Rosemary and Bay Chocolate Truffles- “The Essence of Flavour”
Truffle faux pas
Last year, as a gift for a kind favour, Robin and I baked these amazing truffles and presented them to a neighbour in a pretty glass jar. She looked at us almost in disgust. Not only had we gone through the trouble to make truffles when most French people buy such things made by professionals- we gave her truffles in June. Personally, I’m happy to eat these gorgeous morsels all year round, and I’m not even wild about truffles (these are different). My neighbour informed me (with a pitying smile) that one should only eat truffles around Christmastime. Urgh. Another faux pas. Such is the minefield of strong French beliefs when it comes to food. Either way, it’s getting closer to Christmas so perhaps it’s safe to suggest that you enjoy making these on a blustery Sunday while going back and forth to your book next to the fireside.
As my partner is a Brit, I’ve been introduced to a culture of patriotic celebrity chefs. One of these is not just a tv personality but one of the best chefs in the world. Heston Blumenthal has been the force behind “molecular gastronomy” which places a high importance on scientific understanding, precision, and technology. Think of the sous-vide technique of cooking that is now ever-present, or perhaps the use of many sensory dining that Blumenthal has advanced. I hope to one day visit his restaurant the Fat Duck.
Despite Heston’s obvious Britishness, these truffles in my mind can be considered ‘provencal’ just by the use of rosemary and bay leaves. Their flavouring is not very strong. It is honestly a perfect background hint. Whenever Robin makes these I tend to hang around the fridge…
Once you’ve mastered this flavouring you can infuse the cream with any flavour you like! When I’m enjoying an embarrassing amount of these rich versions of truffles (homemade is always best- the ones in the stores I find don’t melt in your mouth the same way) I find it amazing that there is no sugar in them. Practically a health food group?
Makes 25 truffles (depending on how lazy you are rolling them out..I think we tend to get more towards 17 large ones!) I haven’t tried the crispy finish yet- perhaps you can and tell me how lovely they are!
North Americans, forgive me, but this recipe uses grams. If you don’t have a weighing scale you should buy one. Heston is all about the precision. Cups are a useless and measurment system.
25g of Rosemary sprigs (ideally foraged in the Provencal countryside)
3 Bay Leaves (also foraged! Or perhaps a plant in your garden?)
300ml whipping cream
275g dark chocolate, chopped (minimum 65% cocoa solids)
1 tsp salt
Cocoa powder (to finish)
Put the rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and whipping cream in a saucepan and place over a low heat to warm for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the pan to stand for 30 minutes.
While the cream is infusing, line a deep-sided container or baking tray, 20 x 30cm, with parchment paper and set aside.
Strain the infused cream, discarding the herbs, and return it to the saucepan. Place the pan over a medium heat and bring up to a simmer.
Melt the chocolate in a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
When the cream is simmering, remove the pan from the heat, add the salt, and add to the melted chocolate a third time, making sure that the cream is thoroughly incorporated after each addition. Allow to cool slightly.
Pour the chocolate mixture onto the lined tray and leave to stand at room temperature for 4 hours, then place in the fridge for 5-6 hours or until set.
Using a small melon baller, scoop balls of the chocolate out of the ganache, or cut into cubes, then roll in cocoa powder (or the crispy chocolate coating below).
Crispy chocolate coating
This lovely effect is produced by means of sugar crystallization. By adding chocolate to a sugar syrup at the right moment, you can ‘shock’ the sugar into forming crystals, creating a powdery, sandy texture that’s just right for a truffle coating.
100g White caster sugar
40g Dark chocolate, roughly chopped (minimum of 60% cocoa solids)
Put 75g cold tap water and the sugar into a saucepan and place the pan over a high heat. Bring to the boil and continue to heat until the temperature of the liquid reaches 135degreesC or until the syrup at the side of the pan begins to colour.
Remove from the heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate. Whisk to incorporate the chocolate and continue to whisk until the liquid has completely crystallized.
Pour the chocolate crystals onto a parchment-lined baking tray and allow to cool. They can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.
Recipe from Heston Blumenthal at Home, Published by Bloomsbury