Chocolate Truffles Overdose
On my trips to Melbourne this year, i came across a glorious hand-made chocolate shop called Koko Black along Lygon Street in Carlton. It is beautifully decorated and had endless trays of decadent chocolates. The best thing is, they open till late and have a bar that served alcohol as well! From a person who only ate chocolate once in a rare blue moon, i was weak in the knees and am converted instantly after my visit there! What I felt was most interesting are their drinks selection, with a wide variety of chocolate or caramel infused coffees and teas. For those who love Hot Chocolates, make sure you try their hot chocolate....it is the BEST hot chocolate i have ever tasted. I believe i have tried almost all of their chocolates retailed there in under 3 weeks in Melbourne!
One of the reasons why i bought Frans's Pure Chocolate is because of her concise explanation on understanding chocolate, preparation and cooking chocolate as well. And most of all, her recipe on making Chocolate Truffles! I have been wanting to learn how to make my own chocolates but just never knew how and if it is at all possible in a climate like Singapore's. I tried making chocolate truffles for the first time and am overjoyed that it worked out....took me an entire day though. As Fran advises, "Patience is a virtue....especially with Chocolate". I also decided to practice more on my baking as advised by S from Chubby Hubby, more practice is the best way to conquer my fear towards baking and master some important skills through trial and error. Thus, i have also made a L'orange Torte also from Fran's Pure Chocolate.
Pure Dark-Chocolate Truffles
With variations of coatings:
- Roasted chopped almonds
- Desicated coconut
- Valhorna Cocoa power
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (i picked up a huge block of Swiss chocolate from Sun Lik along Seah St as you will need loads for tempering the chocolate centers later)
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream with at least 36% milk fat is ideal)
3 tbsp/60g unsalted butter, room temp.
1 recipe tempered semisweet chocolate (recipe to follow)
Place the finely chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a small pot, bring the cream to boil. Pour over the chocolate in the bowl. Let sit for approx. 30sec without disturbing.
With a rubber/soft plastec spatula, beginning in a small area in the middle of the bowl, start stirring with small, gentle strokes. As the puddle in the center turns dark and smooth, begin making broader strokes, moving out to the edges and gredually incorporating more of the cream and chocolate.
Continue stirring until mixture is smooth and dark. The emulsion should be very smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the ganache. Let set at room temp 8-12 hours allowing flavours to develop and the consistency to firm up. (According to Fran, her room temperature is between 20-24 degrees Celsius, in Singapore climate, place ganache in the fridge, lowest shelf)
To form the Truffles
Have ready two 9 x 13 inch baking sheets pan-lined with parchment.
To form the centers, the butter must be soft enough to blend easily with a spatula. Place softened butter in a bowl and beat with rubber spatula until the consistency is similar to the chocolate ganache. (Now because i have placed ganache in the fridge, allow it to sit in out for about 5min before working on butter.)
With the rubber spatula, fold the butter into the ganache until smooth, glossy and homogeneous. The mixture is ready when it mounds in the bowl and holds the shape when piped. (If you feel your mixture is too moist and cant be piped to shape, place it into the fridge again for about 5min.)
Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip (#2A if using Wilton bag from Sun Lik). Pipe about fifty to sixty 1-inch rounds onto a lined baking sheet. Transfer to fridge for at least 1 hour.
(I had a few mishaps during this stage, as its really hard to get the right consistency during piping. Our warm hands and warm climate melts the mixture rather quickly. I find its easier if my mixture is more solid than too moist as the mixture does get warm while piping and you have to pipe really fast to ensure the chocolate stays in its desired temperature. Tip is: while piping, work in an air-conditioned room at 17 degrees Celsius pref in evening when the temp has lowered somewhat. Pipe 1/2 the mixture and fridge the other half of the remaining mixture while piping the first batch.)
According to Fran, if you dont wish to use the pastry bag, a teaspoon or small round scoop can be used to portion out the centers. Then fridge them to set for about 20min and roll them with hands into balls.
When set, trim any tails on top to make it a perfect round. The centers are ready for dipping.
Tempering dark chocolate
2 pounds high quality semisweet chocolate (pref. 56% cacao), finely chopped
a double boiler or simply a bigger saucepan with boiling water and a stainless steel bowl or smaller saucepan over the top to melt the chocolate
thermometer if you have, it helps you maintain the chocolate int he right temperature.
Set aside 7 oz of finely chopped chocolate
Place the remaining chocolate in a large stainless steel bowl over simmering water or in a double boiler over low heat. (Keeping in mind the temp in Singapore, i turned off the heat once the water in the saucepan has boiled. It is impt NOT to overheat the chocolate)
When about half the chocolate is melted, remove from heat. Stir with a dry wooden spatula until smooth. Return to the heat and continue stirring until the chocolate reaches 46 degrees C. Do not let temp exceed 48.8 degrees C.
Remove from the heat and add in 7oz reserved chocolate. Stir with spatula until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Continue stirring every few min until the chocolate cools to a temp of 30 degrees C. Depending on the temp of your kitchen and size of the bowl, this could be anywhere betw 15-30min (5-10min in Singapore climate.)
Once the chocolate is cooled, return over simmering water very briefly to gently warm back to 31-32 degrees C. This should take no more than 10 seconds. if you overheat, the chocolate will lose its temper and you will have to repeat the entire process.
The perfect temp for fluid dark chocolate for dipping is betw 31-32.2 degrees C.
To test for temper, smear a teaspoon on a sheet of parchment or plate. If its dries within 2min to a glossy, smooth finish, it is in temper. If it doesnt set properly and looks dull and streaked, it probably needs more time to cool. Continue stirring and testing. Once the chocolate is in temper, have your centers ready for dipping and work quickly. (again, dipping is best done in cool room about 17 degrees C)
If the chocolate starts firming around the edges, briefly return to double boiler to keep it fluid enough for dipping. Should not be more than a min if water is still steaming.
To dip chocolate centers
You need clean hands, one for picking up centers and other one to very gently pick up centers submerged in tempered chocolate using index and center fingers only. Make sure its evenly coated throughout. Gently shake off excess chocolate and place on parchment or Silpat-lined sheet to set in fridge for about 5-8min. (I made a few variations, i coated it with Valhorna cocoa powder for its dark brown colour, desicated coconut and roasted chopped almonds. They not only looked pretty but tasted just divine! So, after dipping the centers into tempered chocolate, i immediately dropped them in small bowls containing the various coatings. Cover them evenly and then place on lined tray and fridge to set.)
Remaining tempered chocolate can be kept and used for baking or dessert making. Simply pour onto a parchment lined sheet and fridge to harden. Break into chunks and store for future use.