Grog and Vittles

Food and Spirits by an Vegetarian in Atlanta

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Truffles, inspired by Vodka, Fucking and Television

On V-Day, the missus and I went to Dad's Garage, and excellent Atlanta theater. We saw a Russian play by the name of "Vodka, Fucking and Television" (translated into English) .

There was a free Vodka drink by 3 Vodka (which is deliciously smooth, and I suggest using it when shooting if you do that sort of thing).

In addition, Jake's Ice Cream made truffles. I had thought Jake's had been bought out. Turns out I was wrong. But their truffles were pretty good, and make me want to make some.

What's a truffle? Its chocolate ganache covered in a chocolate coating, which is dusted with cocoa. They look vaguely like the sort of truffle that's found underground in certain parts of the world.

To make them, you first make a firm ganache. This would be 4 parts cream to 5 parts bittersweet chocolate if you were a French traditionalist. Most Americans require more sweetness, so use 3 parts baker's chocolate and 1 part semi-sweet chocolate if you're serving it on the left side of the Atlantic. Chop it up into lil' bits. I use a serrated bread knife and a rolling pin to chop it up using a jackhammering motion. Yes, chocolate chips do work too, but chocolate is a lot more expensive that way. Just like with decaf coffee, the price may not be that much higher for chips, but the quality is often lower.

Melt the chocolate. Repeated microwavings with stirrings every 15 seconds works just fine. Careful, you'll burn it if you go too long.

Warm the cream up as well. You can use the microwave or the stove. You're looking for bathwater warm here. Pour a small amount of corn syrup (for texture) into the cream and stir.

Mix the chocolate and cream together until you have a uniform mixture. Add 2 parts flavorful, 80 proof liquor. You can use a less alcoholic flavorful liquor if you mix with grain alcohol to bring up the proof. There are certain flavors in chocolate that only dissolve in alcohol. You won't taste them if you omit it. We often use Frangelico, although we've also used brandy, Armagnac, and almond liquor. Their flavoring is only slightly noticeable in the finished product.

Pour this mixture out into a shallow vessel, glass bottomed vessel.

Refrigerate for hours. It will harden. It's done when it's hard to the touch.

Use a mellon baller or disher to make little balls out of it. Or you can score it like mini brownies and ball them up. Set the truffles out on something large and flat, and put it back in the fridge.

Here is the annoying and hard part of truffle manufacture: Coating.

Pour out a pile of cocoa into a bowl.

Now, BARELY melt 4 parts of semi sweet chocolate into a barely melted gel. This gel must stay below 92 degrees F (otherwise you're going to have sticky candy). That means you have to keep the chocolate between 88 and 91 for about 20 minutes. Alton Brown says a heating pad works (it does, sorta). I've found success with a heating pad set too warm (where I take the pan off and off the pad) as well as an electric fryer set to really low where I keep turning it on and off.

However you create this coating gel, you next need to dip each ball in it, then roll the ball through the cocoa, then place it on wax/parchment paper. Do this with all the balls, and you'll have truffles.

I suggest mixing some crushed red pepper in any remaining chocolate, then making some popcorn and pouring the chocolate over the popcorn. Once it hardens, you'll be in heaven.

--Michael

PS: I'm probably making some soon, as the ones on Wednesday were inspiring, but not as good as home made ones.

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