Intro to layered chocolates: caramelized white chocolate and dark salted almond truffles

Caramelized white chocolate and dark salted almond truffles

Caramelized white chocolate and dark salted almond ganache

Full disclosure: I meant to write about this months ago. Seriously, I think there was still snow on the ground when I first made these delicious, creamy, double-ganache truffles. But at the time I was frantically trying to complete my chocolatier school coursework and didn’t really have time to pull this post together.

Anyway, enough with the excuses. Here it is (finally).

This was my first attempt at making layered truffles. Back in those early days of my chocolate education, I wasn’t exactly working with professional equipment… basically I owned a whisk, a candy thermometer and a lot of patience. I actually used Tupperware containers as my molds because I hadn’t bought a professional ganache frame yet.

ChocoVision Mini Rev Tempering MachineOh but I did own one very fancy piece of very fancy equipment: a brand new (at the time) ChocoVision Mini Rev tempering machine, which I absolutely LOVE and still use pretty much constantly. If you have any desire whatsoever to make your own chocolates, I highly recommend you invest in one of these bad boys. The 1.5 lb capacity model shown below is by far the cheapest small batch home tempering machine on the market.

But more on the ChocoVision Mini Rev in a later post.

Anyway… for this particular truffle recipe I made a caramelized white chocolate ganache for the bottom layer and a dark salted almond ganache for the top. I poured one over the other, smoothed them out with a spatula and let the layers set up at room temperature overnight.

Letting ganache set for 12-24 hours in a cool room (<68 F) gives it a chance to crystallize, which results in a more stable ganache that has lower water activity. To refresh, the lower the water activity, the less water (from the cream) is available to grow pesky microbes and the longer the truffles will last at room temperature before they mold.

Anyway — by the next morning the ganache was firm enough for me to unmold in one solid piece…

…and cut it into 1″ x 1″ squares with a sharp knife.

Here’s where the fun began (and, yes, the mess…)

After tempering some of Undone Chocolate’s amazing two-ingredient chocolate, I dipped each square (this process is called “enrobing”) in the bowl of tempered chocolate, fished it out with two special enrobing forks (although regular forks will work too) and sprinkled it with kosher salt.

I wasn’t working with professional couverture chocolate here, and as a result you’ll notice my shells turned out a little thick — but really they’re not so bad, especially considering my less-than-ideal tools (Tupperware, anyone?) and general inexperience..

Close-up of hand made chocolate truffles

Ever since I started making my own truffles, I’ve started noticing how many low and mid-range chocolate grands produce bonbons with really thick shells. Seriously — check it out for yourself the next time one of your colleagues leaves an old box of chocolates in the pantry at work. If nothing else, it’ll make you feel better if you’re having trouble achieving those wafer-thin chocolate shells that professional chocolatiers love so much.

My official tasters (aka my husband and stepson — and a rotating group of friends) went wild for these truffles. They got raves, which made me really happy. But personally I preferred the salted almond chocolate truffles (on the left in the picture above) to the fancier layered truffles. I just really loved their strong, undiluted almondy taste. But it’s really a matter of personal taste  — they’re both delicious.

Two layer truffle: caramelized white chocolate and dark salted almond

 

Homemade salted chocolate truffles

 

 

Caramelized white chocolate

Caramelized white chocolate

Like many chocolate lovers, I used to be a little snobby about white chocolate. It’s so sweet, I would get a headache just thinking about it. But when I noticed Valrhona was making a caramel-colored white chocolate using toasted milk powder, I was intrigued. Who doesn’t like the nutty flavor of dark caramel? White chocolate seemed like the perfect medium to carry that toasted taste.

When I did a little research, I learned that you don’t have to be a chocolate maker to make toasted white chocolate. You can caramelize white chocolate in under 30 minutes in your home oven! The only thing I find more amazing than this is how few people know about it. Which is why I’m trying to spread the word.

White chocolate caramelizes so beautifully for the same reason many people don’t like it: it contains a massive amount of sugar. If you stick a tray of chopped-up white chocolate in the oven at 250 Fahrenheit for 20 – 40 minutes (it will depend on your oven, just keep an eye on it), stirring every 10 minutes, it will go from this…

White Chocolate Couverture

To this….

White Chocolate Melting in Oven

And finally, to this…

White Chocolate Caramelizing in Oven

It’ll look a little grainy, but it turns into a beautiful ganache if you add cream and blend it with a hand mixer (it will be too thick for a whisk). I eyeballed my proportions, but I probably used about a 3:1 ratio of white chocolate to cream. Try to heat the cream to the same temperature as the melted chocolate, and add it a little at a time — the chocolate might look like it’s seizing at first, but keep adding more cream and it will eventually smooth out again into a beautiful, silky ganache. It’ll have the texture and taste of caramel, but with less stickiness and sweetness.

When your ganache is silky, pour it into a frame (I used a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper) and let it set. Use it as the filling for bonbons. Or melt it and pour it over vanilla ice cream. Or eat it with a spoon. The possibilities are endless.

Caramelized White Chocolate Ganache

You can even temper it to make bars and bonbon shells. I haven’t tried this yet, but here’s a drool-worthy pic of successfully tempered caramelized white chocolate bars from Celia’s lovely Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog.

Tempered Caramelized White Chocolate

Happy caramelizing!