Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sweet.

Guinness Truffles

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 pound milk chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Guinness Stout
Cocoa powder
1 pound dark chocolate for coating

Melt butter and cooking chocolate over hot water. Add cream and whisk until mixed well. Remove from heat and stir in Stout. Chill until firm.
Melt dark chocolate over hot water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
With chilled chocolate and stout mixture, make 1-inch balls with a spoon and by rolling between your cocoa-dusted hands.
Dip balls in warm dark chocolate until coated. Place in a plate of cocoa power, roll to coat and refrigerate until very firm. Store in layers in an airtight container, placing a piece of parchment paper between the layers. Store truffles in the refrigerator.


Ok, now, here is how I do it:

I use the almost the same proportions but I always make a double batch and I never, ever use milk chocolate. I would encourage you to use semi-sweet chocolate, or the darkest that you can tolerate. These should not be “sweet” truffles, they work best, in my opinion, when they are pretty dark and almost bitter, but not like bittersweet chocolate. They should have an “edge”.

I don’t melt my chocolate on the stovetop anymore, but by all means, if that is how you are most comfortable, go for it. I use the microwave and I do it in 30 second bursts, stirring every 30 seconds. The tricky thing about chocolate is that it will hold it’s shape longer than you expect, so you need to stir to make sure it’s not burning.

When your chocolate and butter are melted and you add the cream, the mixture will look hopeless and curdled. FEAR NOT! Stir. Keep stirring. Stir some more and then, all of the sudden, it will become glossy and beautiful and you will wonder why you were worried.

Now, when I say “almost the same proportions” it is because I will attempt to get as much Guinness into these things as possible. I start with the recommended two tablespoons and continue to add until I don’t think it will take anymore…and then I add some more. This year I think I got about 6 or 7 tablespoons of stout in there. Like I said, more bitter than sweet.

Let the ganache (that’s what this is, a basic ganache) cool in the fridge. It will become firm but not solid. When you are ready to roll, I suggest you plan on doing it in batches. The ganache will soften and when it gets too soft, it’s just a mess.

I also suggest that you set yourself up before you start as this part is spectacularly messy. I cover the counter with waxed paper and I chill a cookie sheet and cover that with waxed paper as well. I keep two paper towels handy, a damp one for wiping my hands and a dry one for turning on the sink, because you will get covered with cocoa and chocolate and you will make a mess, I promise, and it’s just easier to have something NOT covered in chocolate with which to turn on the tap. I also like to pour myself a drink before I get started because I don’t want to have to mess around with washing my hands just so I can get a little water…or cocktail…whatever. (Finish off the Guinness, it shouldn’t go to waste.)

So dust your hands with cocoa, grab a portion of the ganache and roll it into balls. I go for somewhere between a small walnut and a hazelnut. Not huge, as they are very rich. You’re not looking for perfection here, you just want a rough spherical shape. Then roll the ball in a little cocoa, tapping off any excess. This will help keep them from getting completely oozy as they sit on the counter.

After all the truffles are rolled and covered with cocoa, I like to “cure” them a little. If I have time, I will leave them in the fridge overnight, loosely wrapped. You do want them to firm a little and get slightly dry on the outside. When I don’t have enough time to do that, I just chill them for as long as I can before dipping. You’ll be fine either way but you will probably have to dip them in batches as they do soften quickly.

Now, if you have never dipped candy before I have got some tips that I learned the hard way. I’ve been doing this for a number of years and I found a method that works for me, but it took me a while. So here are a few things to keep in mind…

Tempering chocolate seems like a frou-frou step. Believe me, it’s not. This article (http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/155/Tempering-Chocolate) is very helpful. I have managed a kind of faux tempering that worked really well for me this year and you might find that it works for you. I melt the chocolate in the microwave, just as I did to make the ganache (only no butter this time) in 30-second increments, until it is easy to stir…and I can’t say this part strongly enough…DO NOT STIR IT WITH A WOODEN SPOON!!! I am a foolish girl and I have done this several times and you’d think I’d learn but no. At this point any moisture touching your chocolate will cause it to seize and that sucks. And wood holds moisture and there you go, you end up with a pound of seized chocolate that you can’t use for dipping. Anyway, as you stir your almost but not quite melted chocolate, add a handful of unmelted chocolate and continue to stir until it’s all uniformly glossy and lovely and melty. I don’t think that this is technically TEMPERING chocolate since we are not dealing with actual temperatures and all but it worked for me really well this year and kept my coating chocolate smooth and shiny throughout the whole process.

And a side note here: when I say “coating chocolate” I mean real, actual chocolate that you will be using for coating your truffles. Please don’t use compound chocolate coating, like you could buy at a craft store. These truffles deserve to be dipped in a good, rich chocolate and compound chocolate coating (or confectioner’s chocolate) just doesn’t have the same flavor.

Ok, so now your truffles are “cured” your chocolate is “tempered” and it’s time to dip. I use a…dipping thing. Not the fork kind, the round kind. It works for me. I have tried regular forks and spoons and doing it in my hands but I have had the best luck with the ring thing. (One thing to mention though, if your truffle centers have gotten soft and your chocolate is really hard, they will start to melt onto the ring. If that happens, just chuck the centers back in the fridge for a few minutes.) Dip your chocolates one at a time, allowing the excess to drip off a bit before placing them on a wax paper covered tray. If everything has gone well up to this point, they should become firm and glossy rather quickly.

I have decorated these many different ways, sometimes with a few pretty white non pareils, sometimes with a cocoa nib, but my preferred method is with a dab of white chocolate, to represent the foamy head on a nice pint of Guinness.

There you go, Guinness Truffles, suitable for gifting. And because of the chocolate coating, they travel pretty well. They should be stored in the fridge but I haven’t had any problems with them spoiling during shipping. And my mom says that they are best served at room temperature, but that’s up to you.

Good luck. I hope you like them. Me, not so much. But man, I did like the caramels I made this year, and if I can find the recipe I used, I’ll share that too.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Thanks for the recipe (and step-by-step plans)! I've heard a lot of good things about these truffles, so I bookmarked this in case I get into a candy-making mood.

acmcclendon said...

those truffles were tasty - and yes those were some damn fine caramels as well. i am grateful to have been lucky enough to receive some. and how have i showed my gratitude? by not sending anything back in return...sigh...