Saturday, 12 March 2011

The First Truffle

I’m 11 years old. I’m in the kitchen, melting butter and fetching icing sugar from the top shelf. I cut a bar of chocolate into small pieces, just as it says in the instructions, and put them carefully in to the pot of melted butter. I feel like I’m in a science lab, combining different elements, working with various equipments and anticipating the result. I’ve been told that you can make your own chocolate balls (not yet learned the word truffle), that this is how it’s done. I blend all the ingredients together, pour the mixture into a small glass lasagna pan and place it in the fridge. Now I have to wait.
I take my dog for a walk down by the ocean. He likes wading in the water, never seams to mind how cold it is. Then we take the shortcut home, through the small forest and over the hill. It’s been over 45 minutes, its time to check on my batch. I ceremoniously put on my Snoopy apron and retrieve the pan from the fridge. I take a teaspoon and scoop out a piece that I place in my cocoa coated hands. With slow and careful movements, I roll the chocolate between my small palms. It’s a bit stickier than I anticipated, but it works! I manage to roll a perfectly round chocolate ball! I could scream with joy, but I know that mother is studying in the living room, not to be disturbed. My batch yields over 20 mini chocolate balls. They are supposed to be tossed in shredded coconut, but all I have is oats. That will do. I cautiously sprinkle oats over the truffles and place them on a small oval platter. It’s time to make some tea.

I no longer have the Snoopy apron and my hair is a bit shorter, but I still have the same sense of wonder when I bake. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new or old recipe. I never quite know how things will turn out, what it will taste like.
I’ve tried various truffle recipes over the years, they are all good. Some require more skills than others, but most of them are fairly basic. Let’s start with a simple one.

Terrific Truffles

240 g dark chocolate
120 g butter
2 egg yolks
120 g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
50 ml whipping cream (or half and half)

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Obviously you need a heat resistant bowl, not the wafer thin china kind. Once the chocolate has melted, add butter cut into cubes. Slowly stir until its all blended. Remove the bowl from the heat. Add egg yolks and sift in icing sugar and salt. Keep stirring. Then you add whipping cream and vanilla. The batch should be thick and glossy. In other words, quite tempting.

Put the preparation in the fridge for at least an hour. Its ready when you can form small balls in the palm of your hand without making a total mess. You can also pour the mix directly into little chocolate moulds. I have rose and heart shaped ones. Another option is to put the chilled truffle-mix in an icing bag and create rosettes and stars. One batch, many options.
Once you have created a multitude of truffle shapes, put them back into the fridge for a little while. You can stop right there, or you can take the extra step of rolling them in cocoa powder, shredded coconut, slivered almonds, milk chocolate shavings, use whatever you have on hand. In a pinch, you can even use plain old oats.

Happy baking!

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