A couple of years ago I bought an indoor herb garden as a birthday present for my husband. We grow basil, cilantro, dill, parsley and mint, but mint is the one we seem to use least frequently — so I was excited when I realized I could use all that mint to flavor my ganache.
I won’t get into too much detail about how I made these because the process was very similar to how I made the lemon ganache truffles a couple of weeks ago. The only difference was that this time I infused the cream with mint while the cream was still cold. Being short on time, I thought it would be more efficient to blend them up together in my Magic Bullet.
Well… it turns out you can make really fluffy whipped cream in a blender! I had no idea. Green whipped cream too. Whoops.
Despite this accident, it turned out beautifully. I used 70.4% dark Callebaut. Not too sweet, and the ganache had just the faintest hint of mint.
At the last minute I second-guessed myself and added a drop of peppermint oil. I wish I’d skipped it. The subtlety of the mint had been refreshing, but the peppermint oil made these truffles taste like Andes Candies — which are tasty, but not very original. I’d really hoped the fresh mint flavor would come through.
Still, the truffles came out so shiny and pretty — I couldn’t have been happier with the result (aesthetically, anyway).
Plus, now I know how to make green whipped cream in a blender. Which will come in handy… never?
Over the weekend I tried my hand at making molded chocolates for the first time. I was dying to use my new chocolate tempering machine (more on that in another post), so when I found myself with a whole free Sunday and a sweet tooth, I decided to go for it.
One pound of chocolate is NOT a lot to work with when making bonbons. I barely had enough chocolate for one mold sheet.
It’s very challenging to get the chocolate out of the tempering machine and into a piping bag without letting the chocolate get too cold (and therefore thick and hard to work with). I’m still figuring out the best way to do this — suggestions are welcome.
Make sure you have a good (wide) spatula or scraper on hand, as well as some kind of wide receptacle to catch the chocolate runoff (a clean sheet pan might be perfect for this). If you try to pour chocolate from your mold tray into a 12″ mixing bowl, you’ll leave half of it on the floor (um, yes, that happened).
Put down some newspaper! Or a tarp! And wear an apron, for the love of god. Or a hazmat suit. You will get dirty.
Work fast so your chocolate stays close to 90 degrees. If you let the chocolate cool too much, you’ll end up with very thick chocolate shells and less room for ganache.
Clear plastic molds (rather than opaque silicon trays) have the advantage of allowing you to see when the chocolates are ready to come out of the fridge. To check them, take a peak at the bottom of the mold. When the chocolate has hardened, it will visibly pull away from the plastic (this is one of the many useful things I learned while helping out at Undone Chocolate).
Don’t be like me and forget to tap the air bubbles out of the molds (whoops).
Don’t be like me and wait too long to scrape the excess chocolate off the top of the mold tray. If you let it harden on the tray, it will be a lot harder to remove the chocolates. Trust me on this one.
Instructions for making molded chocolates:
Fill a piping bag (or a ziplock bag with the corner cut off) with tempered chocolate and pipe it into the molds (fill them completely). Then flip the mold tray upside down, letting the excess chocolate drip into a large, clean bin or tray (you can remelt it later).
Scrape the front of the tray clean with a spatula, leaving a thin coating of chocolate inside each mold. Tap the tray (right-side up) on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Flip it upside down and stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to set.
Once the chocolate shell has hardened, pipe ganache into the molds. Leave a few millimeters at the top — it’s better to under fill than overfill.
Seal the molds with a thin layer of chocolate (you may need to gently reheat your chocolate at this point, or temper a new batch if you’ve run out).
Repeat step 2.
Gently flip your tray upside down onto a dry surface. The chocolates should drop right out. Wearing latex gloves for this step will prevent finger prints (if you care). If necessary, trim the edges with a sharp knife.
Try one! Or, um… four, if you’re like me. But who’s counting.
Anyway — I hope you have a great time making your own chocolates. Please let me know how it goes!
Yesterday my husband forwarded me an article from Slate that profiled Nendo, a Japanese design house that has gone into the chocolate business.
Nendo’s chocolate, not yet available in the U.S., has a brilliant design team behind it. The company produces some of the most inspired and unique confections I’ve seen.
But design is only part of what makes Nendo unique. The company’s entire approach is one of reimagining the chocolate eating experience. For example, their “chocolatexture” line includes a box of solid, unfilled chocolates that look like truffles. Instead of coming in a variety of flavors like most truffles, these chocolates come in a variety of textures, the idea being that texture is a facet of taste. By putting the focus squarely on texture, Nendo is asking us to rethink how we taste chocolate.
Another inventive creation by Nendo: these empty chocolate shells and their little vials of flavored fillings — a kind of create-your-own truffle. The Slate article points out that this concept does kill the fun of biting into a truffle without knowing what’s inside, but I like their idea of creating an interactive chocolate experience.
I only hope some day Nendo Chocolates will be easier to come by in the States.