Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sweet and savoury and all things nice.... Truffles and Pickles

It was coming up to Father’s Day and I was stuck in the yearly bind of what to get my pops for his special day. When I was younger so assured was I in my father’s love for cricket and Bruce Lee that I used to get him something every year, without fail, in some way connected with one of those two things. But you know, by the age of 25, you’d hope that I’d come up with something new. So I did. Part one was that time tested and rather tasty pressie. Truffles.

Truffles are so simple but so very munchable. Week after week I teach hen parties and corporate parties at My Chocolate how to make a simple dark chocolate truffle and week after week people literally squeal with joy when they taste their hand made, dipped truffles. I’m sure that half of them do not make it home to the husbands/ wives/ flatmates/ kids eagerly awaiting some chocolaty treats. While I wasn’t counting on my father squealing with delight, it seemed fitting that I took my work home with me and improvised a bit.

Although I’m a fan of the dark chocolate truffle, I wanted something that would look pretty. Also bearing in mind that when the inevitable happened and my little bros and sisters dipped their hands into dad’s stash, I didn’t want them to think I was trying to poison them with such strong flavours. So I settled on a whisky milk chocolate truffle dipped in white chocolate.

Whisky truffles dipped in white chocolate

200g milk chocolate melted
4 tablespoons double cream
4 tablespoons whisky (or whichever spirit of choice)
Makes around 30 truffles

Making a truffle is pretty simple – two parts chocolate to one part cream. You want to get the chocolate to around 32-34 degrees Celsius (do this by adding chocolate solids to the hot melted chocolate until a ribbon of chocolate drizzled on the top will stand for a few seconds before melting into the rest of the bowl) and then mix it with cold cream to make a ganache.

There are plenty of ganache recipes that do it the other way round i.e hot cream and cold chocolate, but I find this easier and it still makes for a brilliant truffle. To make your truffle boozy, simply replace half the cream with alcohol and bobs your uncle.

Pipe the ganache onto a sheet of baking paper and leave to set.

Whilst the truffles are setting, melt the white chocolate on a bain marie....

Once the truffles are set, dip them into the white chocolate and set them back onto the baking parchment. Drizzle with a bit of milk chocolate, leave to dry and voila. So simple but so tasty...

The savoury part of the present was an incredibly delicious cucumber dill and onion pickle from my new favourite food writer Joanna Farrow's Seasonal Preserves. Again, something so simple (and, might I point out, so cheap) but with a result that will make the most jaded eater sit up and pay attention.

One of the best things of all is you can pretty much eat the pickle straight away. The flavour develops with time but we went for a walk on the Seven Sisters the next day and packed the pickle into our cheddar cheese sandwiches and it was heavenly. If all sandwiches tasted like that I wouldn’t steer such a wide berth when I encountered them on my supermarket lunch hunts.

Cucumber dill and mustard pickle

2 large cucumbers
2 red onions thinly sliced
6 tbsp sea salt
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tso celery seeds
25g dill finely chopped
600ml white wine vinegar
175g granulated sugar

Slice the cucumbers thinly and layer in a colander with onions and salt.

Leave to stand over a bowl for two hours. Rinse well and drain.
Heat the seeds in a saucepan until the mustard seeds start to pop. Put into a bowl with the cucumbers, onions and dill and mix thoroughly.

Pack into your preserving jars. Heat the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the pickle and seal the jars. All done.
(Will store for up to 9 months)

And Dad’s reaction was pretty positive. There was no squealing but they both disappeared pretty sharpish. And that is the highest praise of all.


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