I’m rarely an impulsive person and when I do feel an urge strike it’s often in relation to things others would find silly like buying a food dehydrator on a whim or in my most recent case, a 2 pound block of chocolate from Whole Foods. I was having one of those stereotypically Gen Y “What am I doing with my life?” episodes and needed something to help relax. In typical Kelly fashion I decided to go to Whole Foods. Yes it’s bizarre, but I love grocery stores and they have a calming effect on me. When I have the time I love wandering up and down the aisles and picking up products I’ve never noticed before, sampling whatever is out for the day, and so on. On this particular trip though I had two projects in mind: truffles and croissants. My mother had just asked when I was going to send more truffles so it seemed like I perfect time to make them. Cooking is also unbelievably therapeutic for me so I knew if anything could snap me out of my funk truffle making seemed like a good bet. Home I went with the biggest block of chocolate I had ever purchased along with my ingredients for croissants for another day.
Last time I was pretty successful when I followed the recipe almost verbatim so this time I wanted to be more inventive and venture out on my own. One of the thrilling things about truffles (at least to me) is that they can stand up to some unusual flavor combinations. It seems like you’re only limited by your imagination and ability to pair flavors. Vosges Chocolate Truffles are a great example. I love eating them because it opens my mind up to what is possible. One of my favorites is described as follows:
Blues – Bacon, a quintessential ingredient firmly entrenched in the traditional southern breakfast, likely made its mark in the upbringing of many early blues artists. This bacon is slow roasted on steaming apple wood embers, imparting a rich, sultry smoke flavor that gently emerges beneath the milk chocolate. Now this is a unique taste of salt and sweet for the truly adventurous foodie.
Yum! My creation was a bit more pedestrian, but still tasty none the less. Mine took a simple ganache of 68% cacao chocolate from Spain, cream, and butter and enhanced it with cherry-pomegranate juice, pomegranate liquor, and chopped goji berries. I then decorated my truffles with one of two coatings. Half of my batch was dipped in vanilla dipping chocolate and given a judicious dusting of sprinkles. The other was simply rolled in a mixture of unsweetened cocoa powder and pulverized freeze dried Pomegranate seeds. Unfortunately my food processor, while fantastic, could only break the seeds down so much so they were still a tiny bit pebbly. I still like to think they added a nice zing of flavor to the outside though. I’ve been meaning to buy a spice grinder so I think I might see if it does a better job of breaking them down into the fine powder I was looking for.
The verdict: I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out because the recipe came to me on a whim, but I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t like overly sweet things so these were perfect for me. The pomegranate flavor came through more clearly than I expected. It cut through the sweetness, providing a nice balance. The goji berry chunks were also nice as a slight textural change. They softened up nicely in the ganache. I love having chunks of fruit when making a fruit-flavored chocolate because I think it adds a hint of authenticity and a sense that the flavor is coming from real ingredients, not artificial flavors. I still have leftover cream in the refrigerator so I think my next batch of truffles are not far off on the horizon. The only sad part was that by the time these made it to my mother they were completely melted so she didn’t get a chance to enjoy them.
Yields approximately 1 dozen truffles
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used 68% cacao), chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup pomegranate cherry juice
2 tablespoons pomegranate liquor (I used Pama, which is equally good in cocktails)
Melted chocolate for dipping or a mixture of 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/4 a cup pulverized freeze dried pomegranate seeds
Heat heavy cream until a film forms on top. Add the semisweet chocolate, butter, cherry juice concentrate and kirsch, and stir until a homogenized mixture forms. Pour into a container with a lid and chill until the mixture has firmed up.
One mixture is firm, scoop truffles using a melon baller. (I found I had the best success when I heated my melon baller under tap water, and subsequently dried it off before scooping). Dip in either melted chocolate or roll in the cocoa powder mixture.
Note: I learned the hard way that the later is probably not appropriate if you’re planning on mailing the truffles as they arrived at my destination melted. They are fine though if you are not planning on shipping them half way across the country.