29 Dec 2008

Almond-caraway coated chocolate truffles

As a part of "They go really well together no. 13" (TGRWT #13), I wanted to try on making chocolate truffles. This was a first-timer for me, but I must (not very humbly) say that this time I had a lucky strike.

I think this might be the first time I've made something that gives me that experience you get when you go to a restaurant and they serve something you've never tasted before which leaves you both happy and amazed at the same time. Maybe for the first time, I felt that I'd produced such an experience. It's somewhat like the first time I was able to ride my bike without the support wheels.

Being a rookie in the field of confectionery, Shirley O'Corriher was my crutch (Cookwise, I haven't got around to buying Bakewise, yet). For basis recipe for chocolate truffles, I chose the "Smoothest-Ever Truffles" which worked well. Since I had already made salty almonds and caraway schnaps for Christmas, the table was laid.

5 egg yolks
300 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa, tried two different with similar results)
170 g milk chocolate ("lys kokesjokolade")
60 ml heavy cream
50 g butter (salted)
60 ml caraway schnaps
260 g salty almonds
13 g caraway seeds

1. Almonds were chopped in food processor and mixed with caraway seeds
2. Chocolate was finely chopped in food processor
3. Cream and egg yolks were heated gently in a pan, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Butter added and stirred over low heat until melted. Chocolate added and stirred over low heat until melted. Stirred in the caraway schnaps
4. Left to cool in the pan (4-10 °C for a few hours or overnight)
5. Scooped up and made ca. 2-3 cm (1 in) diameter rough spheres. Rolled the spheres in my hands (warm hands make them melt slightly on the surface, helping ground almonds to stick)
6. Rolled in the ground almonds/caraway-mixture and left to cool

The experience
Firstly, a burst of crunchy, salt, roasted almonds followed by rich, dark chocolate. Second, while the chocolate melts and the cocoa flavour still dominates, the caraway comes through and lingers on together with the chocolate. Balance and contrast at the same time, both in flavour and texture, taking me through various phases of experience. Also, the chocolate and caraway work very well together.

The experience is different whether I let it melt in the mouth or if I chew it. Melting in the mouth gives a stepwise flavour experience since the caraway takes some time to come through. Chewing results in all the flavours coming out at the same time.

The size of the balls seem to make a difference. Too small, and all the tastes come out at once, and the amount of salt/almond/caraway is somewhat overpowering. Making them ca. 2-3 cm (1 in) diameter gives a creamy interior and a somewhat crunchy exterior which, to me, gives the best result.

The caraway schnaps does not seem to cut through the chocolate on its own, but gives that extra bite. I tried covering with cocoa powder rather than the almond/caraway mixture, resulting in no discernible caraway flavour. Hence, the caraway schnaps on its own does not give sufficient caraway flavour.

The amount of salt and caraway is of course a matter of taste preference. Some might want to reduce the amount of salt (i.e. use more lightly salted almonds), and caraway (less caraway vs. chopped almonds). To me the given amounts work well, though.

O’Corriher, S.: Cookwise. New York: William Morrow 1997.

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