Homemade Truffles

This year, for the holidays, in light of my new-found free time, and one of my sisters’ requests, I decided to make truffles. Now, having never made truffles before (I know, I can’t believe it myself!), I looked up a recipe online and found one on a blog called My Baking Addiction. The recipe is pretty simple:

Basic Truffles

yield | about 30 truffles

Ingredients

12 ounces chocolate, chopped (semisweet or bittersweet)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons liqueur, optional

Step 1: Make the Chocolate Mix

Stirring Butter into Melted ChocolateBasically, you melt the chocolate, then add the butter, cream, vanilla, and any other flavouring agents you would like. I decided to double the recipe and make six different types of truffles: matcha (green tea), espresso, fleur de sel, chili, Frangelico (a liqueur which tastes primarily of hazelnuts), and Grand Marnier. I made my basic mix, then separated it into six parts, each of which I subsequently labelled.

Chocolate Factory!Seasoning the Truffles

Step 2: Season Your Mix

I then proceeded to flavour my divided mixture with my chosen flavouring agents.  I used instant espresso powder for the espresso mix, matcha from Cha Noir for the green tea mix, cayenne for the chili mix…and- well, I guess the remaining ingredients are pretty self-evident.  I started with small amounts of the flavouring agents, and added more to taste.

Step 3: Shape the Truffles

Even after chilling the chocolate mixture, it’s still difficult to work with because it starts to melt (due to the warmth of your hands) as soon as you try to roll it into a ball.  I tried dunking my hands in ice water to cool them between truffles, but it was still very messy, and I ended up just accepting the fact that a) the truffles are not supposed to be round, and b) my hands were going to be covered in chocolate (there are worse things in life).

Some Thoughts on the Process

I think that the next time I make truffles I may just spread the mixture out on a rectangular tray before chilling it so that I can simply cut it into squares (which would probably be the easiest thing) or use cutters to cut it into little shapes.

I would have liked to differentiate all six sorts of truffles by rolling each type in something different to finish them off, but ended up sticking with the standard cocoa powder for most of them, simply because I wasn’t sure what else to use.  I did, however, roll the Grand Marnier truffles in a mixture of cocoa powder and ground dried orange peel (that I blitzed in the coffee grinder, then sifted), roll the green tea truffles in some matcha, and roll the Frangelico truffles in some crushed toasted hazelnuts.

I had briefly considered maybe rolling the chili truffles in a bit of cayenne, but the flavour would have been way too strong. The same logic applies to the fleur de sel truffles and the espresso truffles and their respective flavouring agents.

The Result

Finished TrufflesI was pretty happy with the results of my endeavour. I thought the truffles both looked and tasted good, and my sister was very happy with her gift.

To go a bit furthur in terms of final flavour analysis, I really liked the matcha truffles due to the way the initially bitter flavour of the matcha powder both complemented and contrasted with the bittersweet chocolate.

I may try a flakier salt for the salted truffles next time to play a bit more with the contrast in textures.

I’d like to try using something other than cayenne to flavour the chili truffles, perhaps a mildly smoked hot pepper powder…?

Anyway, that’s it for now.  ‘Til next time,

Sarah

Emson Smoker, Round Two: Smoked Tomatoes

So, for my second experiment with the Emson smoker,  I decided to try smoking some tomatoes.  I bought some organic cherry tomatoes that I found on sale at Vert Pomme Fruterie, and some brown tomatoes, both grown in Canada (yay!).  After a bit of research, I decided to leave the cherries whole, and cut the brown tomatoes in half, before smoking for ten minutes on the hot-smoke cycle.  My boyfriend suggested we also try smoking some sun-dried tomatoes.  So, we loaded everything into the smoker:

Tomatoes about to be smokedThe cherries were too small to stay on the rack, so we decided to put them on parchment paper. My boyfriend punched holes in the parchment paper, but I’m not sure that’s really necessary. I left him to start up the smoker while I went to attend to other things.

Unfortunately, he thought he had to soak the wood chips- so they never lit and didn’t actually smoke.  The tomatoes only smelled a bit smoky due to residual smoke inside the smoker.  So let this be a lesson to you; don’t soak wood chips when using the Emson Smoker!

However, all was not lost!  When we learned of our error, I suggested that we try cold-smoking the tomatoes for 10 minutes.

Tomatoes about to come out of the smokerThat worked out well.  The cherry tomatoes and the brown tomatoes were delightfully sweet and smokey.  The smoked sun-dried tomatoes were amazing.

The smell of smoke is a bit more prominent during the cold-smoking process, but it’s certainly not overly invasive, nor is it strong enough to set off smoke detectors.

Smoked Tomato SoupI used the smoked cherry and brown tomatoes to make a tomato soup.

I topped it with some chopped eggs that we had also smoked, cilanto, sour cream, and avocado oil.  The flavour was really nice.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  Until next time,

Sarah

Emson Smoker

emson smokerSo, my boyfriend and I were at Walmart today (not the most sustainable store, I know, but sometimes you have to pick your battles), and we came across the Emson Smoker/pressure cooker on sale for $70. I’m not exactly sure why it was so cheap, since even on Amazon.com the list price is $179.99. Based on the the cheap price, and the pretty positive reviews, we decided that it would be a good buy. Anyway, Emson bills this as ‘the only combination pressure cooker and indoor smoker’. What’s really cool about this device is that you can both hot and cold smoke with it, and it can be used indoors. Whilst hot smoking, food will cook more quickly, due to the combination of hot smoking and pressure cooking. You can also use this device as a regular pressure cooker. Another feature that’s pretty cool is the option to program the smoker to first cold smoke, then hot smoke, automatically.

For my first experiment with this machine, I decided to do smoked baked potatoes (one of the recipes provided in the Emson smoker instruction and recipe booklet). All I had to do was put some wood chips in the little wood chip container (I decided on apple chips), put 1/2 a cup of water in the bottom of the cook pot, scrub the organic PEI yellow-fleshed potatoes that I had decided to use, place them on the racks provided, put the lid on the smoker, and place the weighted knob on the pressure cooking valve to seal it. I programmed the machine to hot smoke for one hour, as per the recipe.

The smoke smell, though detectable, was mild, kind of like shisha smoke, and did not set off the smoke alarm. However, according to some of the reviews that I have read (again, on amazon.com), the cold smoke setting releases more smoke into the surrounding area than does the hot smoke setting (I suppose because during hot smoking, you are pressure cooking, whilst during cold smoking, you are not). I plan to try cold smoking with the smoker soon, perhaps with eggs.

Potatoes in the smokerSmoked potatoes

The potatoes were perfectly cooked, and had a nicely smoked taste, almost like potatoes cooked on the BBQ (at least, that’s how my boyfriend put it). I used the minimum number of wood chips recommended in the recipe, so as not to overpower them with smoke flavour the first time around. Obviously, the amount of wood can be adjusted for more or less smokiness. I’m sure the the potatoes will be delicious with some salt, pepper, and sour cream!

smoked potatoSo far, I’m quite satisfied with this purchase and am excited to try smoking cheese, tofu, tomatoes…the possibilities are endless. My boyfriend has a littlechef smoker, but it cannot be used inside, and stays at his house, because there is more outside space at his place. This little Emson Smoker provides a lot more flexibility and possibility for experimentation.  I look forward to said experiments!

Till next time,

Sarah

Hi, everyone!

Welcome, caringkitchen readers! I’ve decided to start this blog in order to share my interest in cooking, and in growing edible food. I’m a lifelong vegetarian who eats fish, and thus my posts will reflect this (i.e.-not much space will be devoted to issues like where to find organic meat, etc.). I plan to use this space to document things I am cooking, things I am growing, as well as related things that others are doing. Well, that’s it for the moment…stay tuned for my first real blog post!