Christmas is right around the corner isn't it?! I am fully in the holiday spirit, at least I think I am. No, I know I am once I get home, close the door and start baking and filling boxes with goodies to be shipped off to friends and given to the family on Christmas day. Indeed, it's been a little strange looking at snowmen and pine trees while we were in shorts today...no kidding. Well, B. was because I am a "frileuse" as we say back home; always chilly. I am currently living winter vicariously through my pal Jen in Colorado who keeps filling my head with pictures of snow, ice, skiing and delicious holiday treats while I am rolling truffles.
We all have our traditions comes Christmas and there are a couple that my family never miss. My grandmother was famous for her marzipan stuffed dates and walnuts while since I was old enough to hold a spatula, I have been the one making truffles. I flew home the first Christmas after my grandma died and without exchanging a word one night my mom went to the pantry, pulled out the dates, nuts and marzipan and we made the stuffed fruits. There was quite a bit of reminiscing, a lot of crying and raw feelings shared. It was one of the best moments of my life. Through my grandma's passing I discovered what it meant for my mom to continue with certain things just the way they were. It brings people together, it gives you a breakthrough or a headache but your heart is full and your soul growing.
While grandma was playing with marzipan, I was never more than a couple of feet away, strirring and scooping and rolling ganache for truffles. You can safely assume that once I moved here, this is the one thing I never miss doing during the holidays. The truffle batter I use is a basic ganache that I flavor differently depending on my mood or what people ask for. Depending on the time available I might hand dip them in tempered chocolate (Go Jen!) and decorate them but this year it is so not happening so I made them the way we do in my family, rolled in cocoa or nuts, etc...
I have only made two kinds so far, lavender infused truffles and espresso truffles. Once the ganache was made, I let it harden in the fridge for a couple of hours and then scooped out little balls that I rolled and place on a parchment baking sheet and place them "naked" back in the fridge. The reason behind this little "curing" it is to help them develop a natural skin so that the cocoa powder won't seep in the truffles as they stand waiting for their delicious (for you!) fate. On the other hand I find it a lot easier to have the nuts adhere to the chocolate right after you have rolled them in between your hands and your body heat has softened the ganache a bit.
I made a firm ganache with semisweet chocolate (Callebaut) and since all chocolate vary, your ganache may set up differently so if it turns out too soft, add more chocolate in your next batch or if it was too firm add a little more cream. I used a ratio of 8 oz of chocolate for 1/2 cup of cream but if you want to use milk or white chocolate increase the ratio to 12 oz for the same amount of cream. Adding alcohol will soften the ganache unless you add the same amount of chocolate so for every ounce of liqueur (about 2 tablespoons) that you use, increase the chocolate by one ounce also. For milk or white ganaches, add 2 ounces of chocolate for every ounce of liqueur. If you want to know more about chocolate, I strongly recommend this wonderful book "The Art Of Chocolate" by Elaine Gonzales.
Makes 30 to 35 truffles
1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (1gr) edible lavender buds
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
cocoa powder for rolling
In a small heavy saucepan placed over low heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let stand 30 minutes. Strain the lavender and bring the cream back to a simmer. Once hot, add the chocolate and let stand for a couple of minutes then stir until the ganache is completely smooth. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. With a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out balls of ganache, roll them in between your palms fairly quickly and set them on a baking sheet. Refrigerate overnight. Roll them in the cocoa powder and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons espresso powder
2 tablespoons (1 oz) coffee liqueur
9 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pistachios
In a small heavy saucepan, bring the cream and espresso powder to a simmer over low heat. Add the liqueur and remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and let stand a couple of minutes then stir the ganache until completely smooth.Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. With a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out balls of ganache, roll them in between your palms fairly quickly and roll them in the pistachios and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
For more cookies and sweet treat ideas, check Susan's Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 2!