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In Kitchen Cups Concupiscent Curds

So... Yuletide is traditionally a time for getting special things that come from far away, yes? Hence the raisins and spices in mincemeat that would set your average mediaeval farmer back a good penny and would otherwise never be considered. But as we can get anything we like from the supermarket at any time, I think it's important to do things around this time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) you don't do normally. Things that have to do with using up the best of the things in the larder before they go rancid or stale or what have you.

So before they get all mushy, I'm using up the apples that won't keep and mixing them with foreign stuff like citrus peel, spices, the citron melon I finally finished candying, brandy, and so on to make mince for pies and tarts.

Not everyone likes mince, fools that they are. But you still have to give them something. So if they won't take mince or kimchi, they'll probably like chocolate truffles. And if you make your own, you're not going to have to shell out a lot for them. Luckily, they're really easy. Here's how I do mine....

First, I take a slab of good dark chocolate. This is President's Choice extra dark, which comes in a 300g bar. The bar has now been subjected to being roughly grated. That's an 8-inch butcher knife for scale.

So, for 300g of chocolate, you need 1/3 a cup of heavy cream and about two tablespoons of butter. Heat it up until the butter is melted, and the cream is very hot, but not yet boiling.

Put the chocolate in a non-plastic mixing bowl, get a spatula ready, and pour it in all at once.

IMMEDIATELY, begin to turn the cream into the chocolate so it melts evenly throughout. There's a reason this photo's blurry...

Once mixed, quickly add two tablespoons or so of dark rum, cointreau, grand marnier, bourbon, rye, brandy, calvados, whatever you want to flavour your truffles with and stir some more. The alcohol will help dissolve the chocolate and give it a glossy sheen.

To keep the truffles from getting too hard and dense, you'll need a filler, in this case chocolate cookie or cake crumbs. I used a slice of chocolate cake that was dried out until hard in the oven and then pounded with a mortar and pestle into a powder. I made a bunch of this a while ago, since it keeps pretty well in a sealed jar. But you can also just use plain chocolate biscuits/cookies hammered fine, and I believe some stores actually carry these crumbs pre-made like breadcrumbs.

When the filler is completely mixed in, you'll end up with a ball with the feel of pastry and a crumbliness like halvah. Put it in the fridge for a quarter-hour.

Then, if you have thumpy meaty furnace-palms like myself, get your hands cold by throwing snowballs, handling ice, or running them under a cold faucet. Be sure they're dry, because here's where it gets messy. Use a spoon to pull off a piece about a heaping teaspoon in size—your call. I like to make mine a little smaller than Lindt truffles, a little larger than jawbreakers. Roll them very quickly between your palms until they are vaguely spherical, and then roll them further in some kind of crumbly or powdery coating. You can use flaked coconut, cocoa powder, caster sugar and spice, or even sprinkles. In this case, I'm using hazelnuts that I've toasted in a hot oven for eight minutes, rubbed off the skins, then beaten to a powder with 1 part caster sugar to three parts nut in a mortar and pestle.

Let them sit for a day in a cold place, or about an hour in the fridge. This returns the chocolate and the butter to their congealed state and makes the truffles withstand room temperature.

Do you have anything like this you only do around this time?

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
selfavowedgeek
Dec. 22nd, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
YUM!

Last night, Lovely Wife made a most excellent potato soup with pork shoulder cubes added in. Holy smokes. After a good workout at the gym, it was tough limiting myself to a single serving.

During the holidays, my aunt makes buckeyes--the peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. Sometimes she gets wild and adds Rice Crispies to the mixture. Good stuff to get stuffed upon.
barry_king
Dec. 22nd, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
I really need to get to the gym. Six months out and I'm getting fat & soft.

Buckeyes, eh? That's what they're called. Our pig farmer's wife makes them and sells them on the side. She does the rice crispie thing, too.
selfavowedgeek
Dec. 23rd, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
I've also heard them called Martha Washington balls. But that somehow sounds . . . naughty.
barry_king
Dec. 23rd, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
But... Well, I wouldn't be surprised. Let's just say that.
lowly_scribe
Dec. 28th, 2010 07:38 am (UTC)
I would love to know how she did her potato soup. That sounds heavenly.
(Deleted comment)
barry_king
Dec. 22nd, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
My dad used to do those... He'd put on powdered sage, sometimes, instead, with sea salt. It was good that way, too. And quick to throw together when you've got unexpected guests who are in need of cocktails and finger-things.
(Deleted comment)
lowly_scribe
Dec. 28th, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
I'm loving all these comments. I haven't made anything to give away for a long time. I do always make a Mexican-inspired yam dish for Christmas dinner -- it's yams with limes and honey.
lowly_scribe
Dec. 28th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC)
Meant to say, great post, Barry! I love the step by step instructions.
barry_king
Dec. 29th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
That sounds really good... I might try that soon, since I have some yams stored up.
lowly_scribe
Dec. 29th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
I'm always impressed with the food you have stored up.

I do the recipe by feel, which I know you'll do very well. Generally, it takes more limes and more honey than you'd guess. It's only special occasion stuff. Usually, we eat our baked yams in the skin with a drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )