Monday, June 25, 2007

Psuedo Chocolatier Fridays - Some Ugly Yummy Truffles

Haha... this post is going to be embarrassing... I didn't quite expect truffles to look good anyways, but I think mine turn out uglier than expected. Making them was quite a nightmare actually. I think it has to do with starting at 9 pm in the night and finish washing up past 2 am. Did I also mention my hands were full of chocolate and cocoa powder and I spastically tried to open the fridge with my elbows (pausing in front of the fridge wondering if I should dirty it or twist my arms)? And I had to very anal-ly insist on making very tiny squares so they are really bite-size, so I made about 100 instead of 50 as what the recipe suggests. I have to really kick myself in the ass for that...

They are done though! Definitely not pretty but I think they taste very good. (not my credit really, it's the very good chocolate used) It's really melt-in-the-mouth, smooth, not overwhelming but very intense, bittersweet, but with a sweetish aftertaste, with some crunchy bits of nibs.

To give a very blunt detailed description: (no wonder I never did well for English as a subject)

"These are ganache squares made from Valrhona 70% Guanaja, with President whipping cream (35.1% fat), President unsweetened butter. They are encrusted with a very thin chocolate crust made of Valrhona 55% Equatoriale, sprinkled with some cocoa nibs and dusted with unsweetened cocoa powder. To prevent your hands from getting dirty whilst enjoying them, they are served in tiny black paper holders. Because we eat with eyes too, they have been carefully packaged in a self-made box lined with some Japanese brown paper. (I just have to make some efforts to distract you from the not-so-pretty chocolate treats). Finally, because we all enjoy receiving presents, the box is finished with grosgrain ribbon."

I am dreaming earl grey and rose truffles already.. hee hee...

Because chocolates are best eaten fresh (I REALLY REALLY mean it... I was not a fan of chocolate until I ate some homemade 30-minutes old truffles made from very good dark chocolate), I am going to try give out all these truffles within the next 2 days.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

While the Ganache sets...

Yay! Finally close to finishing all the chocolates from 2 weeks. I was eating chocolate barks almost everyday. Good thing they are 70%s, if I am a white chocolate person, I would be at least 2 kg heavier I bet (and start to look more like mom, kekeke...)

I started preparing ganache yesterday for truffle rolling with s.t. later. Guess it would be quite a fun couple activity for a Saturday.

I have gone through multiple chocolate books to compare ganache recipes. Chocolate Obsession by Michael Recchiuti & Fran Gage has loads of different infused ganaches, and very specific instructions. Real Chocolate by Chantal Coady featured a few recipes: Rococo's, Robert Linxe's (La Maison du Chocolat) and Michel Chaudun's. To top it up, I had detailed notes taken from Patrick Heuberger's chocolate making class some time ago. Chocolate, the definitive guide by Sara Jayne-Stanes has a just cream and chocolate recipe (no butter). It's interesting how different chocolatiers variate from the basic method. Some whisk the truffle mixture to aerate it. Some swear by invert sugar. Some pre-melt the chocolate before combining with cream.

Huh... confused and often tempted to try multiple recipes at one go, I decided to discipline myself to stick to just 1 in this weekend. Mine's a marriage of Chantal's proportions, and adapting methods from Michael's and Patrick's. I used

330g 70% Valrhona Guanaja
300g Whipping cream (35% fat)
75g Butter

Pre melt the chocolate (at about 50`C), bring cream to a rolling boil and add immediately to the chocolate. Whisk till well combined and then add diced chilled firmed butter.

I can't wait to for truffle rolling later today... dust them with cocoa powder and nibs!!!!!!!! Woohoooooooooo~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Before they are all gone!!!

I have finally finished making these mini photo frames/albums for friends, about 100 over of them. They are pictures of guests taken at our wedding some months ago. I made them in batches, so I never really had all of them at any one time. Multiple trips to the photoprint shop, more trips to the paper and ribbon shops (mostly due to indecisiveness in colour selection). Then, loads of paper cutting, pasting, and creating little "window", which is a cut-out frame for each guest, and the ribbon tying for the finishing touch. I could have finished them all in a week, but I took a few months! The cut out frames were really arduous, and as much as I dread going back to my pen knife and ruler, occasional motivation steeps in (from what reasons, I am not sure...). I have a habit of working in spurs-of-moments, and stayed up late one night to finishing the remaining 40! Voila...

Before they get passed to friends over lunches and sent off via snail mail, I thought I would capture the last few before they too, get slipped into the envelopes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Some Conclusions

I am almost done collating feedback from friends and folks! Whilst most comments were encouraging and almost flattering, I was actually more motivated by the negative/neutral ones. It got me brainstorming into new flavours. What was more interesting is I am starting to notice some patterns how people enjoy their chocolates. From a small pool of 15-20 friends who have tried the 8th June recipes, I have drawn some extremely-unsubstantiated conclusions and stereotypes:-

1) Most like dark chocolates. (only 1 wished I had used milk instead)

2) Much to my surprise, most do enjoy nuts with their chocs. (some like it caramelised, some do like it lighted salted!)

3) Those who enjoy nuts with their chocs don't enjoy the nibs.
(huh... am I the only weird one who love nibs?)

4) Some especially like the barks thin!
not skinny thin like Lindt thins, but not blockish like regular bars either (oh yeah...)

5) The cynics just don't like things with their chocolates; Nuts and what-nots are contaminants (yes, designers are often purists)

I love dark chocolates, enjoy good, fresh, toasted nuts with them, LOVE the dark chocolate bark with cocoa nibs, like the bark thin enough to give a light snap and enjoy plain good bars tremendously. Not exactly the most critical person am I? (^_-)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Pseudo Chocolatier on Fridays - 3 Chocolate Barks

I am not sure if I can discipline myself to do this regularly, but I have finally started my chocolate dessert sessions. "Fridays would work well..." I thought, as I can share all the cocoa goodies with my dear folks and friends over the weekend. It would be unimaginable to be selfish to have a kg of good chocolate to myself (for fear of gaining the kgs too of course). Once a cookie churning monster, I never baked a tub of cookies, I always made a mountainful. I can't bear to do so much washing for just 40 cookies! At least 200, or enough to feed a few groups of friends! For chocolate recipes requiring tempering, it is also due to practical reasons as well; It is tough to temper small quantities of chocolate. This time round, I tempered 1 kg of chocolate with the seeding method, and I'm already finding it hard to handle the temperature fluctuations.

Loads of patience, good daylight, soothing music would be great ingredients for some chocolate recipes. Though they are no-bake recipes, that 6 hours in the kitchen still feels a terrific baking therapy. 3 Chocolate Barks with the Valrhona 70% Guanaja. I can't be a dessert critic because I am never too picky. I like all 3, so I am going to depend on my friends and folks to give some honest feedback.

Dark Chocolate Bark with Caramelized Macadamia & Orange Grate
Always a macadamia mania, I added orange grate during the caramelizing to add a citrus note.

Dark Chocolate Bark with Demerara & Cocoa Nibs
For lovers of good dark chocolate. The cocoa nibs add a crunch, without taking away the limelight from the chocolate. I hesitated adding demerara, (so I only added for half a tray). The demerara accentuates the bitterness of the cocoa nibs, yet gives a sweet aftertaste. keke.. yummmm.....

Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachio, Hazelnuts & Salted Pumpkin seeds
Recipe adapted from Chocolate Obsession by Michael Recchiuti & Fran Gage, this has got to be one of best looking chocolate barks around. I really love the purplish pistachios. ^^

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


This entry doesn't have anything brownish nor creamy... it's a little dusty, blue-grey and not that yummy. ^^

I normally sleep on trains, but on one particular ride from Taichung to Kaohsiong, I didn't sleep a wink. A whole collection of train stops form an interesting album, different font types, different medium.

My favorite is Jhih Ben.