Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chocolate Challenge

I love a challenge. I am a competitor. As much as I hate this label and the evil connotations often associated with it there is no denying my genetic predisposition to win.

When the opportunity to compete for the "Top Chocolate Chef" arrived with the prize being a seat as an official judge for the Junior League of Toledo's first "Chocolate Soiree", I knew I had to make a run for it.

I spent a few days intermittently contemplating my options. After scanning a few cookbooks for chocolate confections, I decided to try my hand at Champagne Truffles. My recipe comes from the James Beard Foundation Book Award winner, "Savor the Moment: Entertaining Without Reservations" from the Junior League of Boca Raton. It was a Junior League contest, and I figured this might be a good fit.

After several botched batches I learned that in making truffles:
1) temperature counts
2) don't second guess a call for "semi-sweet" chocolate - ever
3) fine champagne makes great truffles

Here's the recipe and the adjustments I made:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 c (1/2 stick butter, chopped
3 tbs. heavy cream
1 egg yolk beaten
3 tbs champagne
1/4 c. unsweetened baking cocoa mixed with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine chocolate, butter and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until the chocolate melts, stirring constantly (I found that a double boiler is a better choice for better control of the heat). Stir a small amount of the hot chocolate mixture into the egg yolk; stir the egg yolk mixture into the hot mixture. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in the champagne. Spoon into a small mixing bowl. Chill for 1 hour or until completely cool, stirring occasionally.

Beat at medium speed for 1 minute or until the color lightens and the mixture is slightly fluffy. Chill for 3 minutes longer or until the mixture holds its shape.

Shape into 1 inch balls by scraping a small ice cream scoop, melon baller or spoon across the surface of the chilled mixture. Place on a tray lined with waxed paper. Chill until very firm.

Roll truffles gently in the cocoa and cinnamon mixture. Place in decorative cups to serve.

A few tips:
1) I used Belgian chocolate and Moet & Chandon White Star Champagne. After all, you should never use champagne you wouldn't drink or chocolate you wouldn't eat!

2) After rolling the ganache into small balls, freeze it. When it comes out of the freezer it is easier to get a smooth round, globe-like shape before coating it.

I did my best to set up a pretty display and "sell" my confection by explaining the origins of the truffle and the joys of chocolate ganache. Unfortunately, I didn't win. I was told that I lost by 1 vote to a chocolate and strawberry struedal bar. Oh, well. It was a fun challenge and great to catch up with old friends.

Second place. C'est la vie.

“Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".

1 comment:

  1. Howdy, I haven't posted here for a while. I was on vacation in the USA and actually was in Toledo for 5 days visiting my sister. While at my sisters house, I made dinner for them. I brought some ingredients with me and I made a dessert that I had recently made here in France.
    I'm giving it to you, because it is a very unusual chocolate dessert. It's incredible.
    You do need one item you might have to search for: Creme de Marron.
    You could use Italian Chestnut Spread, or any type of seetened Chestnut is very simple

    Creme Marron-Citron-Chocolate
    125 grams of chocolate
    (I would use dark Lindt Baking chocolate)
    200 grams of creme de marron
    zest of a half lemon

    30 cl of heavy cream

    You melt the chocolate, add the creme de marron and mix well.
    When the Marron/Chocolate mix has cooled, whip the cream stiffly.
    Carefully fold the whipped cream into the chocolate/marron mix with the lemon zest.

    Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.
    It's really good and a very original flavor!
    bon apetit!