Friday, September 3, 2010

Plaisirs Simples

Lately, French cooking seems to be on a huge upswing in popularity. This is a trend that seems to periodically crop up from time to time in American food culture. This time around the popularity is likely attributed to pop culture, specifically movies like Julie and Julia. Although, I believe the reason it keeps making it's comeback is because, as a general rule, French cooking is steadfastly rooted in classic methods that are cornerstone to cooking.

Now, when someone mentions French cooking, one almost invariably thinks of complicated souffl├ęs or odd main ingredients (escargot, anyone?). But as with any style of cooking, these are extreme elements of the style, and should not discourage you from making the easier, more mainstream stuff.

These little chocolate truffles are such a great example of one such dish. Simple to prepare, but as I found out, one that can still present it's own unique challenges. This was definitely the case this time around, because I know that chocolate can be a wildcard ingredient.

So undaunted, I set about making my homage to Julia Child's chocolate truffles.

It's not often that I will suck up my pride and write about mistakes that I make cooking, so this is a very special blog entry. Turns out that even though I preach about using the best ingredients when making food, sometimes I fail to heed my own advice. In this case, using run-of-the-mill chocolate yielded a result that was overly bitter and had an oddly soured taste. I guess this is why I always say to treat your cooking as an experiment, and learn from the results that are yielded by the various things you try. In this case, always the best chocolate for chocolate candies.

The recipe is based on the recipe from the 2nd volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Simone Beck. However, since I had just acquired a bottle of Port wine, I decided to substitute this in place of the orange liqueur. Keep in mind the following recipe is the one where I've corrected my mistakes, so you'll also see that I've omitted the coffee as well.

Start by preparing for melting the chocolate. You'll need two saucepans; one smaller than the other so that it can fit into the larger pan. If possible use a pan with an unclad (thin) bottom.
Fill the larger pan 1/4 full with water and bring to a simmer over med-low heat.

Next prepare the chocolate.
You'll need
1/3c Chambord
1T honey
9oz semisweet chocolate broken into small pieces.
In the smaller saucepan stir the chambord and honey together and simmer over medium heat. Allow to reduce to 1/4c. Stir chocolate into the reduction and remove from heat. Cover and place into larger saucepan and allow a few minutes for the chocolate to soften.

Now prepare the ganache:
You'll need:
1/4c + 2T chilled Unsalted butter cut into about 20 thin squares.
1/4c port wine with 1t honey stirred in.
Remove the smaller pan from the larger and using a whisk or an electric mixer beat until smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Next add butter 1 slice at a time and beat rapidly adding the next slice just before the previous one is melted. Once all the butter is incorporated, beat in the port wine mixture a couple of drops at a time.

Next chill the ganache for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours until firm.

Last form the truffles and enrobe in cocoa powder.
You'll need:
1/3c cocoa powder
2T confectioners sugar
2t kosher salt ground into a fine powder in a mortar.
In a small bowl, mix the cocoa, confectioners sugar, and salt. When the mixture has become thoroughly firm, use a melon baller to scoop small balls out of the pan and enrobe in the cocoa mixture. Place each ball into a small muffin cup.
Place and keep in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container.

Again, play with the ingredients, but mostly, make sure you have someone to pass them off on, or you'll eat them all yourself. (unless they turn out like my first batch)

Posted from Brett's iPhone

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