Sunday, February 12, 2017

Chocolate Truffles


Happy Valentines Day!

Chocolate Class
I have made hundreds, if not thousands of these chocolate truffles.  A favorite of my culinary arts students, I also used truffles as wedding favors for my daughter's wedding and have made numerous different flavors.  How about orange flavoring with candied orange peel garnish - or coffee with chocolate sprinkles on top?  The two flavors pictured are vanilla with sea salt, and framboise (raspberry) with pink-tinted white chocolate.


Chocolate Truffles

(Makes lots!)
Ganache centers:
1 1/3 cup whipping cream
8 cups chocolate chips, semisweet
24 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vanilla (or liqueur/extract of choice, or a combination)

Additional semi-sweet chocolate chips for coating. (3 or more bags)
Prepare quarter-sheet pan by lining with parchment, leaving overhang. (handles)
Bring cream to a simmer, and whisk in chips and butter. Remove from heat, and whisk in flavoring. Pour into quarter-sheet pan and chill overnight. Cut into squares, or rectangles, and chill again for a few minutes. Prepare your double-boiler, using a pan of simmering water, with glass bowl placed on top. Dip centers to coat into chocolate that has been melted as follows:
Melt slowly, keeping temperature below 120°. (“Seed” if necessary with additional chocolate chips) Work quickly to finish the project before the chocolate loses its gloss.
I like to use a fork for dipping. Place centers on the flat of the fork, then scrape off excess chocolate on the edge of the bowl.

remember the bain-marie? But
used semi-sweet chips for this recipe. 
Place each finished truffle on parchment paper. Chill, then store in refrigerator.
These truffles (center) are salted on top.


Chocolate Guide 

Chocolate should be melted in a double boiler (bain-marie) so heat is applied slowly. A double boiler can be made by placing a large bowl over a pot of simmering water.

Any moisture or the addition of flavorings to the melting chocolate may result in “seizing.”  Important: This is why the flavoring is added to the centers and not the chocolate coating!
Seizing occurs when the chocolate becomes grainy and hard and coats the pan, becoming almost impossible to stir.

Chocolate that has become too warm will also lose its gloss and not look as attractive, but the taste is not affected.

Chocolate that has a white “bloom” is also fine to use and is not moldy or stale.

Tempering: the tempering process is rather complicated, but will ensure that your chocolate stays glossy after dipping or coating. The chocolate is slowly melted to 115-118 degrees and cooled to 76-78 degrees. This can be hastened by adding some extra chocolate – called “seeding.” The chocolate is then brought back to 86-88 degrees, and kept there while in use.

This recipe uses a simpler version of tempering; melting the chocolate over low heat, in a glass bowl, over simmering water. The purpose of this method is to keep the temperature below 120° approximately - removing the pan from the heat when necessary, and working quickly. This should help to complete the recipe before the chocolate loses its gloss. It is still helpful to "seed" the chocolate by introducing new chocolate to the edge of the bowl and mixing it in as needed. (See Chocolate Bon-Bon post for more detail.)

Note: white chocolate is not really chocolate. It gets that name due to the addition of cocoa butter. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

Potato Corn Soup! So pretty...

My daughter called me for this recipe yesterday, and I told her it was already posted.  So here it is again, first posted in February of 2014.  Since it's still January, the dieter's favorite month, use low-fat milk and turkey sausage.  This recipe is also naturally gluten-free and contains no cheese, eggs or oil.
Potato Corn Chowder
(easy)
(serves 4 abundantly)
Warm up with this cozy soup - the potato provides the starch that thickens, while you control the richness with your choice of milk and sausage.  Healthy, satisfying and impressive.  All this and easily made on a week night. Get back to your table with grace!



Peel and grate three medium potatoes; throw the grated potatoes in a soup pot with one can of broth, 2 cups of milk,  one small package frozen corn (or your own, from your freezer) one bunch of sliced green onions and a ring of sausage of your choice, sliced.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes - with lid off, since this soup boils over easily! (If you are having problems with sticking - add 1 tablespoon of butter. If you'd rather not, just cook very slowly, stirring constantly, or use a non-stick pot.)


Check for seasonings, adding salt and pepper and maybe a dash of hot sauce.

(Note: save a few green onions for garnish.)

Serve with corn bread? Yum.... use skim milk and turkey sausage if you would like to control fat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cream Puffs


Choux Pastry
Pâte à Choux

You might remember your Mom making this easy, sticky, egg-y dough. Maybe she made you eclairs, cream puffs or tiny round gougeres. Or maybe your Dad was the baker- mine wasn’t.

The cream puffs I made last weekend were delicious and a really impressive presentation – but the shells can be made ahead and simply filled with whipped cream and topped with ganache at serving time. Let your guests help!

This is the standard recipe, found in cookbooks old and new and all over the Internet. I make no claim to it.



1 Cup water
½ Cup (one stick) butter, cubed
1 Cup flour
4 eggs

Have a clean baking sheet at the ready, ungreased and without parchment.

Crack all the eggs into a measuring cup, set the flour nearby.  Bring the water and butter to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan.

Lower heat and immediately dump in all the flour and begin to sir vigorously until mixture forms a ball.  Remove from heat.

Off the burner, add eggs all at once and stir them in thoroughly – again until the mixture comes together and is smooth.


Drop by spoon onto the baking 
sheet.  This recipe makes up to 12, but I made fewer because I wanted them to be large – one per serving.

Brush each puff with egg wash.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes – if becoming brown quickly, reduce temperature to 375° and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.  At that point, open the oven door and pierce each puff with a skewer or paring knife to release excess moisture. Continue baking for 15 additional minutes.  Again, if they are browning too much, reduce the heat to 350°.  (If making a smaller size, adjust cooking time accordingly.)












When finished, they should be uniformly brown all over.

Place the puffs on a wire rack and let cool.


In French:  Cabbage paste! 

To serve, slice horizontally, about ¾ of the way through each puff.  Pull out a bit of the egg material to make way for the filling. Fill with sweetened whipped cream.  (I add vanilla bean paste as well.)






Top with ganache, serve immediately.

Recipe for Ganache:

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Cup cream

Gently melt together over low heat, stirring often, until smooth and shiny.  Beautiful!





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup
~so easy~ 


 

I'm thinking you have all the ingredients to make this on a snowy night!

This recipe makes lots of soup.  Serve a crowd and still have some to share. The rustic noodles make it special!
















1 stick of butter 
1 entire bunch of celery, sliced
1 large onion diced
1-2 pounds cooked chicken or turkey, diced
1-2 pounds thick noodles, sometimes called kluski
3-4 cans of chicken broth
Salt and pepper


This is the cooked celery and onions with broth added.



















In a large soup or stockpot, melt the butter, and cook all the celery and onion until just softened.  Add broth as needed, bring to a boil and add the noodles.  Cook until noodles are al dente (lid removed to prevent a mess!) Add the chicken, and salt and pepper to taste. Add any herbs or spices you like. I've been adding turmeric lately for a beautiful and flavorful color. Add a little water if too thick, heat through.
(I precooked the chicken in a covered casserole in a can of broth.
Cut up the cooked chicken and add at the end. Then bring all to a final boil. Use the broth in the soup, of course!)

Delicious with the Canzler Family White Bread recipe from this blog
.



Sunday, December 18, 2016

Almond Cookies







Almond Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

I ate these wonderful cookies in Vermont with my adorable friend, Ivy.  Thank you so much for the very cool trip to King Arthur Flour!   



Ingredients:

10-ounce can of almond paste
1 Cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten with a fork
½ teaspoon almond extract
Powdered sugar for topping the cookies before baking

Yes, you read that correctly - no flour!

Preheat oven to 325°
Line two baking sheets with parchment















Open the can of almond paste and chop.  (I did not do this, and ended up using both the whisk attachment (for my Kitchen Aid) and an old-fashioned pastry cutter to break it up.  

Back in the mixer, blend the chopped almond paste, sugar and salt until uniformly crumbly. When little chunks of almond paste jump out of the bowl - eat them, they're delicious!




With mixer running, add the egg whites gradually and also the almond extract.

You should end up with a paste that is somewhat smooth, but will still have evenly distributed bits of almond paste. 

Scoop by Tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets.  My batch made exactly 21 cookies, as per King Arthur Flour.  

Then the fun part.  Using a fine sieve, sprinkle each cookie with powdered sugar.  Basically, you are drenching them.  I tried a spoon first, but it just dumped chunks of powdered sugar. 



Press lightly on top of each cookie. 


Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly browned on the edges.















(These cookies are gluten free.)