I really don't have as many people to give chocolates to as I'm making, but I just enjoy it so much that I kind of couldn't stop. It's been awhile since I played with chocolate and, like people who are wacky for knitting or beading or tying flies, it's something that both soothes and exhilarates me.
Way back in the day when I was a pastry chef, I made truffles on a large scale and they were a pretty simple operation. Basic ganache -- chocolate and cream -- flavor, chill, roll, dip.
But I've seen so many recipes that add butter or corn syrup -- or both -- and I was curious to see what the difference in texture and taste would be. So I'm trying that this time, going with the following as a starting point:
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup cream
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 Tbsp. liqueur/flavoring
(I assume anyone reading this blog knows how to make ganache, but if you don't then the technique is described here.)
Using that as the master recipe, I made three batches:
Raspberry (framboise liqueur -- each truffle will contain a whole raspberry)
Coffee (triple strength coffee and Starbucks liqueur)
Rum (Myers rum)
Despite intimate knowledge of what a royal pain in my ass it is to work with, I also made two batches of white chocolate ganache. Because of its high cocoa fat and milk content, you use less cream to make white chocolate ganache, and it's tricky getting something that's stiff enough to roll into balls and dip (at least it is for me).
I had a decent amount of success making white chocolate almond ganache, flavored with almond extract and finely processed, toasted almonds. It seems to be setting up nicely (fingers crossed) and each truffle will have a dark sweet cherry in the center and be dipped in bittersweet chocolate.
Then came the experiment. There always has to be an experiment.
Chai tea truffles.
I made a thick white chocolate ganache and added 2 tablespoons of Oregon Chai concentrate, plus 1/4 teaspoon each of cardamom, ginger, cloves and allspice.
Results: The tea concentrate may have thinned the ganache too much to make it workable for truffles (Oregon Chai also makes a powdered instant product, which would probably work well for this -- I admit, this was a spur-of-the-moment idea). I also ended up doubling the spices because I wanted it to really have a punch.
So ... I now have a dish of murky-looking goo in my fridge that isn't setting up very well but tastes absolutely divine. If nothing else, it's a kick-ass ice cream topping.
I think for my next attempt I'll try adding just the spices to bittersweet chocolate, since the tea flavor is such a soft background note anyway.
I'll post pictures after dipping them Sunday!