Homemade chocolate truffles

November 17, 2008 4:38:03 PM PST
Serve truffles for your holiday dessert with a recipe from a favorite SF chocolatier.

Force Noir Truffles
Excerpted from "Chocolate Obsession: Confections to Treat and Savor," by Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage
Makes about 50 round truffles

Force Noir Ganache
The dominant taste in this ganache is the chocolate. Use your favorite dark chocolate with an intense flavor. The seeds from a Tahitian vanilla bean, along with the split bean, are heated in the cream and then steeped overnight in the refrigerator to draw out as much flavor as possible. The floral tones of the vanilla complement the richness of the chocolate. These truffles take a little longer to make, but the flavors are worth the wait!

½ cup (4 ounces) heavy whipping cream
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons (4 ½ ounces by weight) invert sugar (stir before measuring)*
1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split horizontally**
12 ounces 61% to 70% chocolate, finely chopped***
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) unsalted butter with 82% butterfat, very soft (75ºF)
Unsweetened natural cocoa powder for rolling truffles

Making the ganache:

Step 1:
Stir in cream and invert sugar together in a medium saucepan. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds from the bean into the pan and then add the bean. Bring to a boil over medium heat, remove from the heat, and cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap. When the cream has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap.

Put the chocolate in a medium stainless-steel bowl and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts and registers 115ºF on an instant-read thermometer. Lift the bowl from the pot.

When the chocolate is almost at 115ºF, remove the cream from the refrigerator. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan and heat it to 115ºF, stirring occasionally. Pour the chocolate and the cream into a 1-quart clear vessel. Blend with an immersion blender using a stirring motion and making sure you reach the bottom of the vessel. The ganache will thicken, become slightly less shiny, and develop a pudding-like consistency. Add the butter and incorporate it with the immersion blender.

Pour the ganache into the lined pan. Spread it as evenly as possible with a small offset spatula. Allow the ganache to cool at room temperature until it has set, 2 to 4 hours. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to roll truffles.

Making the Truffles:

Lift the square of ganache from the pan, turn it over onto a work surface, and remove the plastic wrap. Turn the ganache square over and trim the edges. Cut the ganache into 1-inch squares with a knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each cut and wiped clean after each cut.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Put about 1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder in a bowl and dust your palms with cocoa powder. One at a time, pick up a square, roll it into a ball between your palms, and then drop it into the bowl of cocoa powder. After you have made about 6 truffles, shake the bowl to cover the rounds completely. Using a fork, transfer them to the lined pan. Continue rolling until you have used all the ganache.

Because the truffles are not covered with tempered chocolate, you need to refrigerate them. Transfer them to a bowl or plastic bag that contains enough cocoa powder to prevent them from sticking together. They will keep for up to 2 weeks. Remove them from the refrigerator and put them on a plate about 30 minutes before serving so they are at room temperature.

For a different look and taste, roll the rounds in finely chopped nuts, chopped seeds, or cocoa nibs instead of cocoa powder, or in sesame or cardamom nougat if you are serving them the same day.

About the ingredients:

*Invert sugar can be found at baking supply stores or online at the following retailers:

Kitchen Krafts
www.kitchenkrafts.com
Phone: 800-776-0575

SugarCraft
www.sugarcraft.com

**Tahitian Vanilla Beans can be found at most gourmet or specialty food retailers. They can also be found online at:

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas
www.nielsenmassey.com
Phone: 800-525-7873

***61% - 70% chocolate can be found at most gourmet or specialty food retailers. Dark chocolates in the 62% to 65% range include Scharffen Berger and Guittard and in the 70% range include Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, and Callebaut.

You can also purchase online at:

Scharffen Berger
www.scharffenberger.com
Phone: 800-930-4528

Gourmail
www.gourmail.com
Phone: 800-366-5900

About Michael Recchiuti:
Michael Recchiuti, a self-made chocolatier, has been conjuring sweets all his life, first in Philadelphia, baking Italian wedding cakes alongside his grandmother as a boy, then creating plated desserts as a young man at the renowned restaurant Le Bec Fin and even training with Alain Tricou (Maxim's, Déjà Vu) for three years in sugar and chocolate. His preference for the bold and innovative lead him to the west coast and to San Francisco, an obvious choice for a budding chocolatier. While he never received a formal culinary education, his time with Tricou woke a passion for chocolate and offered him a chance to hone his palate and style.

Drawn there in 1987 by a chocolate-friendly climate and exciting music and arts scene, Michael found new inspiration in the year-round availability of fresh ingredients and exotic, ethnic flavors. He was especially fascinated by the way unlikely flavors, typically found in savory cooking, took on new dimensions and depth when combined with chocolate. His now famous chocolate flavors Tarragon Grapefruit, Lemon Verbena and Star Anise & Pink Peppercorn were among the first "experiments." That ongoing fascination along with a nostalgic nod to the tastes of his youth continue to inspire his more recent creations, Fleur de Sel Caramel, Cardamom Nougat chocolate and handmade Recchiuti Marshmallows.

In 1997, after years in the test kitchen, Michael was ready to bring his creations to a larger audience and to introduce Americans to "real" chocolate. He founded Recchiuti Confections with his wife Jacky and the idea that once you introduce truly exquisite chocolates to people, they will be won over instantly and forever. Then, as now, he achieved those exquisite confections by painstakingly selecting each ingredient that would go into the final creation. He'd visit the San Francisco farmers' market for bundles of fresh lavender, tarragon and lemon verbena, which he'd carefully dry for use in his signature infusions. He made frequent trips to local chocolate manufacturers, trying their latest offerings and deciding if they had the right texture, color and acidity for each new blend he was developing. And he'd meticulously see to each step that turned those fine ingredients into finer confections, using traditional European techniques and equipment. But taste and technique only tell part of the story. Michael's life is filled with art, music and lots of friends, so the look of his chocolates acts as a show-and-tell of his favorite things. Some feature drawings, etchings and paintings from his favorite San Francisco artists, while others are adorned with Japanese block prints, tiny love letters to his Hawaiian wife, Jacky.

In 2005 Michael's book Chocolate Obsession (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), co-authored with renowned pastry expert Fran Gage, was released to wide acclaim; the book was a finalist at the 2006 James Beard Awards and won high honors for photography and design at the 2006 International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference.

About Recchiuti Confections
Artisan Chocolates, Distinctly San Franciscan

Consuming about 11 pounds of the stuff per person every year, America eats and drinks all manner of chocolate, from the mass-marketed all-American candy bars to the imported bonbons and truffles of Belgium and France. Using words like "seductive," "sensual," and "decadent," Americans claim chocolate as their favorite flavor when it comes to desserts. All this, yet most people in the United States are only familiar with super-sweet "snacking" chocolate, and have very little exposure to premium, dark chocolate and its myriad varieties and complex flavor profiles. Enter Recchiuti Confections, an artisan company in San Francisco on a mission to introduce consumers to "real" chocolate and to share with people what it was meant to be. There's no going back - one bite of these handcrafted morsels will change the way you think about chocolate forever.

Recchiuti Confections was created by Michael Recchiuti and his wife Jacky Recchiuti in 1997. Michael, a self-trained chocolatier, spent many years in the test kitchen experimenting with herbal and other infusions before finally brining his creations to the masses. He founded Recchiuti Confections with the idea that once you introduce truly exquisite chocolates to people, they will be won over instantly and forever. Then, as now, he achieved those exquisite chocolates by painstakingly selecting each ingredient - all natural - that would go into the final creation. Michael is constantly on the lookout for the freshest herbs and spices that make Recchiuti Confections a necessary indulgence and have made them an obsession to consumers nationwide. Everything at Recchiuti Confections is handmade in small batches using traditional European techniques.

Over time, other confections were added to the Recchiuti repertoire including dessert sauces that taste as good straight from the jar as they do over ice cream, over-sized gourmet chocolate bars, heavenly Fudge Brownies, chocolate-coated Key Lime Pears and a do-it-yourself S'mores Kit.

In 2003, Recchiuti Confections opened its first retail store in San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace; the renovated historic building has become a mecca for the artisan food community and a destination point for food lovers everywhere. Meanwhile, chocolate lovers across the U.S. are able to purchase online at www.recchiuti.com.

In 2005 Michael's book Chocolate Obsession (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), co-authored with renowned pastry expert Fran Gage, was released to wide acclaim; the book was a finalist at the 2006 James Beard Awards and won high honors for photography and design at the 2006 International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference.

Recchiuti creations have received praise from hundreds of upscale consumer publications, critics and the food and wine industry in general. Currently, new chocolates and confections are being developed with Michael finding new ways to make the chocolate consuming public happy and...obsessed.
Website: www.recchiuti.com


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