ounces) at room temperature
1 package white chocolate candy coating
colored sprinkles or coarse sugar, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the cookie dough as directed on package or recipe; add in the zest and juice of the lemon and lime and mix well. Spread the cookie dough in a greased 9×9 baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cookies are fully baked. Cool completely. (If you use already-baked cookies, you can skip this step)
  2. When cookies are cooled, using your hands, remove from the dish and crumble into the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor (small chunks are fine). Add in the cream cheese and mix until the cookie crumbs and cream cheese are completely mixed together. Roll into 1-1 1/2 inch balls and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. When the balls are thoroughly chilled, melt the white chocolate candy coating in the microwave, or over a double boiler. Carefully dip each ball into the white chocolate and turn to coat. Remove with a tooth pick and set on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Top with sprinkles. Repeat until all the balls are coated. Store in the refrigerator.

Kitchen Note: I ran into some problems after dipping the first few truffles because the chocolate just hardened up. I think the problem is because I didn't tempter my chocolate coating. Next time I will try doing that. Here's an article on tempering chocolate.

Update: After reading Francois Payard's cookbook, I realize the problem isn't with tempering, but with seizing. When the chocolate comes in contact with moisture, the chocolate seizes and become harden to a grainy, clotted paste. When use a double boiler to melt the chocolate, make sure the water doesn't boil, it should be kept below a simmer.

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