Monthly Archives: May 2012

Herbal Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients :

For the bittersweet chocolate mint truffles:
1 1/4     cup     heavy cream, plus an additional 2 tablespoons if needed
6     x     3-inch sprigs fresh mint, preferably peppermint or chocolate mint
(may use spearmint)
1     lb     premium bittersweet chocolate*
1/2     cup     Dutch-processed cocoa powder
For the white chocolate tarragon truffles:
3/4     cup     heavy cream, plus an additional 2 tablespoons, if needed
4     x     3 inch sprigs fresh tarragon
1     lb     premium white chocolate, such as Callebaut or Lindt
1/2     cup     (3 ounces) finely ground pistachio nuts


Method :

* Bite into these truffles and the richness of the chocolate is immediately offset by a pronounced herbal presence. Take your pick: bittersweet chocolate with mint or white chocolate teamed with tarragon. Or make both; an assortment of white and dark truffles makes for a stunning dessert course.

* Herbfarm Cookbook” by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner, 2000).

* *Use premium bittersweet chocolate, such as Callebaut, Valrhona or El Rey.

* Use the same technique for either truffle: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Add the herb sprigs, using a wooden spoon to push them under the surface of the liquid, and immediately remove the pan from the heat. Cover and set aside to steep for 30 minutes.

* Meanwhile, finely chop the bittersweet chocolate or white chocolate. Transfer to a food processor or bowl; set aside.

* Strain the cream into a large measuring cup, using a wooden spoon to press down firmly on the herbs to extract all the liquid from the leaves. Discard the herbs. You should have about 1 1/4 cups of cream if you’re making the bittersweet chocolate mint truffles or 3/4 cup for the white chocolate tarragon truffles; if necessary, add enough additional plain heavy cream to the cup to reach the desired amount.

* Return the cream to the saucepan, place over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Immediately pour it over the bittersweet chocolate or white chocolate and set aside for 1 minute. Turn on the food processor or beat with a standing mixer or wooden spoon until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, scrape either chocolate-cream mixture (or ganache) to a bowl and set aside for 2 hours at room temperature.

* Have ready a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a tiny ice cream scoop, a melon baller or a teaspoon, scoop the ganache into roughly shaped 3/4 inch balls and transfer to the prepared sheet. After all the balls are scooped, quickly roll each one between your palms, using steady light pressure, to form round balls. If you are working in a warm room, refrigerate the truffles for 15 minutes prior to rolling the balls. If you have trouble with the chocolate melting in your palms, wash your hands, dip them in a bowl of ice water, dry them thoroughly and try again.

* Place the cocoa or pistachios, depending on which truffle you are making, in a medium bowl and gently drop in 6 truffles. Swirl the bowl to coat the truffles evenly. Transfer the coated truffles to a large strainer and tap the edge of the strainer with your palm to knock off the excess coating. Transfer the coated truffles to a plastic storage container; repeat with the remaining ingredients.

* Tightly cover the truffles and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Return to room temperature prior to serving.

* variations:

For the bittersweet chocolate truffles: Instead of mint, substitute four 3 inch sprigs fresh tarragon or 8 medium fresh rose geranium leaves.

* For the white chocolate truffles: Instead of tarragon, substitute four 3 inch sprigs fresh tarragon, six 3 inch sprigs fresh spearmint, 8 medium fresh rose geranium leaves, 1/4 cup finely chopped young angelica stems, 6 fresh bay laurel leaves, 1 tablespoon fresh lavender buds (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried) or 1/2 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves (or 1/4 cup crumbled dried).

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Recipe of the Day: German Black Bread

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
320 – 400 ml warm water (105 – 115F)
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar / brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons finely ground espresso beans
1/4+ cup / 70 ml molasses
3 teaspoons caraway seeds, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
~2 cups / 150 g coarsely grated carrot (2 large)
1 1/3 cup / 150 g rye flour

~3 1/4 cup / 15 oz / 425 g bread flour (or unbleached all -purpose flour), plus more for dusting

olive oil for kneading and oiling baking sheet
2 tablespoons buttermilk, water, or milk

In a small bowl whisk the yeast with 1 1/3 cups / 320 ml of the warm water and sugar, and set aside until foamy. If the yeast doesn’t activate, try again.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cocoa, coffee, molasses, caraway, butter, and salt. Stir constantly until just melted. You want the mixture to be lukewarm when you add it to the other of the ingredients.

Combine the yeast mixture with the grated carrot and molasses mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the flours, and stir until you’ve got a soft, tacky, cohesive dough. If you’r dough is too dry, add more of the warm water a bit at a time. Alternately, if your dough is a bit too wet, and you need to add a bit more flour, do so. Turn the dough out onto your counter and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and springy. Note: you can do this step using the dough hook on your mixer.

Shape the dough into a ball, rub with a bit of olive oil, and place seam-side down into an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm, cozy place for 1- 2 hours or until the dough increases in size by at least half. At this point, gently press down, with a closed fist, across the surface of the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and coerce into a pleasant-shaped round. Place directly on a very lightly oiled baking sheet, then cover loosely with a floured tea cloth or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, another hour. Uncover, brush gently with buttermilk, sprinkle with a dusting of flour, ~1 teaspoon caraway seeds, and use a serrated knife to slash an ‘X’ deeply across the dough (do your best not to deflate the loaf). Bake for 20 minutes at 425F / 220C. Dial back the heat to 350F / 180C, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf develops a structured, toasted-bottomed crust, and the loaf sounds a bit hollow when you knock on it. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack before slicing into.

Make one extra-large loaf.

Prep time: 245 min – Cook time: 45 min

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