On the town in Calistoga
On the town in Calistoga
On the town in Calistoga
As you can see from the title of this article, I should not even be posting this recipe online. I promised Chef that I would not publish all of the CIA’s top secret recipes, and I intend to keep that promise. This recipe, however, was one of his personal recipes, and I am duly giving him credit for his ingeniousness, so hopefully he won’t come track me down with a pot of boiling sugar to dump over my head. I have actually changed the recipe slightly, but the basic proportions are his, so let us all bow down and thank the Great Jorin for these scrumdidilyumpsciuous chocolates; one of my all-time favorite truffle recipes.
Milk Chocolate Caramels
Yield: Enough for a Small Village (Seriously, this makes a ton of truffles, if you want less, I would recommend using the same amount of sugar to make the caramel , half all the rest of the ingredients, and throwing half of the caramel away–very carefully–before adding the cream. Making a smaller dose of caramel can get tricky as the sugar crystallizes more easily.)
4.5 oz. Sugar
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 cup Heavy Cream, very warm
18oz. Superior Quality Milk Chocolate (I like Lindt)
2 Tbsp. Butter, room temperature, chopped
A dash of liquor (hazelnut or almond flavored is nice)
Chocolate for finishing, see Step #8
1. Chop the chocolate with a serrated knife and place in a large bowl. Make sure your butter is at room temp and chopped into pieces–throw it into the bowl with the chocolate. Get a cup of water and a pastry brush out to wipe the sides of the pot while you make the caramel. If you have a pastry bag, get that out and put in a 1/4-1/2 inch round tip. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the heavy cream in the microwave for a minute to warm it up–it should be hot, but you don’t want a skin.
2.Place the sugar and lemon juice in a medium sized saucepan over low heat and mix. Let the sugar melt slowly, if it seems like there are little pieces of sugar on the sides of the saucepan that are starting to burn, brush the sides down with a little bit of water. When the sugar has barely turned to liquid, stir with a whisk so that the sugar cooks evenly (there will probably be hot spots in your pan; you don’t want one part to burn black and the other to not cook at all: stir to combine). When the sugar starts to really bubble, you can stop using your whisk. Watching all the time, allow the sugar to cook until it’s one shade lighter than you want your caramel. Use your best judgement; if the sugar is too dark, it’s going to taste burnt, if it’s too light, it’s not going to taste like anything (remember you still have to add all that chocolate and the cream, so that will dilute the caramel flavor a bit). I usually let it go until it’s a deep amber brown. In some boutique chocolate shops, Burnt Sugar is a very popular flavor, so don’t despair too much if your caramel is a little darker than you anticipated. If it’s black however, you’re better off starting again.
3.When the sugar is one shade lighter than you want your caramel to be, carefully add the hot cream (BE CAREFUL, the sugar will bubble up drastically when you add the cream!!), whisking constantly over medium heat until you have a uniform consistency.
4. Quickly pour the caramel sauce over the prepared chocolate and butter. Let sit for a minute (so that the chocolate has time to absorb the heat of the caramel) and then stir briskly with a whisk; add liquor.
5. When you’ve got a uniform consistency, and the chocolate and butter have completely melted, cover with plastic wrap and put into fridge until your ganache is cool enough to pipe. Put ganache into your pastry bag and pipe small domes (about the size of your thumbnail). Pipe your domes close together to save space and don’t worry if they’re not perfect domes; we’re going to roll them between our hands later to even out the major imperfections.
If you don’t have a pastry bag you can spread the ganache in a 9×13 baking dish lined with parchment (so that the parchment comes up the sides as well, you want excess to make it easy to pull it out of the pan later). Cover with plastic wrap and put into fridge to cool. Later when the ganache has hardened you’ll be able to slice little squares and then roll them to make globes.
6. Let the ganache sit in a cool dark place until hardened, or if you want to speed up the process put it in the fridge.
7. When the ganache has cooled, put on a pair (or if you have really hot hands, put on two pair) of plastic, single-use gloves and gently roll your chocolates until they’re round. Remember, they’re called truffles for a reason–real truffles, the mushrooms that are hunted in northern Italy and France by dogs and pigs, are FAR from perfectly round. Your truffles don’t need to be perfectly round either.
8. Now you’re ready to finish the truffles in tempered chocolate. (Or if you don’t want to bother with tempering, you could roll them in cocoa, powdered sugar, ground nuts, or something like that). Here is a good article on how to go about tempering your chocolate (use whichever you like, white, milk, dark….).
9. When your tempered chocolate is ready, prepare a baking sheet or two with clean parchment, put on a clean pair of single-use gloves, smear some of your tempered chocolate on your left hand, pick up one or two trufflesand roll them into the chocolate on your hand and over your fingers, making sure the truffle is completely covered. You don’t want there to be a lot of excess chocolate on your truffle, because it will make a “foot” or a flat bottom on your truffle. (A major no-no amoung professional chocolatiers). Place on the parchement paper in nice neat rows and keep going!!
I’m graduating from Culinary School today! Picture-mania as soon as I move into my new space. Planning on staying in the SF area for awhile–good news for all of you who have not come to visit yet! (Hint hint….) Going back East for the next three weeks for some quality bonding time and a family vaca. CAN’T WAIT.
I am henceforth boycotting Expedia.
I had such a ridiculous experience at the grocer’s tonight. I ran in (literally) for some extra-bitter bittersweet chocolate, butter and pistachios–and so there I am, reviewing the lame-o selection of inferior chocolate that Safeway sells and I feel someone watching me… I look up and hello, weirdo alert–and then he actually winked!! So I pick some chocolate and quickly head to the nut aisle–where–while I’m perusing the nuts for about 30 seconds this same creep peeks around the corner THREE TIMES!! OMG. Starting to get annoyed (especially since they don’t sell pistachios at Safeway either), I move on in search of butter. Surprise surprise! Guess who else decides he needs butter?! So he sidles up to me and says–get this–“Hey cutie! How you doin’?” GAG ME WITH A WET NOODLE PLEASE! What a FREAAAAAAAAAAK! I was so upset by the entire encounter and by not finding anything in the quality I needed that I dropped all of my goods onto the pile of butter and left the store! Ha!!
In other news, I have several new favorite cakes. The most interesting is the Gateau St. Honore. What a hot piece of work this is. I really want to make it for Christmas dinner, but don’t think I’m going to have time…this is the picture of the one I made in class a couple of weeks ago. Sooo yummy!
In yet OTHER news, I am extremely disappointed that none of you have enlightened us about what you would like in your stockings this year!!! Where’s the holiday spirit folks?!?! Where’s the creativity?!?!
So we went to the French Laundry (two weeks ago now) and I STILL feel like truffles are coming out my ears! Those of you who are unfamiliar with the Laundry should know that it is one of the best restaurants in the world and consistantly wins a massive amount of praise from critics around the world! (And oh, the drama of making a reservation! Luckily, we live close enough to walk down and reserve a table in person!)
Chef Thomas Keller (the chef de cuisine) is a very talented, world-renownded gourmand who has done quite a bit to give this restaurant the reputation that it has now. For example, he orders all the butter used at the restaurant from a special farm in Vermont–what’s the big deal, you say? The farm only owns THREE cows (Daisy, Sunshine, and one other…). They ship their butter, unsalted to the FL, where the staff HAND CHURNS it with fleur de sel before presenting it to their guests. It is–by far–the most exquisite-tasting fat I’ve ever consumed. He is a perfectionist, to say the least, and even stores his fish on ice in the same direction it swims in the ocean! We were lucky enough to get a reservation during truffle season, and so partook of the Truffle Tasting Menu–only available for a few short weeks. Picture this: Nine courses, starting with Scrambled Liberty Valley Duck Eggs with Perigord Truffles and Toasted Brioche and finishing with White Chocolate Velours, Dark Chocolate Sabayon, Black Truffle liquid center, perigord truffle syrup and ruby red grapefruit sorbet (pictured below), and mignardises. I think my favorite course was the Truffle Wellington(which doesn’t look so hot in the picture, but imagine an entire black truffle wrapped in puff pastry!): Fondue of walla walla shallots and sauce perigourdine–the third course. The desserts weren’t amazingly wonderful, but by that time(five hours later), who wants to think about food? Words can’t describe the experience…
In more exciting news, Phoebe had her baby!!! Congratulations!! I can’t wait to go see her at Christmas–Dave and I have planned a mini road trip to their new place for a Christmas visit. Everyone is already arguing over whose chin Syndey has–Phoebe’s or John’s! What do you think?
I was officially elected Team Leader of Greystone’s 1st All-Female Baking and Pastry Program today! Woot! Speaking of which, we have our final Pastry I practical tomorrow, and I should get to bed. Night night!
Geomagnetic storms, baby yeah! I felt a bit like Mary Poppins as I left school last night. The weather was so freaky! For those of you who don’t live in California, let me just give you a quick debriefing: It’s always beautiful, sunny and warm here. It’s rarely–if ever–windy, and almost never rains. So, taking this into consideration, you can imagine my surprise as the palm trees were bent in half by the wind and the night sky seemed to be howling! It was also about 10 degrees colder than it usually is at 6pm.
The wind and howling continued all night, and our power flickered and died completely at several points! Apparently, this was all due to a geomagnetic storm. There’s a magnetic storm on the sun right now that creates these flare-ups of gas that shoot off the sun into space. Besides the flare-ups, there are also CMEs, or coronal mass ejections. These are much more intense, and are basically giant eruptions from the sun that blast a billion tons of highly charged particles into space at speeds greater than a million miles per hour. The particles that are flying around in space thanks to this eruption cause auroras (read: the Northern and Southern Lights). Luckily these types of emissions only affect earth by disrupting satellite communications and power grids–which is what happened to us last night!